Thursday, 27 November 2014

Rustic tart

We have some seriously great neighbours in our street, some of whom we’re also lucky enough to call friends.
It’s one of those streets I thought no longer existed in the city - where kids from different houses play together, people stop and chat as they’re walking down the road and in our case, a quick exchange of text messages results in a much needed cup of coffee, chat and play for the littlies.
Sounds a little like an ad for cheap instant coffee doesn’t it? Perhaps... but we drink better coffee.
It’s also handy when a neighbour finds themselves with an excess of something, like an abundant fruiting lemon tree in their front yard they don’t mind us pilfering from (I asked the first time, I figure that yes carries right through the season).
Recently, our lovely neighbours/friends found themselves with a load of strawberries and dropped off two big containers full to us.
That led to me making this scrumptious rustic tart, which originally comes from wholefood cooking queen Jude Blereau.
You can make it with any fruit and in my opinion the wholemeal flour in the pastry adds an amazing texture.
It’s a perfect spring dessert, especially served warm with a dollop of cream or natural Greek yoghurt.

Jude’s Rustic Tart

2 cups wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tablespoons raw castor sugar
180g unsalted butter
6 - 11 tablespoons ice cold water 

1-1.3kg of fruit (I used a combination of strawberries and apples)
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour (I omitted this as my fruit wasn’t especially juicy due to the combo I used)

Preheat your oven to 200C.
Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it is incorporated into the flour, but still quite chunky. If using a food processor, pulse one or two times.
Don’t be tempted to add the water to the food processor as it is too easy to overwork the pastry.

Using a bread and butter knife, begin to mix the cold water into the flour and butter. Add a small amount of water, begin to cut and mix it in with the knife. As you continue to add the water, little bit by little bit, you are cutting the wet bits into the dry bits, cutting, mixing and stirring.
Only as much water as you need and once all the mix looks moist, bring it together into a ball but DO NOT knead or play with it.
Flatten the ball, wrap in cling film and chill long enough to take the softness of the butter - about 20 mins.
Roll out pastry in between baking paper to approx 30 - 35cm diameter circle. Between rolling, sprinkle the pastry and paper with a little flour - this will enable you to easily fold the edges later on. Place on a tray lined with baking paper.
Prepare your fruit by cutting and placing in a bowl, tossing gently with the maple syrup and cornstarch.

Arrange prepared fruit in an attractive pattern, or simply pile it into the middle and gently spread to leave a border (enough to fold edges).
Fold pastry border over fruit, peeling it from the paper underneath as you go.
Sprinkle with a little extra golden castor sugar if desired and bake in a hot oven for about 15 mins, before reducing temperature to moderate for about 35 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden, and juices are bubbling.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

What's for dinner?

A quick spinach and feta filo pie, courtesy of Jamie Oliver and perfect for a stinking hot Sunday night dinner. Served with a simple rocket, cherry tomato and cucumber salad splashed with some olive oil and white vinegar.
That is all. Enjoy! 

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie

100g walnuts (Jamie uses pinenuts but I despise them)
5 eggs
300 feta cheese
50g cheddar, grated 
oregano (I used fresh as we have an abundance in the garden)
1 lemon
1 tablespoon butter
400g baby spinach
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 packet filo pastry 
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 
Toast the walnuts, either in a frying pan or in the oven, until golden. 

In a bowl, crack the eggs and whisk lightly before crumbling in the feta, grated cheddar, oregano (about 1 tablespoon), zest of your lemon and a swig of olive oil. 
Chop your walnuts and add them to the egg mix, mixing well. 
In the frying pan, melt some butter with olive oil and add the garlic and half the spinach. When it starts to wilt, add the rest.
When the spinach is wilted and dense, add to the egg mixture with the nutmeg and mix well. 

Take your filo pastry out. Rip off a decent sized piece of baking paper (about 50cm long) and scrunch it up before wetting it under the tap. Shake off excess water and smooth paper out, drizzling some olive oil over the top. 
Arrange four sheets of the filo pastry in a large rectangle over the baking paper, overlapping the edges. Brush some olive oil over the top, before giving a good sprinkle of sea salt, pepper and paprika. 
Repeat until you have three layers. Carefully place the pastry (with baking paper) over a 26cm diameter frying pan and push the edges down. Pour in your egg mixture and fold over the edges to close the top.
Put the pan on medium heat to get the bottom started, giving it a few minutes until it starts to crispen up. Then place in the over for about 20 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Transfer to a chopping board and allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Slice that really satisfies

WHILE I may bag fad diets on occasion, when I’m trawling through recipes I don’t discriminate – if something catches my eye I’ll give it a whirl but I do like to put my own stamp on it.
In this case, many elements of the below recipe originally came from raw recipes but I chose to tweak both ingredients and cooking style as I felt it enhanced the flavour.
Sorry paleo preachers and raw food followers, I’m probably your worst nightmare taking your recipes, mixing them up and making them all ‘conventional’ but feel free to take my recipes and manipulate as you see fit.
That’s the beauty of baking, you can be as creative as you like or a stickler for the rules if you prefer.
This recipe tastes like a certain popular chocolate bar and like that chocolate bar, this slice really satisfies.
It’s a healthy take on caramel slice I guess, with a peanut kick.
It has no granulated sugar, meaning you can eat as much as you like! Okay perhaps not, but if you are trying to be healthier, I would suggest making sure you buy pure maple syrup (not maple flavoured syrup) a natural peanut butter (I use the Mayver’s brand) and a good brand of dark chocolate.
If it’s too difficult to track those down and you’re not too fussed, substitute the maple syrup for golden syrup and whichever peanut butter you can get, but the tahini in the caramel is quite a unique flavour and it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Do give this one a try though, in whatever way you like, it’s sure to satisfy some hungry bellies and they’ll never know it’s better for them.

Satisfying Peanut Slice

2 cups almond meal
2 tablespoons oil (I used sunflower)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup butter
½ cup maple or golden syrup

150-200g dark chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 180C and line a square slice tin with baking paper.
For the base, mix all ingredients together and squish into the tin, smoothing with the bottom of a spoon.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Allow to cool.
For the caramel, place all ingredients in a saucepan until melted and mixed well. Pour on top of base and refrigerate until set.
Melt chocolate and pour over caramel, refrigerate until set.
Carve and EAT!