Like many foodies the first thought I have when I wake up in the morning is 'What am I going to eat today?' Sadly work and time constraints often prohibit my wildest cravings such as fresh white truffles from Alba, Italy, shaved over fettuccine or 8 hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder or briny Coffin Bay oysters freshly shucked with buttered bread fingers. Even though I can't have I can still dream and that's where my favourite food mags come in. While food blogs are a great standby, nothing compares to having a glossy close-up picture of a roasted leg of baby suckling pig surrounded by cooked apples, crispy spuds and sage leaves in bed with you to run your fingers over. Hmmmmm......
My favourite food mags are -
1. Australian Gourmet Traveller
2.Vogue Entertaining and Living
3.The Sydney Morning Herald's 'Good Living' supplement
5.The Sydney Morning Herald's 'Weekend Magazine' Food Column
For those who know me, desserts and sweets aren't really my thing. An occasional Kit-Kat is all I need to satisfy my sweet tooth. Hence my dessert repertoire is woeful. Why cook what you're not going to look forward to eating, I say! But my coterie of friends and family are like the majority of people who would crawl over broken glass for that last bite of chocolate cake or spoonful of creamy creme brulee! So, I am on an adventure to see if I can find a dessert to cook that makes me go all weak at the knees. Here goes..........!
ALMOND TART WITH FRANGIPANE AND VIN SANTO PRUNES - from a recipe from Ginette Falvo of Gertrude Street Enoteca in Melbourne.
(you'll need to put aside at least 3 hours to prepare this delicious tart)
100g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
100g caster sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
70g natural almond meal (or grind almonds yourself)
Pinch of salt
In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and free of lumps. Add egg and yolk and mix in. Combine flour, almond meal and salt then add to the bowl, combining until just incorporated and the mixture comes together to form a dough.
Transfer dough to a floured work bench and gently knead to form a smooth ball. Do not overwork the pastry. Press down to form a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 mins.
Grease a 24cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Roll out pastry to about 5mm thick and line tart tin. Prick the pastry with a form and refrigerate until required.
150g unsalted butter(at room temperature)
150g caster sugar
150g blanched almond meal
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 small egg
40g plain flour
In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix through almond meal and vanilla. Add egg and flour and mix well until combined. Refrigerate until required.
Vin santo prunes
150g caster sugar
25ml vin santo
250g pitted prunes
1/2 cup slivered almonds
icing sugar, for dusting
Dissolve sugar in water in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Bring to the boil without stirring. Remove from heat, add vin santo(or brandy or marsala) and stir through. Add pitted prunes and soak them in this syrup for about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving syrup.
To assemble, spread frangipane evenly over tart shell and place prunes on top, pressing lightly into frangipane mixture. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and bake at 160 degrees from 35-55 minutes, until golden brown and set. Allow to cool in tin, dust with icing sugar and serve drizzled with vin snato syrup and whipped cream.
VERDICT: A sublime tart with wonderful texture and flavour - particularly the prunes. A winner at anyone's dinner party. Does it come close to white Alba truffles? Almost. 7/10