Blackberry Flaugnarde

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Just in time for the weekend! This would be pretty amazeballs after a Sunday lunch. Apparently you’re not supposed to accompany a flaugnarde, not even a little cream.  In my mind though, it’s starting to get a little cold outside so some softly whipped cream would be a delight.

Most importantly though – this dessert is simple. S.I.M.P.L.E. You mix together four ingredients, pour it over fruit and the oven does the rest. That’s it. Done. Finito. Means you can get on with your weekend relaxing, lounging in pyjamas (can’t be just me, can it?) And still be rewarded!

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I ended up using 450g blackberries cause they’re so damn delicious right now, but you could use cherries (which would turn this flaugnarde into a clafoutis!) or blueberries.. some raspberries.. Go for it.
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So. This recipe really should sort out four of you.. especially if you’re taking me up on that cream offer.. but the two of us hungrily devoured it. Oops.

Four big tablespoons of plain flour (or 1/2 C)
Five big tablespoons of caster sugar (or 1/2 C) and some extra for dusting
3 eggs
1 capful of almond extract (I mean it’s lid.. not a cup, dear god!)
350ml milk
450g blackberries
Icing sugar for flinging on top whilst it’s hot

Set the oven to work, about 180c.
Grab your dish.. the flaugnarde will rise in the oven and then settle down so choose something that will hold all the fruit and have a little extra height.  Butter the dish and dust it with sugar.
Turf in the fruit.
Add the flour and sugar to a mixing bowl and stir it together. Add the three eggs and mix it well but quickly, overworked flour goes rubbery.
Add the almond extract and the milk.
stir it all together and pour over the fruit.
Into the oven for about 40 minutes but keep an eye on her.

flaugnard

Eat it hot, warm, cold.. just eat it. I’m off to make another one.

No. Really.

Börek – Delicious Savoury Turkish Pastries

borek-ingredients

I’m living the crazy life at the minute.  No, really.  For me, it’s C R A Z Y.  I’m in panic-organising mode.  Next week I’m hosting a Birthday dinner for twelve.  During the day of this I-can-do-anything offering I’m over preparing for our first supper club as Little Portuguese Kitchen which takes place the day after Birthday dinner.  Isabel and I are cooking for twelve strangers, a set Portuguese menu.  And whilst we are super able and capable and organised and have both worked in the industry for a long time – we’re getting a little nervous! milk-oil-wash-borek-pastry

Needless to say I’ve not had a lot of space for leisurely cooking at home, or even I-desperately-need-to-eat-something-which-isn’t-takeaway-and-actually-has-the-things-my-body-needs-to-keep-running-at-mental-speed cooking at home.

I’ve been visiting a wonderful teeny tiny Turkish cafe/food place in the market in town.  They do pretty awesome wraps, full of salad with slivers of smoked sausage and delicately spiced lamb kofta.  They’re keeping me going, don’t worry!  They also happen to sell delicious börek.  Layers of filo pastry stuffed with soft spinach, salty feta, a little parsley and dill.  Bloody marvellous.  I eat far too many, particularly as my custom is so regular that they will often give me and the partner in crime one for free.  Spinach-for-borek

I woke up.. Tuesday?  Yes, Tuesday.  With a need for börek.  I ran around to the supermarket and filled up the basket (also with a lot of unnecessary things)  But no filo pastry.  Not even in the frozen section.  I came home in a sulk at my snobby outburst and slightly resentful at the package of puff pastry.  I am an idiot.  Of course the puff pastry, when rolled to about 3mm thick did a marvelous job.  thin-puff-pastry-for-borek

It actually didn’t take that long to make.  Truly.  Oven on, sweat onions and spinach while making pastry thin.  Squeeze, mix, fill, top and bake.  Done.  With a sharp lemony salad?  Amazing. squeezed-borek-filling

borek

Maybe too much cheese to spinach?  Nah.  Never too much cheese.borek-before-baking

There we have it.  If we hadn’t been so greedy this would have served six for lunch with a salad no problem.  I think next time however I really will use filo pastry but I’ll make individual ones, rolled up like sausage rolls or really obese cigars.  Sesame seeds are a must.

2 tbsp olive oil
550g spinach
1 onion
Small bunch of parsley
2 tbsp olive oil (yes, more)
1/2 cup whole milk or plain yogurt
salt & pepper
1 egg
2 egg yolks
400g feta cheese
1 package room temperature/slightly chill puff pastry (or sheets of filo – better)
2 tbsp sesame seeds

I had my oven at about 170 – it’s a fan oven which doesn’t run as hot as normal so 180 should be fine for ovens which are true.

So.  Oven on.
Olive oil and onions into a pan on a low-medium heat to turn translucent and brown ever so slightly. When the onions are looking likely, turf in all the washed spinach. Yes. All of it. Mix it about to get it to begin to wilt. When it’s an intense green and less than half the volume it began, slap a lid on and turn off the heat.
Cut off a chunk of puff pastry. For the size of my dish I cut off between 40% and 45% and the same for the lid – I know it’s an awkward way to phrase this but it’s true. I was left with a slice of unused puff pastry about as thick as my finger. I don’t got sausage fingers.
Anyway, roll out the pastry to it’s big enough to fit the dish and is as thin as you can get it. Brush with whisked olive oil, milk/yogurt and seasoning.
If using filo, keep the sheets not being used under a towel to stop them from drying out. Whisk up the olive oil, milk/yogurt and seasoning. Lay one sheet of filo and brush with this mixture (I would be tempted to put a bare sprinkle of sesame between these layers I feel). Repeat for three or four layers. This is the base pastry. If you’re making individuals you can leave it at that for parceling or rolling up. Or cut the size down if you want them smaller. Your choice.
Put your spinach mix into a strainer or a clean tea towel. Do it in batches if you need to, just get all that liquid out. Make it dry.
Break up the feta and mix in with the spinach. Only add extra salt if your feta is lacking or you like to live dangerously.
Pile this into the pastry lined dish, or arrange on the pastry to wrap up how you wish.
Roll out your other piece just as thinly if using puff. Make another three/four layers of filo washed with the oil/dairy mix if it’s not puff.
Mush up the two egg yolks with a brush or your fingers and slather it on top of the pie. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and pop her in the oven. I baked mine for about 35 minutes and turned once cause my old banger of an oven has hot spots!finished-borek
I shouldn’t have eaten it when it wasn’t piping hot. But I did and it was delicious. Go for it, Spring is coming – we’re allowed to crack out the pasty/quiche and salad routine.

I might be quiet but I’m still eating..

Tea and Double Chocolate Banana Bread

I’m in that stage of being almost ill, where body is tired and head stuffy.  The weather, too, is struggling to launch itself into Springtime, the sun is shining at the minute but it’s still quite cold.  And windy!  It’s a wonder the snowdrops have kept their heads.

This morning, well.. it’s just after eleven a.m. here and I’m still in my ‘jamas.  I sleepily stuffed in that slab of Smitten Kitchen’s excellent Double Chocolate Banana Bread pictured up there and my tea is half drunk and now cold.  I am apparently unable to complete a cup of tea before the temperature plummets.

Dinner on Wednesday night was built on a desire to have one of the Pasta’n’Sauce packets without actually having to eat it.  No MSG for me thank-you-very-much.  Instead it was baked pasta with cauliflower, kale and leeks with a roasted broccoli cheese sauce.  Sounds complicated but from turning on the oven to washing up the dishes while it baked it wasn’t longer than 35 minutes – including time for the oven to heat up!

Parmesan roasted broccoli

There have also been meatballs with marinara and a plain but still awesome banana bread, soups and many instances of velvety scrambled or poached eggs with piquant avocado on sour dough.

Poached egg on avocado with sourdough toast

Phew! Just got the weekend to get through!

Orange Blossom and Bergamot Pound Cake

Everything starts with a pound cake.  Each new Birthday year began with a pound cake in fancy disguise and each Christmas was celebrated with a gussied up pound cake holding nuts and other shiny edibles (alongside a “Japanese” Christmas cake but we’ll get to that another time).

So we begin with an orange blossom and bergamot (earl grey tea) pound cake.  Such delicate flavours need to be handled softly.  Seems churlish to set them in such a dense cake, but the self wants what it wants and this morning it woke up wanting pound cake.

I purposefully kept the orange blossom water and earl grey flavours minimal so there is just a hint. Pound cake is rich and buttery and I didn’t want to outshine that, just lift it a little.  Something still special for this festive period but away from the heavy spices which are all around at Christmas.

My only suggestion for equipment is to have a heavy duty bundt pan (or loaf tin).  Cake protection! No one likes a hard, dark bitter crust, do they?

You can of course separate the eggs and whip the whites to lend as much air as possible to your pound cake – today I wanted the soft substantial cake I remembered – just treat it gently and add the whites last so as to keep as much air in there as you can before you whisk it into the oven.

Set the oven to 160 degrees and prepare your cake pan (coat with butter and then with flour, removing the excess)

2 Earl Grey teabags
50ml Boiling water
1 1/3 C Soft butter
2 1/2 C Caster sugar
6 Eggs
3 C Cake flour*
1/2 C Buttermilk
1 tbsp. and 2 tsp. Orange blossom water
3 Clementines
10 tbsp. Icing sugar

Place the earl grey teabags into a mug and pour about 50ml of boiling water over the top. Swirl them about a bit and leave them to sit.
In a standing mixer cream together the sugar and butter. You’re aiming to dissolve the sugar in the fat, whip it until it’s pale and fluffy.
If you’re separating your eggs do so now and add the yolks one at a time with a little of the flour. If you’re not separating – hoy in the whole egg!
When the eggs/yolks are in add in the rest of the flour and the buttermilk.
Remove the teabags and add the earl grey liquid along with 1 tsbp. orange blossom water.
Add the grated zest of the three clementines – keep them close by.
If you separated the eggs now is the time to gently fold in the whites with a metal spoon.
Pour the batter into your tin and bake for 1 hr. After 30 minutes I put a piece of foil on the top to stop it darkening too much. I checked it after another 30 minutes and then removed the foil and left it in the oven for another 10.
Check the cake by piercing it with a knife or skewer to see if it comes out clean.
Let the cake rest for 10 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool add the juice of 2 1/2 or 3 clementines and the 2 tsp. orange blossom water to the icing sugar and pour over the cake. I don’t like a lot of icing on this cake because I find it very sweet, if you like a heavier covering you could easily double the icing recipe. Add less clementine juice if you don’t want the icing to slide down the sides so much.

*Here in the UK plain cake flour is not as light as Cake Flour in the US so I make up 10% of the final weight/volume in cornflour.