Saturday, December 24, 2016

Labneh Tart With Matcha Pastry Dough

Labneh tart
Labneh tart with a topping of ground pistachios, plums and pomegranates
Regular visitors to this page know about my weakness for pies and tarts. My latest obsession is to make them with one of my favourite milk products, labneh. The colours on the topping make it look so festive and the fact that this does not need to be baked makes it even better. This one was made with a matcha pastry shell.
Labneh needs to be strained for at least 12 hours before you can use it for filling a tart shell. I used store- bought plain curd. 400 grams of curd stained overnight is reduced to 200 grams. This is just right to fill a small tart shell that serves 3-4 people. Since I don't like having curd that is sweet, I did not mix any sweetening agent into the strained curd. The sweetness comes from the toppings and a drizzle of honey. I think for serving guests, some honey and also fruits used used for the topping could be placed in small bowls.
Although I have read about matcha and tasted it in restaurants, this is the first time I bought a packet. The first thing I did was to use a teaspoon of it in the pastry dough. I loved the colour and the fragrance.
Matcha tart shell

Matcha pastry dough:
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed + extra for greasing the tin(s)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp matcha powder
2 tbs fine sugar
Place the flour in a bowl and add the butter, sugar, and matcha powder.
Rub with the tips of your fingers till the mixture becomes crumbly.
Add the egg and bring the dough together. Do not knead.
Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it, and wrap it in clingfilm.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes.
With pastry, if I plan it ahead I usually chill the dough overnight.

Take out the dough from the fridge and let it thaw for a while. Meanwhile grease the tart tin. Then cut out half and roll out a little bigger than your tin. 
Place it on the tin and press all along the bottom. Gently press on the top portion too, all along the edges, before you use the rolling pin to even out the overhanging pastry. The extra bits of pastry can be gathered up, made into a ball and chilled again for later use.
Prick the bottom of the pastry shell so that the dough does not rise up during the baking process.
Chill the prepared shell for 30 minutes or so.
Line the shell with a greased foil (greased side down as this makes it easy to remove the beans). Fill with baking beans and bake in a preheated oven for ten minutes.
Remove foil and beans and bake again for another 10-12 minutes.
Remove and cool as you prepare the filling.

This 8" tin needed 350 grams of labneh. Take the labneh and mix any sweetener you like. Since I didn't want an overly sweet filling, I skipped this part and placed the plain labneh in the tart shell. Smoothen the surface. Layer with your choice of fruits and nuts. I wasn't planning to use plums but I found these that were really sweet. So they were sliced and drizzled with a bit of honey. Lightly toasted and ground pistachios and pomegranate arils were the rest of the embellishments.

The first time I used labneh in a tart was with left-over pastry dough. This was a square 4" tart pan. For the filling I used 200 grams of labneh. Pomegranate arils and toasted/sliced almonds did the rest. A teaspoon of honey was drizzled over the surface.
These tarts will not keep for long as the bottom will get soggy. I was lucky mine finished off fast!
Thank you for stopping by today. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mini White Chocolate Tarts With Pomegranate

Hello everyone! I'm back after a pretty long gap. Although I have been cooking a lot, posting did not happen often. Year-endings usually tend to be like this. Meeting up with friends and family happens more during this season.
I made these tarts a few days ago. I had some left-over pastry dough and decided to use them up. I had seen pomegranate arils being used on dark chocolate tarts but I had never done so myself. Well, these bejewelled beauties do not disappoint. In fact the addition of pomegranate balances the sweetness of the white chocolate.
11/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chilled butter, cubed + extra for greasing the tins
The juice of 1 small orange, chilled
1 tsp freshly-grated orange zest
1 egg yolk
2 tsp ground sugar
Place the flour in a bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture with your finger tips till the mixture is crumbly.
Sprinkle the sugar and the orange zest and mix.
Add the yolk and bring the dough together. At this point you'll need to sprinkle the orange juice. I did not use the entire lot.
As soon as the dough comes together, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.
Grease the tins with butter. Take out the dough, cut out small pieces and roll out a little bigger than the tart tins.
Place it on the tin and press the bottom. Break off the overhanging dough by running the rolling pin around the edges. Repeat till all the tins are done.
This will depend on how many tins you are using. I made 7. Your left-over pastry dough can be used later for some other recipe.
Blind bake the tarts till they turn golden and are cooked through. This will take about 12-15 minutes.

The filling:
100 grams white chocolare, whacked into small pieces
1 tbs butter
About 120 ml thick cream (I didn't measure the exact quantity. I used a little more than half from a 200ml packet of Amul Fresh Cream)
Pomegranate seeds to decorate

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. As soon as it gets melted, switch off the flame. Add the butter and give it a good mix. Add the cream and do the same.
Let the mixture cool down a bit till it can easily be poured into the tart shells.
Take a shell and pour the filling. Repeat till all the shells are filled.
With the pomegranate arils, you can form any pattern or simply scatter them on top. Chill for an hour or so for the filling to set.

These little bites are a wonderful way of using up left-over pastry dough. Pomegranates and chocolate is a beautiful combination. And that slight hint of orange makes the tarts taste even better! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cauliflower Baked Upside Down With A Fish Filling

Cauliflower baked upside down
One of my recent posts had a cauliflower that was baked in white sauce. With cauliflowers in season now, they are made so often. One thing about seasonal delights is that you want to make the most of them and team them up with everything possible in recipes. A cauliflower baked whole is a constant feature on my winter table. And when one mentions cauliflower, other winter vegetables that instantly spring to mind are: peas, hyacinth beans, radishes, lai (a variety of brassica) and broccoli. Elders often mention the fact that vegetables bathed in dew taste so much better.
Blanched and ready for the filling
For this recipe, I used a cauliflower that was on the smaller side. It weighed 360 grams. After the stalk and leaves were removed, I washed it and blanched it in a pan of boiling salted water. It remained there for about 5 minutes on one side and for a few more minutes on the other side. A knife inserted in the centre offered some resistance but that was all right as the baking would take  care of that.
Fish with bones and skin discarded
Instead of using just the white sauce, I used two fish fillets. I had some boal fish/helicopter catfish and it's easy to discard the bones from this kind of fish. Then they were lightly mashed. This was from a recipe I had seen in a cookery book years ago. The recipe had minced lamb but I thought fish would be a nice version. As it is, teaming up cauliflower with fish in a curry is a favourite recipe in our region. And using the same combination in a baked recipe should surely taste good!
Upside down and it's easy to fill it up!
The fish fillets were cooked in very little water. Just enough for the skin to come off easily and the bones to be discarded. The weight of the fillets was 160 grams. To this I added a large onion which was peeled, chopped and fried with a touch of salt and pepper. For the sauce, I made it the same way as in my other cauliflower post.
Sauce poured, cheese scattered. Dots of butter and she's ready to go...
Grease the baking pan with butter and pour a ladle-ful of the sauce. Put the blanched cauliflower upside down. Take spoonfuls of the fish/onion mixture in the spaces between the florets. Since the vegetable is upside down, there is more space for any kind of filling to 'cling' to. Gently prise open the space where two florets meet and add the filling. Then pour the sauce on top, add grated cheese and dot the vegetable with butter. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 30 minutes or till the cheese turns golden on top.

This is a lovely side dish that goes so well with either rice or rotis.