Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pear and Almond Tart

This year we invited my family up for Easter Lunch.  
It was very exciting to host a proper family event and to have my brother and parents in the house at the same time. 

 However to be perfectly honest I was a little bit nervous.

I wanted everything to be perfect. 

I wanted my mum to be impressed with the cleanliness of the house,
my dad with my choice of organic, home-grown herbs
and my brother and his wife to think my roast was delicious.  

And it seems that when I start thinking like this, 
about how it has to be perfect, 
I begin to feel anxious and stressed about getting everything just right. 

I speak impatiently with the boy who seems so relaxed and oblivious to the oncoming doom
and I curse the oven, which suddenly seems to be as temperamental as I am.

However, this Easter something happened.  

I woke up the morning of the lunch surprisingly calm. 

I enjoyed decorating the table with my lovely cotton napkins and some pretty Easter biscuits that a friend had given to me. 

And as I seasoned the lamb and peeled the potatoes and kneaded the dough for my pear and almond tart I was filled with… not anxiety,

but joy. 

I had looked around and become aware of how lucky I was, 

for the fact that we had such plentiful and delicious food to share,
for the privilege of being able to afford to rent a lovely house 
and for the blessing of having a wonderful family.

 And suddenly it didn’t matter if it was perfect or not,

 ...because I knew I had everything to be thankful for.

Pear and Almond Tart
150 grams of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of plain flour
2 pinches of salt
2 teaspoon of icing sugar
1 egg yolk
A little cold water (no more than ¼ cup)

¼ cup of sugar
50 grams of unsalted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
½ cup of almond meal
2 tablespoons of plain flour

Two small pears, skinned and sliced finely
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Preheat your oven to 180˚C

{to make pastry… }
Combine ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until pastry has come together (adding a little water if needed)
Kneed gently until pastry is smooth
Wrap Pastry in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

{to make filling… }
Beat the butter and sugar in your mixer until pale and smooth.
add the vanilla,
then the egg and beat until smooth.
Then stir in flour and almond meal.
Place filling in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

{to assemble… }
Roll out pastry into a circle of about 30cm diameter
Spread filling inside the circle, leaving a 5cm border

Arrange pear slices evenly over the filling,
then fold the border of the pastry up around the sides of the filling.

Sprinkle the tart with almonds and little sugar.

Refrigerate assembled tart for at least twenty minutes before baking.

Bake for about thirty – fourty minutes.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Macadamia Brownies

Guess what I found...
well, ever since we moved to our new home I have been on the look out for places to buy fresh, local products. 

So you can imagine my delight when one warm Saturday afternoon, the boy and I stumbled upon a local Macadamia Nut Farm.

 It is in the Yarramalong Valley, where one day (I dream) we will buy a leafy block and build a little house. 

They have rows of Macadamia trees which surround a sunny cafe.
We spent the entire afternoon there,
 sipping cool drinks and dipping bread in oil and Macadamia Dukkah.

 And when we left I bought a little bag of whole Macadamias.

 The second thing I found, a few days later, was this very cute jug. It was in an op-shop for a dollar.

On the bottom it has a stamp that says 8 oz.

It is the perfect size to use when serving cream.

 And it just so happens, 
that fresh cream is the perfectly accompaniment for warm Macadamia Brownies.

Macadamia Brownies

150 grams of unsalted butter
 200g dark chocolate, very finely chopped
 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
 ½ cup of plain flour
 1 cup of whole toasted Macadamia nuts

Preheat your oven to 160˚C
 Grease and line a square, 18cm cake tin.
 Place butter in a saucepan and melt over a medium to high heat.
 When boiling take the butter off the heat and stir in the chocolate until it is melted.
 When the mixture is smooth whisk in the brown sugar,
 then the  vanilla extract,
 the flour,
 …and finally the Macadamias.
 Bake in your oven for about 20 – 30 min until the top looks crisp.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.