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Double Chocolate Tart

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I call this Double Chocolate Tart as it has a rich dark biscuit pastry chocolate shell, filled with  – wait for it – dark and milk chocolate! So maybe it’s a triple chocolate tart?

This was our dessert for Easter Sunday lunch, on March 27. It’s rich, dense, bitter sweet and a little goes a long way.

I served the tart with strawberries, some of them chocolate dipped, and fresh figs, which in Sydney in our warm and sunny Autumn, are ripe and plentiful. And whipped cream, just to cut through the “chocolateyness”.

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Ingredients

For the pastry:

175g unsalted butter
75g icing sugar
2  free-range egg yolks
200g plain flour
50g dutch cocoa

For the filling:

150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate
400ml cream
2 free range eggs +1 egg yolk lightly beaten

To decorate:

Strawberries, dark chocolate, fresh figs, or any other fresh fruit of your choosing. Orange segments would be lovely!

Method

I make this pastry recipe in the food processor, but you could do it in an electric mixer or by hand. I use the food processor because it’s easy.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor. Add the eggs and yolk and mix thoroughly. Sift the flour and cocoa. Have 25ml of cold water ready. Add a little of the water and all of the flour/cocoa mix and pulse using the processor, stopping every now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add as much of the water as you need so that the pastry comes together into a ball. Remove from the processor, wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a surface dusted with flour  until about 5mm thick. This pastry is quite soft and delicate, be gentle, and you may need a little extra flour for rolling out. Line a 18cm or 20cm loose-bottomed tin with a circle of baking paper. The smaller tin gives you a slightly higher filling, the bigger a flatter tart.

Carefully line the tin with the pastry. Have a bit of overhang of pastry at the top – you can trim this after baking. Chill for 30 minutes. Line the pastry case with more baking paper and baking beans or rice and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and the beans and return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin, then trim any pastry edges.

To make the filling, place both kinds of chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan on the stovetop and gently bring to a simmer. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes while the chocolate melts, then stir to make sure the chocolate and cream is combined.  Stir through the lightly beaten eggs, then pour the mixture into the tart shell.

Put into the oven, turn the temperature down to 140 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour or until the filling is just set and wobbles in the middle if you gently move the tin. The shallower the filling, the less time the tart will take. As with so much cooking, your cook’s judgment is needed here to know when the filling is just right!

Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin. Place in the fridge and chill for at least an hour. I made the chocolate tart the day before and chilled overnight. Bring the tart to room temperature before serving.

Serve with any fresh fruit you fancy. I dipped some strawberries in melted chocolate, and scattered these with fresh strawberries and fig quarters on the the top of the cake. A dollop of whipped cream looked good too.

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Jamie Oliver Figgy Banana Bread

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Another lovely recipe from Jamie Oliver’s healthy cookbook Everyday Super Food. It’s a banana bread that is very flavoursome and sweet with remarkably, no sugar! The sweetness comes from the bananas, dried figs and apple. This quirky writer has a sweet tooth, and this recipe really satisfies me.

Reading and cooking recipes from Jamie’s book I’m appreciating that cooking with healthy eating in mind doesn’t mean cutting down on deliciousness. Jamie’s Smoothie Pancakes full of blueberries that I cooked recently, are luscious, sweet and satisfying.

Ingredients

250g dried figs

75ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

125g natural yoghurt

1 tbs vanilla extract

4 ripe bananas

2 large free-range eggs

150g wholemeal self-raising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

100g ground almonds

1 tbs poppy seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 apple

50g whole almonds (skin on)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 25cm baking tin with with scrunched sheet of wet greaseproof paper. (You could bake the mixture in a large loaf tin for the more conventional banana bread look. I like the cake tin idea as the bread is so sweet and so rather cake-like.)

Place 200g of the figs in food processor with the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled and roughly chopped bananas and eggs. Blitz until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, poppy seeds and turmeric and pulse until only just combined. Coarsely grate and then stir in the apple.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Tear or chop the remaining 50g figs into pieces. Scatter over the mixture, pushing them in slightly. Chop the almonds and scatter over. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until until a skewer inserted into the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve as is, or with any combination of yoghurt, honey and home-made nut butter. I made brazil nut butter to serve with my banana bread.

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Nut butter

To make 1 jar:

Place 200g of any unsalted nuts in a preheated 180 degrees C oven on a baking tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 5 minutes. Tip the nuts into the food processor with a small pinch of sea salt and blitz. The blitzing takes a while for the nuts to be finely ground and then to turn into nut butter. Stop blitzing occasionally and scrape down the the sides of the processor. When the nut butter is the consistency you personally like – from crunchy through to super smooth – store in a jar.

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Jamie Oliver’s Pomegranate and Chicken Stew

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A beautiful, fragrant and easy dish to prepare. The pomegranate molasses gives it a really spicy and rich flavour. Somewhere between a stew and a tagine.

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The dish has all those wonderful Middle Eastern flavours, but unlike a tagine, cooks in less than an hour in a cast iron casserole or heavy bottomed pan on the stove top.

Here is the original: http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/recipes-view.php?title=pomegranate-aamp-chicken-stew

As usual I have tweaked a couple of things in my version.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 higher-welfare whole chicken, jointed  (I removed the skin from the pieces for a more healthy dish)

2 tsp paprika

2 onions, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp sambal oelek

2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped, plus extra for the rice

300 ml tomato passata

4 tbsp pomegranate molasses

200 ml pomegranate juice (use store bought + the juice from the pomegranate from which you derived the seeds)

Coconut rice*

Pomegranate seeds

3 fresh figs, quartered

Method

Heat the oil in a casserole over a medium heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika, then brown in the hot oil for 7–8 minutes. Remove the pieces to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, add another splash of oil with the onions. Stir well, being sure to catch the sticky bits at the bottom of the pan. Cook slowly for 15 minutes, till onions are soft, adding the garlic, chilli and the coriander for the last 5 minutes. Stir in the passata, molasses and pomegranate juice, season well, then bring to the boil.

Return the chicken with any juices to the pan, cover and lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened, checking often that it’s not sticking.Toss in a handful of pomegranate seeds.

Scatter the rice with the extra coriander, then place the chicken on top and scatter with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

I served the dish with fresh figs on the side as a refreshing taste to offset the pungency of the sauce.

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*Coconut rice

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cup boiling water

1/2 lemon

Method

To make rice, combine the rice, coconut milk, boiling water and lemon in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, turn down heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until rice is almost cooked. Turn off heat and leave rice to finish cooking.

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Fresh Fig, Taleggio and Walnut Pizza on the Grill

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Another pizza on the grill using autumn produce. Figs were plentiful, relatively cheap in Sydney and delicious, during the Indian summer and early autumn.

I added my current favourite cheese, taleggio, with walnuts. Taleggio and walnuts are a match made in heaven, in ravioli, in salads, grilled on cape seed bread and of course on pizza.

The grilled pizza is my usual recipe, featured several times on this blog.

Ingredients
Dough

2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups bread (strong) flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings

2-3 fresh figs,sliced
100-150g taleggio cheese, torn into chunks
1 tablespoon chutney or sweet onion relish, or to taste
A handful of walnut pieces, roughly chopped

Method
Pizza
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

Scatter over fresh figs, taleggio cheese, chutney or sweet onion relish and walnut pieces.

Return to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears are heated through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with a scattering of greens – rocket, baby spinach or similar and fresh herbs.

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Easter Sunday Pastries

 

IMG_0754Easter Sunday 2014 and another beautiful balmy day in the Easter holiday break. Lunch in the garden again, this time lamb to mark the special day.

I barbecued a butterflied leg of lamb, served it with baby new potatoes, Bill Granger’s Asparagus, Pea and Feta Salad (again) and a green salad.

Dessert was the star today – two different pastries focusing on seasonal fruit.

Fig and Raspberry Mille Feuille

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Not really a recipe, more an assembly.

Roll out a quantity of store-bought puff pastry (I buy Careme brand as it’s a butter puff and is very light).  The amount you use is entirely dependent on how many mille feuilles you want to end up with.

Cut into long rectangles. Bake according to the directions on the packet, usually about 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Remove from the oven and cut rectangles into individual pastry lengths. Whiles still warm flatten gently if the pieces are too”puffed”. You can also split the pastry in half to make it easier to fill, and also so that each half of the pastry is not too hard to eat.

When cool, fill with whipped cream flavoured with a little vanilla paste and fresh fruit. I used figs and raspberries as both are delicious and good value at the moment in April in Sydney.IMG_0739

Bill Granger’s Pear Shortcake

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I made a strawberry version of this cake last week and it was so more-ish I had to do it again! This recipe is closer to Bill’s but I included plums as well as a good dollop of my plum and raisin jam.

Ingredients

Filling
30 g unsalted butter, softened

40 g caster sugar

2 small pears and 4 plums

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 tbsp plum jam*

Milk, to brush the pastry

1 tbsp demerara sugar

2 tbsp flaked almonds

Shortcake pastry


125 g unsalted butter

125 g castor sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

175 plain flour

50 g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

Method
Place the butter, caster sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes until the butter melts and sugar dissolves.

Add the chopped pears and plums and cook over low heat for 8 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Remove from the heat and stir through the plum jam, being careful not to break up the fruit. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

For the shortcake, beat the butter and castor sugar until thick and creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour, almond meal and baking powder, then stir until combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to just bring the mixture together. Divide the dough in half, pat in to discs, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease and line a 24cm springform cake tin. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a round about the size of the tin, then press one round into tin. Spoon the pear and plum mixture and any juices over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge.

Top with the remaining dough round and press the edges together to seal. Brush with milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar and flaked almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes or until until golden (cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly). Cool in tin for 20 minutes before carefully removing from the tin.

*The recipe for plum and raisin jam: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/04/28/autumn-jams/

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Fig and Apple Tarte Tatin

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Tarte tatin is one of my favourite tarts to make because it’s so easy.

I bought some lovely fruit on the weekend from the Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield.There is a particular fruit and veg stall that stocks some varieties of fruit not commonly available. Intrigued, I bought some apples and pears on spec just to taste and to assess their “cookability”.

The apples, pictured below are “Belle de Boskoop” and, as the sign said, they are good for cooking, so I included them in my tarte tatin. IMG_4010Figs are still plentiful and relatively cheap in the autumn months, so they went in the tart too.

I made this tarte tatin without a recipe, so here is a guide to concocting the delicious tart.

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Ingredients

A couple of tbls butter

A couple of tbls brown sugar

1/4 cup liqueur muscat or tokay or botrytis dessert wine

3-4 figs quartered

1-2 cooking apples sliced

Store bought puff pastry (must be butter) to cover the tart

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C fan forced.

Melt the butter in heavy bottomed frying pan or tarte tatin pan*. Add the brown sugar and cook gently till butter and sugar are amalgamated. Add the muscat or other alcohol and cook till the liquid has reduced slightly and thickened. Place the fruit in the syrup and cook gently till the fruit is softened but still holds it shape.

Place a disc of puff pastry over the top of the tarte tatin pan if using, or transfer the fruit and syrup to a shallow cake tin and place the puff pastry on top.  Cook for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C then turn oven down to 160 degrees C and cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes or until the pastry is browned and puffed on top.

Remove from oven, leave for 5 minutes. Carefully turn out onto a serving plate. Serve warm with thick cream or ice cream. Also great cold as the juices thicken and the flavours meld.

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*Tarte tatin pans are specifically designed to cook the fruit on the stove top and then can be transferred to the oven for baking. Available from cookware shops.

 

 

Caramelised Figs

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This recipe is based on something from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. The caramelisation of the figs comes from creating a toffee syrup and adding butter and balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients

4 firm black figs – for 2 people or 1 very greedy person!

2 tbs Icing sugar

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

4 tbs caster sugar

20 gms butter, divided into knobs

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.

Place figs in a bowl and sprinkle with icing sugar. Drizzle over 1tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Roll the figs in the icing sugar and balsamic to make sure they are well covered.

Melt the caster sugar in an oven proof dish or frying pan over a low heat. The sugar will melt and turn a deep caramel colour. Be careful not to stir the sugar as it will crystallize.

Add the knobs of butter, stirring carefully to amalgamate. Add the other tablespoon of balsamic and 1 tablespoon of water. Carefully taste – the sauce is hot – and add a little more vinegar if the sauce needs more piquancy, or a little more water if the sauce is too thick.

Add the figs and gently baste with the liquid.

Place the dish in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Baste the figs a couple of times during cooking.

Serve warm or at room temperature with thick cream. I like Jersey cream – it’s very thick and has a rich smooth taste.

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