Thursday 30 October 2014

Honey Rhubarb Tart

The long weekend at the farm afforded me the time and luxury of doing a little more baking. A quick rummage in Mum's garden and I turned up a big bunch of new seasons rhubarb. Having made so many things with apples over the last few months, it's great to have some alternative fruit to gather from the garden. For this recipe I decided to by-pass the refined sugar in favour of honey instead.  

While I was in the kitchen, someone was driving Nana around on the lawnmower.

Honey Rhubarb Tart

For the pastry:
1 cup flour
125g butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt together. 

Rub in the butter. You can use your fingertips or one of these handy little gadgets. 

I don't use a food processor for this recipe, as it tends to over mix the pastry.

Bind the pastry together using the cold water and form into a ball. 

Wrap in plastic food wrap and chill for about half an hour.

For the rhubarb filling:
8 or 9 large stalks of rhubarb
1/2 cup honey, plus an extra 2 to 3 tablespoons for spreading over the top of the tart.

Peel and slice the rhubarb into a range of lengths. 

Place into a large bowl and stir in the first measure of honey. 

Set aside, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been released.

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C.

To assemble:
Roll out the pastry on a floured board or bench. 

Make it a little larger than the baking dish you intend to use.

Press the pastry into the baking dish. 

Drain the rhubarb and stand the slices up in the pastry lined dish. 

Trim the pastry from the edges of the tin and roll and tuck in the edges. 

Melt the extra measure of honey and drizzle over the tart. 

Bake for approximately 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the rhubarb softened. 

We served ours with some natural yoghurt, but whipped cream or custard are also awesome! 

Happy baking! 

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Date, Orange and Cinnamon Scones at Tailing Time

There is nothing more delicious than a freshly made scone. Here is another variation of the date scone. Just for a little change, this one has cinnamon and orange zest and juice. I made these for afternoon tea to take 'down the paddock' to the tailing party.

Date, Orange and Cinnamon Scones

1 cup dates
juice and zest of an orange
1 egg, topped up with milk to 200ml of liquid 

2 1/2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
100g butter

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C.

Place the dates, orange zest and juice into a small pot and using a medium heat stir until the dates start to break up and the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour. 

Measure out the egg and milk and add it to the dates and mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the rubbed in flour and butter, and pour in the egg, milk and date mixture. 

Gently stir to combine, then turn out onto a floured board. 

Coat with a thin layer of flour and gently press out into a rectangular shape. 

Using a floured knife, cut into squares. 

Place onto a floured baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and risen. 

The scones should sound hollow when tapped on their bottoms. 

Serve warm with butter. For all the really hard core date scone fans, here is another version I have made previously.

I also made these open sandwiches by mashing hard boiled eggs with a little melted butter and seasoning, then spreading it onto a sliced walnut loaf. I topped it with a simple tomato, capsicum and onion salsa dressed with a simple vinaigrette style dressing.

A perfect, tasty afternoon tea for the hungry tailing party.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Baked Aubergine, Tomato and Parmesan

I just love vegetarian food for its imagination, its use of spices and its variety. To eat well as a vegetarian is to really understand food and its nutrients, and to be adventurous with flavours. Here is a delicious little side dish inspired by my vege friend Beth. It can be made into a main by adding a can of crushed chickpeas to the tomato mixture before it's spread onto the aubergine. The chickpeas add the extra protein required for a complete meal.

Baked Aubergine, Tomato and Parmesan

2 small or 1 large aubergine
4 tablespoons oil
1 can whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
about half a cup of parmesan curls or grated parmesan

Cut the aubergine into 1.5cm thick rounds, and toss together with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Lay the rounds out in the bottom of a heavy based baking dish. Set aside.

Slice the onion lyonaise (cut in half, then finely sliced root to tip), and saute in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. 

Add the ground spices and briefly allow to fry.  

Add the tomatoes and break up with the spoon. Followed by the finely sliced garlic and sugar. 

Stir over a medium-high heat until the mixture reduces and thickens. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to cool a little. 

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C.

Spoon the tomato mixture neatly over the aubergine rounds. 

Top each one with a few parmesan curls and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden. 

Happy cooking! 

Thursday 16 October 2014

Sticky Lemon Tart

After two crazy busy weeks it was great to return to NZ for a couple of days of down time and a bit of quality catch up with some buddies. Always on the look out for more delicious dessert ideas, and with a few lemons languishing in the fruit bowl, I decided to adapt the ever popular Sticky Lemon Slice into a dessert. Behold, the Sticky Lemon Tart; complete with Meringues on top - Little Miss and her buddies loved eating the spare meringues with jelly.

Sticky Lemon Tart

Tart Case
130g plain flour
40g icing sugar
120g butter

Cream the butter and icing sugar together, then fold in the flour. 

Find yourself a 25cm fluted loose botton tin, then spread the batter evenly around the bottom and sides of the tin. 

The batter is very soft, so just take your time spreading it evenly. 

Now take a sheet of baking foil and gently press it into the tin to hold the batter in place. 

Chill in the fridge for half an hour. 

Heat the oven to 200deg. C. and bake the tart shell for 15 minutes. 

Take the tin from the oven and gently remove the foil. 

Return the half cooked tart shell to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Lemon filling
180g caster sugar
2 whole eggs plus 2 extra egg yolks - reserve the extra egg whites to make the meringues
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
the zest and juice of 4 lemons

While the tart shell is baking make the filling: 

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat briefly until combined. 

Pour the filling into the hot baked tart shell and return to the oven. 

Turn the oven down to 160deg. C. and bake for approximately 45 minutes until set. Once cooked it will still have some wobble in the filling.

The filling will have puffed up, but will fall on cooling. 

2 egg whites
a pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup caster sugar

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks appear. While continuing to beat the whites, add the caster sugar a little at a time until the mixture becomes smooth and glossy.

Place tablespoon lots onto a lined tray and pop into the oven with the tart. Cook until dried out and crispy. 

To assemble the tart: Once cool, use a mug or small bowl to sit the base of the tart onto, then pull the sides of the tart tin down to free the tart. 

Leave the tart tin base in place and put the whole thing onto a serving plate. 

Whip 200ml of cream until stiff. Spread the cream into the tart, then top with a stack of the meringues, find some plates and a knife, call up your buddies and serve.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Snap Shots of Tonga

What an amazing time we have had visiting our Tongan sister school Takaulai College in Lapaha. Such lovely hospitable people who really looked after us. We were supposed to be helping them out, but I think we learnt more from their open hearted generosity and the gratitude they have for their family lives. 

This lovely lady is Sr Kilistina. She is the super Nun who did the Tonga end of the organising of our trip, looked after us, organised which classes our girls were to help in, smoothed things out when we didn't quite know what the correct cultural way was, drove us everywhere we needed and wanted, took us to the best swimming spots and so much more. We couldn't thank her enough.  

View from the balcony on the day we arrived. I didn't realise what great gardeners the Tongan people are. Every family has a block of land in the country where they grow food for their families and for the market. Having an excellent garden is also a source of great pride.  

The indoor produce market in Nukialofa. Everything was $3 Tongan dollars. It was heavenly.

My lovely host and Tongan Colleague and friend Teisa. Staying with her family was a definite highlight. They made the girls and I so welcome. We were never hungry with all this great traditional Tongan food and they were also such great company to sit and chat with. Teisa sewed my traditional Tongan dress for me so I could be appropriately attired to attend Mass. It was such a special day.

Teisa's nephew cooking the pig the traditional way for Sunday lunch. It was delicious. They clean and baste it throughout the cooking process with coconut water from the green coconuts. 

One cooked piggy. It was delicious.

Some of the Vaka family just prior to Sunday lunch. They told me I had to eat like a Tongan, and it wasn't hard to give it my best shot with all the delicious food on offer. The Tongan kumara - it's purple like a Maori potato - was really tasty, as was the raw fish salad. In Tonga the land is never sold. It passes down the males of the family, so each generation is the caretaker for the future of the family.

My dear friend Sr Monica. Without her the trip would not have gone ahead. She nursed us through all the cultural differences and acted as out go-between with the school we visited. I love this photo because she looks so happy and relaxed to be back in Tonga.

Teisa made these amazing cakes for the Primary School assessors that visit every year to run the assessments that decide which High Schools the students go to. She gave me the recipes to try out, so I hope to blog these in the near future.

A little group of Takaulai College students. Helping, where we can, these beautiful children was the whole reason for our visit, but I think they taught us more than we did for them.

And the last picture goes to Neo. This super little man is the youngest of the Vaka family. He is actually 4, though so tall you would always guess him to be older. We really enjoyed his company in Tonga, and I know he enjoyed the attention of all those visiting Villa girls.

If you ever get offered the opportunity to experience life in a Tongan village, take it with both hands. Malo, Kingdom of Tonga, you have treated us so well.