Tag Archives: caramelised

Caramelised Baby Leek Spelt Flour Tarte Tatin

26 Feb Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I bought a bunch of these baby leeks at the farmer’s market and wanted to make something special with them rather than just chopping them into other things like I would normally. They are so much easier to peel and chop than normal onions and the flavour is mild and sweet. They also cook quicker. This is why they end up being ingredients in other dishes. I am intrinsically lazy and if I have leeks (or spring onions come to that) in the house the normal onions just sit there waiting.

Baby Leeks

Making a Tarte Tatin is not as scary as it sounds. You just have to be confident when you turn it out. And this one has none of the butter and sugar used to make the caramel that is usually abundant. I use honey and balsamic vinegar instead. You still get the nice sticky, sweet and caramelised effect that you need in a Tarte Tatin just fewer calories and less messing about. Yay.

Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

I used my olive oil spelt flour pastry (recipe here) for this tarte but you could use shop bought puff or shortcrust pastry if you like. I used about half of the pastry for this 8 inch tarte. Use the rest to make a quiche or empanadas.

You will need an ovenproof frying pan/skillet with a metal handle (plastic melts in the oven and gets messy). The amounts below are for my 8 inch/20 cm frying pan that serves 1 (or 2 at a push) with a nice salad. Whatever size you make you will need to fill the pan snugly with the leeks so adjust the amounts accordingly.

Caramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 1-2. Vegetarian

  • about 250 g baby leeks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • dried thyme
  • balsamic or sherry vinegar syrup reduction (it comes in squeezy bottles)
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • finely grated manchego/parmesan
  • olive oil spelt flour pastry (or your choice of pastry)

Preheat the oven to 200 C. On a floured surface,  roll out the pastry to about 2 or 3 mm thick and cut out a circle about the same size as the top of the frying pan. Put in the fridge to rest.

Prepare the leeks by cutting off the dark green ends, cutting in half lengthwise and rinsing under the tap to remove any dirt hiding under the layers.

Put the olive oil in the frying pan/skillet and cover the base, round side down with a snug/tight even row of leeks. You can trim the leeks to fit the pan You want to fill any gaps as much as possible. Drizzle over the honey and balsamic vinegar syrup. Season well with thyme, salt & pepper and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Sprinkle a handful of breadcrumbs and a little grated cheese all over the top of the leeks and remove from the heat.

Cover the leeks with the circle of pastry and tuck the edges down the inside of the pan encasing the leeks. Prick all over the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on size) until the pastry is cooked.

Using oven gloves, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When ready to turn out, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using oven gloves if still hot, place a large plate upside down on top of the pan and press down hard, then quickly and carefully flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down and the tarte falls out onto the plate. Remove the pan and replace any leeks that may have fallen out of their place.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a simple green salad.

sCaramelised Baby Leek Tarte Tatin

The only thing to be scared of is picking up the hot pan without oven gloves. Don’t do it. It really hurts. But the tarte was worth it.

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“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

2 Dec French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Crouton

It has turned really cold here now so soup is what I want for lunch every day and this is one of our favourites. I have actually managed to get the “caramelising onions” time down from the usual 90 minutes in most recipes to a much more realistic 30 minutes. I am always too hungry to wait that long and this way works perfectly for me.

OnionsPeeling and chopping onions is not the nicest of jobs but I have found that cutting off the root end of an onion and putting it on your head like a little hat stops you from crying so much. It looks really stupid and the top of your head smells of onion but much less mascara wastage I find. This tip was given to me by The Washer Up’s nephew Callum and it actually works. I think he spent a day of child slave labour in a Spanish kitchen peeling onions and that is what he learnt.

French Onion Soup

I should really call this Spanish Onion Soup as the only thing that is French about it is the Gruyère cheese on the crouton. That can easily be replaced by a nice mature Manchego which is what we normally do to be honest. The onions are local, organic, Spanish onions, the olive oil is local too and the sherry I use to deglaze the pan is as Spanish as you can get.

Gruyere Crouton“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons Recipe

Serves 4-6 Vegetarian/Vegan without the cheese

  • 1 1/2 k onions, peeled & finely sliced into half moons
  • 2 0r 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp sweet sherry
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1500 ml veg stock &/or water (I use 1 litre stock 1/2 litre water)
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
  • baguette sliced
  • olive oil, salt & pepper
  • grated Gruyère (or manchego) cheese
  • thyme

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, salt, sugar & bay leaves, stir to coat the onions in the oil, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, scraping the bottom to remove the brown bits until the onions are a deep dark golden brown colour.

Then add the flour, sherry and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan again to remove all the caramelised sweet bits and cook the sherry for a few minutes. Add the stock and water, season with salt & pepper, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt, more sugar or even more Worcestershire sauce?

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil, season with a little salt & pepper and toast under a hot grill until lightly browned. Top with a generous handful of grated cheese, a little thyme and put back under the grill to melt and brown slightly. If you have ovenproof soup dishes you could put the croutons topped with grated cheese directly in the soup, add another handful of cheese and put the whole lot back under the grill.

The Washer Up would not be impressed with that though, it makes a right mess of the bowls so we go for the safer option…

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with the melted cheesey croutons on top.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

Enjoy and Stay Warm!

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Fig, Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Red Onion Quiche with Easy Olive Oil Pastry

2 Jul Fig & Goat's Cheese Quiche

I was clambering up slopes trying to get some good pictures of the early season figs, brevas, yesterday morning while walking the dog. On the way back we went to the Sunday morning organic market and found a box of gorgeous looking specimens that I couldn’t resist. Brevas are larger and darker than the small green figs that ripen later in the year and have a very short season. If you see any you have to buy them, well I do anyway.

I love the combination of figs and goat’s cheese, it works so well. The contrast of the sweetness of the figs with the sharp salty goat’s cheese is heaven. You can just chop them up and put them both in a salad with an olive oil and sherry vinegar syrup dressing if you like but it’s been a while since I posted a quiche recipe and this one is special.

I’ve found a foolproof (yes even for you dad) olive oil pastry recipe. It’s quick and easy. You make it, roll it out straight away (no hour-long resting) put it in your tart/quiche tin and leave it in the fridge for half an hour while you prep the filling. Love it.

I blind baked it for about 10 minutes before putting the filling in because I was worried about getting a soggy bottom. Nothing worse than a soggy bottom. With a drier filling I wouldn’t bother. This amount of pastry made enough for my 9 inch/23 cm quiche dish with some left over for a little individual 4 or 5 inch/12 cm tart tin. It is the right amount for a large 11-12 inch/28-30cm tart tin.

Fig, Goat’s Cheese & Red Onion Quiche with Olive Oil Pastry Recipe

Makes a 28-30 cm quiche. Vegetarian. Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini

Prep time 35 mins  Cooking Time: 35 mins

  • 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (I used 1/2 thyme 1/2 oregano)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

Lightly oil & flour your tart tin. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and herbs, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then add an ice-cube to it. Slowly pour the cold water (not the ice-cube) into the flour and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not over work or it will be tough.

Roll it out on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to the correct size about 2-3 mm thick. Flour your rolling-pin and roll the pastry onto it lifting it gently over to the tart tin and unroll the pastry onto the tin. Push the pastry into the tin (do not stretch it) and trim off the excess. Keep it to make a little one if you have enough. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, finely sliced
  • salt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary & oregano mixed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh figs, sliced or chunked
  • 100-150 gr goat’s cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pot (125 gr) goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
  • milk (goat’s milk preferably, I used oat milk)
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onions and herbs with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile heat the oven to 200 C. Prick the base of the tart all over with a fork. Blind bake the tart case (with baking paper & beans) for about 8 minutes for the large quiche (5 minutes for individual). Remove the paper & beans and put back in the oven for 3 minutes (2 minutes for small) to set the pastry.

Spread the red onions evenly over the base, crumble/break the goat’s cheese and scatter all over then fill in the gaps with the chopped/sliced figs.

In a measuring jug, beat together the eggs then beat in the yoghurt until combined. Add enough milk to take it up to about 450 ml beating again and season well with salt & black pepper.

Open the oven, put the tart on the middle oven shelf, pull it out and then pour the egg mixture into the tart, gently push the shelf in and close the door. This stops the mixture slopping everywhere hopefully.

Bake until the quiche is just set and slightly browned about 20-30 minutes, less for a small one. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.

This is perfect picnic food, best served at room temperature it really is delicious. Goat’s cheese, figs and caramelised red onions how could that be anything other than lovely. Just serve it with a peppery, crunchy green salad. and a glass of chilled rose maybe. Summer is here. Well it is here anyway!

I am really pleased with this pastry recipe, definitely going to try a sweet version next. I’m thinking a rustic fruit galette, can’t wait. This time of year it all about fruit and there is a lot of it. Plums, peaches, nectarines, figs the list goes on. Dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner, sound good to me!

Buen Provecho!

Rosemary and Garlic Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear and Almonds

17 Apr Baked Camembert & Honey Glazed Pears

This dish was inspired by a picnic lunch we enjoyed at the Bramon Wine Estate just outside Plettenberg Bay. Bramon Wine Estate is a boutique vineyard and it is the first and only Estate that far East of the Western Cape.

Their flagship Sauvignon Blanc wine is called The Crags which is the name of the “town” where the Wine Estate is situated. You couldn’t really call it a town though. It consists of a petrol station and a shop. Which is why it is such a pleasant surprise to find this beautiful place just off the main road. They also have two sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Cap Classiques. I went for the 2008 sparkling ” a  refreshingly clean palate with vibrant mousse and an exciting, limey, zesty lingering finish”. It was one of the best sparkling wines I have tried in a long time.

So I had another glass. As you do.

In the summer they offer a picnic lunch amongst the vines. It is a really special feeling to be drinking the wine that is growing all around you. It is a relaxed, informal dining experience (in a really good way). You order your drinks and then get a list of the foods available. You trick the boxes next to what you would like to order and then give it back to the very capable waiting staff. Sit back relax, enjoy your drink and the beautiful surroundings while your picnic is freshly prepared for you.

We chose the mini baked camembert with honey figs and nuts, a beautiful plaited bread with rosemary and sea salt, green fig preserve, avocado and parmesan crisp salad, fresh pesto with mixed herbs and almonds, sundried tomatoes and a creamy hummus.

There is a monkey park and a bird sanctuary very near to the Wine Estate, so in a very organised fashion we went to Bramon in the morning to book a nice table in the vines for lunch at 1pm and then went off to Monkeyland for the rest of the morning. You get a guided walking tour around the forest that is very informative for kids and adults. More than 450 primates live and free-roam around the forest. It is an amazing feeling to be that close to so many different types of monkeys and lemurs that are living in a natural habitat. 

After lunch we went to Birds of Eden which is the largest free flight bird aviary in the world. It is a great way to spend a a couple of hours, there are 3500 birds out in the open. You walk up wooden walkways that snake their way through ruins and waterfalls up into the canopy of the trees. It is a stunning place.

And again you get so close to them.

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are next to each other so you can buy combination tickets for both, which is what we did. With an excellent lunch at Bramon in between of course. Which brings me back to the food.

I contacted Bramon to get the recipes for the baked camembert and the rosemary plaited bread. The gave me the camembert but then told me that the bread recipe was a secret! I can understand it of course, it was very good.

So I made my own version of the bread using spelt flour which I flavoured with roasted garlic and rosemary. It was lovely, especially dipped into the oozing  baked camembert.

I will give you the bread recipe in my next post but for now here’s the baked camembert. I used pears rather than figs because figs aren’t in season here yet and I had some in my fruit bowl.

 I also studded the cheese with sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs before baking it because we used to serve it like that when it was on the menu at the restaurant. It’s something I saw Jamie Oliver do somewhere that makes such a difference to the flavour.

Rosemary & Garlic Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds

serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free

Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 30-35 mins

  • 1 boxed camembert (250 gr) wooden box is best but card is fine
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • a few tops of fresh rosemary
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C, remove the paper wrapping from around the cheese and put it back in the box. Make little slits all over the top of the cheese with a sharp knife and push in the slices of garlic and rosemary tops.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 30-35 minutes until soft and melting inside. Meanwhile make the honeyed pear and almonds.

Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds

serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pear, cored and sliced into 12 wedges
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a handful of whole toasted almonds (I used salted)
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 1 tbsp honey (rosemary honey if possible)

Toss all the ingredients apart from the honey together in a small bowl until evenly coated. Heat up a small frying pan over a medium high heat and throw in the pear & almond mix. Brown/caramelise slightly on both sides before adding the honey and stir to coat the pears.

Cook until the pears are soft but not mushy and remove from the heat.

Serve the warm honey glazed pear and almonds with the baked camembert and a nice bread for dipping. Or wait for my Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Braided Spelt Loaf in my next post…

For more information about the Bramon Wine Estate visit their webste here.

Enjoy!!

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Crumble with caramelised onions, cream cheese and oaty cheddar topping

9 Feb

Bit of a long title, I know, but I couldn’t leave anything out. All the ingredients are really important and it got you interested didn’t it? Want to see inside? …….OK…..

You need to know how delicious this is. The butternut squash is roasted with rosemary & a little chilli to bring out the sweetness and intensify the flavour. The chickpeas give a textural surprise layer and contrast to the squash. The onions are caramelised with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. The cream cheese layer gives a creamy sour edge on top of the sweet onions. And the topping, well, it’s a crunchy, cheddar, oatmeal, breadcrumb and olive oil crumble seasoned with a touch of rosemary to echo the squash.

 This is a hybrid of two recipes I had been thinking about making over the last week. The first was an Aubergine Crumble from Flavour by Vicky Bhogal and the second was a recipe for Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Cassoulet I found on Cooking Pretty. She bakes the cassoulet with a gruyere topping which really appealed to me so I just put the cheesey crumble mix on top of the cassoulet and changed a few other ingredients. I made four individual crumbles but you could easily make one big one to serve at the table. The result is pure comfort food, warming and delicious…

Butternut Squash & Caramelised Onion Crumble

serves 3 -4 vegetarian

  • 1/2 butternut squash (about 750 gr) washed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
  • about 2oo gr (1/2 tin/jar) cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp thyme/rosemary, finely chopped
  • about 100 gr cream cheese
  • 50 gr rolled oats
  • 50 gr breadcrumbs
  • about 100 gr grated cheddar (or other cheese)
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • olive oil, salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 210 C. Put the squash chunks on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary & chilli flakes and roast for 35 – 40 minutes or until your squash is soft.

Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions, thyme/rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until caramelised. Make the crumble topping by mixing the oats, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, rosemary salt and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over about 3 tbsp olive oil and mix with a fork or your fingers until it resembles a crumble.

When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and turn the oven down to 190 C. Tip the squash into a large bowl and blitz with stick blender until it is a chunky puree.  Taste and season if necessary. Pour this into the base of your dish/dishes and spread it out evenly. Season your rinsed chickpeas and scatter them over the squash. Tip the caramelised onions over the chickpeas and spread them about evenly. Spread a thin-ish layer of cream cheese over the onions (it doesn’t matter if it’s messy) and then top with the crumble mixture. Pat it gently and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 -25 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

Serve with a green salad for lunch or with some green beans & new potatoes as a more substantial meal. You could also put some pumpkin/squash seeds in the topping if you hadn’t burnt them instead of toasting them like I did! It was still delicious though, as you can see……

This is a really cute dinner party dish as well. You can prepare them beforehand and just heat them up when your guests arrive. Simple…..

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