Talk about sliding in on a banana peel screaming “I made it!” But then again…..that seems to be me these days. Tardiness is my second name – when it comes to blogging that is! When I saw on Cooksister! blog that Jeanne was hostessing the Monthly Mingle for April and that her choice was “Topless Tarts” I was pretty excited because just a couple of days before I read her post I had actually made a savoury tart/quiche for my bookclub which I hosted in April…yes, I have to say “in April” because today is already May! Can you believe that??? We are almost at the half mark for the year and personally my head is spinning. Way way too fast for me. My days seem to pass in a blur. I have never been as busy as I am at the moment and I am battling to manage my time. All of a sudden I am “working”, even though I am at home all day and not leaving at 7 or 8am and returning at 5pm. My day is taken up with emails and social networking, liasing with sponsors, meeting with others, lots and lots of communication. It has also been holiday time here in SA with lots of long weekends and public holidays in between so I have done my share of grandson sitting as well. Result? Very little to no time left for blogging. Food blogging involves photographing food that you have cooked. Photography involves editing. Then there is the writing. I just don’t get around to it as I would like to. I have folders and folders of photographs waiting for me to edit. Hence my reason for now skidding up to the finish line triumphantly hoisting high my post for Topless Tarts! And I am only skidding in because the deadline of 30 April was extended until midnight tonight Thank you Jeanne, I know you say you inherited your own tardiness from your blogmamma hehe!
Anyway, on to my Topless Tart. It was my turn to host our monthly bookclub and I always like to make a savoury and a sweet tart for the occasion. This time I had in my
arsenal errr fridge a packet of pancetta that I had been given to sample by Richard Bosman, Mr Charcuterie as I like to call him. So I started thinking about what I could make with the sliced pancetta and, besides things like pasta and other delicious dishes that I could come up with I really wanted to use it in my tart. I also happened to have some plump beautiful fresh figs that I had picked up at the market a couple of days earlier and a wedge of Blue Tower cheese! A delectable image started forming in my brain of ‘the tart’. Add some caramelized onions and fresh thyme from my patio herb pots and I was good to go.
This is what I came up with:
PANCETTA FIG AND BLUE CHEESE TART WITH CHOCOLATE CARAMELIZED ONIONS
400g Shortcrust Pastry – you can use bought but I like to use my own very easy recipe
100g Sliced Pancetta – each slice cut in half
1 Wedge Blue Tower Cheese – or any other type of mould cheese that you prefer
6 to 8 Fresh Figs – washed and halved – keep 1 whole for the middle
10ml Runny Honey
2 Large Onions – peeled and finely sliced
20ml Olive Oil
1tsp Brown Sugar
3 sprigs Thyme – leaves only
5ml Chocolate Balsamic Creme – I was fotunate to get a bottle of this as a gift from Jamie when she visited from France in February (grate a bit of dark chocolate into your onions if you dont have and use 5ml normal balsamic)
Freshly cracked Black Pepper
5ml Dijon Mustard
Salt & black pepper to season
To make the pie
Preheat the oven to 200deg Celcius
Defrost (if frozen) the pasty then roll out to the correct size, line you pastry dish, prick all over with a fork then blind bake the pie crust for about 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Set aside until you need it. (Follow baking instructions here if you have never used pastry before) Leave the oven at 200deg Celcius
Place a deep frying pan over a low to medium heat, add the oil and butter then gently saute the onions and thyme until they are soft and translucent and start browning – about 10 minutes or so
Add the balsamic (grated chocolate if you are using it) and sugar, stir in and continue caramelizing over a low heat until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are a dark caramelized brown
In the meanwhile make the custard by beating the eggs together with the mustard, milk and cream, season with a bit of salt and pepper
Spread the onions around to cover the base of the pastry case
Pour over the custard filling
Set your sliced figs around in the pattern that you want. Cut the whole fig through into quarters but not right through the bottom. Squeeze the fig open into a flower and place it in the centre of the tart
Crumble the Blue Tower cheese over the top of the filling
Layer the pancetta prettily over the top, sprinkle on a few sprigs of thyme then drizzle with the honey
Grind some black pepper over then bake for about 20 minutes until the pancetta is crispy and the custard just set
Serve at room temperature or warm.
I served mine topped with some fresh baby Italian rocket leaves from my herb pots and it was delicious!
I reckon there are going to be some awesome topless tarts hanging around her blog right now.
Good company to keep?
Enjoy! And have a good week!
This is a long overdue posting. I vowed to myself after my last blog post that I would not allow so much time to slip by before I posted again. In fact I made a pact with myself that I would start posting and publishing regularly…but unfortunately that didn’t happen so here I am…sneaking in a bit red-faced and embarrassed but nontheless……here I am. In fact my only redeeming quality right now is the recipe that I am about to tell you all about. You are going to love me all over again after this. Unless of course you are on a diet….as I am……and in that case…….HATE AWAY!! I cannot keep this amazing Amarula Dark Chocolate Oreo Cheesecake to myself any longer. Let me tell you a bit about how I came to make this delightful cheesecake ..
You just have to love twitter some days…in fact I love it every day that I get there! I find it so very entertaining and also enlightening. I learn a lot from twitter and some days I just flat out laugh out loud at the antics that some folk get up to. But other days, when I do manage to find the time to open up my tweetdeck, I come across absolute gems - like the lead-up to that risotto and this cheesecake. Sarah Duff , online photojournalist and food editor for Getaway (what a job!!!) tweets the most amazing foodie gems in between all her travel and “make you so jealous” tweets and about 2 months ago I saw a tweet flash onto my screen with a link to an amazing cheesecake that she had baked. Now, I am a fridge (no-bake) cheesecake queen! I have made gazillions of the things for coffee shops and private clients. But I have always shied away from the baked kind. But this one just grabbed my attention so much that I decided that it would be the way to break the baked cheesecake drought in my house. Am I ever glad that I did. My family love me again…I am the world’s best mother in law (I kid you not!) and my son in law (who had his birthday on Sunday) ordered this rather than his regular annual choice of my death by chocolate cake after he tasted the cheesecake that I made just before we went on holiday…yes, the husband and I have been away on holiday too since I last posted! Am I forgiven now?? Anyway, to tell you just how much he loves my Amarula Dark Chocolate Oreo Cheesecake (and me ) he came to me at the end of the party on Sunday, wiping chocolate crumbs from his chin and lips, and declared that if he were to die then he would be the happiest man for all eternity HAHA! Being browniegirl, my penchant is to take recipes and “pimp” them a bit to my own liking. This one didn’t need any changing for it to be absolutely perfect! But fiddle I did. You can find the original Sarah Duff version here and here is my version for you all to enjoy!
COLLEENS AMARULA & DARK CHOCOLATE BAKED CHEESECAKE
200g Oreo biscuits (or use your own preference)
100g Butter – melted
250g creamed cheese – I used Lancewood Superior
250g Mascarpone Cheese
1 tin condensed milk
1 Lemon – juice only
4 Eggs – seperated
100g 85% dark Chocolate
200ml Amarula Crème Liqueur
125g Castor Sugar
5mls NoMU Vanilla Paste
Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Place a cake pan of boiling water onto the bottom shelf of the oven. This will stop the cake from cracking too much.
Spray the insides and base of a 23cm deep, loose bottomed springform pan with cooking spray. Line the base with baking parment. Wrap a piece of aluminum foil tightly around the outside bottom of the pan so that it comes up around the sides (this stops any leakage out onto the bottom of the oven during baking)
Crush the biscuits together with the cocoa until the biscuits are fine, then mix well with the melted butter. Press down into the base of the prepared pan. Compress and smooth the crumbs with the back of a spoon. Pop the pan into the fridge while you make the filling.
Roughly chop up the dark chocolate and melt it in a glass bowl, together with the chocolate chunks, in the microwave on 50% power for a minute or two. Take it out halfway through and stir it. Set aside until needed
Beat the egg yolks, half the sugar, the condensed milk, cream cheese, mascarpone, vanilla, lemon juice and Amarula together well.
Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture. It will start thickening.
Beat the egg whites until foamy, add the rest of the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into the chocolate cheese mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Pour all onto the prepared chilled crust
Bake, on the middle shelf of the oven, for 30 – 40 minutes. The cheesecake must still be a bit wobbly in the middle
Switch the oven off and open the oven door. Leave the cheesecake to cool down completely in the oven. Remove the cheesecake briefly from the oven and run a thin metal spatula all around the sides to loosen it from the pan and thereby stop more cracking as it cools and pulls away from the sides of the pan. This cake souffles a bit as it bakes so it is normal for it to sag back down in the centre and crack a bit.
Serve at room temperature dusted liberally with icing sugar and some berries and ice cream
My grandson Ty shares a birthday with his daddy. His choice of cake this year was an army tank cake. Here is my
masterpiece attempt at recreating his cake of choice:
Seeing as Thursday is already dying I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead.
An ooey gooey creamy risotto bursting with flavor
Easy Cheese Scone Hearts for my entry into the LiveSTRONG With A Taste of Yellow 2010 – Heart Series blog event.
Take a tour with me through Fairview Wine Farms Cheese Factory.