Monday, August 16, 2010

Frangipane and mixed berry tart

Last weekend we picked masses of wild blackberries from our seaside property in Riverport, N.S. We also managed to scrape up the last of the season's wild blueberries and a few raspberries.

With friends coming over for a Sunday dinner, we searched for an interesting way to serve the berries and came up with this fabulous frangipane tart, which is now my favourite new recipe. I plan to make it again in the fall with pears or apples in place of the berries.

You could cut the pastry dough to form a round, but we decided to go with a rectangular tart, sort of like a 'pizza rustica.'

Frangipane is an almond cream filling that can be used in tarts, pastries and cakes. Some say the name is derived from the Italian 'frangere il pane,' meaning 'break the bread.' The pastry filling is generally thought to be of Belgian origin.

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup mixed berrie
1 package of puff pastry (we used Tenderflake)
 With a hand mixer, cream together the butter with 1/4 cup sugar.
  1. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  2. Add the almond flour and all-purpose flour and beat until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
  3. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  4. Place the berries in a mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Lightly toss to coat berries with sguar.
  5. Roll out puff pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Place on a large baking sheet.
  7. Leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the pastry, prick the dough with a fork to stop it from puffing up.
  8. Smooth the frangipane over the pastry - leaving a ½ inch border.
  9. Bake in the oven for 4-5 minutes.
  10. Remove tarts from the oven and arrange berries on top.
  11. Bake until pastry is crisp and golden brown - approximately 8 minutes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tips from 1940s Maritime Homemakers

The Nova Scotia Public Archives do an incredible job of preserving historical documents and making them publicly available on the web. This morning I came across a wonderful 30-page book of wartime recipes for Maritime homemakers.

Although we don't have to live on war rations these days, some of the tips and recommendations in this book are as sound today as they were in 1945.

- stretch peanut butter by adding hot water
- make your own pet food with cheap stewing beef, carrots, rice and quick-cooking oats
- turn stale bread into breadcrumbs
- save juices from canned fruit for sweetening baked goods

Here's a recipe the booklet published for homemade ginger ale. I never realized it was this simple:

1 pint molasses
1 gallon water
2 tsps. ground ginger
cider vinegar

Mix together water, molasses and ginger. Add enough cider vinegar to make an acid as desired. Let stand 24 hours. Serve very cold.

Funny that in a book about economizing during the war, there is a half-page ad for the "Very Latest in Furs" -- featuring silver fox, Eastern Canadian mink and Russian squirrel scarves.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Barbecue Tonight Lives Up to Its Promise

Mention Karachi to anyone who has been or lived there and you can pretty much guarantee they will bring up these two words: Barbecue Tonight.
It is probably Karachi’s most famous restaurant, though not its fanciest by far. What started out as a roadside stand has now become a multi-story restaurant empire. Often that kind of expansion marks the beginning of the end in terms of quality, but Barbecue Tonight has managed to maintain its standards, and therefore its popularity. It’s nearly impossible to get a table on a weekend night.
The last time I was in Karachi my attempts to eat at BT were roundly foiled. Most of my meals were spoken for with invitations to the homes of friends and family. On the one free night we had, my cousin Eddie invited us out. We begged him to take us to BT, but instead he insisted on taking us to a place for Nihari, a spicy and stomach-churning Pakistani dish that he thought might gross us out. It didn’t.
I’m back in Karachi now and a plan earlier in the week to try BT was again grounded due to a nasty stomach bug that kept me home for two days eating plain rice and yogurt.
Tonight was my last night in K-town and with my stomach coated in acidophilus bacteria off we went. I must say, the place did not disappoint. The chicken tikka was nicely spiced but not burning hot, and perfectly moist. The Afghani naan, fresh from the oven, was perfectly soft and lightly sprinkled with sesame seeds. Thinly sliced mutton chops were surprisingly tasty as were the spicy mutton kebabs. And the service, complete with white-gloved waiters, was excellent.
I'm looking forward to Barbecue Tomorrow!