The long icy fingers of winter are strangling us in their grip, snow drifts are gathering on the mountain peaks, bone chilling wind drives the deluging rain into every crack and crevice so that there is no respite, angry lightning forks light up the dark grey moody skies, rumbling thunder rattles the windows and rafters, making the dog uneasy and causing her to bark threateningly up at whoever is disturbing her slumber. Hail has clattered down onto the rooftops, the cars and gardens, washing down the gutters and collecting in huge drifts of ice. Directly after a storm like this the temperature is at its icy lowest and we do whatever we can to keep warm. I don’t know about you but baking and cooking really helps me. Not only do I get to eat delicious nourishing (maybe not always) warming food but the heat from the oven and hob gently radiates through the house warming up the temperatures, steaming up the windown and making everything cosy. I LOVE winter for this reason. I love my kitchen and I am a baker at heart so colder temperatures suit me perfectly.
With beautiful pears and citrus in season and in full supply right now I have been using them a lot in different dishes. ClemenGolds are in full season and available exclusively through Woolworths Stores in South Africa (they will shortly be available in Europe as well. The ship is about to dock in Rotterdam as I type this I believe according to Captain ClemenGold Grab these amazing citrus fruits while you can. The season is short and there just isnt anything else like them out there. I promise!! I hopped from one foot to the other for them to hit the shelves in Cape Town after I was introduced to them last season :) and won a fabulous competition with them too! I recently made a beautiful tarte tatin, not using the usual apples, but using pears soaked in vodka and ClemenGold juice instead. It was so delicious and the inclusion of rosemary, cardamom and saffron was a bit of culinary genius – well my family think so and that what’s important isn’t it?
SPICED BOOZY PEAR AND ROSEMARY TARTE TATIN
200g puff pastry – thawed if using store bought frozen
3-4 Firm Pears
6 green Cardamom Pods
6 -8 strands of Saffron
1 Sprig Rosemary – leaves only stripped from stalk and chopped finely
60g Granulated Sugar
Grated Zest from 1 ClemenGold
Juice from 1/2 ClemenGold (keep the rest for the Pistachio Creme Fraiche)
60g Butter – softened
You will need an 18cm ovenproof pan (it must be something that can go on the hob as well as in the oven)
- Preheat the oven to 220C
- Unroll the pastry on a lightly floured surface then fold the pastry in half and give it a roll with the rolling pin to seal the two halves.
- Using a sharp knife and the pan as a guide cut out a circle of pastry that is about 1cm larger in circumference than your pan
- Lightly prick the pastry circle with a fork and then chill it while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
- Lightly smash the cardamom pods then remove the seeds and discard the husks. Roast them briefly in a dry pan over high heat. Place the seeds in a pestle & mortar together with the rosemary, saffron, zest and the sugar and grind well
- Using your fingers, press the softened butter into the base of the pan until it is evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the spiced citrussy sugar over the butter and set aside.
- Peel each pear, cut it into 1/4 ‘s or 1/8’s. Remove the core. I cut the pears in halves and left the cores intact as they looked pretty, dip each into the vodka mix
- Pack the pears in a tight circle in the pan, cut sides down and thin ends pointing towards the middle. Press the fruit lightly down into the butter and place pan over medium high heat on the hob. If the pears shrink slightly as they cook, you may want to add some extra bits of pear cut to fit.
- Keep a close eye on the pan and move it around if some areas seem to be browning faster than others. It only takes a few minutes!
- Once the sugar has caramelised to a medium brown remove from the heat and cool in the pan for about 10 minutes
- Remove pastry circle from fridge and place over the pears, tucking the pastry down the sides of the pan (but be careful – the caramel will still be hot!)
- Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes until the pastry has puffed up and turned golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow the tart to rest for a few minutes.
- Then take a warmed serving plate, place it upside down over the pan and carefully invert the pan while keeping the plate firmly pressed to it. Give it a good shake and the tarte tatin should slip out, caramelly juices and all. Put any pear bits that come unstuck back into place
- Serve just warmer than room temperature with a dollop of pistachio crème fraîche
PISTACHIO CRÈME FRAÎCHE
6 Tbs Crème Fraîche
50g Shelled Pistachios
20g Icing Sugar – sifted
Juice from 1/2 ClemenGold
Dry toast the pistachios in a pan on the hob until just lightly coloured then chop them finely
Stir the pistachios, juice and icing sugar into the crème fraîche then serve immediately alongside the pear tarte tatin
It is such a pleasure and very exciting to see how the awareness of eating sustainable, local and seasonal is growing amongst the foodies in my country. Personally I think its even more important that organics. This is my entry into Tandy’s Regional and Seasonal Challenge using citrus!
I am recovering very slowly from my oral surgery. The pain is subsiding as is the swelling. The bruising is still very evident and I had some strange looks yesterday when I had to venture out to the specialist for a check up. Oh well…..my lovely hubby of 33 years was walking right beside me and holding my hand. I have to say that I long to eat real food. I am so tired of a liquid diet but must soldier on for a while longer. Thank you everyone of you who have been so supportive in so many ways. I love you and appreciate you all.
Have a great weekend, (its the end of Thursday already so I think I can excite you all and say that!!)