Friday, November 4, 2011

Green Tomato and Gooseberry Tart - a dessert fit for the Whistle Stop Café

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My very promising tomato crop suffered a miserable “summer”. The entire ripe harvest from three sturdy plants yielded 4 cherry tomatoes. And I don’t mean 4 pounds, I mean 4 actual cherry tomatoes - although they were divinely sweet and tasty. Without sunshine, I am left with an abundance of green tomatoes.

Excuse me! Could you point the way to the Whistle Stop Café?

Before “The Recession”, I might have thrown them on the compost heap, but my War On Waste philosophy (WOW) now digs at my conscience. Sooooo… what to make with these sharp tangy fruits. Chutney? Pickle? Ketchup? The smell of simmering vinegar puts me off making these preserves, lovely and all as they are.

I experimented with green tomato jam and ended up with a conserve by mistake. The taste was similar to gooseberry mixed with elderflower and yet it had a flavour all its own and definitely warranted further experimentation, hence this tart.

For 8-10 servings you will need...

Sweet Pastry
175g butter
75g caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 egg, beaten
260g plain flour

1                 Using a stand mixer (or a large bowl and plenty of elbow grease) cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest. When light and fluffy and paler in colour, mix in the beaten egg and continue beating until combined. Add the flour and mix until it forms a soft paste. Shape the paste into a ball using floured hands. Flatten into a disc about 2.5cm thick (1 inch) and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
2                 Roll out the chilled pastry until you have a circular shape about 28cm (11 inches) in diameter. Use to line a 23cm (9 inch) tart tin (I use a loose-bottomed tin as I find it easier to remove the pie from the tin before serving). If any holes develop, simply use excess pastry to patch them up, pressing firmly into place – it’s a very forgiving pastry. Remove any excess pastry by running the rolling pin over the top of the lined tin. Chill for a further 30 minutes.
3                 Pre-heat your oven to 170°C. Remove the tart shell from the fridge and prick lightly with a fork. Bake blind by lining the shell with aluminium foil or greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans. (You could also use dried beans and store them in a jar specifically for this purpose).
4                 Place the tin on a baking sheet and bake the tart shell in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Green Tomato and Gooseberry Tart - WOW!

Green Tomato and Gooseberry Filling

250g green tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
200g gooseberries, topped and tailed
50mls fresh orange juice
50g runny honey (or caster sugar)

4 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
150mls double cream
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven to 160°C

1                 Place the green tomatoes and gooseberries in a medium saucepan and add the orange juice. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. These can be cooked and cooled ahead of time so that when your pastry shell is ready to be filled, you can go right ahead.
2                 Drain the cooked fruit and arrange the pieces in the cooled pastry shell.
3                 Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, until thick and creamy.
4                 Whisk in the double cream and cinnamon until combined with the egg mixture. Pour over the fruit in the tart shell.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 - 45 minutes or until the surface is golden and the tart is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the tin.

The pastry is very 'short' with a wonderful orange zing and the tart is creamy, sweet, sharp and delicious. I used a combination of tomatoes and gooseberries but it would work with tart apples if you don't have gooseberries.
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