Friday, 24 October 2014

Introducing Chutney

Those with eagle eyes may have noticed the little ginger cameo in my last post - that's right, we got a kitten!  His name is Chutney, he's 10 weeks old and a complete terror!  I've never had a kitten this young and I have to say the last two weeks have been pretty nuts - he goes from being a total snuggly cutie to a hyperactive maniac in about three seconds flat...  I've got a feeling we're going to have a lot of fun together, Chutney and me, and I am certain that our little Lily would approve.  Get ready for lots of cute photos in the coming weeks and months!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Plum Frangipane Tart

Until last weekend I had never made a frangipane tart, but I have always thought that they look pretty and so I thought I'd give it a shot.  Happily, I discovered that it's actually a lot easier to make than its fancy name would suggest!  Here's how you can make one too...

You will need  |  1 sheet of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry  |  100g butter  |  125g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra  |  2 eggs, beaten  |  1 tsp vanilla extract  |  175g ground almonds  |  50g plain flour  |  6-8 firm-ish plums  |  Almond slices  |  Icing sugar  |  Single cream

Step 1: Lightly dust your kitchen top with flour.  Unroll the pastry (okay, okay, if you're a purist then I suppose you'd make your own pastry from scratch, but I couldn't be bothered!) and roll out a little wider.  Line a 9 inch fluted tart tin with the pastry, making sure to push well into the corners and fluted sides.  Cut off the overhanging pastry with a sharp knife, and leave in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Meanwhile, make the frangipane.  Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.  Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and beat well again.

Step 3: Fold the ground almonds and flour into the mixture with a spatula.  Don't forget to lick it!

Step 4: Heat your oven to gas mark 4, 180 degrees, 160 degrees fan.

Step 5: Spoon the frangipane into the pastry base, smoothing the surface.  Half, pit and then slice the plums into eighths.  Then arrange the plum slices, slightly overlapping, over the top, pressing slightly into the frangipane.  I think I could have actually used more plum slices because they do shrink a little once baked, so don't hesitate to really pack them in!  I also think it might be good to sprinkle some sliced almonds on top before baking - I think I'll do this next time to add some crunch.

Step 6: Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of sugar, place the tin on a tray and bake for 45-55 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the fruit is tender.  Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and a generous drizzle of single cream, and voila!

Just a wee credit to Tesco, which where I found this recipe!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Paradise Lost

I'm now in the depths of a five month trial, and Greece has become a distant memory.  Unbelievably, we were sunning ourselves in paradise just six weeks ago.  Time is a funny thing.  I often find myself scrolling through my calendar and counting back how many weeks it was since...I had a curry in Brick Lane...I went to an art exhibition...I cut my hair...and I'm always surprised at how fast time goes.  Then when I think back to holidays, they always seem so far away.  I think there is only one answer to this conundrum: more holidays...