Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pineapple Tarte Tatin

First published Canberra Times 24 November 2010

Photo Steve Shanahan

We can thank the legendary Tatin sisters from turn of the century France for this dish. The sisters are said to have forgotten to put the pastry in the baseof the apple pie they were cooking in their restaurant. So they stuck the pastry on top of the apples and forget ahead.

When the pie came out of the oven, they flipped it over and the cooked apples had created a sweet, caramel sauce over a crunchy base. 

Whatever the origins of this dessert, it remains one of the most delicious, with its combination of crispy, flaky pastry and warm, rich, buttery caramelised fruit.

The tarte tatin method can be adapted to include a variety of fruit and is also a great savoury starter or light lunch served with tomato, shallots and goat’s cheese with a flaky pastry base. The options are endless. I use and love the Careme butter puff pastry with this, but if you're keen, make your own.

With the warm weather and party season approaching, the freshness of the pineapple and mint works well as a lighter and fresher dessert option, when served with a creamy unsweetened yoghurt. It also provides a great finale to asian foods, which can be difficult to match desserts to. For this, the pineapple tarte tain works perfectly with coconut cream and kaffir lime ice cream.

Because pineapples have copious amounts of juice, I cook the caramel pineapples the night before I need to serve the tart, so I can skim off the pineapple juice and make a caramel sauce.
If you're using  frozen puff pastry, remove the pastry from the freezer at least 24 hours beforehand and thaw in the refrigerator until needed.
I cook the tart in a 30cm oven proof frypan with metal handles. If you don’t have one of these you could use a shallow pie dish.
Tarte Tatin straigh from oven before - turning over
Photo Steve Shanahan
Serves 4
1 large, sweet pineapple
115g unsalted butter
115g caster sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 vanilla bean, de-seeded
500g puff pastry
10 mint leaves
Unsweetened yoghurt to serve

Peel, slice and drain the juice from the pineapple into a dish. Heat the butter, sugar, lime juice and vanilla seeds in a 30cm oven proof frypan. Bring the caramel to the boil, cooking for 5 minutes, allowing it to thicken and reduce. Reduce heat to medium and add pineapple and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stirring to ensure it does not burn. Remove from heat and place into a bowl and refrigerate. When set, the liquid juice will separate and settle to the bottom of the bowl. Remove from the refrigerator and drain off the liquid into a bowl and reserve it.

Preheat oven to 200C. Transfer the drained pineapple and caramel to the oven proof frypan and sprinkle the mint leaves on top. Roll out the thawed puff pastry two centimetres wider than the oven proof frypan. Trim the pastry to make sure it fits neatly contained within the rim of the frypan when tucked in and around the pineapple. Return to the refrigerator to chill for another 20 minutes.

While the uncooked tart is chilling, pour the reserved liquid syrup into a small sauce pan and reduce until thickened and golden, this should take about 5 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and place in the oven, baking for approximately 20 minutes. When the tart is golden and bubbling, remove from the oven. Place a 30centimetre plate over the top of the hot frying pan and carefully invert onto the plate to serve. Top with the unsweetened yoghurt and reduced pineapple syrup and eat while piping hot.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ricotta Pannacotta with Caramelised Blood Orange

I am aware that Pannacotta has been done to death and, well, I am told, it is quite ‘yesterday’ to be writing about it. I know this, but it remains one of my very favourite desserts and is just so easy to make. It has a light, silky texture that is somewhat like silken tofu and similar in its ability to take on delicate flavours.

Photo: Steve Shanahan
A friend of mine is a pannacotta-holic and is on a life long mission to find the best pannacotta. When she plans to eat out, she checks if they have pannacotta on the menu before she goes, really she does. She rates them on grittiness and flavour, and she has placed her order with me to try this one out at Christmas.

So it was on another early morning foray to the local markets, I bought some fresh ricotta and very dark blood oranges and decided to use these as the basis for a pannacotta. The secret to a good pannacotta is to ensure you remove the lumps from the mixture before heating it and to use gelatine leaves rather than powdered gelatine. The gelatine leaves are easier to use and can be bought from a delicatessen or some supermarkets.

The usual and main ingredient of a pannacotta is cream. This recipe using ricotta cheese produces a lighter texture again, with a salty finish that works well with the blood orange flavours.

And as a cook, the other reason you have got to love pannacotta, is it can be prepared ahead of time and shoved in the fridge, presto, dessert is done! But I’ll stop now.
Serves 6

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup whole milk
1and ½ cups double cream
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, de-seeded
4 gelatine sheets
1tbsp orange blossom water

Caramelised Blood Oranges
4 blood oranges
½ cup sugar
50 ml water
1 tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean, de-seeded
3 star anise
5 tbsp white rum

Firstly, prepare the blood oranges. Zest the oranges in long strips. Using a sharp knife remove the skin and pith from three of the oranges and cut into segments. Remove as much of the pith and membrane as possible. Juice the remaining orange and set juice aside. Blanch the zest in boiling water, then refresh with ice cold water, remove and set aside. In a small saucepan heat the sugar, water, star anise and vanilla bean seeds. Boil until lightly golden, this will take about 3 minutes. Add the zest, juice, honey and orange segments and simmer on low for another 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl, add the white rum and set aside until cool.

Place the ricotta into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until very smooth. Add the milk and continue mixing. Place the cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring it just to boiling point. While the cream mixture is heating, place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water to soften.

When the cream mixture has boiled, take off the heat. Remove gelatine leaves from the water and gently squeeze away the excess water. Add the gelatine and the orange blossom water to the cream mixture, stirring thoroughly to dissolve.

Slowly pour the mixture in a thin stream into the bowl of ricotta , whisking constantly until the mixture is completely smooth. You can strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lumps if you wish. Divide the pannacotta among 6 dessert glasses or lightly greased moulds and refrigerate until set, this will take about 4 hours.

Before serving, if you wish to unmould, run a sharp knife around the edge and invert onto a serving plate. Top pannacotta with a spoonful of the caramelised oranges.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Warm lamb salad with spicy pumpkin

First published Canberra Times 3 November 2010.
If like me, you always seem to end up with leftover meat from roast dinners, then this dish could be a solution to the mid-week dinner dilemma. I have used left over roast lamb here, although left over chicken works equally well. The Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavour combinations of lemon, oregano and cumin gives a lift to most meats, perfect for a barbecue and outside eating at this time of year.

An alternative to using leftovers, is to marinate a whole fresh de-boned leg of lamb marinated in the same herbs and spices, cooking it as one whole piece on either a barbecue or in a woodfired oven, then resting it and slicing. It works particularly well roasted in the woodfired oven, and I have had great results doing it that way.

Steve and I have had an ongoing debate about which method tastes the best, the twice cooked lamb or in a whole piece, and he believes that his way, cooked as a whole piece, delivers a more moist and tender result. I tend to disagree, and prefer the crispy, drier texture that is reminiscent of a lamb kebab. I also say, it’s done my way, if I’m cooking.

This recipe, has been one of our family favourites for a number of years. They have re-named it Tricky Lamb and it sits pretty high on the list of most requested dinners when the kids visit. The lamb, when cooked, is quite dry and crispy but is offset by the moisture in the dressing and the hommus. To obtain the crispy texture and smoky flavours, cook the meat on a high heat. If you don’t have a barbecue, you could use a wok or a frypan and cook on top of the stove, and don’t worry if there are crunchy scrapings on the bottom of the pan, just add them into the meat.
Serves 4

3 cups cooked lamb leg, sliced from a roast (or de-boned leg of lamb)
2 cups pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced
3 lemons, juice one and slice the remainder into thick rings
Photo Steve Shanahan
1tsp cinnamon, ground
2tbsp cumin, ground
2tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp cinnamon, ground extra
1tsp salt
ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
bag of mixed and washed salad leaves
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
¼ cup olive oil extra and 4 tbsp balsamic mixed together
1 cup hommus

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Add the diced pumpkin to a roasting pan and sprinkle with a drizzle of olive oil, 1 tsp cinnamon and ground black pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes or until golden and caramelised. Remove from oven and set aside.

If using fresh meat, prepare and marinate ahead of time. Mix the lemon juice, cumin, 1 tsp cinnamon, oregano, salt, pepper and 4tbsp of the olive oil together and pour over meat. Tuck the sliced lemon rings around and under the meat. Leave to marinate overnight or a few hours. Heat barbecue grill to high and lay meat flat to grill about 10 minutes each side, this will give you a medium to rare result. Grill the lemon rings as well until golden and caramelised. When cooked removed from grill and cover with foil and leave aside to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.

If using left over sliced lamb, marinate the lamb in the lemon juice and 4 tbsp of olive oil for about 10 to 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the cumin, 1 tsp cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper together. Heat the barbecue plate or a wok to a high heat, when hot add the marinated meat and stir to keep moving. Add the mixed spices to the meat and mix until charred and smoky. This should take no more than 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan or hotplate to a clean plate.

Mix diced onion and tomato in a large bowl. Add the salad leaves,the tomato and onion mixture, the roasted pumpkin and toss gently to mix. Place the salad onto serving plates, drizzle with balsamic and oil dressing, add a serving of lamb for each and a large dollop of hommus.

If you use the de-boned lamb method, place the sliced meat on the salad and continue to plate the same way as above.