Friday, 5 December 2014

Roast Carrot Spaghetti

I know it's Christmas and everything but this gradual weight gain has just got to stop. I've injured my foot and can't run as much as I normally do although I suspect that is going to pale into insignificance now it's December and I have eaten at least 4 mince pies a day since the first of the month.

So I've been trying to get as much veg and juice as I can, in order to fill me up with good, healthy, energy giving sustenance before the festive season really kicks off. This next recipe came to me one night as I was foolishly attempting to survive on a green juice and a handful of nuts for my evening meal. Don't do it. It's a stupid idea. I knew I had the most amazing red and gold heritage carrots from Secretts in the fridge and I was amusing my hungry brain with taste combinations.

By itself this is a beautiful vegetarian salad, packed full of vitamins and minerals. We accompanied it with a nice fresh barnsley chop.

  • 300g carrots, spiralised  Alternatively use a peeler to slice of long strips or do a fine julienne with by hand.
  • 5 beetroot, cooked, peeled and quartered
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 70g pumpkin seeds
  • 70g goats' cheese
  • Olive oil for roasting
  • Balsamic vinegar for roasting
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C, or 180C fan assisted
  2. Toss the carrot with salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil, spread on a large baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 mins
  3. At the same time toss the beetroot in balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper, spread on another tray and roast them off for 20 mins.
  4. Sauté the onion and garlic on a low heat until completely soft but not browing. This should take as long as it takes the carrot and the beetroot to soften.
  5. When everything is ready carefully mix it all together in a large bowl with the pumpkin seeds and crumbled up goat's cheese. The carrot spaghetti is delicate so be carefully not to break it up too much. Season to taste and serve.

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell or Derbyshire tart reminds me of school. I went to a tiny little infant and junior school in West Yorkshire and have very fond memories of the school dinners there. Mainly because while the majority of the food was fairly standard school canteen fayre, certain things stood out as being a cut above the rest. Bakewell tart day was always a good day and I can still remember the glee with which we'd read the blackboard as we formed our neat yet noisy little uniformed queues.  At school it was always served in little squares with a liberal helping of glutinous custard. Nowadays I prefer to make the little individual tarts and serve with a light dollop of chantilly cream or just good ol' plain double cream poured straight over the top.

I've included the recipe the pastry and the jam filling. You can of course buy these. Let's be honest, it's easier. When I first learned how to make frangipane I was amazed that something so rich and complex tasting could possibly be so easy, so basically if you buy your pastry in and use a supermarket jam, you've got yourself a quick, simple yet stunning crowd-pleaser.

For the sweet pastry
  • 250g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 100g unsalted butter (soft)
  • 2 eggs at room temp
  • 100g sifted icing sugar
For the frangipane

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 10g plain flour
For the raspberry jam
  • 250g raspberries
  • 30g caster sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • handful of flaked almonds for topping
  1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the icing sugar, butter and salt mix in with your finger tips, as if making a crumble. Once the flour mix is slightly grainy make a well in the middle and add the egg, working the egg into the flour until a dough begins to form. Once the dough is amalgamated knead it one or tho times, wrap in cling film and chill down for 2 hours before use.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a 23cm tart tin or smaller individual tin. On a floured surface role out the pastry and line the required tins, cover in a paper cartouche, fill with baking beans and blind bake for 10-15 mins, or until golden brown.
  3. While this is baking make the compote by adding fruit, sugar and lemon juice to a pan and heating to a low simmer for approximately 10 minutes. The mixture should start to thicken into a loose jam consistency. Leave to cool slightly.
  4. To make the frangipane beat the sugar and the butter together in a large bowl until fluffy then add the eggs one by one and beat until the mixture is completely smooth and light. Gently fold in the ground almonds and the flour until full incorporated and devoid of lumps.
  5. When you remove the pastry from the oven carefully remove the beans and paper and check to see if the pastry looks crisp on the bottom. If not, pop it back into the oven for a couple of minutes. This will prevent sogginess. Now spread the compote across the bottom of the pastry case in an even layer. Carefully spoon the frangipane onto the jam layer, using a wide knife to completely cover it, taking care not to mix it in too much. Once you have a nice even top of frangipane pop it back into the oven and bake on 180C for 20 mins. You can tell when it's ready as it will start to rise in the middle. Sprinkle the top with the almonds and return to the oven for a final 5 minutes then cool on a rack. Do not remove from the tart case until it is completely cool. Once the tart is completely cool you can trim the pastry with a sharp knife.