Tag Archives: tart

So Can You Cook? 12

For the record, I like my chocolate straight.” Roald Dahl

As winter approaches, as days get shorter and the air a bit chillier, our thought start to turn to comfort foods. Before I head off into the food world of heavy winter soups and casseroles, I would like to use this column to go into the world of the ultimate comfort food – chocolate. I do not know one single, solitary person who dislikes chocolate, though I must admit to knowing many – myself included – who idolise it. There is nothing like digging a spoon into a silky chocolate mousse, or a rich chocolate tart, a torte, gateaux, or a light-as-air soufflé. In 2003, Australians ate their way through 4kg of chocolate each. There is no truth in the thinking that chocolate is fattening – what is fattening is how it is used. That it makes us feel good is undisputed, as it releases the feel-good endorphins.
The highest quality – and most expensive – chocolate produced comes from France’s Valrhona Company, founded in the 1950s. Though there is no official classification system for chocolate, this company treats its chocolate like wine, and calls its estate chocolate ‘Chocolat Noir de Domaine’, due to its high quality. Of almost equal calibre are Belgium’s ‘Callebaut’, and the French ‘Michel Cluizel’. The Swiss ‘Lindt’ company now produce blocks of chocolate labelled with the percentage of cocoa mass – from 70% to 85%, and even as high as 99%. If you like your chocolate bitter, go for the 85%. I love it, but my partner finds it too bitter for his taste. Couverture, which is used principally in cooking has a high percentage of cocoa butter, and is not quite as stable as dark chocolate. It melts and coats easily, has a glossy finish and an intense chocolate flavour. It needs to be tempered, and a quick way to do it at home – the professional way is very complicated and precise – is to finely chop or grate the chocolate, melt two-thirds if it, then stir in the remaining chocolate until it melts.
For the following recipes, I wouldn’t expect you to use couverture, as it is very expensive – though if you would like to lash out, you can go to ‘Essential Ingredient’ in Camperdown and buy their house couverture for $19.95 for a 1 kilo block. This is quite a good price for quite a large amount of chocolate. For everyone else, “Plaidstowe” from the supermarket will serve the purpose. If melting chocolate in the microwave, remember that it will keep its shape while heating. Do it in short bursts of 30-40 seconds, stirring after each burst. Enjoy, relax, and indulge yourself.

White Chocolate Risotto
60g sultanas
2 tablespoons brandy (or 1 teaspoon brandy essence)
150ml pouring cream
3 cups milk
1 stick cinnamon
finely grated rind of 2 oranges
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
200g (1 cup) arborio rice (Italian risotto rice)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
70g white chocolate, finely chopped
Combine sultanas and brandy in a small bowl and stand for 30 minutes. Place milk, cream, cinnamon stick, orange rind, scraped seeds from vanilla bean and bean in a saucepan and slowly bring to just below the boil.Add rice, sugar and a pinch of salt (ALWAYS ADD A PINCH OF SALT WHEN COOKING SWEETS) and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add sultanas, soaking liquid and chocolate, and stir until chocolate has melted. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, and serve warm or cold.

Rich Chocolate Tart
Pastry:
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
200g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa (Dutch, if you want a richer flavour)
2 egg yolks
Process butter, sugar, flour and cocoa in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and 1½ tablespoons iced water, and process until pastry just comes together. Form pastry into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick, and ease into a 3.5cm deep 24cm tart tin with removable base, trimming edge. Line pastry case with baking paper, and fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake another 5 minutes until pastry is dry. Cool.
Filling
300g dark couverture chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
125g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
Combine chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir continuously until butter is melted and mixture is well combined, then remove bowl from heat and set aside. Using an electric mixer whisk eggs, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy, then fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into tart shell, then bake at 150°C for 35-40 minutes or until just set. Cool tart to room temperature before serving with double cream (optional). Tart will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days – if it lasts that long.

Chocolate, Espresso and Hazelnut Pavlova
Soft butter, for greasing
6 egg whites (use the yolks to make a custard, or mayonnaise)
330g (1½ cups) caster sugar
1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (or use 2 teaspoons vanilla essence)
2 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
300ml pouring cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso coffee, cooled
200g roasted, peeled hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line an oven tray with foil, mark a 23cm circle onto the foil and lightly grease the circle.
Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, then gradually add caster sugar, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until all the sugar is added and the mixture is thick and glossy, then whisk in vinegar, vanilla and cocoa until just combined. Spread two-thirds of meringue mixture evenly over the circle, then spoon remaining meringue around edge of circle, forming a rim. Reduce oven temperature to 100°C, bake pavlova for 90 minutes, then turn off oven and leave pavlova to cool in oven.
Using an electric mixer, whisk cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form, gently fold cooled coffee until just combine then spread mixture over pavlova.
Sprinkle pavlova with hazelnuts and dust with icing sugar, if using. Pavlova is best served on day of making.

Chocolate Panna Cotta
400ml pouring cream
1 cup milk
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
150g dark couverture chocolate
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (or ½ teaspoon vanilla essence)
1 tablespoon powdered gelatine (from supermarket)

Combine cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is nearly boiling. Remove from heat, ad chocolate and vanilla and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Place 1 tablespoon hot water in a heatproof cup, and sprinkle over gelatine, then stand cup in a small saucepan of simmering water and stir until it is dissolved. Pour gelatine mixture into cream mixture and stir until combined. Divide mixture amonst 6 lightly oiled 125ml (1/2 cup) dariole moulds, or other suitable moulds. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until set.
Serve with Strawberries and a strawberry puree (process some strawberries in a food processor with some icing sugar), or blueberries and mascarpone (from dairy case in supermarket) or orange segments and almond bread.

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 6

When I was growing up through the 50’s & 60’s, one thing that was always ritualised was tea drinking. Despite not having the enormous varieties of teas available today, my mother was always very fussy about what brand of tea she used. The rituals involved how the tea was made, and how you went about drinking it. There was an everyday tea-set, and a tea-set that was only brought out when guests were expected. There was also very specific items cooked to go with it, and it was always served at a particular time of the morning and afternoon.
I was wandering through the new Myers at Bondi Junction recently, and in their homewares department, noticed that a whole section had been devoted to coffee – machines of all descriptions and prices, espresso, latte and cappuccino cups and mugs, and blends of coffee. It reminded me of the tea rituals of my youth, and I was pleased to think that in some way, these rituals had been passed down. Coffee is still a very expensive luxury, and indeed worthy of ritualising. I very stupidly stopped drinking it a number of years ago, thinking it bad for my health. It is something I am glad I had a rethink on, and now enjoy one or two cups a day, made using my machine, or my caffetteria. I include my chocolate truffle recipe in this issue, for those who enjoy the indulgence of chocolate (and port) with their coffee.

PROVENCALE VEGETABLE TART with MARINATED FETTA
For Tomato relish:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
4-6 roma tomatoes, skinned and deseeded
pinch chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
Heat oil in heavy pan and sauté onion and garlic till pale gold. Add chopped tomatoes, chilli, paste, bay, thyme and salt & pepper. Cook over low heat till thick, about 20 minutes. Remove bay and thyme. Cool.
For Vegetables:
2 medium zucchini, finely sliced
2 baby aubergine, finely sliced
1 red capsicum, deseeded and cut into strips
1 Spanish onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Brush vegetables with oil, season, then grill or barbeque until just tender. To make sure onion retains its shape, DO NOT cut off base, or alternatively secure each wedge with a toothpick. Remove toothpick before adding to tarts.
For Tarts:
4 x 12cm discs of puff pastry, kept chilled (buy puff pastry from supermarket)
1 egg yolk
200g soft fetta eg Persian
4 sprigs fresh continental parsley (also called flat-leaf)
Make an incision 1cm in from edge of pastry disc. Prick inner circle with fork. Brush with egg yolk. Spread 1-2 tablespoon relish over the inner circle of each disc, ensuring the border is left free. Divide the vegetables amongst the cases, again leaving edge free. Bake at 220°C for 15 minutes, or until pastry is risen and golden. Remove from oven, place 2 tablespoons fetta on top of each tart and garnish with a sprig of parsley. Transfer to serving plates, and if you have it, drizzle with some herb or garlic oil. Serve with Citrus, Avocade and Potato Salad.
Serves 4
Approx cost $4.20 per serve

CITRUS, AVOCADO & POTATO SALAD
450g Kipfler potatoes (or substitute for whatever is available)
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
drizzle of olive oil
1 ruby or yellow grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
2 handfuls baby rocket, or salad blend, washed
Scrub and halve potatoes, sprinkle with salt and steam until tender. Remove from saucepan and toss in a bowl with garlic, pepper and oil. Set aside. Remove skin and white pith from grapefruit. Cut segments from between membranes with a sharp knife, and keep juice that you can squeeze from remains. Peel and quarter avocado, then cut into chunks. Either combine ingredients and pile onto plate, or layer potato, then rocket, and avocado and grapefruit. Mix remaining juice with an equal quantity of olive oil, season, then drizzle over salad.
Serves 4
Approx cost – $6.00

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
200ml pouring cream
350g bitter chocolate broken into small pieces
2 tablespoons brandy, other liqueur or essence (use 1-2 teaspoons if using essence)
150g dark chocolate for dipping
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
Place cream in a heavy-based pot and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, and stir in chocolate. Stir until smooth (the heat from the cream will melt the chocolate). Stir in brandy, liqueur or essence. Scrape into bowl and cool. Cover and refrigerate, until cold and set firm. Work VERY quickly to form into balls using either cool hands (keep rinsing them under cold water and drying), or a teasoon or melon baller. You should get 50-60 small balls. Don’t be anal about the shape. Refrigerate again until firm. Melt the dipping chocolate either over hot water, or at 50% in your microwave in 30-second bursts. Dip the balls quickly into melted chocolate (use a fork or long skewer to dip), then toss in cocoa to coat. Chill again, then serve with feshly brewed espresso, latte, long black or macchiato, or as part of a cheese platter with muscatels and candied orange peel.
To vary the truffles, dip some in white chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, coconut or crushed nuts. Strange as it may sound, these are also nice if rolled in finely chopped basil.
Makes 50-60
Approx cost – $9.00

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 5

By the time this issue of ‘Talkabout’ hits the streets, it will well and truly be autumn. The problem for many of us over autumn and winter – besides just hating cold weather – is that we tend to eat heavier foods, and so stack on quite a bit of weight. In an attempt to counteract this, try to add more salads into your diet over winter. Sure, there isn’t the same selection of salad vegetables, but you only need to be a bit inventive. Substitute some of the vegetables usually used in salads with seasonal fruits, or bake vegetables and serve them cold with salad greens and a dressing. Why give up the good diet practices of summer just because it gets a bit cool. Then spoil yourself with some comfort foods – occasionally.

HALOUMI & EGGPLANT SKEWERS
Haloumi is one of those strange cheeses that tastes totally bland when just cut from the piece, yet develops delicious flavours when barbequed, grilled or fried.

2 red capsicums
1 large eggplant
175g haloumi cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
½ bunch basil, leaves picked
8 large bamboo skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes (if you would like to add some subtle exotic flavours to this dish, use sharpened lemongrass stalks, or long lengths of stripped rosemary (keep leaves at top end for decoration) as the skewers.)

Wash capsicums and remove seeds and membrane. Cut into 24 pieces. Wash and trim eggplant, cut in half lengthways, then into 16 semi-circles. Sprinkle with salt in a colander and leave for 30 minutes to remove bitterness. Dry with paper towel. Cut haloumi into 16 pieces. Toss vegetables and cheese in olive oil seasoned with pepper and sea salt. Skewer a piece of capsicum, followed by eggplant, a few rolled basil leaves, and then haloumi. Repeat process until you have 8 large skewers Finish each with a piece of capsicum. Char-grill or barbeque until tender – about 15-20 minutes. Blend remaining basil with oil to serve with skewers, or use purchased olive tapenade.
Serves 4
Approx $1.50 per skewer

ROCKET & BLOOD ORANGE SALAD
This is my own salad, and can be served as a main course or an accompaniment. Rocket and watercress are two of my favourite salad greens. The peppery flavours are a perfect contrast for fruits, especially stone and citrus fruit.

200g baby rocket
small knob fennel, thinly sliced
2 blood oranges, segmented (if blood oranges are not in season, use ordinary, or ruby grapefruit)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
punnet yellow teardrop tomatoes
shaved parmesan, to taste
10-15 whole mint leaves

Dressing – combine 30ml verjuice (unfermented grape juice) with 120ml macadamia oil (use olive or peanut if macadamia not available).

Place tomatoes on a baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper and olive oil. Bake in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes. Cool. Combine all ingredients except parmesan in salad bowl, sprinkle dressing and mix. Shave parmesan over the top.
Approx $6.00 to make

FABULOUSLY DECADENT CHOCOLATE TART
Pastry; (if you are not successful with pastry making, buy shortcrust from the supermarket)
200g plain flour
pinch salt
100g butter, cold and cubed
2-3 tablespoons cold water

Filling;
250g bitter chocolate (if you can afford it, Lindt 80% cocoa)
2 eggs
4 yolks (freeze whites for meringues or omelettes)
25g sugar
2 tablespoons rum, or 2 teaspoons rum essence (from supermarket)
100g butter, softened
2 tablespoons ground almonds (almond meal)

Method;
For pastry, sift flour and salt into bowl. Add butter, and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs ( don’t over-fuss). Add water until mixture comes together when pressed. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out thinly on a floured surface and line a 22cm loose-base flan tin. DO NOT STRETCH. Prick all over with a fork, and freeze for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and pastry weights (if you don’t have pastry weights, use rice or dried beans) and bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is cooked and starts to colour. Remove and fill with chocolate filling

For filling; Melt chocolate in microwave (50%), or over a double boiler of simmering water. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar and rum or essence. Fold chocolate into egg mix. Beat in soft butter and fold in almonds. Pour into tart shell and bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Serve with fresh orange slices.
Serves 8-12
Approx cost $9.00, depending on quality of chocolate.

Tim Alderman 2015

  

So Can You Cook? 40

The End

This is my final column in the ‘So can you cook?’ series. I have been doing the column for six years now and feel it is time to draw it to a close before I start repeating what has already been done.
I have enjoyed my time with the column. I hope that in some way I have inspired people to be a bit more creative with cooking and that I have shown that you don’t need a long list of degrees to be able to produce good food. It is an art, yes! But it is also an art that is accessible to everyone and is versatile enough to be a bit complicated when you want to impress or simple enough for an everyday meal – from the charcoal sketch to the oils I guess you might say.
I also hope I have introduced some to new flavours and encouraged people to be a bit adventuresome in their approach to cuisine. The amount of produce now available in Australia is truly staggering, and it is now possible to recreate any recipe from any cuisine totally authentically.
We have certainly come a long way in the last 40 odd years! The embracing of our place in the Asian section of the Pacific has also opened up a whole world of food to us and I think that the way we have taken to Asian food from all such countries shows just how adaptable we are with absorbing the influences of other cultures. And we will no longer settle for watered down or ‘Australianised’ versions of the cuisines. We want the genuine article. Just try to get into Thai Pothong in Newtown on a Friday or Saturday night if you want to see a good example. And no suburb is now complete without a Thai and a Vietnamese restaurant.
This column has also given me a way to comment on things from a personal perspective, often not in a PC way, which I don’t apologise for. I’m afraid that you haven’t gotten rid of me with the ending of this column. I hope to continue to contribute via articles and hopefully still in my outspoken style.
I have been writing for Talkabout in one form or another for about 13 years now. I have always been a strong supporter of the magazine and whether I was or wasn’t writing for it I would still be one of its strongest advocates. I feel that the non-clinical, non-professional (or expert) and non-conformist voices in our community are entitled to an outlet and Talkabout has always provided that forum.
With the closing and sale of my business, and the cutting back of other commitments the most common thing I find I am being asked is “How are you going to fill in time?”. I will continue to research my family history, which has been ongoing for about 20 years now (and thankfully easier with the advent of the internet) and, after many years of nagging from friends and people who have heard my story through the PSB, I am finally going to put an autobiography together.
My life has been interesting (to say the least) and not without the usual dramas associated with surviving AIDS and having my roots in a dysfunctional family. I will probably take myself off to do a few more courses in writing and cooking, and I will have a bit more time to keep my home tidy and together, and get my garden back in order. One thing I can promise, I won’t be bored.
I would like to thank everyone who has read and supported my column over this time. I think that the best way to leave the column is with a bit of a bang by repeating some of my favourite recipes from the last six years. I’m desperately trying NOT to make them all chocolate…

Rich Chocolate Tart (from No 12)

Pastry
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
200g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa (Dutch, if you want a richer flavour)
2 egg yolks

Process butter, sugar, flour and cocoa in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and 1½ tablespoons iced water, and process until pastry just comes together. Form pastry into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick and ease into a 3.5cm deep 24cm tart tin with removable base, trimming edge. Line pastry case with baking paper and fill with pastry weights, dried beans or rice. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake another 5 minutes until pastry is dry. Cool.

Filling
300g dark couverture chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
125g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Combine chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir continuously until butter is melted and mixture is well combined, then remove bowl from heat and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy, then fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into tart shell, then bake at 150°C for 35–40 minutes or until just set. Cool tart to room temperature before serving with double cream (optional). Tart will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 4 days – if it lasts that long.

Thai Beef Salad (from No 22)

1/3 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar or soft brown sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 stem lemongrass (white part only) finely chopped
2 small red chillies, finely sliced (remove seeds if you want milder)
2 x 200g beef eye fillet steaks
150g mixed salad leaves
½ red onion, sliced into fine wedges
½ cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup torn mint leaves
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

Mix lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, chopped coriander, lemongrass and chilli until the sugar has dissolved.
Preheat barbie chargrill plate to medium-high direct heat and cook the steaks for 4 minutes each side or until medium. Let cool then slice thinly across the grain.
Put the salad leaves, onion, coriander, mint, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl, add the beef and dressing. Toss together and serve immediately.

Banana Cake with Passionfruit Icing (from No 23)
125g butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup mashed banana (preferably over-ripe)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C. Grease 15cm x 25cm loaf pan, lining base with baking paper.
Beat butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl with electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, using a wooden spoon and stir in sifted dry ingredients, banana, sour cream and milk. Spread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake cake in moderate oven for about 50 minutes. Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool. Spread with passionfruit icing.

Passionfruit Icing
1½ cups icing sugar mixture (a mix of icing sugar and cornflour)
1 teaspoon soft butter
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp (approx)

Place icing sugar in a small heatproof bowl, stir in butter and enough pulp to make a firm paste. Stir over hot water until icing is of spreading consistency, taking care not to overheat. Use immediately.

Chinese Beef and Asparagus with Oyster Sauce (from No 17)
500g lean beef fillet, thinly sliced across the grain
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
200g fresh, thin asparagus cut into thirds on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons julienned fresh ginger (fine slice)
¼ cup chicken stock
2–3 tablespoons oyster sauce

Place beef in a glass or plastic bowl with soy sauce, sesame oil and two teaspoons of Chinese cooking wine. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add asparagus and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from wok.
Add another tablespoon of oil and add the beef in two batches, stir frying for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove from wok.
Add remaining oil to wok, add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour the stock, oyster sauce and remaining cooking wine into wok, bring to boil and boil rapidly for 1–2 minutes or until sauce is slightly reduced. Return beef and asparagus to the wok and stir fry for a further minute or until heated through and coated with the sauce.
Serve immediately with Jasmine rice.

Waldorf Salad with a Twist (from No 34)
4 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups watercress sprigs

Blue Cheese dressing
¼ cup whole-egg mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
100g soft blue cheese, chopped

To make the blue cheese dressing, place the mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper and blue cheese in the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth.
Arrange the apple, celery, walnuts and watercress on serving plates and spoon over the dressing to serve.

Serves 4

Oysters with Lemon & Vodka Granita (from No 34)
½ cup caster sugar
2½ cups water
½ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup vodka
18 oysters
Lemon wedges, to serve

Place the sugar, water, lemon juice and vodka in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the granite mixture into a shallow 20cm x 30cm metal pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the granita from the freezer and use a fork to take the top off and freeze for a further hour. Repeat every hour for 3-4 hours or until set.
Grate the granita with a fork to produce snow, and fill tiny shot glasses.
Serve with the oysters and lemon wedges.

Serves 6

Tim Alderman

Copyright 2014

  

So Can You Cook? 24

Citrus

There is probably nothing in the world I enjoy more than the ‘cat’s-bum’ cheek- sucking, mouth-pursing bite of a really good citrus tart. Citrus are flavours that cleanse and add a bit of zing to anything they are cooked or served with. We have our own lemon tree, which at this very moment is full of ripening fruit, and it’s not all that long until I start churning out lemon tarts, lemon delicious puddings, lemon self-saucing puddings and passing all the excess I can’t use onto friends and neighbours.
Unlike David, my partner, who can pick up a lemon and just bite into it without pulling a single face, I prefer mine to be involved in a dish of some description. It is not all that long ago that trying to buy a lime was like looking for ocean in the Red Centre. Now, apart from them being atrociously expensive out-of-season, you can buy bags of them for as little as $3.00. Limes are probably the most versatile of the citrus family, and not only make great cakes, puddings and biscuits but are an integral part of nearly all Asian cooking. Oranges and grapefruits make fantastic enlivening additions to salads, and whole-orange cakes are a thing to lust for. Grapefruit marmalade is one neighbours favourite – I don’t make it all that often, but I can bet he will take every jar I offer. There is also the world of little citrus like cumquats. These also make a deliciously tart marmalade, or can be poached and stored in spiced syrup for spooning over ice cream or serving with a cheese platter.
Because of uncontrollable obsession with desserts this column is going to deal in the sweets (tart?) side of using these delectable and versatile fruits. By the way, slices of lemons and limes are also great when barbequed, and served with fish or poultry. Don’t forget to buy yourself some Preserved Moroccan Lemons – or make them yourself – to serve with cous cous, rice or Middle-Eastern dishes. Some brands can be found on my web site under ‘Condiments’.

By the time this column is published, the new Alderman Providore web site will be launched. We have had the new site designed by Duncan from Chirp Internet, and he has given it a fresh make-over, cleaning up all the untidiness that annoyed me with the old site, and expanding it to be a more interesting and comprehensive browse for our customers. We have also brought the site ‘home’ to a local host, and have changed to our local domain name. This is one of our short-term goals now completed. Please come and have a browse at http://www.aldermanprovidore.com.au. There is no obligation to buy, but I do like to tempt people.

Summer Soup of Red Fruits in Citrus Sauce;
Serves 6

Juice of 2 grapefruit
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
2 passionfruit, halved, pulp and seeds scooped out and reserved
1 kiwi fruit, peeled and finely diced6 strawberries, finely diced
1kg of mixed red fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants – or use frozen if out-of-season. Just drain off the excess juice.

In a large bowl, mix together the citrus juices and stir in the passionfruit pulp and seeds, the diced kiwi fruit and diced strawberries.
Arrange the mixed red fruits in the centre of 6 serving plates. Spoon the citrus sauce and diced fruit mixture around the red fruits and serve the ‘soup’ at once.

Lemon & Almond Tart;
Serves 6

1 x large sheet sweet shortcrust pastry
2 eggs
150g icing sugar
4 lemons
100g butter, melted
75g ground almonds
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 220°C. Carefully work the pastry into a 20cm tart pan, and trim off the excess. Blind bake (cover with baking paper and some sort of weights eg ceramic beads or rice) for 10 minutes, remove paper and weights and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and the icing sugar together until fluffy. Mix in the grated zest of 2 of the lemons, the butter, ground almonds and juice of all 4 lemons. DON’T WORRY IF THE MIXTURE LOOKS CURDLED. It won’t affect the finished product.
Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 25 minutes, or until the filling is set. Leave to cool and serve dusted with icing sugar.

Orange and Almond Cake;
Serves 6-8

2 large navel oranges
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or orange liqueur
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 more navel oranges, peeled, pith removed, thinly sliced, to garnish

Orange Syrup:
2 cups fresh orange juice, strained
¾ cup caster sugar
60ml sauternes (or any other dessert wine. If too expensive, use a sugar syrup of 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water boiuled until slightly thick.

Grease and lightly flour a 23cm springform cake tin. Put the whole oranges into a saucepan full of water. Boil for 2 hours, topping up water as needed. Remove the oranges, quarter them and process in a food processor until smooth. Cool thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place the egg yolks, orange blossom water and caster sugar into a large bowl and beat until smooth, then stir in the orange puree and mix well. Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until firm peaks form. Add the ground almonds and baking powder to the orange mixture and stir well, then fold in the egg whites. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until firm – cover with foil if it overbrowns. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a serving plate.

To make the syrup, put the orange juice, sugar and sauternes (or syrup) in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat ands simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by half and slightly syrupy – skimming off any scum.

Cut the cake into wedges, garnish with orange slices and drizzle with the syrup. Delicious served with cream.

Lemon Stars;
Makes about 22

125g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
½ cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks (freeze whites to use in meringues or pavlova)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1¼ cups plain flour
¾ cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Mix in the egg yolks, lemon zest, flour and cornmeal until they form a ball of soft dough. Roll out on a floured surface to 1cm thick.
Cut out stars from the dough using a 3cm star-shaped cutter. Place on the tray and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.

Orange, Pistachio and Semolina Slice;
Makes 18 pieces

2/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
200g unsalted butter, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 eggs
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup orange juice
1½ cups fine semolina
1 cup caster sugar, extra
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm shallow baking tin and line with baking paper, leaving it hanging over the two long sides.
Bake the pistachios for 8-10 minutes or until they are lightly toasted. Cool, then chop.
Beat the butter and sugar with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, orange zest and eggs, and beat until combined.
Add the flour, orange juice, semolina and pistachio nuts and fold in with a spatula until just combined – do NOT overmix. Spread into the tin. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then on a wire rack placed on a tray.
Mix the extra orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer for 1 minute. Spoon over the slice. Cool and cut into squares or diamonds. Dust with icing sugar.

Key lime Pie;
Serves 6-8

375g block ready-made shortcrust pastry
4 eggs yolks
395g tin condensed milk
½ cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
Lime slices – to garnish
Icing sugar, to dust
Whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets baking paper until it is large enough to fit into the flan tin. Lift and fit the pastry into the tin, then trim edges.
Line the pastry shell with baking paper and ceramic balls or rice. Bake for 10 minutes, remove paper and beads and return the pastry to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base is dry. Leave to cool.
Using electric beaters, beat the egg yolks, condensed milk, lime juice and zest in a large bowl for 2 minutes or until well combined. Pour into the pie shell and smooth the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Allow the pie to cool, then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until well chilled. Garnish with lime slices, dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Mandarin Ice;
Serves 4-6

10 mandarins
½ cup caster sugar

Squeeze the mandarins to make 2 cups juice, and strain.
Place the sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Stir the mandarin syrup into the sugar syrup, then pour into a shallow metal tray. Freeze for two hours, or until frozen. Transfer to a food processor and blend until slushy. Return to the freezer and repeat the process three more times.

Tim Alderman
Copyright 2014