Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Raspberry Curd Tart

Today's bake was inspired by a recipe from this month's Olive which was a Blackberry Curd Tart but instead I fancied using raspberries instead to see if that would work well.

Being in school today for Summer School, I took the magazine in to have a read through and get the list of ingredients, unfortunately on leaving, I wrote down the ingredients and promptly left the recipe at school, sounds like the beginning of a Bake Off technical challenge this.

For the pastry I used my usual sweet shortcrust pastry recipe and techniques. For the filling I broke down the raspberries with a little bit of sugar over a low heat to extract all the juices and then shoved it through a sieve to remove all the pips. To this juice I mixed in the condensed milk and 3 large yolks and turned the oven low and cooked the filling gently until set.

I was slightly disappointed upon mixing the ingredients as I was expecting a vivid red but alas it wasn't to be. The end result however was a success; crisp pastry, very smooth light curd filling that was slightly more sweet than sour but with some extra raspberries on top soon brought it back to the sour side.

Not a bad result for a recipe less baking session.

Raspberry Curd Tart
210g Plain flour
35g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tsp of water
1 egg white (to brush the cooked case)

300g raspberries plus extra for the top
1tsp caster sugar
1 tin of condensed milk (397g)
3 large yolks

Uses one 20cm tart tin

Mix the flour and sugar together, add the butter.
Rub the butter into the flour gently between your fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the yolk and water and mix together.
Using your hands bring together the mix into a dough ball, don't overwork.
Wrap tightly in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30mins to an hour.

Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, placethe  dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top.
Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out).
Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry gently into the tin and press gently into all edges.
Take a square of greaseproof paper and place over the pastry, fill with lentils, baking beans, coins and blind bake for 12-15 minutes at 180C (fan)
Remove the paper and items and bake for a further 12-15 mins, keep an eye out, when it reaches a golden colour you are happy with then take it out.
Brush with egg white and place back in the oven for a minute or so.
Take out and leave to cool completely.
Turn the oven down to 150C (fan)

Place the raspberries and caster sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until it breaks down and releases all the juice.
Push through a fine sieve until all the juice is separated from the pips.
Stir in the condensed milk and egg yolks until fully combined, the colour should be uniform.
Pour into the cooled tart tin.
Place into the oven (150C) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Serve with some ice cream and the extra raspberries


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Friday, 26 July 2013

Spinach salad with Dates & Almonds

 Ottolenghi is currently one of my favourite chefs. I have eaten at his restaurant/deli outlets several times and gone back multiple times just for the cakes and patisserie available. His recent programme Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast was a superb tour of that region and his books are stunning with many recipes pairing ingredients together that you wouldn't normally consider as well as showing new ways with old ones. His Plenty book would happily send me vegetarian if I didn't like meat so much.

So I was very happy to get his latest book (co-authored with Sami Tamimi) Jerusalem to cook from for Dom's Random Recipe Challenge this month. The challenge was a lot more simple than usual, instead of us randomly picking the book it had to be the 30th book and the 30th page to celebrate the 30th random recipe challenge, how time files.

The recipe on page 30-31 was a salad.

Now the word salad is a word that comes with negative connotations regarding dieting or dire offerings with a tired old iceberg and a dull tomato. In the world of Ottolenghi however, the salad is a glorious feast for the senses and this one is no different...
Sweet, slightly sticky dates, offset with sour lemon and sumac. crisp fried pittas, crunchy almonds and soft spinach leaves with just the slightest hint of chilli heat all combine together in a superb salad that can be happily eaten as an entire meal instead of being relegated to a side dish. Simple but brilliant.

Spinach salad with Dates & Almonds
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
100g pitted medjool dates, quartered lengthwaqys
30g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pittas, ripped to small pieces
 75g whole almonds, roughly chopped
2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
150g baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice

Add the dates and onion to a bowl with the white wine, mix and leave to marinate for 20 minutes, drain any remaining vinegar off and discard.
Heat half the oil with the butter in a frying pan and cook the almonds and pitta over a medium heat for 5 minutes until golden and crispy. remove from the heat and sprinkle over the chilli flakes, sumac and a pinch of salt. Set aside to cool.
Toss the spinach leaves with the pitta mix, add the dates and onion, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Serve immediately.


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Monday, 15 July 2013

Orange and Polenta Cake

While Britain slowly roasts under a blazing sun and the 'news'papers report that the end of the world is upon us all because the mercury exceeds 25C the last thing you probably want to do is go into the kitchen and bake a cake when you want to go outside and bake yourself, preferably with a beer or chilled wine baste.

But hold on just one minute and get yourself inside (or get up early while it's still quite cool) and make this little gem of a cake I found on Good Food.

It is a simple cake with no fancy toppings which would melt like a ice lolly on a barbecue or in the case of cream, go off faster than you can whip it. It keeps very well for a few days and it is definitely a summers day cake with a lovely golden colour and deep orange flavour from the soaking liquor.

I altered the recipe slightly as the original stated to wait until the cake is cold to drizzle it with the syrup, that in my mind is a silly idea. While it is still warm, stab it all over with a toothpick or similar then brush the syrup over so it soaks in and then repeat until it's all used up, this keeps it deliciously soft and tasty.

Orange and Polenta Cake
250g unsalted butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
140g polenta
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest and juice 2 oranges (less 100ml juice for the glaze)
Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients and the zest and juice after removal of 100ml.
Transfer to the tin and spread evenly.
Bake in a preheated oven a 160C/140C(fan) for about 45 minutes until a skewer can be removed clean.
Turn out onto a wire rack.
Add the sugar and juice to a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, allow to cool.
Stab the cake with a toothpick then brush the glaze over the top, keep brushing as the cake absorbs it. Leave to cool completely
Serve with a bucket of ice cream.

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