Recipe – Raspberry & Almond Tart

This is a delicious tart that could be served up any time of year. It’s an idea that came to me when I was trying to think how I could use a bowlful of fresh raspberries and a packet of feuillettée (puff) pastry from the fridge. Although I always make my own shortcrust pastry, having puff pastry to hand means I can always put something together quickly. My favourites are a simple fruit topping on a base of crême fraiche and an egg whisked together with a little sugar and maybe some spice if it’s apple. Alternatively, I make savoury parcels for dinner with a piece of salmon and some spinach, or simply  vegetables in a creamy sauce.  Today, I thought about making a kind of Bakewell Tart using fresh fruit instead of jam but putting the fruit on the top. The result is a gloriously light and colourful dessert which can be served warm or cold and it really doesn’t need anything else other than a glass of chilled white wine.

raspberry and almond tart
Raspberry and Almond Tart

100g margarine

100g caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

100g ground almonds

fresh raspberries, (cherries or blackcurrants would do equally well)

some flaked almonds

icing sugar (optional)

Remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to one side to soften. Beat together the margarine and the sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs a little at a time keeping back a small amount to brush onto the pastry. Gently fold in the ground almonds.

Unroll the pastry onto a large shallow flan tin with a loose bottom. Spread the almond mixture over the base but not going right to the edge. Put the fruit on top, more or less covering the surface and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Taking the edge of the pastry between your fingers, lightly roll it inwards over the edge of the almond mix and brush the folds with the remaining egg. Bake for 30-35mins at 180C until the filling is golden brown.  Sift icing sugar over the flan just before serving.

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It’s nearly lavender meringue time…

Wandering around the garden this afternoon it occurred to me that food possibilities are shortly going to get rather exciting. If we were in Provence (sadly, we are not), we would already be enjoying the first courgettes, broad beans and maybe some fresh chard. But things are looking up. We’re already enjoying some of the best and most flavoursome strawberries which are ripening so quickly I have to pick 2 or 3 times a day.And the vegetables are progressing despite being in desperate need of some rain with that magic ingredient that tap water just can’t provide. But it’s also worth looking to the flower garden for culinary inspiration. I love to brighten salads with nasturtium flowers and their peppery leaves. I’ve planted small pockets of them all over the garden and one or two in a herb planter next to the front door. A couple of years ago I found a recipe that uses lavender flowers in meringue which make a delicious light dessert or an alternative sweet to serve with coffee at the end of a meal. They’re very easy to make though don’t be too heavy-handed with the lavender as it can be overpowering.

Lavender Mini Meringues

Turn on the oven and heat to 150C. Take three of four lavender flowers, remove the stalk and grind them in a pestle and mortar to release the flavour and break them up.

Whisk one egg-white until stiff. Whisk in 50g caster sugar a bit at a time. Gently fold in the lavender. You may not need it all.

Use a teaspoon to make small meringues on a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper. Turn the oven down to 140C, put the meringues in and leave them to cook for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there until cool. The delicate mauve colour and refreshing summery taste will surprise you.