Wholewheat Pear & Almond Tarts

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It’s been a while since we’ve made tarts and we started missing them this week for some odd reason. So we decided to make some with leftover ripe pears and ground almonds. We picked up this tart crust recipe at the culinary institute and it’s always been successful. We’ve used it for sweet and savoury tarts by just adjusting the amounts of sugar and salt and it’s become one of our go-to recipes now.

To keep your crust crisp, dice and keep the butter in the fridge until you need it. Work quickly to get the dough together- you don’t need to knead it, just bring it all together and let it harden and form up in the fridge during the resting period or your dough may turn out tough. Use only your fingertips to get the dough together , so you transfer less heat to the dough – the idea is to keep it as cold as possible.

If you are using this crust for a savoury recipe, just omit the sugar and add a generous pinch of salt instead.

Makes 4 9cm tarts

Ingredients 

Tart crust 

200g wholewheat flour

100g cold diced butter

20g caster sugar

1  egg beaten

2 tablespoons of ground almonds

1 egg beaten (for eggwash)

Baking beans or uncooked rice (for blind baking)

4 sheets of clingfilm , cut to squares about 10 cm by 10 cm

4 sheets of parchment paper, cut into squares 10 cm by 10 cm

Tart filling

7 medium ripe pears, peeled , cored and diced

50g butter

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsps apricot jam (or any jam you like)

Cinnamon stick

Method

Start with the crust. Place the flour & sugar in a bowl and combine. Using your finger tips, rub in the cubes of butter, sifting the flour and butter through your fingers. Try to work quickly and stop when you get a bread-crumby texture. 

Then add in the beaten egg and stir it through the beradcrumb mixture with a fork. Use your fingers to bring the dough together without kneading. Flatten it into a square (this will make it easier to roll out) and wrap tightly in clingwrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, make the filling. 

Place the pears, cinnamon stick, butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat.Allow the pears to cook until soft. Then stir in the jam. Continue to cook until it reaches the consistency you like – we like the pieces really soft but still holding their shape. Also ensure any water in the filling has evaporated before taking it off the heat and allowing it to cool. Add the ground almonds and stir through. You can put it in the fridge to help it cool faster. Pouring very hot or watery filling into the tart cases may cause the filling to seep through , so you want to make sure it’s cool enough. 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into quarters. Roll out one of the quarters to a 1/8 inch thick circle on top of a sheet of clingfilm. Then sliding your hand under the clingfilm, lift up the rolled out circle and place it directly facedown on top of a tart mould. Remove the clingfilm and then push the dough down and into the bottom of the mould. There should be extra dough hanging over the sides of the mould. Then just use your fingers to push the dough down over the edges of the mould cutting it on the edges and removing the excess. 

Dock the dough by poking holes around the the base  of the tart case with a fork. You can use the fork to press down on the edges as well, to create a pattern. Then put it in back in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.Repeat with the other quarters. 

Meanwhile roll out the leftover dough to to top the tarts. You can use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place these over the filling or go with the traditional lattice crust. Since we’re not sharing videos yet, take a look at this one to see how to create a lattice crust.

When the 20 minutes are up, take the tarts out of the fridge,egg wash the whole tart, place a square of parchment on the inside and fill the tart with the baking beans or rice. Blind bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes. Then take them out of the oven, remove the beans/rice and parchment and fill with the pears. Top with the shapes you’ve cut out or lattice crust , egg wash and bake again for another 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown. 

Dust with icing sugar before serving. 

x Anu & Suba

 

 

Beetroot and Raspberry Smoothie Bowl

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We think it’s safe to say, we’ve become fans of the smoothie bowl. They are perfect for breakfast – packed with good energy foods and lots of vitamins from fruit and vegetables, these smoothie bowls are an easy way to get a whole lot of good stuff into your system first thing! And they keep you feeling full, so great if you’re trying to stay away from midday snacking!

Makes 2 bowls

Ingredients

120g pre-cooked beetroots (we used a ready cooked pack from the supermarket)

1 cup raspberries

2  weetabix biscuits

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp sifted cocoa

1 cup almond milk

Method

To pre-cook the beetroot, cook it in boiling water till it’s soft enough to poke a fork through. You can do this the night before and leave the beetroot in the fridge overnight so you can get the smoothie done quickly in the morning. 

Add all the ingredients, except the milk into a blender. Pour in half the milk and start the blender. As the ingredients are blending, pour the rest of the milk in bit by bit until you get the consistency you want. You may find you prefer it thicker and so may not use the whole cup of milk. 

Pour into a bowl and if you like it chilled, cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge, or use frozen raspberries instead!

x Anu & Suba

Beetroot & Apple Bread & Butter Pudding 

Here’s a healthy twist on your regular Bread and butter pudding – it’s also a great way to get your little ones to eat beetroot (we know how difficult that can be !)

Bread & butter is a traditional , comforting pudding and this one uses less sugar and more fruit. 

Ingredients

8 slices of bread , lightly buttered ( crusts on or off , we like them on ) 

6 slices of bread cut into triangles , lightly buttered and with a thin layer of any jam ( strawberry , apricot , raspberry …)

6 small pre-cooked beetroots grated 

2 small apples grated 

2 cups of milk 

1 full egg + 1 egg yolk 

3 tbsps of sugar 

1 tsp Vanilla extract 

2 tbsps Creme fraiche ( optional) 

Method 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius 

Lightly grease an oven proof dish 

Place the 8 slices of bread in the dish, covering the base

Evenly sprinkle over the grated beetroot & apple

In a seperate bowl make the custard by whipping the milk , eggs , sugar , Creme fraiche & vanilla until combined 

Pout the custard over the bread and leave for 10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the custard 

Use the back of a fork to press down on the soaking bread

Place the triangular slices of bread over the top. You may need to cut the slices to fit or just push down around the corners of the dish 

Bake for 30-40 minutes. 

x Anu & Suba 


Oat, Banana & Blueberry Smoothie Bowl

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If you haven’t caught on to the rage, it’s not too late to start – we just have! Trade in a glass of smoothie in the morning for a bowl of it and use it as a canvas for fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs – excellent fun! This may be our first, but it’s certainly not going to be our last!

Ingredients

1/2 cup oats (cooked according to packet instructions)

2 ripe bananas

1 cup blueberries (we used frozen ones as we wanted a cold smoothie)

1/2 cup almond milk (you can use regular milk too)

1 tbsp greek yoghurt

Grated rind of a medium orange (optional)

Method

Cook the oats according to packet instructions – we used almond milk for the oats.

Break up the bananas and put them in a blender. Add the blueberries and the almond milk and blitz it on medium till everything is blended together.

Next, add the cooked oats, the yoghurt and rind. Blitz again on medium till combined. Empty it all out into a bowl and unleash your creativity!

x Anu & Suba

Stone Fruit Season: Plums & Cream Polenta Cake

plum & polenta

This cake was inspired by  two things – 1) needing to use a bag of polenta we bought in Switzerland last month for a family dinner but never used and 2) a recent discovery that the maroon and cream livery of the Great Northern Railway’s dining carriage in the 1940s (random fact of the day) came to be affectionately known  as ‘Plum and Spilt Milk’, which sounded like a divine flavour combination! So obviously, we had to make a cake featuring those ingredients. It turned out a real treat with a cuppa tea so we thought we’d share it with all of you.

Serves 8 (big slices) or 10 (medium slices)

Prep Time: 20 mins Baking time: Approx 50-60 minutes

Ingredients

3/4 cup muscovado sugar

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup polenta (we used fine polenta)

1 cup  sifted self-raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder sifted in)

1/2 cup double cream

3 eggs

a tsp vanilla extract

4 plums

2 tbsps strawberry or current jam

Method

Turn the oven on to 160 degrees c. Ours is an electric fan oven. Grease a round tin and line with baking parchment.

Cut the plums down the middle and twist each half in opposite directions. Slice the half with the stone in half again and twist, same as above – this will help in removing the stone. Cut each quarter into half again so that from each plum, you get 8 slices in total. Set aside.

Next, put both types of sugar together with the butter and beat until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat till well mixed in. After adding all three eggs, add the double cream and vanilla. Mix well. 

Now add half the flour and half the polenta, fold in. Now, add the other half of both and fold in until well mixed. Careful not to beat the flour and polenta in and don’t mix vigorously either. Just patiently fold it in, we promise that will be worth the effort! 

Pour the batter into your tin and smooth the surface. Now, starting from the edge of the tin, place the plum slices one next to the other, vertically, all around the tin (sneak a quick look at the picture above to see what we mean about the placing – that said, if you place it horizontally, it’ll be fine too!). Keep going till you fill up the whole top of the cake. You may want to choose the plum slices according to how they fit but really, don’t hesitate to squeeze them together or force them into shape! What you want to avoid is pressing the plums in because the cake will rise and you don’t want the plums sinking in when that happens.

Put the tin in the oven, middle shelf, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Put the cake on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and while that’s happening, zap the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds or put it in a bowl and the bowl in a bath of hot water – basically loosen the jam so you can brush it all over the cake. Brush the cake with the warm jam and leave it to cool completely. 

 

x Anu & Suba

 

Stone Fruit Season : Plum hand pies

Plum hand pies

Next in our stone fruit series are these cute hand pies made with ripe , sweet plums. This one was a hit with my daughter, probably because they were small and therefore easy for little hands to hold- its a bonus that they’re sweet and crumbly (toddlers seem to love making a mess with crumbly things!). The pastry is so simple to make and is taken off a recipe from Bon Appétit , the filling is a thick plum jam with a hint of cinnamon. Just remember to start with ripe plums.

Makes 8 hand pies

Ingredients

For the pastry

For the filling

2 cups ripe plums, stones removed and sliced

1 Cinnamon stick

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

20g butter

Equipment

Pastry cutter of any shape (we used one that is of 5 cm diameter)

Rolling pin

Pastry brush (for egg wash)

Method

First make the pastry dough. Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Then add the cubed butter, rubbing it in with the tips of your fingers until you get a coarse , breadcrumb like texture.

Don’t work the dough too much, just enough to get that desired texture. Then add the ice water slowly and form the dough into a ball. Flatten it into a square shape, then wrap it in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to firm up for 2 hours. 

While waiting, make the filling. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the plums , sugar, salt, cinnamon stick and water. Stir to combine all the ingredients.

Cook the plums until they completely soften , melt and become a jam. This could take about 30 minutes over low heat. Keep stirring, especially towards the end so the jam doesn’t stick to the pan. 

Once the filling is ready, take it off the heat and let it cool. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

When the pastry is ready, take it out of the fridge and place it on a  floured surface. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Dust your hands and your rolling pin with flour too. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1.5 cm. Then using a cutter of your liking, cut out as many shapes as you can. Re-roll the leftover dough and do the same. 

Lightly brush the cut-outs with the egg wash, this will help to ensure the filling doesn’t soak through the pastry. Place half a tablespoon of filling in the middle of one cut-out , then place another cut out on the top- egg washed side down. Repeat with the rest. You now have your pies. 

Using a fork, press down the edges of each hand pie to seal them. Using a small sharp knife, make 2 small vertical cuts on the top of each pie. Then lightly egg wash the tops of each hand pie as well. 

Bake in the oven for about 15 -20 minutes until the pies are golden. 

x Anu & Suba

 

Stone Fruit Season: Oven Caramelised Nectarines with Mascarpone, Ricotta & Honey

 

roasted nectarines

Tis’ the season for stone fruits and we pay tribute to them this week, starting with this very quick and easy recipe featuring nectarines. Serve it up as dessert on a warm Summer afternoon or pile it on toast or pancakes for a fast and fancy brunch treat.

Most nectarines are sold slightly underripe because, like most stone fruits, they bruise very easily. So after buying nectarines, let them ripen for a couple of days at room temperature before eating or using them in cooking. If you can’t find nectarines, you can replace them with apricots for this recipe.

caramelised nectarines

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients

6 nectarines

2 tbsps melted butter

4 heaped tbsps brown sugar

125 g mascarpone

125g ricotta

1 vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds (or a tsp of vanilla extract)

Honey, for drizzling

Method

Turn the oven to 180 deg c. Line a baking or roasting tray. 

Cut around the nectarines and twist open. Remove the stone from the middle by carefully cutting it out. If it’s quite ripe, the stone may easily be pulled out. Slice each half of the nectarine into 4 slices. Place these on the baking tray.

Melt the butter and set to the side. Sprinkle the sugar as evenly as possible over the nectarine slices and carefully pour the melted butter over  the slices so that all the nectarines are coated. Place this in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the sugar caramelises and the nectarines are lightly browned. They don’t have to brown evenly, all we want is for the nectarines to be coated with the delicious, sticky brown caramel.

While the nectarines are roasting, mix the mascarpone with the ricotta and add the vanilla – either the scraped out seeds or the extract and mix well.

Once the nectarines are done, leave them to cool down and then transfer them to little bowls or plates, dollop the mascarpone and ricotta mix on top and drizzle a teaspoon or tablespoon of honey over  them (depending how sweet you like it!). Alternatively, smear the cheese on a slice of toast or some pancakes or dollop on waffles and arrange the nectarine slices on top and then drizzle with honey. We also sprinkled the tops with lightly toasted poppy seeds but almonds could work really well too!

x Anu & Suba