About a month ago we were watching an episode of Food Unwrapped where they investigated the benefit of prunes in keeping you… ahem, ‘regular’.
The presenters did a little compare & contrast experiment where, each day, one of them drank a glass of prune juice, another ate a couple of plums and the third ate a few prunes. The last proved to be by far the most effective way of upping your fibre intake.
The programme took a trip to Agen in France which apparently produces the best prunes in the world. That was it, I was straight online to order myself a bag of Agen prunes.
They didn’t lie, Agen prunes put all other prunes in the shade when it comes to taste and size. I’ve begun eating 3 prunes each morning and I can attest that the workings of my alimentary canal are markedly smoother than previously!
I searched through all my cookery books looking for a tempting recipe to try so as to mix my prune intake up a little. Eventually, I came across a prune and almond tart with Armagnac in Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. I don’t think I’ve not previously posted any of his recipes despite the fact that we love a lot of the food he makes.
We’re not big brandy drinkers and I couldn’t find anywhere that sold miniatures, but decided to invest in a bottle of Armagnac for this and future recipes – it’s often called for in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Stein’s instruction is to soak the prunes for an hour prior to using them. However, I think a more extensive soak (overnight / 8 hours or so) would improve matters.
Not that the tart wasn’t incredibly good anyway – believe me, it was! Pairing it with a dollop of crème fraîche really works too.
- 225g/8oz plain flour, sifted
- ½tsp salt
- 130g/4½oz butter, chilled & diced
- 1½-2tbs cold water
- 300g/10½oz mi-cuit (semi-dried) Agen prunes, stoned
- 4tbs Armagnac
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 35g/1¼oz ground almonds
- 55g/2oz caster sugar
- 200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche
- icing sugar (for dusting)
- additional crème fraîche (for serving)
- Put the prunes into a bowl with the Armagnac and leave to soak for at least an hour, turning them occasionally to help them absorb the alcohol
- Put the flour and salt in a food processor or mixing bowl. Add the butter and work together to the fine breadcrumb stage
- Stir in the water with a round-bladed knife until it comes together into a ball
- Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed briefly until smooth
- Rest the pastry in a fridge for about 30 minutes before using
- Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased, loose-bottomed flan tin (2½ cm deep, 24cm diameter)
- Prick the base all over and chill for 20 minutes
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
- Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes then remove the blind baking gubbins and bake the case for a further 5 minutes
- Set the case aside and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/ºF/Gas mark 5
- Drain the prunes over a bowl to reserve the remaining Armagnac
- Add the ground almonds, egg, sugar and crème fraîche to the Armagnac then beat together until smooth
- Distribute the prunes over the base of the pastry case and pour over the almond mixture
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes away clean
- Allow the tart to cool before dusting with a little icing sugar
- Serve with additional crème fraîche
Have you been watching Rick Stein’s India that’s currently on BBC2? He’s touring India tasting & making the most fantastic looking curries.
We cook & eat a fair few curries and the programme has got me wanting a few curry-making kitchen implements.I’m going to start with this Tala Cook’s Curry Measure (in orange of course!) Each of the curries I’ve seen made on the show starts with a pungent mix of spices – cardamom, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin, curry leaves, turmeric and one that I’d never even heard of before – asafoetida.
The measure gives you the right proportions for making the different spice mixes for chapatis, biryani, rice, pakora, butter chicken, raita, dahl, aloo gobi, jalfrezi and murgh methi.
Also on the wish list is a karahi (or kadai) – one of those vast, circular cast iron pots with handles; a vaghar vadki or tadka (tarka) pan which is used to gently fry the spices in before they’re added to the the curry; and a tava (or tawa) – a flat, circular griddle for making all manner of flatbreads. One item at a time I think!