Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Plum and cinnamon slice

Another one from Hannah Miles' Cakes and Cookies book. I made it the other week to take to some friends and since a) it was a success and b) the pastry was on offer and I got 2 blocks, I've made it again :)
  • 500g block puff pastry
  • 4 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g marzipan, chilled in the freezer and then grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 10 plums, halved and stoned
  • 55g flakes almonds
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • milk for glazing

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Roll the pastry out to 20 x 30cm, 5mm thick and place it on a baking tray. Score a line 1-2cm from the edge, without cutting all the way through the pastry.

Mix the ground almonds, icing sugar and oil into a smooth paste. Spread it inside the lines on the pastry and sprinkle on the marzipan and the cinnamon. Place the plum halves on top, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the almonds. Brush the edges of the tart with the milk.

Bake for 25-30 minutes - the pastry should be golden and the plums tender. Leave to cool on the tray and then cut into eight.

So, how did it turn out? I love this recipe. The plums are soft and the pastry edges and almonds are crispy, the sweet marzipan and honey pair up well with the slightly tart fruit, and the cinnamon gives it a lovely autumny warmth. On round 2 I put cinnamon in the ground almonds/sugar mixture, and also some extra oil to make the paste easier to spread (about half a tbsp is enough). I needed more than 10 plums (a dozen - and then I had to creatively flatten them to take up more space!) but even slightly underripe ones sweeten up perfectly.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Pork with parsnips and fennel

Waitrose Kitchen magazine, October 2010.

  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cored, cut in wedges
  • 1 med-large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 12 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 pork neck steaks
  • 200ml low-alcohol cider
  • few sprigs thyme

Place the vegetables in a roasting pan with the cider, and roast at 220C for 5 mins.
Place the pork on top, season, and roast for a further 30 mins at 200C.
To serve, place the meat on the veg and pour over the juices. Serve with steamed vegetables (we did savoy cabbage) or salad.


The roasted parsnips were a little dry. Next time I would spray with oil before roasting, or baste in the cider. The shallots were lovely and sweet, though.
The pork was tender but needed a bit of oomph. I was thinking of mixing some wholegrain mustard with a little cider and maybe even marinading them for a few hours. Maybe honey too, but the cider is pretty sweet. I don't know why they specified low-alcohol cider; perhaps I would try another one next time.
Apple wedges could go nicely in the vegetable mix as well.

Chicken and vegetable one pot

Dinner the other night was kind of based on this recipe for one-pot chicken pilaf from BBC Good Food - but with so many tweaks it's only a distant cousin really.

I did at least use chicken thighs! Veg-wise I used green beans, broccoli, onion and mushrooms. All fine, but I also chucked in brown rice rather than white... which needs more cooking... which pulps the veg a bit, sadly. Next time, part cook the rice first. Rather than a bog standard curry powder I used garam masala, turmeric, and crushed coriander and cumin seeds.

Otherwise, a great one-pot dinner, easy to double up.