The thing is, if you are interested in food, it's easy for a whole weekend to be blissfully taken up with plots and plans for eating, tasting, experimenting and examining food.
Who wants to see it as fuel alone when it can bring so much joy?
And if I don't know how to deal with in ingredient, I'm sure as hell gonna spend some time trying to find out.
So Saturday night dinner was an all-in-food -adventure. And when HAM gathers his food group contingent together around his enormous wooden table, it's not for the faint hearted.
You must be; A.) interested in food and generally inquisitive (there's not too much room for the picky or diet conscious... unless it's a legitimate allergy or intolerance).
B.) Prepared to get your hands dirty if anything is required of you in the kitchen. And C.) Happy to chat about it in minute detail over red wine while the dishes bubble, boil and crisp in the open almost industrial kitchen.
Saturday night's theme was Spanish- with the centre piece of a slow roasted pigs head.
Sides and accompaniments included and entr
ee of sliced leek topped with the tenderest slow cooked octopus, a hotpot of chorizo, potato and beans (simmered in stock made with the pig brain), and salad of pine nuts, cabbage and blood orange. Quite a feast and all cooked up by friends.
My addition to the evening was a Spanish dessert of sherry, quince and almond tart- and I have to say, it's one that will now grace my repertoire of 'what can I bring to the party' dishes.
Like any tart you need to allow the time to make the beautiful, buttery short crust case, so it doesn't fit into the 'ill just whip it up' category, but it's certainly worth the effort and it beats bringing the bog standard chocolate cake to dinner.
The recipe is from the October 2008 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller (The Spanish Issue).
Almond and sherry tart with quince jam:
- 300grams quince paste
- 120ml sweet sherry'
- 3 eggs
- 100gm caster sugar
- Finely grated rind of one lemon and one orange
- 300gm almonds- roasted and finely ground
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 75gm butter- melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1/2 cup pure icing sugar- sieved together with 2tsp ground cinnamon
- 200gm plain flour
- 120gm butter- chilled and coarsely chopped
- 60gm pure icing sugar
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 egg- lightly beaten
- 250ml sweet sherry
- 1 cup caster sugar
1.) For cinnamon pastry process four, butter, icing sugar in a food processor until fine breadcrumbs form. Add egg and then process to combine. Turn onto a work surface and bring the dough together using the heel of your hand. Form it into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until firm. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick and use to line a a 26m tart case (or spring form cake tin me my case), trimming the edges, refrigerate until firm (about 1/2 hr). Preheat oven to 180degC and blind bake the crust (weighted down with beans etc) for 12-15mins. Remove weights and bake until just golden (about 7mins). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
2.) For sherry syrup, stir ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat until sugar dissolves and the liquid boils. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for around 12mins or until sauce is syrupy. Set aside.
3.) Combine quince paste and 80ml sherry in a saucepan, stirring over medium heat until melted and smooth. Then spread it evenly over the bottom of the tart case, painting a little way up the sides if you wish.
4.) Whisk together eggs, sugar and citrus rinds until thick a pale. Then fold in almond, flour, butter and remaining sherry. Pour into the tart case and bake until golden and springy to the touch (30-40mins). Cool on a wire rack, dust with cinnamon icing sugar and serve drizzled with sherry syrup.
It's one of those tarts that remains nice and moist without being to sludgy, and the footprint of quince jam in the base looks very pretty when you serve up a slice.