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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Glazed Fruit Tarts

Fruit tarts make quick, delicious and economical desserts – it is amazing just how far one or two apples can go! Use any fruit in season and glaze them with either apricot jam or redcurrant jelly. Add a little alcohol to apricot glaze like grand marnier, cointreau or brandy and reduced red wine to redcurrant jelly.

I am a sucker for redcurrant jelly with red wine and the marriage of this with pears is just about as good as it gets. I do not bother too much about measurements as you will see below and I buy the puff pastry. I make sure I always have a good supply in the freezer.

Buy pears ready to slice otherwise buy hard pears and cook them in the red wine during the reduction process.

1 x 375gm block of frozen puff pastry
3 pears
1 bottle full bodied red wine
1 cinnamon stick, 2-3 cloves optional
300gm jar redcurrant jelly

Preheat oven: 180C

Grease a tart tin, roll out the pastry, and place the pasty in the tin, use a fork to prick a continuous line about half an inch in from the edge all the way around the pastry. Place the tin in the fridge for half an hour. Pour the red wine into a medium sized saucepan, add spices if using and the pears if necessary and cook until the pears are soft. Remove the pears and the spices and keep reducing the wine until there is about 2 Tablespoons left. When the pears are cool enough, if they needed cooking, slice and arrange overlapping each other on top of the pastry.

Brush the visible edge of the pastry with a little milk or cream and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the pastry is brown and cooked. Remove and cool.

Add the redcurrant jelly to the wine and reheat until it has melted. Brush the glaze all over the tart using it all up. Leave until the glaze has thickened – about ten minutes and serve, sliced in large squares with a big bowl of thick fresh cream or ice cream. The addition of fresh red currants, dipped in egg white and dusted with icing sugar, scattered over the top of the tart looks stunning.

For apricot glaze, excellent with apples and fresh apricots, buy a jar of apricot jam fruit free. If you can only find jam with fruit pieces in it then strain them out. Heat the jam gently, add a splash of your chosen complimentary alcohol then brush the hot glaze over the cooked tart. Toasted almonds scattered over the top add another dimension.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sole Food

The first and only time I saw someone pocket a sole was at Billingsgate market in London a very long time ago. Not literally though it would not have surprised me in such a place in those days! I rushed home afterwards, not wanting to forget, clutching a couple of soles and set about to successfully pocket both and I think I stuffed them with grapes as in Sole Veronique but my memory is a bit hazy about that part of the story.

At the Sydney fish markets yesterday I went on the search for flat fish having suddenly remembered the technique and thinking it would be worth including on the Food Vine. We don’t often see flat fish locally so I took full advantage of where we were.

Any flat fish is suitable but make sure to choose your fish from sustainable sources.
Flounder is best, Sole, as long as it is MSC certified but Plaice is a no go.

1. Remove the head.
2. Trim the side fins with a pair of scissors, then trim the tail.
3. Imagine the fish in four sections, two each side. Take a sharp knife, place your hand on top of the fish to steady it, make an incision with the point of the knife in the top of the first section then slice against the bone all the way down into the fish making a pocket as you go between the flesh above the bone and the bone itself. Repeat second section.
4. Turn the fish over and repeat as above.
5. Take your scissors and cut down through the bone inside the fish as close as you can to the inside walls. Repeat other side.
6. Cut and remove as much bone as you can.
7. Turn the fish inside out, carefully and without tearing and cut out the remaining bone.
8. Snip the small bones from the sides close to the edge
9. Turn the fish back the other way.
10.Wash the fish out.

Fill the pocket with a filling of your choice and poach gently in white wine, fish stock, salt, pepper and a little onion for about fifteen minutes. Make a veloute sauce from the poaching liquid.

I have not included a recipe for this dish – it is simply the technique.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

making the most of citrus

Our orchard is heavy with blood oranges, lemons, limes and orange blossom - all crying out to be picked and dealt with in some fancy way. Not wanting to miss this opportunity I made up the following: Two bottles of limoncello two batches of glazed limes and blood oranges and 750ml of orange blossom cordial. I also zested and juiced a lot of excess fruit and froze it in ice-block trays for that rainy day when the fruit is scarce and the heady perfume of our orchard can come flooding back to me.

It really is a good idea to juice excess citrus. If you don't have an orchard buy lots when it's cheap this saves time by guaranteeing measurement and gives you a plentiful supply at any given moment. My ice-block trays hold 30ml a slot speeding up cooking times for future recipes. Blood oranges only have a very short season and are so worth capitalizing on in this time frame. There is nothing quite like their taste and flavour. I freeze all citrus zest but I blanch it three times from cold water starts before doing so. This takes away the bitter taste while softening it at the same time. Once the contents of the trays are frozen either wrap them in cling film or remove the blocks and place them in plastic bags for easier storage.
Glazed Blood Oranges
250ml water
250ml granulated sugar
6-8 medium sizd blood oranges
Use a 30cm (12 inch) frying pan and melt the sugar and water slowly over a low heat. Stir until boiling point then lower heat to a simmer and add the fruit, carefully. Don't worry about the pips and take the risk of damaging the fruit - they pop out during the cooking and can be removed with tongs - if you miss a few it doesn't matter. Cook until the fruit is sticky and the liquid has almost evaporated. Allow to cool and place each slice carefully into an airtight container and refrigerate. Substitute: limes but use about 10. Use either glazed fruit as a garnish for desserts, sliced pates or in drinks.
Orange Blossom Cordial (if this link breaks use the search option above)
In addition to my previously published recipe I strained the cordial and flowers through muslin before pouring into the sterilize bottle. I used 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water and it was quite tart. Add a little more sugar if you have a sweet tooth. Delicious either way. I only had borage flowers for my ice-blocks - multicoloured edible flowers look wonderful. Yield this time: 700ml