“Malted Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Tart” from “Stirring Slowly”

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I have cooked a great many things over the years, but never a tart. So I don’t know what came over me when I decided to make this although I do have a thing for raspberry and chocolate, it has to be said. When yesterday’s plans were cancelled it felt like the time had come to open the cookbook and start making this tart. Until making it, I had no idea how many ways a tart could go wrong. But I persevered, despite the crack in the pastry and when I overfilled the case with filling and when the two kinds of filling mixed together in the case. And I am so glad I did. It is a showstopper of a tart. Literally taking our breath away with the combination of flavours. Will I make it again? Now that’s a good question…I might. You never know! The flavours are quite something. And it’s always good to try new things. Who knows, maybe I will become a maker of tarts, especially if they all taste as wonderful as this! Watch this space.

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“Malted Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Tart” from “Stirring Slowly”

“Blackberry Tart” from “Sirocco”

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Hastily taken photo in the middle of book club. Apologies for the quality. 

When we went to see Sabrina Ghayour demonstrate this book, she said she always struggled with making pastry until Raymond Blanc showed her the method she describes in this recipe. If only we could all have personal lessons from Raymond Blanc to learn how to make things. Sigh.

But the point is, the recipe and the instruction she has for the pastry are very clear and easy to understand. So if you struggle with pastry, you might want to read and make this one.

I’ve now made this tart twice: once for Sunday lunch and another for my book club. It was yet another Book Club triumph.

Using pistachios as the base was interesting and delicious. However, here’s a top tip: try to find and use pre-shelled pistachios. The second time I made this, I couldn’t find them, so I had to shell pistachios instead. It was fine– it was a beautiful day so I did the task sitting out in the sunshine– but it’s much, much quicker to use the pre-shelled ones.

Delicious. Would eat again.

“Blackberry Tart” from “Sirocco”

“Sausage and lentil stew” and “Pear and cinnamon tart” from “Easy Meals”

Anna: We’re multi-tasking: blogging whilst rocking the baby to sleep. It’s the only thing we can do in the dark.

Peter: Not true. We could watch the Monte Carlo rally.

Anna: Technically yes. So, last night’s dinner. What did you think to it?

Peter: Initial impressions: Where is it?

Anna: What do you mean?

Peter: The portions for the casserole were small.

Anna: I thought it was just right. But you do like more than two sausages.

Peter: In retrospect it was quite filling. But on the plate it looked small.

Anna: There’s a solution for that. Serve on it on a smaller plate.  I liked the way the sausages just fell apart. That may have been because they had longer in the oven than the recipe called for as I had to keep the dinner warm while I fed the baby. But it was a great recipe – dead easy, really yummy and we’ll be doing it again as it’s perfect for the type of meal we eat in the evenings now.

Peter: The tart was nice. Simple and fresh.

Anna: I loved the way it filled the house with the smell of cinnamon. I’m a sucker for cinnamon.

Peter: This was a zero effort recipe was it?

Anna: Your mum made it and I think it was pretty easy. She did say though that she couldn’t toss the pears in the butter and sugar mix as the recipe called for because the mixture went solid. Instead she crumbled it on top, like a crumble in fact, and it worked very well I think.

Peter: It was a good meal. Hearty winter fare.

“Sausage and lentil stew” and “Pear and cinnamon tart” from “Easy Meals”

“Pea, asparagus and Parmesan tart” from “Good Things to Eat”

Anna: I’m not really a tart person….

Jane: Guffaw! I don’t know, I’ve known you a long time  – have you forgotten the Nineties?

Anna: Thank you for that. As you well know, what I mean is that I seldom make tarts, quiches, those sorts of things. In fact I think I manage one a year.

Jane: Well this is beautiful.

Anna: I’d call it ‘rustic’. The pastry is threatening to fall apart. I’m not quite sure why, as I followed the recipe. It’s pastry alchemy. I don’t have the secret.

Jane: Did you make the pastry from scratch?

Anna: Did I hell. There’s a limit to how much work I’m prepared to do on a Sunday morning, even if I have the Archers Omnibus to keep me company.

Jane: It reminds me of the south of France. It’s delicious. Can I have another slice?

Anna: It is very good, isn’t it? But it’s not very filling. I put more parmesan in than it called for too, but I think it’s because there isn’t enough filling mixture. It feels like there’s more pastry than tart, if you know what I mean.

Jane: I do. It looks quite big and rich in the dish, but once you put the slice on the plate it looked a bit thin and sad.

Anna: Though that might have been because the pastry fell apart, as feared.

Jane: We had enough for seconds, and I still think it was delicious. Thank you for my lovely lunch!

“Pea, asparagus and Parmesan tart” from “Good Things to Eat”

“Smoked mackarel and goat’s cheese souffle”, “Roast pork belly with a fennel and garlic rub”, “Butternut squash and chickpeas with cumin and coriander” and “Salted caramel chocolate tart” from “Entertaining at Home”

Anna: For the souffle, Peter had to go out on a ramekin hunt in five inches of snow.

Peter: They’re real buggers to shoot!

Zoe: With their little legs — ‘you’ll never take me alive!’

Anna: They must difficult to spot in the snow.

Continue reading ““Smoked mackarel and goat’s cheese souffle”, “Roast pork belly with a fennel and garlic rub”, “Butternut squash and chickpeas with cumin and coriander” and “Salted caramel chocolate tart” from “Entertaining at Home””

“Smoked mackarel and goat’s cheese souffle”, “Roast pork belly with a fennel and garlic rub”, “Butternut squash and chickpeas with cumin and coriander” and “Salted caramel chocolate tart” from “Entertaining at Home”

Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast

Anna: We decided that we wanted to do a proper blow-out feast, after the many abortive midweek Ottolenghi meals that we’ve cooked.

Kirstin: We wanted to give it a full crack of the whip!

Anna: Luckily neither of us was working this afternoon, because it was potentially going to be a massive faff.

Tom: But was it?

Anna: If either of us had been doing it on our own, yes. With the two of us it was still a faff.

Zoe: But was it an enjoyable faff?

Kirstin: Yes, we watched wartime documentaries in between, while things were in the oven.

Anna: And we sang along to the Brandenberg double-violin concerto as we peeled five heads of garlic, clove by clove. Between the two of us it took 40 minutes. The two most annoying things were the cloves of garlic and the bloody cardamom pods.

Kirstin: But you have such good wrist action, Anna! (Zoe guffaws)

Anna: How do you know about my wrist action? It’s all those years of violin playing! With the cardamom pods I had to get Kirstin to open the window. Two tablespoons of cardamom pods, and you had to bash them all up, and take all the seeds out of all the pods! It was about 40 pods! It was like, Christ, take me now. I bashed my head with the pestle. Or was it the mortar? Anyway, we cooked the “Watermelon and feta” to start. I’m going to compare it against the Nigella recipe. Her recipe is watermelon, feta and black olive. She has olives, lime juice, mint and flat-leaf parsley, rather than basil. But everything else is the same. So we cooked that, and then “Caramelized Garlic Tart”.

Kirstin: We called it Vampire Pie.

Anna: And then “Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli”. Continue reading “Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast”

Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast