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Archive for the ‘blackberry’ Category

white chocolate tart with blackberries 1

I’ve been using Mr P’s camera for the last while to take blog photographs, seeing as how I’m still a poor and starving artist. Wait. Did I just say ‘starving’? Well, hardly, but I’m still holding out for the camera I long for and in the interim I’m a Borrower. On Sunday I did something I’ve never done before, trained as I am with the reflexes of a cat (ahem) and dropped Mr P’s appropriated private possession, destroying the focus and retraction on the lens. Not wanting to beat about the bush for too long I ran out at first light, well 10am when the shops opened doors you must be a stickler for detail, and purchased a replacement model, which is shiny and new, with bells and whistles (the old one just had the bells) and fits in to the hand like it was born to be there. The proof of the pudding, as always in this house, is in the eating, so we’ll have to wait and see the first foodie photo’s it takes before we judge.

In the mean time, perhaps I could interest you in a little something something for that sweet tooth. A little derivative from Sylivie, who somehow always leaves me feeling a little breathless and under qualified in the baking department.

*note: this recipe needs about 6 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight. It’s great for entertaining as you can make the shells and filling the day before and just whip up and decorate the tarts before your guests arrive.

white chocolate tart with blackberries 2

White Chocolate Tarts with Black berries

for the pate sable:
200g butter, softened
pinch salt
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp + 1½ cup flour

for the filling:
70g white chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp + 60 ml Cream

1 punnet black berries, washed

make the pastry:
– beat the butter with the almond flour, salt and sugar until creamy.

– add the egg, vanilla and 1 Tbsp of the flour and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

make the filling:

– in a bain mare, melt the chocolate with the 2 Tbsp cream

– when the ganache is smooth, remove from heat to cool a bit. Add the rest of the cream and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

– whip the chocolate cream until it’s stiff. It whips up really quickly.

– fill the baked tart shells and top with black berries.

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Muslie pancrepes

We’ve all heard it a thousand times before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’ve heard it from our mothers and fathers, from our doctors, our teachers, our newspapers and magazines. I had to learn the hard way to start the day off right. I used to wake up late, being a committed fan of Club Duvet, rush through my morning routine of showering, dressing and general cleanliness and then dash out the door and head off straight to work. “I’ll grab something at work” I used to tell myself, but apart from a cup of tea or coffee, I very often would get so absorbed and distracted by work that I’d look up, famished, at 3 0’clock and wonder why I felt so tired and lack-luster. Now I know: if I skip a meal, I won’t make it through the day without needing to put my head down. And while I love a nap now and then on a rainy Sunday, there’s really just so much I’d rather be doing. During the week, as a rule, I usually start the day with a lovely bowl of muesli, which I custom make from my little jars of grains, seeds, nuts and fruit, with a dollop of yoghurt and a generous mug of fresh Cafetiere-style coffee. Weekends, when the ever delightful Mr P is around, is when the fun happens. So what do you do when you’ve had a long weekend full of the fun and you’re somewhat fed up (so to speak) with eggs over easy and blueberry pancakes; but your husband wants something a bit more elaborate than a bowl of cereal? Well, a wise woman would tell you, marriages are all about compromise, non?

Voila.

*note: due to the lack of plain flour gluten (I’m guessing here) these Pancrepes don’t hold together as well as ordinary crepes, so they’re somewhere between Crepes and all-American breakfast pancakes. Hence the name. Get it?

Muesli PanCrepes with Berry Compote and Cream Cheese

for the pancakes:
½ cup + 2 Tbsp Quinoa flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp ground oatbran
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp ground cornmeal (not corn starch, but finer than Polenta)
1 Tbsp ground Almonds
1 tsp baking powder
½ Tbsp maple sugar (or use caster sugar)
pinch salt
1 cup rice milk (or cows milk)
2 eggs, beaten

for the compote:
1 cup berries of your choice (I used wild blueberries and blackberries)
¼ cup water
½ Tbsp maple sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

cream cheese to serve

1: make the batter

– combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk

– combine eggs and milk. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

– leave to stand for 20 mins or so, while you make the compote.

2: make the compote

– combine fruit, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Keep warm while you make the pancakes.

3: make the pancakes and serve

– put a plate on the lowest rung of your oven and turn the oven onto it’s lowest setting. Put a small dollop of butter onto the plate.

– heat a non stick skillet or frying pan or griddle on a medium to high heat

– using a soup ladle, drop one ladle of batter onto the hot surface at a time, swirling the mixture around the pan a little to spread it out. The end pancake should be somewhere between crepe and pancake thickness.

– when bubbles begin to pop on the surface, carefully turn the cake over using an egg lifter and cook the other side.

– when the pancake is cooked, put it in the oven on the plate while you cook the rest. If you’re feeling indulgent, plop a little piece of butter onto the top of each crepe while it waits for its neighbour.

– serve with fruit compote, cream cheese and plenty of Maple syrup.

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Pear and blackberry tart with chestnut flour pastry

Since the first time I read about it, in a book given to me by the hosts of a Water Colour holiday * I went on last year, called “Simple French Cuisine from Provence and Languedoc”, I’ve been wanting to use, and looking for, Chestnut Flour. The idea intrigued me. Can you make pastry with it? I found some in a bin in a bulk health food store eventually and bought a bag, even though I had no idea what to do with it.

After a bit of reading, I found that it’s a traditionally used flour in parts of Italy and France, among other places, when other flours are unavailable. And traditionally, the pastry I wanted to make was done on a counter top, like pasta pastry. You know the one: you dump all your flour onto your counter top in a nice big pile, make a well in the middle and throw the eggs into it. Well, I’ve never done this before, but I’m not one to back down from a challenge it I can help it. It was a bit of a tricky, sticky task, and after 15 mins of kneading the eggs and butter into the flour I was covered head to toe in the fine chestnut flour and my hands up to my wrists were a sticky, icky mess. Of course I’d forgotten to take off my wedding ring, so all it’s crevices are now caked in dried pastry. Eventually, in exasperation, I put the whole lot in a bowl and mixed it with a wooden spoon, adding more flour until a more manageable consistency was reached. If I hadn’t been laughing so much I would have been cursing!

Well, the end product is still delicious. Does anyone have any tips for working with Chestnut Flour? Any help is appreciated!

* The McEwans run a wonderful workshop holiday, whether you’re there for the lessons, the cuisine or the insightful personal guides to the area and local towns near Lodev. The hosts are warm and intimate, the food, cooked by Mrs McEwan, is inspiring, fresh and hearty and the skills available to you from Mr McEwan are invaluable whether you’re a watercolour hobbyist or a veteran painter.

Pear and blackberry tart with chestnut flour pastry 2

Pear and Blackberry Tarts with Chestnut Pastry

makes 6 tarts

for the pastry:
2½ cups Chestnut Flour
2 sticks butter, soft
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Jumbo egg

for the filling:
¼ cup ground almond
⅓ cup Sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp Vanilla Essence

1 just ripe pear, quartered, cored and sliced finely
1 punnet blackberries

– make the pastry:

– beat the softened butter with the sugar until creamy

– add the egg and flour and mix, using a spoon and then your hands, until a soft dough is formed. Add more flour is necessary.

– flatten into a disc, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 45 mins.

– grease and flour pie tins.

– in a small bowl, mix almond, sugar, egg, butter and vanilla until well blended. Refrigerate for about 30 mins.

– using pastry in bits (keep the unused amount in the fridge in the mean time) roll out on a floured surface and line pie tins. Refrigerate for 10 mins before filling.

– divide filling cream between shells, arrange pears and berries. I placed a piece of pastry on top of each pie for added decoration. (if doing this, brush lightly with milk so that it browns in the oven)

– bake at 325˚F for 30 – 35 mins until browned and yummy.

these are best served warmish with whipped cream

Pear and blackberry tart with chestnut flour pastry 3

chestnut-tarts-comp.jpg

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First Summer Pears

I’ve been away for a while, though it hasn’t been on a holiday! I’ve had a deadline looming and the only way to get it done, I figured, was to put my head down, close off the rest of the world and focus on the task at hand. What that meant in practical terms was No More Cooking! And though, from time to time I sneakily had a quick browse through some of my favorite food sites (My Mr P has taken to calling them my Food Porn), I’ve really just not had the time to do any real cooking this week. Now, my deadline is next week and I still have a truck load to get through, leaving me feeling rather overwhelmed and delirious, but last night I looked up, my neck and wrist stiff and sore from days spent slouched over my little Mac, and decided I needed a little break. After all, I rationalised, I’m going to be working the whole weekend. Might as well clear the head a bit.

So, I’m back. And I’ve missed my food! I’ve been eating in too many restaurants, on top of everything: it’s so much easier to grab a bite out than have to deal with the dishes after a long day of computer work. I was not made for computer work. I’m ironically happy that my day job is not in front of a computer all day.

I have so mush to say. I’ve been building up all sorts of things in my head with no release until now, so bear with me here! I did a quick run to the Organic Market and picked up a few bits and bobs, but I left all the interesting stuff alone, knowing that I wouldn’t have time to cook it. Fruit and veg, after all, are best eaten within a couple of days of purchase. But it gave me a fantastic idea of what’s available, locally, at this point in the season, so when I found myself in the area of the St Lawrence Market this morning I knew what to look for.

The only thing I remember about Blackberries, from the one time, years ago, Id tried them is how tart they were. Other than that, not much really. Meh, I’d think, seeing them in shiny plastic punnets in the Loblaws, I can take them or leave them. Until now, that is. When a blackberry is picked ripe and not left in cold storage for a few days while it’s rushed from California (or wherever they are grown for the mass market), and sold close to the source, it’s flavour is overwhelming. The only other berry I’ve found to compete with this intense, passionate flavour is a fresh, almost black, Bing cherry, still warm from the sun. Mr P absent-mindedly popped one in his mouth as he sauntered past the kitchen counter on his way to the couch. He stopped. His eyes actually increased in size and he uttered one word. “Wow”, he said, “what are these?”, and retraced his steps where he promptly started guzzling the little treasures. “Good, hey!”, I joined him. “But leave me some, please, I have an idea for a tart.” Of course, that didn’t help. They were just too good! We slowly snacked through them and so when I was at the market today that was the first thing on my list.

What I did with them? Up next!

berrypear-comp.jpg

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Berry Bowl

 

At the market on Friday, I was overcome completely by the astounding variety and sheer volume of delicious looking berries. Red currants! Strawberries! Raspberries! Cherries! Blueberries! Blackberries!

Ontario is a couple of weeks behind the States in terms of crop growth and even though we’ve been able to get fresh berries for a while now at the market, this time they were from the local area, fresher and sweeter looking than the previous punnets which have obviously had to be driven in from across the border. How could I resist? I couldn’t, not in the least, and ended up having to carefully, and delicately balance far too many berries in the basket of my bicycle, hoping the whole way home that the ones on the bottom wouldn’t end up a pulpy, juicy mess by the time I made it back. There are definitely downsides to deciding to travel by bicycle through the city. I can’t wait to get a rack and set of baskets on the back of my bike as well so I can do more shopping at one time.

I arrived home still grinning with the excitement of my find and unpacked all my purchases on the kitchen counter, only to stare in post-purchase disbelief at the pile left there. So many berries, and all so beautiful and tempting, but what was I going to do with them all? Surely they wouldn’t last the time it would take to think of something lovely to do with each of them and finish eating what was made. I couldn’t let them go to waste, and there was no concievable way I could have not bought them in the first place. Okay, so let’s look at what there is: red currants, sour red cherries, sweet black cherries, deep red raspberries, strawberries, green gooseberries and fresh rhubarb. Rhubarb is another thing I can’t seem to resist buying when I find it: it’s so rare and its season is so short.

When I saw the gooseberries,
I pounced on them immediately, berries-2.jpg
a slightly crazy, wicked glint in
my eyes. I’d been keeping a wary
eye out for these for a while now.
The reason is simple. In South
Africa, what I was brought up
believing was a gooseberry
(and which my Granny had a
bush of at her front door and
on which we feasted as children)
is actually known as a Cape Gooseberry,
though I’ve seen the same fruit
referred to as a physalis or a
ground cherry. I’d never seen
them before, but having read
about them in Jam Faced recently,
I couldn’t wait to see what all
the fuss was about.

Which led me to the decision to simple preserve a bunch of the fruit, before it could ruin, and have it ready to eat whenever the mood should strike. Jam! I was going to make jam! And it turned out to be a rainy Sunday today so what better way to pass the time?

Raspberry Orange Flower, Red Currant Sour Cherry and Gooseberry jams

I made three kinds:
a simple gooseberry jam,
which left me in no doubt
as to who the real gooseberry
is (yum!) a raspberry and
orange flower jam
,
which is so delicate
and delicious, I might end
up eating it by the spoon
and a red currant and
sour cherry jam
, which I left
quite tart and a bit runny
because I have a wicked plan
for its future… watch this space!

Jams are really easy to make, despite what you’ve heard to then contrary, and I love how making them reminds me so of my Gran.

With the rest I made some divine little strawberry and rhubarb tarts with a fresh custard, made slightly lighter than the previous post by using half milk half cream and the sweet black cherries are to become a cherry clafouti soon.

Of course, now I have three egg whites left over in the fridge from the custard, but again, you’ll have to wait to see what I do with those.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart w Custard

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Tart:

Pie Crust of your choosing. A vanilla one complements the strawberries well.

2 ½ cups chopped rhubarb (1cm pieces)
1 ¼ cups hulled and quartered strawberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour

Preheat oven to 420˚F

– make pie crust, refrigerate for ½ hour before rolling out and lining 6 mini tart cases. Refrigerate 10 mins.

– mix pie ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes so that the fruit juices run out a little and soak up the flour and sugar. Mix a couple times until fruit is well coated.

– divide evenly between cold pie crusts, bake at 420˚F for 10 mins, then lower oven to 350˚F and bake for 45 mins.

Sour Cherries and Red currants

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