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Archive for the ‘blue cheese’ Category

Beetroot and bluecheese tart

I have a confession: I love beetroot. I steam them whole, peel them and eat them like an apple. I love them raw, grated or chopped into a salad. I love them hot, cold, salted, honeyed, mashed, sliced, boiled, grilled, red, golden, candy striped and even pickled in a summer salad. My Mr P, though, as wonderful as he is, is no big fan of the beet. Thus, in my sneaky, sly way, I have to disguise them as something other than a beet-plucked-from-the-ground if I’m going to get (a) him to eat them and thereby (b) have them for my own dinner too.

We had friends over for dinner last night, an occasion that happens far too infrequently in my opinion, and I found out that one of the guests has a slight aversion to beets as well. Digging deeper I found that the reason for this is because he thinks back on beets as the dish served with coleslaw in dodgy take away restaurants. Now, is that a challenge or what? How could I not try to win over two people with one tart? It’s so much better on the beet side of life. Oh my, well personally I loved this tart. I have no idea if the other oh-my-gosh’s were genuine or subtly faked, but I didn’t really care. The crust was thin and super crisp and the fennel and caraway popped up now and then to mingle with the stronger cheese and beet flavours. The walnuts warmed the whole thing up in the mouth and I think this is one to make again, serve hot, cold or maybe ,because the crust is so light, on a baguette the next day.

The pastry is made with oil, not butter, so has a great, light flavour. I’ve been wanting to make an oil pastry for a while now. They’re all the rage, don’t you know. I’ve yet to try a sweet one.

*the trick with this rather crumbly pastry is to roll it out on one of those thin, flexible, plastic surface protectors (or a well held down piece of parchment) and then put the pie dish upside down on the rolled pastry, flip and voila.

Beetroot and bluecheese tart 2

Beetroot, Bluecheese and Walnut Tart

for the pastry:
⅓ cup quinoa flour
⅔ cup plain white flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
pinch salt
½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
½ tsp caraway seeds, also crushed
⅓ cup walnut oil
1 egg white

4 medium beets
1 large red onion
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or veg oil)
80 g blue cheese (I used Bleu d’Auverne)
⅓ cup walnuts, coursely chopped

Make the pastry:
– combine all the dry ingredients and blend well

– add oil and egg white and mix until a dough just forms.

– wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for a half hour

– pre heat oven to 350˚ F ; roll out (on a loose board, see note above recipe) and line a 9″ tart tin

– cover with parchment, fill with beans or rice and blind bake at 350˚ F for 15 mins. Let cool.

Make the filling:
– steam the beets for about 20 mins. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and slice thinly

– peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat oil on a medium to low heat and saute the onion gently until soft and caramelised ; about 20 – 30 mins ; allow to cool a bit

– spread onion over base of tart ; dot with bits of cheese ; arrange beets on top ; add remaining cheese and walnuts

– bake for 20 mins at 350˚F

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Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and blue cheese sauce

I grew up on the Highveld, where the Summer Thunderstorm reigns supreme over all weather. They are mighty and godly storms which seem to make the earth tremble at their power and lash gallons of watery bullets at us mere mortals. They don’t last longer, usually, than an hour or so, but their intensity leaves the earth looking and smelling freshly scrubbed and sparkling clean. They arrive from November onwards, two or three times a week, late in the afternoon, when the days heat as built up a lethargic haze around everything and mirages shimmer down the end of the street. Their first big, plopping drops turn to steam on the tarmac and create a low, foggy haze for a few minutes before the real water arrives. I loved where I lived because you could always see the approach of the storm long before it arrived, the enormous, billowing clouds almost black with vengeance and the tell tale white anvil pointing the way high above the drama. A few minutes before the rain arrived to interrupt a Summer swim or drench you on your walk home from school, ruining your squelching school shoes (much to Mum’s horror), there was the squall. The strong, warm wind smelling of earth and wet and Summer. I loved it. I would stop my intrepid walk, turn my face to the wind and breath in Africa. I miss that now. I live on the 10th floor with a view towards the weather and I see the threatening clouds of rain sweeping in from the west, but somehow nothing lives up to the power of an South African Highveld Thunderstorm.

Rain on a school day, however, meant more than just drenched shoes and less swimming time. It meant crepes. My Gran, who lived with us, would be timeously putting the first ladle of batter onto a hot, buttered skillet as my brother and I came through the door, laden with wet jerseys and soaked books. Sugar and cinnamon, with just a dash of fresh lemon were the flavour of choice. In fact, up until early adulthood no other flavour even existed in my world-du-crepe, and it’s still a classic I love to bits. But up we grow and flavours a fancy we will find, so here’s something a little more substantial for a light dinner:

Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and blue cheese sauce 2

Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and Bluecheese Sauce (served with a peach, corn and pistachio salad)

for the crepes:
1 cup Quinoa flour
1 tsp dried thyme
pinch salt
2 eggs
1½ cups soy milk
2 Tbsp olive oil

for the filling:
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
grated beetroot, to make about a cup (I used 7 small Italian beets)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
½ cup water
2 tsp cornflour
2 Tbsp cream
about 50g semi hard blue cheese of your choice
salt and pepper to taste

first make the crepe batter:
– mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl

– beat the egg with the soy milk

– add the egg to the dry mix and beat until smooth.

– add the olive oil and mix well. The batter should be quite thin and runny. Add more milk if needed. Let stand while you make the filling

make the filling:
– heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 5 mins. Add the beetroot and maple syrup. Season and let simmer gently on a low heat with the lid on for about 10 mins while you make the sauce and crepes.

make the sauce:
– heat the water in a small saucepa.
– mix the cornflour with a little cold water to make a paste. Add to the warm water, stirring continuously until thickened. Add the cream and cheese and season to taste.

cook the crepes:
– put your oven on its lowest setting and the rack as low as it can. Put a plate in the oven to keep warm.

– heat a heavy bottomed, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add a couple drops of grapeseed or other high burning point oil if desired. Using a soup ladle, put one ladle of batter into the hot pan, quickly swirling the pan to spread the batter evenly.

– as soon as bubbles pop on the surface (just a few seconds) flip the pancake and cook a few seconds on the other side before removing to the plate in the oven.

Assemble:
– when all crepes are cooked, spread a spoon of filling over the crepe, to taste, and roll up. Cover with sauce.

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Apricot and Stilton Pots

These are perfect for a brunch or a tea or just a little snacky thing. The apricot and cumin flavours really work well with the rich flavour of the Stilton. Good apricots are a difficult thing to buy. They’re such a delicate fruit, which bruise so easily when ripe, that the suppliers pick and ship them while green and let them ripen off the tree. When I was growing up we had some fruit trees on the property: peach, plum and apricot, and nothing compares to a hand-picked, quickly eaten apricot, warm from the sun. My gran used to make jam from the fruit, which could never compete with anything bought in a store. Of course, living on the 10th floor of a building in the middle of the city, makes growing your own a little difficult, so I’m making do with what I have and when I find some in good nick, I have no choice but to buy them immediately.Apricot and Stilton Pots

Apricot and Stilton Cups

Makes 12 small cups

Pastry
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp fennel seed, crushed
125 g butter, chilled
¼ to ½ cup chilled water

Filling
¼ cup ground almonds
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
62 g butter (3 Tbsp)
½ tsp Cumin
± 100g English Stilon cheese

6 fresh aprictots, halved and stoned

to make pastry: mix all dry ingredients well. Chop butter into 1cm cubes and blitz in the food processor, or rub with your fingertips until mix resembles breadcrumbs, or oatmeal. Add cold water and mix just until dough comes together. Separate into two even pieces, flatten into discs, cover with cling wrap and refridgerate about 20 mins

– on a floured surface, roll out one disc at a time to about 3 mm in thickness. Using a cookie cutter or a small bowl, but rounds a bit bigger than the diameter of your muffin tins. Grease each tin (or uses muffin papers) line with pastry and refrigerate the whole sheet for 10 mins.

– Blind bake the shells at 350˚ F for 7 – 10 mins. Allow to cool.

to make filling: Mix all ingredients except cheese with a beater until smooth. Crumble cheese into mixture and fold in gently

– fill each shell with about 1½ Tbsp of cheese filling

– top with half an apricot, skin side up

– bake at 420˚F for 20 – 25 mins until golden

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Asparagus, spinach and Danish Blue cheese tart

A little something for lunch.

During the Summer, here in Toronto, there’s a Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday afternoons in the Trinity Bellwoods Park. I popped in a week ago and bought all sorts of fresh, seasonal and organically grown produce. Stuff thathasn’t been sitting in a van for a day on it’s way to a store, stuff that hasn’t been packaged in useless, throw-away, environmentally infriendly packaging. Despite the fact that today’s show was rained out by a tremendous, cleansing thunderstorm, I had wanted to make sure I had used up all the remainders before restocking. Voila, a gorgeous, easy little set of quiche-style tarts to eat for lunch, or a starter for a Summer picnic in the park.

Asparagus, Spinache and Danish Blue Quiche

1 Portion of whole wheat savory tart shell pastry

15 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped (about 300g)
1/2 tsp castor sugar
salt and pepper
15 ml plain flour
4 large eggs
3 tbsp crem frais
280 ml low fat milk
100g Danish Blue cheese
60 ml grated Parmesan

-Heat oven to 375˚F

-Make pastry ; blind bake individual tarts ; cool

-Heat oil and butter gently in a skillet and sautè onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 mins. Add spinach and thyme and sugar and cook another 5 mins until soft. Let cool slightly.

-Beat eggs, crem frais and milk in a large bowl

-Fold flour into spinach mix, season to taste ; mix into egg mixture

-stir in aparagus, blue cheese and half parmesan

-fill tart shells with mixture, sprinkle with remaining parmesan and bake ±30 mins until set

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