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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Best. Dessert. Ever.

Last year at The Hop Pole in Bath, I ate what could be the best pudding I have ever had.
A pineapple tarte tatin with coconut ice cream - juicy sweet caramely pineapple, dark rum, cold coconut and crisp hot pastry. Seriously....what's not to love?
Since then I haven't been able to quite shake it. When I got a beautiful tarte tatin dish for my birthday I finally decided to give it go and I'm pretty pleased with the results if I don't say so myself!

What you need
500g all butter puff pastry
1 pineapple (cut into chunks)
100g golden caster sugar
100ml dark rum
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways with seeds scraped out
50g butter, cubed
an oven proof frypan or tarte tatin dish (approx 25cm in diameter)
a wooden spoon

The do
Cut up the pineapple into chunks and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 190, or gas mark 5. Sprinkle a little flour on to your bench top, roll out the pastry until it's around half a centimetre thick. Make sure it is rolled out enough to cover the ovenproof frying pan you’ll be using with an excess of 5cm around the edge. Set aside.

Put the pan on a medium heat and add the sugar, rum, vanilla seeds and pod. Let the sugar dissolve and cook until the mixture forms a light caramel.

When the caramel is a lovely chestnut brown, add the pineapple. Carefully stir everything in the pan and cook until the caramel thickens and becomes sticky and toffee-like. Add the cubed butter, then lay the pastry over the top. Using a wooden spoon instead of your fingers, quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down firmly into the edges.

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Don't worry if it puffs up, it will flatten down again when you turn it upside down. Remove from the oven and let it rest for a minute. Now this is the tricky bit, glove up or you could end up in A&E with third degree burns. Grab a serving plate bigger than your fry pan and very quickly and carefully, flip the whole thing over. If you don't feel too confident about this procedure, this video shows you how to do it.
Let it chill out for a bit then chop it up and serve with coconut ice cream, otherwise vanilla is just as good.

BTW if you are ever in Bath and have little people in tow, this pub is situated opposite the best playground I have ever laid eyes on. Plus they always have one veggie option that is delicious.

Agadoo Black Lace

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Whose sorrel now?

Yesterday I went to our local fruit and veg shop to do our weekly shop and was quite excited to see that they were selling sorrel. I'd noticed it in loads of recipes but have never seen it for sale, so I bagged some pronto.

And oh what a marvellous thing it is! It looks like spinach, but packs a crazy tanginess that's a lot like licking a battery. I didn't want to dilute this taste sensation by cooking it too much so I decided to turn it into pesto and mix it through some hot spaghetti. I'm warning you - once you go down this path, you will never see pesto in the same light again.

Unconventionally I have used almonds in this recipe, I think they compete better with the punchy lemony flavours than pine nuts would.

What you need
1 bunch of sorrel (the big leafed variety), roughly torn up
half a handful of almonds
1 big garlic clove
big pinch of salt
big glug of good olive oil
a food processor

The do
Put the almonds on a baking tray and roast them under the grill, jiggling them around every so often. Keep a close eye on them, they can burn quite suddenly. When they are done, set aside.
In the food processor, blitz the garlic, oil and salt first, then add the sorrel and blitz again. Add a little more oil if it's too dry and gets stuck. Add the almonds and pulse to keep the nuts chunky. Season with salt and pepper. When you are happy with the consistency of your pesto, it's ready to go. Serve tossed through some hot spaghetti (reserve a little cooking water to loosen up the pesto when you are tossing it though the pasta). If you are lucky enough to have any left this would keep in a jar with a thin layer of oil on top, but it may lose some of its vibrancy.

Director's Cut Kate Bush