Pear and Frangipane Tart with Apricot Glaze

    Pear Tart Cropped I’ve recently been so busy that I haven’t been able to post many new recipes on my blog. I’ve been busy with studying two university courses in French language, teaching French cooking classes and getting ready to leave for Paris soon to complete the 10-week Advanced Cuisine class at Le Cordon Bleu. (I also just finished reading Julia Child’s wonderful book, My Life in France). Sounds like I may have some sort of addiction to French things? So what better way to celebrate than with a Pear Tart filled with an almond-based frangipane and topped with an apricot glaze! I’ve always loved the way the sliced pears are layered in this recipe – it takes a little time, but it’s worth it.

There are three stages to making this recipe:

  • making the sugar crust pastry and blind baking it
  • preparing the frangipane filling made with ground almonds and then baking it inside the prepared tart shell
  • lightly poaching several pears and then layering the thin slices on top of the frangipane filling- then topped with a final apricot glaze.

So let’s get started.

Step 1: Prepare the sugar crust pastry (Pâte Sablée) A Pâte Sablée pastry is just like a short crust pastry, except an egg and sugar are added. The addition of the sugar makes it more difficult to roll the pastry because it can break a part more easily. Make sure your dough is thoroughly chilled before you roll it out. If the dough does break, try pressing the broken pieces together with your fingers. Otherwise, you can skip trying to roll out the dough and just press the dough into the sides and bottom of your tart pan, using your fingers. Makes one 9 inch (23 cm) tart Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 9 tbsp. butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • additional cold water, if required

Pre-heat oven to 180 C (360 F). Add the flour, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and then add to the dry ingredients. Rub the butter and flour together briskly between the palms of your hands and tips of your fingers until it becomes like sand. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the egg – blend well using a large spoon. Transfer the ingredients directly onto your benchtop (kitchen counter) and form into a rough ball. Using the heel of your hand, push a small part of the dough along the surface away from you, then regather the ingredients into a ball shape. Repeat several times until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and you form a nice, round ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour (or in the freezer for 10 minutes).

 

 Step 2: Roll out the dough and blind bake

Next, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly-floured work surface, ending with the dough at least 2 cm larger than your tart pan with removable bottom. Fold the dough in half and transfer to the tart pan, unfold and then press the dough gently against the sides of the pan. Roll a rolling pin across the top of the pan to remove the excess pastry. Prick the bottom of the pastry with the ends of a fork. Cover the bottom of the pastry with a large sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or raw beans and then blind bake for 15 minutes at 180 C (360 F). The crust should be a light biscuit-brown color. Remove from oven and let cool.

   Step 3: Prepare the Almond Frangipane Filling Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 200 grams dark cooking chocolate (optional)

Combine the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add the ground almonds, flour and corn flour and pulse until combined. Add the egg and extra egg white, vanilla and almond extracts and blend until very smooth. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Spread the chocolate on top of the prepared pastry shell that has been blind-baked. Now add the frangipane custard on top of the chocolate layer and bake at 180 C (360 F) for 20 – 25 minutes until the custard is cooked until medium brown in color. Pear Tart (4 of 4) (1 of 1)  Step 4: Poach the Pears and arrange thin slices in circular pattern on top of tart.  Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe pears
  • 3 -4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice with some lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the Apricot Glaze

  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp. water or Cointreau

Combine the water, sugar, lemon juice and peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. While the liquid is heating, peel and cut the pears in half. Remove the stems and core then place the pear halves in the water and reduce heat to a simmer. Poach the pears for about 6 – 10 minutes until they are tender when pierced with a knife, but still a bit firm. Do not overcook; they must still hold their shape. Remove the pears from the liquid and let cool. Slice them into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the fruit on top of the tart in an overlapping circular pattern and top with a strawberry (optional). Heat together apricot jam and water (or Cointreau) in a small saucepan until warm and smooth. Brush the glaze over the top of the tart, including the pears and exposed frangipane. Serve warm or at room temperature.   Pear Tart (3 of 3) (1 of 1) Pear Tart Long Cropped

Shane Delia’s Smoked Turkish Salad with Halvah and Macadamias

 

Smoked Turkish Salad (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

I’ve never smoked so much in my life – the good kind of smoking, that is! I recently attended Shane Delia’s ‘Smoking in the Kitchen’ master class at Adelaide’s Tasting Australia event. Shane taught us how to make a Smoked Turkish Salad with halvah and smoked macadamia nuts. Halvah means ‘sweet’ in Arabic and is made from sesame flour and honey. Halvah is very sweet, indeed, but if you use it sparingly, it provides a wonderful contrast to the other flavors in this recipe. The crowning touch is the Turkish Black Chilli sprinkled on top of the salad, giving it a gentle fruity, peppery flavour.

Shane is the chef/owner of the restaurant Maha in Melbourne, renowned for its modern Middle Eastern cuisine. He was also the host of his own TV show called Spice Journey, which led his viewers on a delightful culinary journey through the Middle East, including Lebanon and Iran.

Shane and Me

Shane and Me

 First, Shane taught us how to smoke the macadamia nuts, Turkish bread and salt flakes using a smoking box filled with smoking wood chips or saw dust (I used hickory saw dust for my salad). To add further flavor, I added some sage leaves on top of the saw dust. (Note: you can buy the smoking box and saw dust at Barbeque specialty stores, such as Barbeques Galore in Australia and the USA).

 Smoking Box cropped

Next, place the smoking box directly on top of the stove top (glass top stoves are easiest, but you could also use gas or electric grill stoves). After several minutes, ribbons of smoke will start to rise from the smoking box- wait another 3 – 5 minutes until smoke really starts to billow.

Then, place the smoking box inside a pan large enough to hold your macadamia nuts, salt flakes and Turkish bread. Immediately cover the whole pan with aluminum foil and wait at least 15 minutes until all ingredients have been smoked. (I recommend taking the pan outdoors while it smokes).

Smoking Box in Pan

Next step is to coarsely grind the macadamia nuts with mortar and pestle. Sauté two  shallots in a pan with some butter, add 40 ml red wine vinegar to the pan, along with the crushed macadamia nuts and some fresh torn sage leaves. Simmer for several minutes.

Now you’re ready to assemble the salad. In a large bowl, add enough salad greens to serve four people. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of olive oil to lightly coat the salad mixture. Now add the shallot/macadamia nut mixture from the pan, some ham pieces (I used torn Serrano ham), small pieces of the smoked Turkish bread and a little bit of crushed halvah.

Finally, cap the salad with a poached egg and sprinkle the smoked salt flakes on top of the egg, along with some Turkish Black Chilli. This is a wonderful substitute for pepper- it has a gentle heat, a slightly fruity flavour with some chocolate undertones. If you can’t find this chilli, then you can substitute fresh ground black pepper. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.

Note: you can buy Turkish Black Chilli online from Maharestaurant.com.au or Spicetrekkers.com.

Turkish Black Chilli

Turkish Black Chilli

 Smoked Turkish Salad (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

 

Smoked Turkish Salad with Halvah and Macadamias
Serves 4
A delicious Middle Eastern salad with smoked macadamias and halvah
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For the Smoking Box
  1. Wood chips or saw dust for smoking
  2. Sage Leaves (optional)
  3. Salt flakes placed in small container
  4. 100 grams Macadamia nuts placed in small container
  5. Slab of Turkish Bread
For the Skillet
  1. 1 tbsp. butter
  2. 2 shallots, finely chopped
  3. Ground macadamia nuts (smoked)
  4. 40 ml red wine vinegar
  5. Several torn sage leaves
For the Salad
  1. Mixture of Salad Greens to Serve 4
  2. 2 - 3 tbsp. olive oil
  3. Serrano ham pieces (or other ham)
  4. Small amount of crushed Halvah
  5. Smoked Turkish bread pieces
  6. Shallot/Macadamia mixture from pan
  7. Salt flakes and Turkish Black Chilli
  8. Poached Eggs
To smoke the ingredients
  1. Fill the smoking box 1/2 full with either wood chips or saw dust. Refer to the directions provided by the manufacturer. Add some torn Sage leaves on top (or orange or apple peel) for additional flavors.
  2. Place the smoking box directly on top of the stove burner. Wait for several minutes until the mixture starts to smoke, letting it smoke for an additional 3 - 4 minutes. Remove from heat using an oven mit.
  3. Place the smoking box inside large pan holding the macadamia nuts, salt flakes and slab of Turkish bread. Immediately cover the entire pan with foil and let smoke for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Remove macadamia nuts from pan and coarsely crush using mortar and pestle.
For the Skillet
  1. Over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp. butter to pan. Gently sauté the diced shallots, then add the crushed macadamia nuts, red wine vinegar and several freshly torn sage leaves. Let simmer for several minutes.
To assemble the salad
  1. Add salad greens to a large bowl, enough to serve four
  2. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the salad greens (2-3 tbsp.)
  3. To the salad, add some ham pieces, a small amount of crushed halvah to taste and the shallot/macadamia mixture from the pan. Break the Turkish bread into small pieces and add that to the salad.
  4. Serve the salad into 4 separate bowls. Add a poached egg on top of each serve. Garnish with the smoked salt flakes and some Turkish Black Chilli or freshly ground pepper.
  5. Salad can be served warm or room temperature.
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