Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #199 Hosting

Every wondered how to make those traditional canned Italian you want to know what Paku is...then head over to the WHB recap and find out - many thanks to Rachel for her great hosting effort.

This week we welcome back Chris from Mele Cotte as our host.

Entries must be received by
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to melecotteblogevents AT gmail DOT com with WHB#199 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 250px wide

Weekend Herb Blogging is always on the look-out for hosts so if you'd like to give it a go please send an email to

weekend.herb.blogging AT

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plum and Blue Cheese

As soon as I saw that Trig was hosting They Go Really Well Together I made a little promise to myself that I would just have to come up with something.

The whole idea of this event, which was started by Martin from Khymos, is as he states "to explore flavour pairings suggested by the hypothesis that if two foods have one or more key odorants in common it might very well be that go well together and perhaps even compliment each other.

This month the ingredients are plum and blue cheese.

When it came to choosing the cheese, it was simple really - I went for a local favourite, Tarago River Shadows of Blue

shadows of blue© by Haalo

This is a fabulously creamy and rich cheese that is quite soft and with a really pleasant blue bite to the finish.

Finding the plum component was difficult - it's winter and there are no fresh plums about so I've compromised and am using a pre-made product of poached plums in a sugar syrup.

The plum choice has been the major factor in deciding just how I would combine these two ingredients and a sweet item is the natural choice. With that said I have come up with two dishes - one a nod to my Italian side and the other a typically English concoction.

The first dish - Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta with Plum Jelly

plum and blue cheese pannacotta© by Haalo

The top layer is a simple reduction of the plum poaching syrup that has been set using leaf gelatine. The pannacotta layer is a mix of pureed poached plums that have been strained for a smoother finish and then added to a traditional pannacotta base which in turn has been spiked with blue cheese.

Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta
[Makes 4]

½ cup pureed poached plum*
½ cup cream
1 teaspoon caster sugar
40 grams Shadows of Blue (approx)
1 sheet Titanium grade gelatine
For the Plum Jelly
¾ cup plum syrup
½ sheet Titanium grade gelatine

While this was enough blue cheese to impart its flavour into the dish naturally the amount needed will vary according to the blue cheese used and your particular taste.

*For the pureed plums
Blend the poached plums until smooth and then strain through a fine sieve to remove any solids or fibrous traces. This strained mix should equal ½ a cup.

Prepare the gelatine:
Place the sheet of gelatine into a bowl of cold water and allow to soften.

Prepare the pannacotta:
Place the cream, sugar and blue cheese into a small saucepan and over a medium heat, stir until the sugar and cheese dissolves. Keep stirring while your bring the mixture to just under boiling point and then remove from heat.

Take the gelatine sheet out of the water and sqeeze to remove any excess water and add to the cream mix. Stir until dissolved and then add the strained pureed plum - stir until well blend and then pour this through a fine sieve for a smooth finish.

Divide the mixture into 4 tall shot glasses, leaving a good 1-2 cm gap from the top. Cover the tops with kitchen paper to soak up any moisture from the hot liquid and store in the fridge to chill and set.

Make the Plum Jelly:

Using the poaching liquid, pour it into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat. Reduce this syrup until you have about ½ a cup left - this should help concententrate those plum flavours. Stir in the leaf gelatine (prepared as above) and strain once it has been dissolved. Let this cool before pouring it over the prepared pannacottas. Return to the fridge to set.

My second dish is a Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble.

Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble© by Haalo

In the bottom of my dish is the rather standard poached plums to which I've also added some of it's poaching liquid. The top of crumble is also fairly standard but I've taken advantage of the soft nature of the blue to rub it into the crumble mix, the same way as you would do with the butter.

Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble
[Serves 1]

Poached Plums, sliced
40 grams plain flour
30 grams butter, softened
30 grams blue cheese
30 grams caster sugar
flaked almonds

I've made this in an individual casserole dish.

Half fill the dish with sliced plums and then drizzle over with enough poaching syrup to half cover the plums.

Place the flour and sugar into a bowl and add in the diced softened butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mix until it almost resembles breadcrumbs. Crumble over the blue cheese and continue to rub until it's incorporated. Sprinkle over with a good hand full of flaked almonds - mix briefly and then loosely cover the dish with this crumble mixture.


The crumble topping should fill the pot - don't worry as it cooks it will settle down. Bake in a preheated 170°C/320°F oven until golden and the syrup is bubbling.

Having provided the recipes - now the most important part, what did they taste like?

Plum and Blue Cheese Pannacotta - while I was cooking the cream base I did notice that the cheese seemed to really heighten the richness of the cream and when I added the plum puree I then got an accentuated plum flavour. When it cools what I find is that initially you'll have that typical pannacotta taste and feel to begin with but the blue flavourings come through right at the end, just as you think it's finished and you'll need to have another spoonful, bang you'll get the blue on the back palate.

Plum and Blue Cheese Crumble - if I could be guided by the way this dish was inhaled, this was a complete success. The blue isn't a dominating flavour or factor but it adds something special to the crumble - you know there is something different but familiar but until you are told exactly what it is, it stays out of reach. Once told, the lightbulb turns on and it all makes sense.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cured Cucumbers

Rachel from The Crispy Cook is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've succumbed once more to the lure of the tiny veg - this time it's Lebanese cucumbers

baby cucumbers© by Haalo

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pistachio Pomegranate and Orange Biscotti

I do love the look of traditional tutti frutti biscotti, the mix of different colours a real treat for the eye and when using quality glacé fruits, it's a real taste treat as well.

I've decided to give it a bit of a tweak but still evoke those memories - in this case I'll be using these vibrant slivered pistachios, the slightly unusual dried pomegranate seeds and glacé orange to create my triumvirate of colour.

Pistachio Pomegranate Biscotti© by Haalo

Pistachio, Pomegranate and Orange Biscotti
[Makes about 30]
100 grams caster sugar
1 egg
125 grams plain flour (approx)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50 grams slivered pistachios
30 grams dried pomegranate seeds
1-2 glacé orange slices, diced finely

Whisk the sugar and egg in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy.

Sift the plain flour with the baking powder and sprinkle over the creamed mixture - beat at the lowest speed until almost amalgamated.

Drop in the pistachios, pomegranate seeds, diced glacé orange and very slowly beat until just combined.

The consistency of the mixture should be soft but not too sticky - if it is too sticky, sprinkle over with a little extra flour and using a dough scraper, very gently incorporate it into the mix.

Tip the mixture out onto baking paper and mould it into a sausage shape - about a finger width in height.

Bake in a pre-heated 170°C/320°F oven lightly browned - around 30-40 minutes. You don't want to cook it too much at this stage as the biscotti are twice-baked.

Let it cool before you continue.

Cut this log using a serrated knife into even slices - I got around 30 biscotti from this mixture but this will depend on how thick or thin you like them.

Place these slices, cut side down onto a baking tray and return to the oven - cook for about 10 minutes or so on each side until they have dried out. You don't want the biscotti to colour.

Cool the biscotti on wire racks.

Pistachio Pomegranate Biscotti© by Haalo

Even if you can't get to Italy, you can pretend a little with these. Settle back with a good espresso and don't forget to dunk!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #198 Hosting

Many thanks to Prof. Kitty for hosting this week - there's another fascinating recap full of wonderful ingredients and ideas waiting for you.

This week it's great to welcome back Rachel from The Crispy Cook as our host.

Entries must be received by
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to oldsaratogabooks AT gmail DOT com with WHB#198 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 250px wide

Weekend Herb Blogging is always on the look-out for hosts so if you'd like to give it a go please send an email to

weekend.herb.blogging AT

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sautéed Beetroot Shoots

Prof. Kitty from The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've been lured by the tiniest of tiny vegetables - Beetroot shoots!

beetroot shoots© by Haalo

When I spied these at the market I had to look twice and then, look again. While I've enjoyed baby beetroot in the past I'd never seen any examples as tiny as these - for some in my bunch they really are at the earliest stage of crossing that line from root to beetroot.

beetroot shoots© by Haalo

Having purchased them, the question then became, what will I do with them? Whatever I needed to do had to something that was quick - just enough to wilt the leaves and heat the root. A stir fry perhaps but it needed something else and that something else turned out to be garlic shoots.

garlic shoots© by Haalo

They may look quite pretty and gentile but there is nothing gentile about their aroma - they pack a powerful garlic scent. I'll use them in a two fold matter - a fine julienne will be left to infuse in a neutral oil which will then in turn be used to stir fry the beetroot shoots. Profound yet simple - a striking side dish was born.

Sautéed Beetroot Shoots© by Haalo

Sautéed Beetroot Shoots

beetroot shoots*
garlic shoots
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

*I don't know how readily available beetroot shoots are but if you are growing beets in your garden, you might like to try this dish using the shoots that are thinned out.

Prepare the oil:
Don't use an extra virgin or olive oil as it might overpower the dish - use a neutral or light flavoured oil.

Chop the root and tips from a garlic shoot and cut 2" cylinders - slice the cylinders in half and then finely julienne. Place this into a bowl and drizzle in enough oil to cover - let this infuse for a couple of hours.

Prepare the beetroot shoots:
As the entire shoot is used, it's important to clean it thoroughly. Drop them into a bowl of tepid water to remove the larger grit and then carefully rinse under running water.

Once they've been cleaned, stand them up in a jug that will hold them snugly and fill with water. Let them sit for an hour, this should dislodge anything that remains.

Cook the dish:

Place a wok on a medium heat and let it come up to temperature - drizzle in some of the infused oil (but not the garlic shoots), it should sizzle.

Remove the beetroot from their container and add to the oil - give it a quick toss and then add in the julienned garlic shoots. Keep tossing the ingredients and cook until the leaves have just wilted and the roots have warmed through. Season with salt and pepper, toss a final time and then tip out onto your serving dish.

Sautéed Beetroot Shoots© by Haalo

While you can enjoy them hot from the wok, they also are quite delicious when cold.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Any guess as to what this wrinkled lump might be?

Marzipan© by Haalo

Knowing me it could actually be anything but I won't keep you in suspense - it's Marzipan.

Just the word marzipan sends some faces into contortions of disgust and unless you really really really love the flavour of almonds, marzipan might not be on your "foods I enjoy" list - but I have found a recipe that is going to revolutionise the way you look at marzipan.

I love the books of Liz Franklin and when I spotted her latest "Caffe Italia" over the weekend, well, I just had to get it. Flicking through the pages the only difficult part was deciding what to make first.

Eventually, I settled on Ricciarelli - a speciality of Sienna. What especially interested me was that one of the main ingredients was marzipan, something that I'd not seen used before and that the recipe itself was extraordinarily simple. Could it really be that easy to produce those cafè favourites? The answer, a resounding yes!

ricciarelli© by Haalo

[Makes 26+]

250 grams marzipan, chopped roughly
100 grams caster sugar
grated rind of 1 orange*
1 teaspoon orange juice (or orange liqueur)
1 egg white
150 grams almond meal

*Because I have them on hand I've used blood oranges and I've added the rind to the dough, which is something my mother does, so feel free to leave the rind out and use regular juice or liqueur if that is all you have.

Place the marzipan into a food processor and process until it forms a paste. Tumble in the caster sugar, orange rind and juice and continue to process until amalgamated.

Add the egg and pulse to incorporate before finally adding the almond meal - process just until the mixture comes together.

Scoop the dough out into a bowl - it's going to be quite firm but a little sticky.

I used a small ice-cream scoop to portion the dough into roughly 20gram balls. Dust your hands with icing sugar and then roll these balls to form little finger sized logs. Place these logs on baking paper lined trays and then flatten slightly - leave room around each as they will spread a little when cooking.

Let these rest on the trays for about 30 minutes before baking.

ricciarelli© by Haalo

Bake in a preheated 170°C/340°F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Let them stand on the trays for 5 minutes before generously dusting with icing sugar. Move them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

ricciarelli© by Haalo

One bite is all that's needed to realise you're eating something quite special - soft and moist but also wonderfully chewy, the edges of the ovals slightly crisp. The fragrance of orange comes through and its flavour softens the almond. All that's missing to complete the experience is a good espresso...

ricciarelli© by Haalo

More Italian Biscotti:

garibaldi biscotti© by Haalo Crostoli© by Haalo fig biscotti© by Haalo

Garibaldi Biscotti
Fig Biscotti

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #197 Hosting

Many thanks to Anh for hosting - in the recap I'm sure that you'll find that there's something you haven't seen before.

This week we welcome back Prof. Kitty from The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty as our host.

Entries must be received by
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to profkitty AT gmail DOT com with WHB#197 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 300px wide

Weekend Herb Blogging is always on the look-out for hosts so if you'd like to give it a go please send an email to

weekend.herb.blogging AT

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Green Split Pea Dip

Anh from Food Lover's Journey is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I have Green Split Peas.

Green Split Peas© by Haalo

When it comes to green split peas, I tend to think of soup and in particular that winter favourite, pea and ham soup. Wanting to step out of my comfort zone I went searching for something a little bit different and more suited for any season. I found the solution in Greg Malouf's book Moorish - a green split pea dip that's spiced with nutmeg and teasingly dotted with olives and odd lumps of goat's cheese.

In the dish I've made the goat cheese has been replaced by Persian Fetta which is a wonderfully creamy cows milk fetta that is preserved in a herb and garlic flavoured oil.

Green Split Pea Dip©by Haalo

Green Split Pea Dip with Olives and Persian Fetta

1 red onion, very finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
200 grams green split peas
grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
extra virgin olive oil, extra
persian fetta, crumbled
kalamata olives, roughly sliced

You'll need to start this the day before by soaking the green split peas in water overnight - make sure that the water generously covers the peas.

Pour a little olive oil into a saucepan and place on a medium heat - drop in the finely dice onion and cook until softened but not coloured.

Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes - once again you just want it to soften but not colour.

Drain the peas and add to the saucepan - pour in enough water to cover the peas by ½ an inch. Let this come to a boil and then reduce the heat so it will just simmer and cook for another 30-45 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the peas have broken down.

Season to taste with freshly ground nutmeg, sea salt and white pepper before letting it cool.

When ready to serve, drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil - in this case I used the oil from the Persian Fetta - and then stir it through. Sprinkle over with sliced olives and the crumbled cheese and then gently fold them through.

Serve at once with hot grilled wedges of pita bread.

It would be amusing if it wasn't so annoying. Instead of using my previous image of green split peas in this post I've gone and taken a new one but then you have people like Jacqueline from "I am a whole human being" not bother to take her own photo but rather just go ahead and steal mine.

The DMCA has been filed with Wordpress and they act very quickly so it will be gone soon enough it's just so infuriating that people choose to behave in this manner.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wild Date and Dried Cherry Slice

This is one of thoses dishes that came together solely on the basis of it's main ingredients - the first of which are a new type of date I've recently discovered, Wild Dates

Wild Dates© by Haalo

Much smaller in size to say a Medjool, their colouring varies from cream to amber, a result of being naturally dried. I also find them a bit firmer and the taste is not all upfront sweetness, there's smoky, spicy notes to the flesh.

The second are these dried cherries

Dried Cherries© by Haalo

Tasting somewhat like a cherry lolly, they are chewy and sweet but with a slight savoury note at the finish, it's impossible to stop at just one.

While a slice made with your regular dried fruit is delicious but frankly, a little boring, one made with these amazing ingredients turns into something quite special.

Wild Date & Dried Cherry Slice© by Haalo

Wild Date and Dried Cherry Slice

200 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cardamon powder
100 grams wild dates, seeded and sliced
100 grams dried cherries
50 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
130 grams softened butter
130 grams soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs

Place the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat until amalgamated.

Sift the flour with the baking and cardamom powders then drop in the dates, cherries and walnuts, toss until they are evenly coated.

Place these dry ingredients into the creamed butter and on the lowest speed, beat until just combined.

Spoon the mixture out onto a greased and lined slice pan - smoothing the surface with a palatte knife.

Bake in a preheated 160°C/320°F oven for about 30 - 45 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan - let it sit on a wire rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, dust generously with icing sugar.

Wild Date & Dried Cherry Slice© by Haalo

Using dark brown sugar gives the slice a more adult taste, a bit like treacle and a fantastic chewy texture. The perfect companion to your coffee or tea.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #196 Hosting

Thanks go to Dhanggit for hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and make sure you catch up with the many delights created this week at the recap.

This week it's a great pleasure to welcome Anh from Food Lover's Journey as our host.

Entries must be received by
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dark Chocolate Sponge with Blue Cheese

Dhanggit from Dhanggit's Kitchen is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I'm taking a closer look at cocoa beans.

cocoa beans© by Haalo

These dark, almond shaped and sized seeds are raw cocoa beans and are what you'd find inside the large pods hanging from cacao trees. Processing is simple - the beans are first left to ferment and then dried in the sun. These particular beans are the Forastero variety which have much higher antioxidant levels than other cocoa varieties.

The beans contain two parts - cocoa butter

Felchlin cocoa butter© by Haalo

which is this yellowish, flaky substance. It's a vegetable fat and has a mild chocolate-like scent.

The other part is cocoa mass and it is this part that I'll be using for this post in the form of these Felchlin 100% cocoa mass buttons.

Felchlin 100% cocoa mass© by Haalo

These buttons contain nothing but cocoa mass - there's no sugar or trans fats or lecithin or flavourings or whatever other things you might find in you standard chocolate. In this form you can appreciate the true flavour of the cocoa.

The dish I've made specifically requires the use of 100% cocoa to help make the ultimate dark chocolate sponge but it is a sponge with a difference. There's no flour whatsoever and texture wise, it virtually dissolves in your mouth, a bit like a ganache but best of all, it's served as a partner to blue cheese.

The recipe comes from Shannon Bennett and you can find it in his book My French Vue or if you're in Melbourne, it might just pop up as part of a degustation menu at his restaurant.

dark chocolate sponge with blue cheese© by Haalo

Dark Chocolate Sponge
Makes an 18cm square sponge

80 grams dark chocolate (at least 66% - I used 70%)
50 grams 100% cocoa mass
40 grams butter
45mls espresso coffee
15 grams cocoa powder
3 eggs, separated
70 grams icing sugar

Prepare the pan:

Brush the base and sides of an 18cm square, loose-bottomed tin with butter and then tip in a spoonful of cocoa powder. Shake the tin to coat it evenly in cocoa - disgard the excess.

Make the sponge:

Place the dark chocolate, cocoa mass and butter in a small pan and place over a gently heat. Keep a close eye and stir often until it has melted. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in the coffee and cocoa powder and then add the egg yolks one at a time.

Whisk the eggs whites and icing sugar until they reach soft peak. I like to use icing sugar because it dissolves into the white much easier - you can of course use caster sugar.

Slacken the batter with a spoonful of meringue and then fold the remaining meringue through in two batches.

Pour out into your prepared tin and bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 15-25 minutes. Test with a skewer - it will come out clean when it's cooked.

Let it cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning it out onto a cake rack.

To cut the cake:

It get nice smooth slices it's important to use a hot knife - just soak you knife in water and it will cut through the cake with ease. You'll also need to clean your knife after each cut.

To serve:

Place a square/rectangle slice of cake alongside a similar sized square of blue cheese. While the original dish found it's match with Roquefort, I've used South Cape Blue.

I know there will be some people out there that will look at whole idea of this with horror but be not a sceptic, this is a combination that works.

Friday, August 07, 2009

South Cape Blue Cheese

Love or Hate?

South Cape Blue Cheese© by Haalo

Find out more at the Cheese Blog.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


It's been a while since I've done something for Presto Pasta Night, that great pasta loving event started by Ruth from Once Upon a Feast, so it's fitting that I've popped up with something this week as Ruth is hosting!

The pasta I've used is called Tagliolini

tagliolini© by Haalo

You might call Tagliolini a thinner version of tagliatelle and these wonderful egg noodles even in their dried form will cook up in less than 3 minutes - perfect for those times you want a quick meal.

Tagliolini work well with creamy sauces and you could easily combine them with a carbonara sauce. I decided to make something a little lighter and incorporate those great winter legumes, peas and broadbeans to a base of sautéed pancetta and mushrooms. To add some creaminess without adding weight, fresh ricotta is crumbled into the finished dish just before serving.

tagliolini© by Haalo

Tagliolini with Pancetta, Mushrooms, Peas and Ricotta

pancetta, cut into small cubes
mushrooms, cut into cubes
fresh peas
fresh broadbeans

Prepare the broadbeans:

There's nothing worse than overcooked broadbeans and the key to enjoying them at their best is to remove that outer skin. Once you've shelled the broadbeans, place them in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds and then remove immediately, dropping them into cold water. You should now be able to easily remove that skin and you'll be left with beautifully green, sweet and tender beans.

Make the sauce:

Place a non-stick skillet over a medium flame and when heated, add in the pancetta. Sauté this until starting to colour and then add the mushrooms. It's important to keep the heat up as you don't want the mushrooms to stew but colour in the released fat of the pancetta. Once browned add in the peas, stir them well and then turn down the heat, allowing them to come up to temperature before adding the broad beans.

At this stage you could cook the pasta - it should take around 3 minutes, enough time to complete the sauce.

Toss the drained, cooked pasta onto the sauce and then crumble over with a little ricotta. Toss this until the ingredients have mixture through and the ricotta has broken up - the heat will help the ricotta bind the dish.

Tumble out into bowls and serve at once.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #195 Hosting

Many thanks go to Anna for her fantastic effort hosting Weekend Herb Blogging - the recap is up and it makes for great reading, there's a dish for all seasons!

This week it's my pleasure to welcome Dhanggit from Dhanggit's Kitchen as our host.

Entries must be received by
  • 3pm Sunday - Utah Time
  • 10pm Sunday - London Time
  • 11pm Sunday - Rome Time
  • 7am Monday - Melbourne (Aus) Time

To participate:

Post about any herb, plant, fruit, vegetable or flower - the complete rules can be found here.

Send your email to dhanggit AT gmail DOT com with WHB#195 in the subject and the following details:
  • Your Name
  • Your Blog Name/URL
  • Your Post URL
  • Your Location
  • A photo: 400px wide

Weekend Herb Blogging is always on the look-out for hosts so if you'd like to give it a go please send an email to

weekend.herb.blogging AT

and include your blog name and url, your preferred email address and photo requirements.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Candied Blood Orange Tart

Anna from Anna's Cool Finds is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've got some Blood Oranges.

blood orange© by Haalo

In the past I've used them to make marmalade, added them to salad and even made cordial but I've got something quite different in mind.

There's a photo of a tart that I've long admired in Gourmet Traveller's Annual Cookbook that I've wanted to make for a while - the fact that it looked so good using regular oranges I knew for certain that it would even better with blood oranges.

An important part of this recipe is that you use unwaxed oranges, which meant for me, waiting until blood oranges were back in season so I could get them from my favourite citrus grower. That wait is now over!

The reason for unwaxed oranges is that the orange slices are going to be candied, peel and all and for this I've basically followed the recipe however I have incorporated my own pastry and filling for the rest of the tart. If I do say so myself, it's been a complete success.

Candied Blood Orange Tart© by Haalo

Candied Blood Orange Tart
Makes 2x18cm tarts

Pasta Frolla

3 blood oranges
320 grams caster sugar
160 grams light corn syrup

Semolina Cream:
1½ cups milk
60 grams caster sugar
50 grams semolina
3 egg yolks

Make the Candied Blood Oranges:

Top and tail the oranges and then cut into even ½cm slices.

Put these slices into a pan of cold water and allow to come to the boil, drain and then return the slices to the pan, cover with cold water and put them over a medium heat to come to the boil again. Repeat this process until the peel has softened. For this batch I found that I needed to do this 3 times.

Place the caster sugar, light corn syrup and ½ cup of water into a pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slight and bring to a gentle simmer before adding the drained orange slices. Let this come to a boil before turning the heat to low and let it simmer, stirring occasionally and carefully, until the orange slices become translucent and the syrup has thickened.

Remove the orange slices and place them on baking paper, arranging them in a single layer. Pour the remaining syrup into a bowl and let this all cool completely.

candied blood orange slices© by Haalo

While these have some of the characteristics of commercial candied orange they aren't really comparable. As I found out in a workshop, artisan candied oranges take 13 days to make!

Make the Semolina Cream:

Put the milk, sugar and semolina in a pan and whisk over a gentle heat until the mixture is smooth. Keep stirring with a spoon until the mixture thickens.

Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously to knock out a bit of the heat before adding the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking well until they are combined.

Place this mix into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap - make sure the wrap rests against the semolina cream as this prevents it from forming a skin. Allow this to cool before using.

Assemble the tart:

There's enough pastry and semolina cream to make two small tarts - which is the route I've taken but if you prefer you can make one large tart. You'll also need to have a loose bottom cake pan to help the tart keep it's shape.

Roll out half the dough on baking paper to form a rough circle a bit bigger than the base of a 18cm tart tin.

Spread out half the semolina cream - make sure you leave a 3-4cm border around the filling. Arrange the candied orange slices over the cream and then fold the edge of the pastry up around the filling.

Carefully place this into the cake pan and then cut away any excess baking paper.

candied blood orange tart - uncooked© by Haalo

Bake in a preheated 160°C oven until the pastry is golden and cooked through - about 40 minutes. The semolina cream will puff while cooking but will deflate on cooling. Once you've taken it from the oven, brush the tart with some of the reserved syrup.

candied blood orange tart - cooked© by Haalo

The pastry is quite short and is delicate while hot, so let it cool a bit before you try to remove it from the pan.

candied blood orange tart© by Haalo

There is such a wonderful aroma that comes while baking this tart that I can only encourage you to give it a go and experience it for yourself.

candied blood orange tart© by Haalo

Better yet, is the taste - short, buttery pastry, thick creamy interior and the heady tang of those chewy candied oranges. It's a tart that demands you have seconds..and thirds!

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