Saturday, 2 January 2010

Healthy and Good Looking. Well, the food anyway.

There's nothing like a little colour to snap you out of your winter doldrums. This lunch has colour, contrast, lots of great nutrients and, most importantly, great flavour.
Nigella's Red Soup, filled with the goodness of beetroot, is accompanied by her Small Tomato Tarts - just the thing to satisfy the belly and plentiful enough to have leftovers for breakfast the next day.
These little tarts were the perfect choice for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme - Small Plates. Small indeed, but delicious enough that you will want to eat two!

Small Tomato Tarts
Nigella Lawson, How to be a Domestic Goddess

For the pastry:
125g flour
60g fine cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
115g butter
25g shortening
40-50ml iced water

For the Filling:
500g tinned chopped tomatoes
pinch sugar
50g pecorino cheese, sliced into thin slivers with a potato peeler
small handful basil, shredded
500g baby tomatoes, halved
black olives, halved and pitted

First make the pastry: pulse the dry ingredients in the processor, then add the butter and shortening, diced into small pieces. Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then add enough iced water to form a dough, pulsing with the gentlest touch to combine. Form into two discs, wrap with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out one of the pastry discs into a rough square. Cut into 4 squares and drape into the tins, folding the edges inward. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Preheat oven to 200C.
Sauce: Empty the tinned tomatoes into a bowl, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar (I added oregano and basil).
Tarts: Put a thin layer of tomato mix, then 3 slices of pecorino cheese on top, then a sprinkling of basil, then tomatoes and olives and finally a grind of pepper.
Cook for 20 minutes on baking sheets and let the tarts stand for several minutes, on a rack out of the oven, before taking them out of the tin.
Makes 8 tarts.

*I used green olives as that is what I had on hand, and I added anchovies.. because I like them.

With my colourful tarts I made a red soup, a delicious way to use beets. I love the tartness that the cranberries gave the soup.

Red Soup for Souper Sundays!
Nigella Lawson, Feast

3 raw beetroot
1 large red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
150g cranberries
juice and zest of 1 orange
pinch ground cloves
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml sour cream for serving (I used homemade crème fraiche)

Peel the beetroots and onion and chop them roughly. Blitz in food processor. Heat oil in large pot and cook beet mixture on medium until sweated down, about 10 minutes.
Add cranberries, orange juice and zest, and cloves. Stir and pour in stock.
Lower heat, cook 45 minutes and puree with immersion blender - carefully!
Garnish with sour cream or crème fraiche.

Dorie Greenspan's Crème Fraiche

1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp yogurt or buttermilk

To make , pour the heavy cream into a clean jar, add the buttermilk or yogurt, cover the jar tightly, and shake it for about a minute. Then just leave the jar on the counter for 12 to 24 hours, or until the crème fraîche thickens slightly. How quickly it thickens will depend on the temperature of the room—the warmer the room, the quicker the thickening action. When it has thickened, chill the crème fraîche in the refrigerator for a day before you use it. Crème fraîche can be kept covered in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks and (or but, depending on your taste) will get tangier and tangier day after day.

*Crème Fraiche was the challenge of the month for December on Forging Fromage, and this is the only recipe that I have tried so far. I do find it tasty but a little thin. I have made it twice now and am also looking forward to trying some other methods.