Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Frangipane and raspberry tarts

I have previously posted about the  5 week Christmas baking course I am taking with Sarah Brigden (babyCakes) through Tuart College, where in the first class we made fruit mince (see post here). We then used the fruit mince to make fruit mince tarts with a frangipane (almond cream) filling/topping.

My fruit mince is still developing its flavour in the fridge, so I decided to make these tarts but with raspberries instead, as I always have some  in my freezer. The results were delicious and very popular both at home and at work. Mum has already asked for these for our family Christmas lunch.

The cinnamon pastry brings a nice added flavour to the tart, however you could leave it out or replace it with citrus zest, ground ginger, mixed spices –  it is up to you.

This pastry will keep in the fridge for 5 days before cooking or up to 3 months in the freezer (wrapped in cling wrap and placed in a sealed container or bag), while the frangipane will keep for a week in the fridge. To make these tarts with fruit mince, you can add it either before the frangipane or on top. Don’t overfill the tart cases, as the frangipane does rise a bit when it bakes.

Click here for the recipe

Pumpkin stuffed with quinoa and goats' cheese

This was supposed to be my meat free Monday post last night, however by the time I got home from work (and the gym) and made dinner, I just didn’t feel like sitting in front of the computer. I curled up on the couch and read a book instead. So here it is, a day late.

Late last week and over the weekend I was celebrating my birthday.  After some lovely meals  (most of them at cafes and restaurants, except lunch with my family where my Mum cooked us lunch and baked me a cake) with my family and friends, not to mention a lot of baking over the past few weekends, I was in need of some simple, savoury (and hopefully a bit healthier) home cooking. A while ago I saw a recipe for stuffed butternut pumpkin with quinoa which I wanted to try, however I couldn’t find the recipe this weekend. So instead I set out to make my own. I was home alone Saturday night, so if it didn’t turn out there was only me to be disappointed and have to eat it!

I was really happy with the result. I was a bit worried about using mint and basil as I made it (they are two of my favourite herbs and it seemed like a good idea at the start), but they actually went really well in this dish. The goats’ cheese became a deliciously oozy, almost like a thick cheese sauce, and the quinoa added a nice nuttiness and texture. If you want some crunch you could add some pine nuts or breadcrumbs to the mix, but I was happy with it like this. Definitely a dish I will be making again. Jerome tried the other half the next night and enjoyed it as well.

If you are cooking quinoa, make sure you rinse it really well (until the water runs clear) before cooking. I have cooked it before without rinsing and it is very bitter. It makes a big difference to the final result! Also, while you are cooking it, why not make extra and use the rest to make a salad for lunches or light dinners? I cooked double the quinoa and to the extra I added more of the herbs and goats’ cheese, along with some roasted cauliflower and zucchini which I cooked at the same time as the pumpkin (though they didn’t take as long). It made a great lunch the next day.

Click here for the recipe

Fruit minceI don’t know where this year has gone, but Christmas is almost upon us once again. It seems that the older I get, the quicker each year seems to go! This year I’m actually a bit more prepared than usual. I’ve already got quite a bit of Christmas shopping done, which is great. I’ve been buying things when I’ve seen them, which should hopefully mean I will avoid the last minute rush just before Christmas, making things less stressful and much more enjoyable. I will be working over the Chritmas/New Year period (except for public holidays/weekends) so anything that I can do now rather than later will make the holiday time more relaxing. That is the plan at least anyway.

Of course, there is  all that wonderful Christmas baking to be done. Last year I was up to midnight a few nights in a row madly baking for work and Christmas gifts (and I still have the scar from a bad burn that resulted). I’m going to try and avoid the mad rush and late nights this year by doing what I can ahead of time. So on that note, last week I started another cooking class with Sarah Brigden (babyCakes) on Christmas baking. In our first class we made Fruit Mince and Frangipane tarts, with a cinnamon pastry. Fruit mince is best made at least a week before you want to use it (although it will keep for months), and so that is what I did today. I have to say that by the end of the day my kitchen was smelling very Christmassy! You can make the fruit mince to suit your own tastes, I used dried cranberries and blueberries in my dried fruit, but you can use whichever you prefer (just don’t use anything too wet like prunes etc). If you don’t like glace cherries, use something else. Like candied fruit peel? Add it in (I don’t, hence there isn’t any here). So now I’m even more prepared, with jars of fruit mince in my fridge ready for Christmas baking in December.

I also made the frangipane tarts today (but with raspberries rather than fruit mince) and I will put those up during the week (pastry is great to make ahead and freeze until you need it as well, I think I’ll have to do that next weekend). But for now, here is the recipe for fruit mince. Make it now and by Christmas the flavours will have developed and it will be ready for whatever you want to use it in.

Click here for the recipe

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