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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pear and Frangipane tart with Amarula Custard

I think this picture says my 1000 words; it's everything about this little number that I want you to know.

Pear and Frangipane tart with Amarula custard

I don't think people use pears enough in desserts, but they are a firm favourite of mine. The pear and frangipane tart is by no means an original idea - this is just my cheeky take on the original idea. It is important to get large, juicy ripe pairs and to have a delicate hand when making this recipe, all the flavours are delicate and the poaching, pastry making and putting together require some love and time. But then again I think all good food needs that.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

100g butter
200g flour
1 tbsp castor sugar
90 ml cold water

Pears (to poach):
4 large pears (pealed, cored and halved)
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod (deseeded)

frangipane filling:
75g butter (at room temp)
100g castor sugar
2 eggs (at room temp)
100g  PnP blanched almonds (blended until powder)

Chocolate leaves: (if you want to)
80g dark chocolate
non-poisonous leave to paint i.e. lemon leaves

Amarula Custard:
2 eggs
3 tbsp cornflour
2 cups milk
1 cup amarula

For the pastry:
Pop the butter, flour and sugar into a food processor and blitz until the texture resembles bread crumbs. Add the water whilst blitzing again until the pastry comes together and forms and a rough ball. Dust a working surface with flour, turn out, bring together and roll into a ball. Cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for 20 min. Meanwhile:
Preheat the oven to 180*C

For the pears:
Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod
Bring the sugar, water and vanilla seeds up to the boil and pop the pears into a sauce pan, cover and simmer for 12 minutes until the pears are just tender. Remove from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool.
(At this point, if you want to go the extra mile, you can reduce the vanilla and sugar water until it becomes a thick syrup to glaze the pears.)
Roll the pastry to fit into a loose bottomed tart tin in the shape of your choice (I used a rectangular one). Grease the tin and press the pastry into the tin so that the edges overlap slightly. Prick the pastry and blind bake for 1o minutes, then remove covering and bake for a further 8 minutes until pastry is beginning to lightly brown on the edges. Set aside to cool.

For the frangipane filling:
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Add the blitzed almonds and flour and fold through. spread evenly through the bottom of the tart case and top with the cooled pears. Baste pears with a little sugar syrup. Baked for 25-30 minutes, until set and starting to brown. Remove and set aside to cool.

To make the chocolate leaves:
Simply melt the chocolate and paint a thick layer of chocolate on the back of each leaf. Allow to set on a plate, leaf-side down. Once set, carefully peal off the chocolate and set aside until needed

To make the custard:
Mix together the milk, flour and eggs in a heavy-based saucepan and whisk over medium heat until thickened (enough to coat the back of a spoon), add the Amarula and continue whisking until thickened.
Serve generous slices of the tart with spoonfuls of custard and decorate with chocolate leaves.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Avocado cake with lime and cream cheese icing

When I think 'avocado' I think guacamole, salsa, tortillas, spicy goodness. I don't think cake. This time I thought cake, and it makes sense; you often describe avocados at 'buttery' in texture - in fact they make the perfect substitute, only they are much better for you. Not that I am knocking butter, I LOVE butter, but you know what I mean. The avocado gives this cake a little bit of the x-factor, the flavour is delicate and creamy and when complimented with the thwack of lime and cream cheese icing, it's a recipe that will wow any discerning-dorris or grumpy-gertrude.

Avocado cake with lime and cream cheese icing

1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup ripe avocado (about 1 ½ avocados)
2 cups self raising flour

For icing:
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 ½ cups icing sugar (depending on size of lime you might need a little more/less)
1 tbsp cream cheese
100g pistachios to garnish

Preheat oven to 180*C and grease a loaf tin.
Beat eggs and sugar together with an electric beater until light, fluffy and doubled in volume. (This is very important and may take up to 6 minutes)
Mash/blend/beat avocado well so that it is smooth and silky.
Sift the flour and add together with the avocado. Fold through gently, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure none of the avocado goodness is left behind.
Pour into the loaf tin, even out the surface and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. (Insert a skewer/knife into the centre and if it comes out clean, then the cake is done.)
Allow to cool completely before taking out of the loaf tin and icing.
For the icing:
Mix together the icing sugar, zest, juice and cream cheese until you have a firm but smooth icing.

Use a knife to smear onto the top of the cake and sprinkle over pistachios.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Eggs in bacon-wrapped avocado nests

Sometimes when you come up with a recipe as a foodie and it works and is oh-so delicious, the joy it brings is insurmountable. Avocado and bacon are two ingredients that make just about anything better, put the two together and you're virtually guaranteed a generous slice of joy.  

These breakfast morsels are unbelievably good and will satisfy even the most enormous of hungers or hangovers. The avo doesn't brown or soften in the cooking process and the egg is kept perfectly soft with a slightly runny yolk for ultimate breakfast satisfaction! They are even great cold!

Eggs in bacon-wrapped avocado nests

Ingredients: (serves 2)
6 slices of streaky bacon
1 avocado (ripe but firm)
2 small eggs
salt and pepper
cherry tomatoes (if desired)
toasts to serve

Preheat the oven to 200*C.
Lay the bacon out on a baking tray in 2 rows of 3, overlapping each slice to make 2 rectangles.

Halve the avocado, remove the pip and carefully peel each half.
Hollow out a little of the middle if the pip hole seems too small to fit a small egg, also slice a small segment off the bottom of the avocado halves so that they sit without wobbling.
Place each in the middle of a rectangle of bacon.
Crack an egg into the pip whole of each.
Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap the avocado halves in the overhanging bacon.
Scatter cherry tomatoes into the tray, drizzle over a little olive oil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Serve on toasts.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beef and ale pot pies

Beef. Ale. Pie. Three very good words and when you put them together you can’t help but create magic. These are just that. Enough said.

Beef and ale pot pies

Ingredients: (makes 6 small or 1 large)
3 tbsp olive oil
500g beef shin meat (net weight after bones removed and sinew and fat trimmed)
Salt and pepper
1 sweet potato
4 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 onion
750ml ale/milk stout
1 handful fresh rosemary
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 beef stock pot/cube/liquid sachet
50g tomato paste
2 tbsp flour

150g butter
pinch salt
300g flour
120ml cold water

1 egg, whisked with a little water for egg wash

Cut the meat and the veg into 2cm cubes.
Heat 3 tbsp olive oil on high heat, in a large, non-stick pan.
Add the beef shin, season generously with salt and pepper and fry until browned on all sides, about 5-7min.
Remove from the pan and place into a large saucepan, leaving the juices in the frying pan to fry the veg.
Now put the chopped carrots, potato, celery and onion into the pan, season with salt and pepper and fry for 5-7min until just starting to caramelize.
Add to the beef shin.
Pour a little of the ale/stout into the frying pan and ‘deglaze’: basically, you stir with a spoon to loosen any leftover caramelized beef for added flavour and pour into the saucepan with the meat and vegetables.
Add all the remaining ingredients except flour, stir, cover and put on low heat to simmer gently for 1 hour.
Mix the flour together with a little water and a little of the ale gravy and stir through the pie mixture. Cover and simmer for a further hour. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the pastry; pop the butter, flour and salt into a food processor and blitz until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the cold water and blitz until the pastry comes together to form a ball. Cover with clingfilm and pop into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180*C.
Dust a surface with flour and roll the pastry out to a thickness of about ½ centimetre.
Spoon the pie filling into 6 large ramekins/pie dishes or 1 large pie dish.
Cut circles out of the pastry to fit the pie dishes, spread the edges with a little water to help the pastry stick to the dish/dishes and press over the sides to form a tight seal. Poke a few wholes in the centre of the pies/pie.
Decorate with remaining pastry, brush with egg wash and bake for 45 minutes until golden and gorgeous.
Serve with a simple salad.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Warm potato, leek and endamame salad

A winter salad. What does that even mean?...Well in my little mind it means a salad that you can actually eat and enjoy on a cold day, because you see, the majority of it is warm. Light flavours, great textures, very simple and you can adapt it to your liking. If endamame beans are difficult to find (I get mine from the local Chinese supermarket), you can use mange tout, sugar snaps or cooked broad beans instead.

If you want to use this as a side dish it goes perfectly with just about everything - no I am being serious, so serve it with anything and everything and let me know...

Warm potato, leek and endamame salad

Ingredients: (serves 4)
3 tbsp olive oil
250g par boiled new potatoes (halved)
50g baby leeks (sliced)
1 cup endamame beans
For the dressing, mix together:
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
To serve:
80g mixed leaves, I would recommend a combination of baby spinach, watercress and rocket

Place a non stick pan on high heat and pour in olive oil.
Once hot, place potatoes into oil, cut-side down and fry until beginning to crisp, about 4 minutes, turning once.
Add leeks and a pinch of salt and fry for a further 6-8 minutes turning constantly, until leeks are soft and caramelised on all sides.
Add endamame and dressing and fry for a further 3 minutes, covered.
Spread the salad leaves onto a serving dish and spoon over warm potatoes, leeks and endamame beans as well as any dressing in the bottom of the pan.
Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wines to drink for less

This is a fun little post about awesome wines to buy for around R50, yes it's possible :) All available at Pick 'n Pay. I won't bore you with my personal nose impressions of these 7 little treats mostly because it would all be rubbish, but know that they are good, as well as cheap - what's not to love??

First up "Buitenverwachting Buiten Blanc" A mouthful to say but also delicious by the mouthful. Crisp, grassy the usual trollop related to these two words - but also a great go-to white wine. You'll get this for R50

Leeuwenkuil Chenin Blanc. Light and fruity, perfect for daytime, sunshine drinking. R30 it's a bargain!

The Wolftrap. Never mind blowing but if you are looking for a light red it wont disappoint and at R35 it's hard to.

Roodeburg red blend. The most expensive on this list but smooth and tasty and at R60 it's in the same league as Kanonkop Kadette, which is just up there at around R70.

Porcupine Ridge Syrah. Same wine farm as The Wolftrap, and once again a crowd pleaser - if you like heavier red wines then this one's for you. R50

Alto Rouge. When in doubt. It's a great wine, a blend of 5 grapes including cab franc and cab sav, it's fruity but isn't disappointingly light - whatever that means (Writing about wines always makes me laugh because you really can go tangents of absolutely nothing) R54.

Krone Chardonnay Pinot Noir. Boschendal were the first to copy Haute Cabriere and now Krone have done it too, and brilliantly, you can't tell the difference but it's half the price R54. Done.