I´m very happy to say that spring is finally here, but it´s still quite cold in the night. But in daytime when the sun appear it so refreshing and we all feel alive again. It´s very fulfilling to go out for a picnic at the beach, or in the woods by the water for that matter. Specially this time of year when there are no flies or other insect that bother us. This is something we look forward to through the cold and rainy days, and finally it´s here.
Love that feeling of sitting down and just listen to the birds singing spring songs. Picking wood windflower along the trail is a good way to know that spring has come.
ASPARAGUS TART IS A PERFECT SPRING MEAL WITH FRESH SEASONAL INGREDIENS This is my version of a recipe from the talented Skye McAlpine at www.frommydiningtable.com Her blog is one of my favorites out there, so if you not already follow her go and be inspired!
What you need :
320g wheat flour of whole grain
150g butter, chilled from the fridge
4-5 tbsps cold water
1 small onion
300ml single cream
small bunch of fresh mint
What to do :
First make the pastry. Sift the flour into your mixing bowl, roughly cut the butter into chunks and toss it into the bowl. Mix with a flat paddle until the flour becomes grainy and sand-like, then add the water bit by bit. Watch as a dough slowly begins to form – add a little more water to soften the texture and bring the dough together, if you feel that it needs it. Once the dough has formed, shape into a flattened disc and wrap in clingfilm. Place in the fridge to rest overnight or for at least an hour.
When you are ready to cook the tart, preheat the oven to 190 degrees; butter and flour your tin. Take the pastry out of the fridge and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a large circle, roughly 1cm thick. You can do this on top of a piece of greaseproof paper, as you can then easily lift the pastry up and lay it over the tin. Now, press the pastry into the crevices of the tin and trim off any excess. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with baking beans to hold the paper down and bake blind in the oven for 15 minutes, then take it out, remove the paper and the beans, and bake for a further 10-15 mins until golden brown all over.
While the pastry is baking, make the filling. Peel and thinly slice the onion, toss it into a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. The salt will stop it from browning as you cook it - you want the onion softened and ever so slightly caramelised rather than browned. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until soft, then add the asparagus and cook for 6-8 minutes until the stalks are softened. Set to one side. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, pour in the cream and grate in the parmesan cheese. Give it a good stir and add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
When the case is crisp, take it out of the oven and arrange the cooked asparagus over the bottom of the pastry case, scatter the onion over the asparagus, tear up the mint leaves and sprinkle them all over, then pour in the egg filling. Put the tart back in the oven and bake for a further 25-30 mins until golden brown on top.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before taking it out of the tin. Serve straight from the oven or cold.
Horses love springtime as much as we do. Firstly, they can finally get fresh grass that has just emerged from the soil. Secondly, the insects are absent. Thirdly, all clothes can be taken off and the beautiful spring sun can provide vitamins to their fur. So spring must be the best time of year for horses. They also look happier than the rest of the year. So this is the time of year to celebrate a lot of things !!
PLUM PIE WITH PISTACHIO AND STRAWBERRY
FOR THE PASTRY
200g cold butter
350g flour, and 50 g pistachios shelled
60g caster sugar
pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING
75g caster sugar
2 tbsps brandy
2 dl chopped strawberries
100g crunch biscuits
FOR THE GLAZE
1 tbsp caster sugar
Pastry: In a food processor add the pistachios and chop until fine. Chop the butter into small cubes and toss it into a mixing bowl, sift in the flour, pistachio, sugar and salt, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it takes on the consistency of sand. Crack the egg into the bowl and knead until a dough begins to form. If needed, add a spoonful of water to bring the dough together. Roll the dough into a ball, cut away roughly a third of the dough and roll it into a smaller ball, then wrap each chunk of dough individually in cling film and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade and grease a 22cm tart tin with a removable bottom. Roll out the larger ball of pastry to a circle that is a little wider than the base of the tin (and roughly 1cm thick), then lift it gently and lower it into the tin. Press the pastry into the ridges, so that all the little nooks are filled, gently resting any excess pastry over the edges of the tin so that it hangs over. Take a fork and prick the base of the pastry a few times, then set the tin in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Filling : Halve the plums, scoop out the stones and toss them away. Throw the plumbs into a small saucepan and add the brandy and the sugar, then set on a low to medium heat to cook gently for 10-15 mins, until the fruit begins to soften. Take the pastry case out of the fridge. Put the chopped strawberries into it, spreading them out with your fingers so that the base of the tart is evenly covered in a layer of strawberry. Crumble half the biscuits over the berries. When the plums is cooked, drain away the excess juices (but don’t throw it away, it´s perfect to make some lemonade) and lay the fruit into the chilled pastry case on top of the berries. Crumble the rest of the biscuits over the plums. Now, roll out the second, smaller ball of dough and cut it into strips (roughly 1-2cm thick), or pattern, and decorate the tart so the fruit peeping through. Lift up the excess pastry that is hanging over the edge of the tin, and fold it back over the ends of the strips or around the circle,, press down to seal shut. Crack the egg into a cup, lightly beat it with a fork, then use a pastry brush to dab the pastry lattice and the edges of the tart, then sprinkle with the caster sugar.
Set the tart in the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown on top. When the tart is cooked set it to one side to cool for 5-10 minutes before gently lifting it out of its tin. Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy