Sunday, 3 February 2008

Walnut tart, off-the-cuff pizza, in praise of Aldi.

Lately I have been almost wilfully ignoring recipes, and instead playing around as my mood suits me. I feel comfortable enough with the basics now to ignore them.

This is a sort of walnut custard tart, which caused some anxiety as I had absolutely no idea whether the filling quantity would be right for the pastry case.

The pastry itself was bog standard shortcrust, comprising butter, flour, cold water and a hefty whack of cinnamon and nutmeg. The filling involved some coffee (yes, filthy instant stuff), sugar, eggs, more cinnamon and nutmeg, milk and 100g walnuts, mixed together to form a slightly sloppy consistency. The whole lot went into a 190˙C oven for about fifty minutes. The result, I am told, was entirely edible.

Yesterday was hot and bothersome. I suspected that Maman was tiring of pasta and feta-enriched salad on her meatless days, so I suggested making pizza. The advantage of the warm weather meant that I didn't have to wait five hours for the dough to rise, and the Kitchen Aid mixer made light work of the dough.

For reference, the dough was 200g bread flour, 50g organic rye flour, a teaspoon of salt, a sachet of yeast, and a tablespoon of organic honey* dissolved in 125mL of warm water. I had to add extra water as I mixed because the rye flour tends to make the mixture drier. The dough hook made neat work in about 5 minutes, and I finished off the kneading by hand to make sure it was ready. As it proved, I made a tomato sauce with a tin of tomatoes, a clove of crushed garlic, dried herbs, a good splash of red wine and some salt and pepper. I also let our rarely-used (and I need to rectify this) pizza stone warm up in a 230˙C oven.

Once the stone was dusted with semolina, and the dough had been through a brief knead and flattening, it went onto the stone, was covered with sauce, dried mint, slivers of garlic, field mushrooms, green peppers, dried and fresh mint, and chunks of feta. 15 minutes later, and something a damn sight better than anything from the supermarket came out.

I will never understand "convenience" foods.

*From Aldi, which incidentally is worth a rummage around. One, they have more and more organic foods which are very reasonably priced. Two, you can find interesting continental stuff including damn respectable German jams at $2.99 for 450g. Three, their caraway rye is like what Schwob's bread should be - loaded with caraway seeds, and cheap at $2.99. The organic honey was a similar price to the Leabrook stuff we usually have, but is organic, and sourced from Kangaroo Island's Ligurian bees. Fancy!