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Archive for the ‘vegetarian’ Category

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Every couple has it’s story; the telling of which makes them look somewhat coyly at each other and smile knowingly and that raise, once again, all those fluttery, buttery feelings of l’amour. The dashing Mr P and I met in a gorgeous little restaurant serving fabulous little meals, and if that wasn’t an omen for a happy future, I couldn’t tell you what would be.  The speciality of that restaurant, the dish we would in the future, on numerous special occasions re-order and be delighted with every time, was, as so many brilliant signature dishes are, a simple, homely affair prepared to simple perfection.  A tomato tart, to tomatoey, so tarty that it seemed, surely, a cinch to whip up at home.  Time and again we’d order that tart, savouring each bite, meditating over each flavour and then I’d go home and try to recreate this seemingly simple delight.  To no avail.  No amount of research, no pugnacious attempt at different ingredients, different temperatures and different seasonings brought that tart out of my oven.  Well, to each chef his secret, and the chef of that lover’s treat will sink his ship with the recipe on board.

However.  That’s not to say I won’t stop trying, and while I’ll have to satisfy myself with the thought that the original tomato tart sits safely in it’s intended home, I’ll keep on whipping up versions of my own.  None of which have come as close, if not in adherence to what the original seemed to be, at least in overall effect to that perfect tomato tart as this one has.  Perhaps it’s the concentrated flavours of the cherry tomatoes, or perhaps it’s the mixture between the sheep’s milk and parmigiana cheeses, which in truth I used simply because I wanted to finish up the last bit of an excellent chunk of sheep’s milk cheese I had lying around in the fridge.  Or perhaps it had to do with the teff flour in the pastry, of which the original surely had none.  Truth is I just don’t know.  I do know, however, that this tomato tart was a dream, a reminiscence, a revival of old memories and caused one or two coy glances on the parts of Mr P and myself.

*note: I made the pastry using teff pastry, which worked brilliantly, but if you want a blander crust use plain flour one to one for the teff.

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Super Delicious Tomato Tarts

For the pastry:
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup plain flour

¼ cup teff flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ cup / 1 stick cold butter, unsalted, cubed
¼- ⅓ cup iced water

for the tart:
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 punnet (about 300g) baby cherry tomatoes, halved on the equator
50 grams hard sheep’s milk cheese, like a percorino, finely grated
50 grams parmigiano regano, finely grated
1 cup basil leaves, washed
black pepper

make the pastry:
– combine all the dry ingredients, mixing well.

– rub the cold butter into the dry ingredients until you have a mixture resembling oats porridge.

– add just enough water so that a dough just starts to form.  As soon as it all starts coming together, stop mixing.  Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it a bit, cover it in cling film and refrigerate for about 40 mins.

– in a small bowl, mix the tomato paste, garlic, shallot, vinegar and oil.  Let mixture rest at room temperature while the pastry chills

– preheat the oven to 400˚F

– divide the dough disc into two.  Roll each piece to form a long rectangular shape, about 20cm by 30 cm

– spread half the tomato paste mixture on each rectangle, to withing 1½ inches, 4cm, of the edge

– combine the two cheeses and sprinkle half the mixture over each base on top of the tomato mix.

– now top each base with the basil leaves and then finish off with the tomato halves, skin side down, still keeping that 1½ half edge of raw pastry.  Give each tart a generous grinding of black pepper.

– fold the bare edges of pastry up and over the side of each tart, folding and crimping as you go to secure.  Don’t worry if it looks a little messy, that’s half the charm.

– bake for 25 minutes and then leave to rest outside the oven for about 5 minutes before eating.


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Oh, don’t shoot me.  Another recipe I diligently wrote down while making and have since misplaced somewhere in the maelstrom of my kitchen notes over the last few months.  Listen, people, do as I say and not as I do.  If you’re going to be making up recipes and fabricate wonderful new concoctions in the kitchen, keep a whole notebook, bound and sturdy and without loose pages in which to write said culinary experiments.  Do not, as I do, keep a post-it pad in the cutlery drawer on which to scribble, somewhat illegibly and often covered in some un-named sauce, your moments of cuisinary Eureka.  So bear with me here as I try to back track in my mind and remember what went into this little morsel of yumminess you see before you.

The shell, I remember well, is a simple shortcrust.  No difficulty there.  If you need a recipe, this is a good one, but make only half the required amount as you don’t need a lid for this pie.

The filling was a pint, at least, of dark, almost black, Bing cherries; pitted and halved, or halved and pitted whichever order you like to do that in. 

Next would have been a little bit of flour and a little bit of sugar.  Again, I can’t give you exact measurements, but I’d estimate ⅓cup sugar and a ¼cup plain flour. 

Then a generous amount of dark chocolate, cut into chunks.  Hmmm.  Lets guess at 100g, 70% cocoa.

Of course, the rest seems fairly simple.  Preheat the oven to, oh, 375˚F.  Line a springform cake tin with the pastry and chill in the fridge for 10 mins.  Fill the shell with the cherry/chocolate mix and bake for about 30 mins, or until the pastry is turning a golden brown and the filling is bubbling merrily away.

Chill for about 10 mins outside the oven before removing from the springform.

Brilliant eaten still warm with a good dollop of vanilla ice-cream.

Good luck!  And please, if anyone can see a major blup in my thinking here, shout shout shout.

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Broccoli and Pepita Pesto w truffle oil & applecider vinegar

For a little dinner, which the dapper Mr P and I had with some fun friends last night, we decided to explore our decadent side a little with both a dessert course and a cheese plate. Is that a gasp I hear in the corner? Both dessert and Cheese? That’s crazy, I hear you yell. Crazy, yes. Delicious, definitely. But in order to survive such decadent and lavish behaviour, one must make sacrifices in the total volume of food presented. Therefore, an executive decision was made by the cook and her sous not to make an appetiser. Is that another gasp I hear behind me? No Appetiser? At a sit down dinner, a Winter dinner?! How barbarous! Ha. And you thought you knew me better.

I did, however, think it rather uncouth to allow any guest our home to wallow in the joys of pre-dinner wine and conversation without just a little something to stay the hunger for a while. Enter the Amuse Bouche. Remember this little gem? Well, with a little twist of the Truffle-oil wrist and a sniff of apple cider vinegar added to the mix something that was already pretty darn good turned into something simply gorgeous.

On an aside; that bottle of truffle oil given to me by the vivacious Mr W has been one of the best food gifts ever given. I’ve had a certain reluctance to ever buy one of those little, fancy bottles of truffle oil you see in speciality food shops on the basis that if I was going to ever eat a truffled anything, it was going to be a truffle omelet in the South of France in November one day. Some food experiences, in my humble opinion, should be saved for the Real Thing. Macaroons? I’m waiting for my next visit to Paris. Jamon de Bellota? The next time I find myself in the south east of Spain, I’m in. But until then, I’m quite happy to read about it, build up my expectations and tuck into some Prosciutto. So, I’d never even thought to buy a bottle of truffle oil here in Toronto but when dear Mr w cooked up an absolutely mouth watering penne with afore mentioned truffle oil, the aroma, the taste, the entire experience had me begging for more. The trick, it seems, as in so many things in life, not what you know but who. Knowing someone who makes there very own truffle oil from fresh truffles and sells it not in those dinky, if cute, little bottles for the price of your first born’s university fees but in a decent sized amount for an unpretentious amount is all it takes to convert me to the truffle side. Thank you, Mr W, you’re a gem.

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Green beans with cranberry and almonds

Finally I have a few recipes up the sleeve to share. Although, to be honest, these aren’t so much recipes as food combinations we’ve been having for dinner. It’ll have to do, though, until something more inspiring comes along. I’ve had a string of culinary disasters in the kitchen recently and while part of me (the part that is still trying to remember which cupboard we unpacked the measuring cups in to) knows it’s the teething period of cooking in a new and untested kitchen, part of me just wants to go down to the pub on the corner and get their soup of the day for dinner. Again. Oh well, we keep trying. A dry broccoli and pepita pesto can’t really be blamed on the too-hot hob (unlike the burned-on-the-outside, soggy-on-the-inside pumpkin fritters I tried making for tea on Sunday) but it certainly goes well with the theme of over-crispy offerings and charred remains I’ve been serving from that kitchen this last week. So I decided to stop the train and dish up something so simple it needed but a few minutes anywhere near that hob of hell. Oh, bear with me while I sort out these annoying little glitchettes in the Kitchen. Le sigh. Ca ne va pas!

Green Beans with Cranberries and Almonds

a big handful of green beans (about 200g)
⅓ cup dried cranberries
boiling water
⅓ slivered, unblanched almonds
1 Tbsp Grapeseed oil (or other veg oil)
Fleur de sel
Fresh black pepper

– put the cranberries in a small bowl and just cover with hot water. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 mins.

– clean and trim beans

– heat oil over a medium heat and add beans, stir-frying for about 3 mins until bright green

– add cranberries, with water, and stir until water has mostly evaporated

-add almonds and cook for minute more

– season with salt and pepper.

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