Rhubarb Phyllo Galette

4288212 Processed with VSCO with a5 presetNothing like sitting down in a cosy café to write up another yummy recipe. Just had a double salad full of gorgeous greens and beans, the sort of thing which this recipe perfectly complements. Going through recent journal entries always bring forth the necessity of consistency, self-belief, self-growth, and routine, but they also revealed how easy it is for me to get lost in a tangle of unhealthy mentality and unnecessary indecision. I guess it’s okay to excuse oneself for wondering which food photography backdrop to get next and whether the bananas I just caramelised with vegan butter and a lush deep muscovado sugar would pair better with melting dark chocolate or a simple cinnamon and coconut nectar drizzle (the former was quite the mouth show, and I need to do that more often. It’s basically a wholesome sundae for breakfast). The peril of freedom of choice! How superficial it seems, and yet, what changes they bring– to my entire outlook on life, on the way I behave. Just like how I had mushrooms on toast for brunch last Saturday and I could actually feel my heart leap with joy upon seeing perfectly caramelised onions, browned and gooey, stuffed between morsels of juicy oyster and morel mushrooms heaped on a bordering-carcinogenic piece of toast lovingly slathered with homemade hummus. Sweet moments make themselves known. Because they do make life that much sweeter.

Yesterday I ate a delicious carrot cake chockfull of walnuts. Not the most salubrious thing to have at 2pm, but it did hit the spot like nothing else. Typically a big green apple does it, but yesterday, that fine Tuesday, the cake was a brio in my mouth. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’d know just how much I resonate with the idea of moderation, so necessary in this age of health and nutrition information advertised to propagandic effect. Cake and coffee by myself, mindful and beautiful. Life is about health, and also about letting go. A pure, one-dimensional sweet this cake was, but what was missing was the hint of tart from the cream cheese component (if only vegan cream cheese wasn’t so pricey, right?) in the icing. Tart, the cousin of sweet, is sometimes necessary to balance whatever saccharine loveliness a baked good or breakfast item has to offer.

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Tart, this pinch of sour, to round off the sweet. Tart, like this rhubarb phyllo galette. Thank you Aldi for 50p on-sale fresh, seasonal rhubarb! This is a twist on a recipe recently written up by Linda Lomelino, one of my favourite baking and dessert bloggers. With plenty of phyllo pastry left over in my freezer, I thought it would be interesting to see what would become of it. Phyllo pastry may be delicate, but it’s also incredibly versatile, and should not be reserved just for baklava and other Middle Eastern desserts. Here is what happens: You layer half-sheets of phyllo pastry on top of each other, each layer brushed with a delicate layer of olive oil to help them stick together, whilst allowing the galette edges crisp up nicely in the oven (without burning). Broken pastry? No big deal. A galette is meant to be rustic, and tears and breaks here and there will only enhance, not detract, from this.

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Notes:

  • For whole, unscathed sheets of phyllo pastry, leave the frozen pastry in the fridge overnight, so do that the night before baking, or at least a couple of hours before. Microwaving the phyllo pastry to heat it up in a rush might leave some parts too delicate and others frozen stiff. That being said, you may still try microwaving the pastry (cover removed but still in its plastic wrap) for 30 seconds at a time, on medium power. Not the highest!
  • Cutting up the rhubarb into batons of equal length may leave you with little pieces of rhubarb. Don’t discard these, you could try fit a few cut-up pieces into nooks and crannies in the galette. Any remaining pieces can be eaten there and then.
  • The seeds and sugar sprinkled on top of the galette before baking is optional but highly recommended. The crunch gives the galette more textural fun.
  • It’s important to watch the galette carefully as it bakes– it’s done once the pastry is pale brown and edges are crisp. Baking time may vary depending on the brand of phyllo pastry you use, or strength of the oven.

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Rhubarb Phyllo Galette (adapted from Linda Lomelino’s recipe for a rhubarb almond galette– makes one 6-inch galette)

Ingredients

200g rhubarb (about 4 large stalks), washed and leaves/ other possible dirty bits and bobs cut off

juice and zest of half a lemon

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tbsp sugar (coconut or brown)

9 half-sheets of phyllo pastry, thawed (from frozen) in the fridge overnight

60ml vegetable oil or melted butter (use vegan butter or margarine if you are vegan)

2 tbsp granulated or turbinado sugar

*optional: sprinkle of mixed seeds (I used a very random mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and some homemade buckwheat granola)

Directions 

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). After weighing out the rhubarb, cut each stalk in half lengthways, then cut into batons, each 4cm in length. Put the rhubarb batons in a bowl, add the lemon juice and zest, cornstarch and sugar, and mix well with a spoon, until the batons are all coated in the lemony-sugar mix.

On your work surface, place one half-sheet of phyllo pastry down. Brush this with a thin layer of oil or melted vegan butter, then place a second layer on top. Repeat, until you have three layers on top. Rotate this thin stack 90 degrees, then do the same with the next three half-sheets, not forgetting to brush each layer with  oil each time. Rotate 90 degrees again until you are at the same orientation as you were in the beginning with the first three sheets, and then layer on the last three half-sheets so that all 9 half-sheets are used up at this point. You should get what looks like a thick cross shape, with 8 corners

Fold each of the 8 corners down, so that you have an octagon shape. Take your rhubarb batons and place them in whatever pretty pattern you wish, in the centre of the octagon. I did a series of horizontal and vertical batons, but you could also just heap the stuff in the middle. Then fold over, somewhat in a rough and random manner, the perimeter of phyllo pastry, over the border of rhubarb to get the shape of a galette. Brush the pastry with more butter/olive oil, sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the optional sprinkle of mixed seeds. Bake in the preheated oven for 13 minutes. Watch the galette carefully– it’s done once the pastry is a pale brown.

Leave the galette to cool a while on the counter, before slicing and serving with coconut yoghurt or a refreshing scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Matcha Coconut Adzuki Bean Tart

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The week in a nutshell?

Well.

Perhaps an abundance of small happenings and details that cumulated to form the realisation that the smallest changes can indeed lead to drastic changes. Things like goal setting and reading affirmations out loud (even if just in a whisper) have a tremendous impact on how you start and go through your day. Meditation. Another thing I’ve gotten into again, more recently. So many things which, just 2 years ago, I may have scoffed at, brushed aside as heeby-jeeby, loco, substance-less stuff. An amazing Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library, and finally becoming a member of the Wellcome Library. Delicate, lasting pleasures.

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I here conclude that centre of mind should be centre of gravity. Slip-ups happen, a day isn’t always that great, and that’s ok. Walk off the woes. Write. It’s about returning to those small, good things, and staying confident in their life-giving properties which may only be discovered upon closer inspection. Like pouring tea into your teacup, or savouring your first bite of dinner, or reading without your phone buzzing. There is a secret bonhomie even in the most inane things, or inanimate objects.

So I made this tart on Monday, and there is one last slice in the fridge. Waiting there for me, as I sit here typing in Waterstones. Stiffened just to the right degree, with a thin blanket of coconut cream gently melted before the drizzle, and lovingly homemade sweet red adzuki beans. Can you tell Japan is still on my mind?

With matcha, coconut, black sesame and adzuki bean, there’s a lot going on, but there’s a lot going on well. Ecstasy possessed me upon my finding these beans in a health shop near where I stay. They take quite a while to cook but the result is so worth it. These rigid, dark beans are harder, darker and smaller than your normal red kidney beans, and add a nice firm texture to any soft, sweet dessert. Dense and more earthy in flavour. In fact, you could throw these guys into your lunchtime salad or pasta and it probably wouldn’t be half bad (here’s to a new idea for tonight). The filling is not too rich, achieved by mixing coconut cream, coconut yoghurt and plant milk in the right ratio. You could do it all just with coconut cream, but that would totally overwhelm the addition of matcha. The light blend ensures all the flavours come through at the same time. As I wrote in my journal that day, it is ‘so sweet, matcha-y and creamy…!!’ Clearly I was too excited to English properly. Also, no baking needed! Just a little fridge hibernation, so make this the night before to enjoy the next day, or in the morning if you’re the sort who has time at home, and enjoy later on.

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A creamy matcha coconut tart with a black sesame crust and sweet adzuki beans (Japanese red bean)

Matcha Adzuki Bean Coconut Tart (makes one 7/8-inch tart)

Ingredients

For the crust:

35g roasted black sesame seeds

2 tbsp (50g) tahini

8 large medjool dates (120g)

100g raw cashews

 

For the filling:

2 tbsp matcha powder

150g coconut cream, from a package or scoop out the solid bits from a tin of coconut milk, and save some extra to drizzle on top

150g coconut yoghurt or any other plant-based yoghurt of choice, e.g. soy/almond etc

120ml almond milk (or any other plant milk)

50ml (45g or 3-4 tbsp) maple or agave syrup

4.5g (about 1 tbsp) agar powder or vegan gelatin

half a teaspoon of fine salt

 

For the bean topping:

100g adzuki beans (pre-soaked for 2-3 hours, or you can soak them while your tart is setting in the fridge)

5 tbsp granulated/coconut sugar

water

Directions

Using sesame oil or any other oil/margarine (sesame works well here because it matches the flavour of the crust but you don’t have to, really), liberally brush the base and all corners and crevices of your tart tin. Your tin should have a removable bottom. The liberal oiling is important because it’s easy for the sticky crust to stick to the sides! Now in a food processor, blend together all the ingredients for the crust. Wet your hands to stop so much of the batter sticking to them, and press the mixture evenly into your tart tin. Use the bottom of a glass to help, if you want. Set aside for now.

In a saucepan, whisk together the ingredients for the filling. Place on high heat and bring to boil. Once it is boiling, immediately reduce heat to low, let the mixture simmer for 30 seconds, then take off the heat. Pour this on top of the prepared black sesame crust and spread evenly. Place the tart into the fridge to set nicely.

Meanwhile, make the adzuki beans. Wash your saucepan. Take your pre-soaked beans and place them in the saucepan. Fill with water until the beans are just covered, then cook on medium-high heat for an hour. Now go read something, chat with your mum or watch an episode of Friends. When you come back, the beans should be relatively soft. If not, cook for another 10 minutes. There should still be a little resistance when you use a wooden spoon to break a few beans. Now add the sugar and stir until everything is dissolved. Take off the heat and set aside.

Finally, drizzle some extra coconut cream on the tart, then top with the cooked beans. Et voila! Serve cold from the fridge and enjoy with some green tea or coffee.

And to end on an inspirational quote…

‘Consistency is the playground of dull minds’

Date Custard Tart with a Pistachio Crust

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In spite of all the pre-planning in the world, my usual baking endeavours still entail some degree of dilly-dallying beforehand. Well, not this time. I was standing in the kitchen, and knew I wanted a tart. A good tart with a finely baked crisp crust, and some sort of fudgy, gooey middle. Something with depth and exuberance and sin all round.

Put simply: I’ve been sooo into dates recently. Nothing really beats a huge, gooey medjool date. Peel one open and you get an untidy split down the middle, unveiling a thin seed and bountiful, sweet, sticky flesh. Yum. So… Date, custard, pistachios? A combination you would perhaps find in a specialty baking store, and a combination I almost haphazardly threw together. A combination that works.

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Little Maddie was all too keen on having her nose pressed up against the side of the tart shell. I look at her differently now, especially after finishing Eating Animals by Foer. I personally hold many strong views on meat-eating now, but that’s a whole other story that deserves its own section or post.

The crust itself is made of just a few things, and is completely eggless– roasted pistachios, flour, butter, sugar and salt. Et Voila. All you really need is a food processor, otherwise you could really just buy ground pistachios and mix the rest in by hand. And the custard? Another story of ease.

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Dates smushed in the middle of a dense custard, offering perfect contrast to the hard exterior. The crust is buttery and flaky, holding little resistance to any give, thanks to the lack of eggs. What I like is that you can eat this tart alone hot or cold, or with ice cream/ cold whipped cream. I had a thin slice straight out the oven with a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream, which was absolute heaven. The next day, I tried it cold as I put the remains in the fridge, and that was equally sublime. The custard was more set, but if you prefer it a little more warm and watery, all you have to do is microwave it for a couple of minutes.

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Date Custard Tart with a Pistachio Crust (makes 2 9-inch round tarts, or one 9-inch round and one 4×11-inch rectangular, adapted from here)

 

Ingredients:

For the crust:

290g (around 10oz or 2 cups) roasted, de-shelled pistachios (salted/unsalted)

260g (2 cups) plain flour

225g (1 cup) white sugar

pinch salt (not needed if you’re using salted pistachios)

250g (2 sticks+13g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 

For the filling:

9 medjool dates

300ml heavy cream

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste, or 2 tsp vanilla extract

2 heaping tbsp greek yoghurt (can substitute with more heavy cream or sour cream)

4 egg yolks

3 tbsp sugar

 

Directions:

In a food processor, grind your pistachios until you get a coarse meal. Chuck in the flour, sugar and salt, and pulse until everything is well incorporated. Tip the mixture into a large bowl and whisk (or mix with a wooden spoon) everything, making sure the pistachio meal is evenly distributed in the dry mix. Add the softened butter, get your hands in and mix everything together. This shouldn’t take too long. The dough will be easy to break apart, yet dense and moist. Put the bowl containing the dough into the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).

After 20 minutes, take the dough out and ready your tart tins. Greasing isn’t necessary because all the butter in the dough does just the job, but if your tart molds are old and not very trustworthy, then go ahead and give them a light greasing. Break your dough in half (or store half in the freezer if you’re just making one tart) and press into your tart mold, making sure to have a thick enough layer on the bottom and sides. Bake the tart for 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar for 5 minutes straight, or until visibly light, runny and fluffy. Whisk in the cream, yoghurt and vanilla. Once the tart crust is half-baked, remove from the oven and press in you (de-seeded) dates as shown in the picture above. The heat of the oven will soften them even more, making the insides even gooier, if such a word could exist. Pour the custard on your tart(s), then put back carefully in the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Check the tart at 10 minutes– the top might have some soft brown, caramelised patches. The tart should still hold a little wobble when nudged at the side.

Remove from the oven and set on a heatproof mat or stand to let cool for a while before cutting. Eat hot with ice cream, or store in the fridge for a while, before tucking into it cold.

Chocolate Caramel Nougat Tart

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Sweet shortcrust pastry filled with dark and milk chocolate, melted chocolate nut bars, caramel, topped with chopped pecans and peanuts

There’s little space for mistake(s) when it comes to food pairings made for each other. Rich, dark chocolate filling, chewy bits of nougat, the occasional crunch, smooth caramel. Contemplating the meaning of life earlier on this week whilst scavenging my brain for some coherent essay material, I knew I needed to make something sweet, and good, soon. The brain needs glucose, after all.

Magic results lie in the temperature of your butter (cold cold cold, please), and the speediness of all the hand work involved. It all seems a bit of a hassle at first, but I encountered nothing more therapeutic the past week. The movement of my hands in a bowl, rubbing butter into flour and salt and the works is like a welcome slowing down of all the motions you’re forced to go through in life. If you just take an hour out for yourself, make something, have a cup of coffee, or even just think about nothing, everything around you, everything you experience, becomes brighter and more beautiful. I’d hate to sound too much of a yogi because I’m no more the wiser, but the truth only came with experience.

Also, you’re probably wondering why there’s one picture in this entire blog post. Now I know as a blogger one is obligated, expected to take a million photos of the entire process, for the reader’s pleasure and benefit. It’s true, I know, but having hall-mates all around means the lifespan of anything baked (especially with chocolate) is circa half an hour, if not just a little less.

It was too delicious for too many shots. The waiting had to wait. I’ll leave it at that, and hopefully the next time I won’t disappoint.

 

Chocolate caramel tart (makes one 9-inch tart)

Ingredients

For the crust: ingredients may be found here, minus the black sesame powder

70g dark chocolate, broken up into large chunks

60g milk chocolate, broken into large chunks

one large chocolate nut candy nougat bar (Snickers works well), or substitute with 10g more milk chocolate and a handful of chopped peanuts  (though you won’t get the bits of sticky nougat this way)

14g (1 tbsp) unsalted butter

50g (around 1/3 cup) chopped pecans and peanuts (optional)

For the salted caramel: ingredients and procedure may be found here. You will need 80ml (1/3 cup) of the stuff.

 

Directions

Prepare pie crust as stated in aforementioned recipe. At the bit where it says ‘preheat the oven and cover with aluminium foil’ preceding the blind bake, don’t! Just bake it normally, then remove once done and let cool, during which time you can prepare the other components. Prepare salted caramel and let cool for a half hour, so it solidifies just a little.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt together both types of chocolate, butter and the chocolate bar in 30-second intervals, until everything has nicely melted together. There will be a few sticky bits if you’re using a Snickers bar  thanks to the nougat, but that’s what makes it all the more pleasurable. Into the cooled tart crust, pour in the salted caramel and spread into an even layer. Then pour in the chocolate mixture, and sprinkle chopped pecans and peanuts around the edges (optional). This tart need not set in the fridge, but leave to set and stiffen more at room temperature for at least half an hour. Cut using a sharp knife, wiping with a wet towel between each slice.

Serve on its own or with whipped cream and more chopped nuts.

Dark Chocolate Jam Tart with a Black Sesame Crust

There are two reasons why I’m so excited to talk about this recipe.

1. So I scoured the corners of the internet, modified a few recipes to incorporate black sesame into a beautiful, flaky pastry crust, and failed. The second time, after readjusting the proportions and carrying on headstrong, it worked. Although I had some leftover dough, I figured one can always make a few more tarts if you have molds on hand, or simply freeze for later usage.. or eat on its own. Whatever floats your boat these days. This crust took this tongue by surprise, and I’m loving it.

2. Combinations occasionally take on surprising and welcoming turns. This is one of them. Chocolate and jam. I’ve done it on toast, and there are those bars you find lying in the dusty corners of the gourmet aisles, once glinting, too pretty to touch. We are sometimes a reluctant, frugal people, I know. This tart requires neither heartache nor skill. It’s a proper seeded attempt at something less predictable than your average dark chocolate tart (albeit some sea salt variations here and there, which once again requires no effort, if you really think about_. It’s a cut in the norm. A most welcome tart. In its glorious entirety, think rich, dark and slightly bitter chocolate sitting atop the epitome of a flaky, milky sweet, butter-breathed crust.

The pictures above display my own toppings; a sudden, spontaneous headspin– macadamia butter and more jam. In this case, I used apricot, but strawberry or orange would also work fine in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever flavour you have on hand. Whipped cream and fresh fruit on top would also serve to complement the suppressed tart notes in the tart alongside the (almost) overwhelming richness of a thick chocolate ganache, and that crusty, sweet, buttery base.

Dark Chocolate Jam Tart with a Black Sesame Crust (makes 6-7 tartlets or one long 10/11-inch rectangular tart)

Ingredients for the crust:

215g (around 1 3/4 cups, but weigh for accuracy) all-purpose flour

113 (one stick or a half a cup) cold, unsalted butter

80g (slightly less than 2/3 cup) icing sugar

1 egg yolk

large pinch salt

1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream or buttermilk (I used the latter just because I had it)

20g sesame powder (weighed after sifting), or 3 tbsp ground sesame seeds

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the filling:

1 cup good quality dark overture chocolate, bar or chips (at least 60% cocoa)

240ml (1 cup) heavy cream

2 tbsp apricot (or any flavoured) jam

Cut the butter into half-inch cubes and put on a shallow plate or dish. Place the dish into the freezer to ensure the butter is at its coldest when you use it. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, heavy cream/buttermilk, salt and vanilla extract. In another larger bowl or into a food processor, sift together the flour, icing sugar and black sesame. Take the cubed butter from the freezer and plop the lot into the large bowl containing the dry mix. Using your hands (or using the processor settings), rub the butter into the flour mix. This will take a while, but try and work the butter into the flour fast because body heat causes the butter to melt much faster. Rub the butter in until it resembles a course and fine meal. Pour in the wet cream mix and lightly work into the dry mix until a dough just comes together. Shape this into a disc, wrap with cling film and then place into the fridge for an hour, or overnight if making a day ahead.

Grease your tartlet pans or rectangular pan. Take the dough out from the fridge, unwrap and place into the pan. Press the dough, which should still be pretty malleable and of a light greyish colour, into the bottom and sides of the pan. Take your time here, you want to make sure that there is a pretty thick and even layer of dough all around and up the sides. The thick padding ensures enough support during and after baking. Trim the top using a butter knife to get a clean edge. You may have some dough leftover like me, and that’s fine. Place the tart back into the fridge to stiffen a little more for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Cover the tart with aluminium foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 22-25 minutes (I stopped at the 24-minute mark), rotating the tart halfway.

Whilst the shell is baking, make the filling. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and microwave on high for 30-40 seconds. Remove from the microwave, then take a large spoon and stir everything together. Taste and add more jam or chocolate if necessary. Set the bowl aside for later.

After the blind bake, remove weights and foil, then bake for another 5 minutes (I only needed to bake mine for an extra 4). Just watch that the tart doesn’t look too dark around the edges whilst baking. Keep an eye on it. After baking, remove from the oven and let cool completely. Fill the tart with the ganache, then allow to set in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting and serving. Store in the fridge, otherwise the ganache will leak everywhere. It keeps well there for a week, but I doubt it will last that long…