Friday 25 January 2008

Recipe: Andalusian Tarts

Apples and Oranges aren't an obvious combination outside any half-decent fruit bowl, and I'm not quite sure why this version works as well as it does. A layer of Orange flesh on top of a thick Apple purée, assembled and then given a short, sharp blast of heat - just enough to concentrate the juice in the Orange slices.
Somehow the citrus flavour lifts the Apple purée from being nursery food, and the Apple gives an extra, more sophisticated dimension to the Orange. Easily prepared in advance to final cooking stage, this is certainly good enough for a dinner party, and is best served still warm. If you don't want to be bothered with making a sugar-heavy glaze for the final step - as I sometimes don't - then I find merely brushing the top just before serving with a little Vedrenne liqeuer (either Griotte or Peche de Vignes) works pretty well as an alternative.

For two individual tarts:

Ingredients: 2 sheets Phyllo Pastry, 12" x 6" each; 4 0z Butter; 3 tablespoons slivered Almonds; 4 medium eating Apples; 3 tablespoons Apricot Jam; 3 tablespoons Sugar (or Splenda); grated rind of a small Lemon; 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon; 1 tablespoon Cognac; 2 medium sized sweet Oranges (seedless, by preference; blood Orange if you like). For the optional glaze: 3 tablespoons Apricot Jam; 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice.


1. Use the Phyllo and 1 oz of the Butter to make two Phyllo Pastry shells; as you construct each shell, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of slivered almonds between the two layers of Phyllo within each tart tin - this not only introduces an almond flavour into the finished tarts, but gives a splendid crunch to the base of the shells. Blind-bake and then finish the shells until they are uniformly golden in colour. Set aside.

2. Peel, core and roughly chop the Apples. Cook in a covered pan over low heat for about twenty minutes, until they have collapsed. Add the remaining Butter, Cinnamon, Lemon Rind, Cognac, and Sugar (or Splenda), raise the heat under the pan and cook, stirring, for a further ten to fifteen minutes until the mixture is quite thick (don't turn your back on it - it will burn in an instant if unwatched!).

3. Remove the skin and pith in its entirety from the Oranges, then carefully cut the segments away from the membrane.

4. Divide the Apple Purée between the two pastry shells, then arrange the Orange segments on top in either a concentric or radial pattern. Bake for fifteen minutes in a 200 degree C oven. Lightly toast the remaining slivered Almonds at the same time.

5. Glaze the tarts by boiling together the Apricot Jam and Lemon Juice, and then sieve before brushing carefully over the slices of Orange. Sprinkle with pieces of toasted slivered Almond.

Serve warm.

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