F – Fig and Almond Tart

My fig and almond tart takes enough effort to blitz together a few key ingredients and slice up a handful of figs to produce a special dessert.
Fig and almond tart - ready to cook
Ingredients:
  • 350g all-butter puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zested
  • 6-8 ripe figs, washed and dried
Recipe:
  1. Heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle approximately 34cm x 18cm.
  3. Beat the double cream and egg yolk together and use to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over to make a 1cm wide border. Brush with more of the glaze and chill the pastry on a baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. The idea here is to produce a frame of pastry to hold in all the fig juices and almond and lemon mixture.
  4. In a food processor, add the ground almonds, caster sugar, softened butter, egg, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Whizz together until smooth – you will probably need to use a spatula to push in all the bits stuck on the side. Don’t worry if the mixture is thick, it’s meant to be.
  5. Spread the almond filling over the bottom of the pastry and chill for 10 minutes while you prepare the figs.
  6. Cut each fig into quarters through the stalk. Arrange the figs cut-side up over the almond mixture. Slide the baking tray into oven and cook the tart for about 35-45 minutes until golden.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Fig and almond tart

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E – Eggs Benedict

The first thing to note is that you may (and I definitely do) need a bit of practice before you can make this look good. The reasons being this recipe involves poached eggs and a butter-based sauce that is more prone to curdling than a child is to eating sweets when unattended.

Having said that, the ultimate body of knowledge herself, Delia, has given guidance on navigating both these challenges and I testify that if you follow the recipes below properly they do work. Tip, do not use a whisk – don’t even think about getting it out for this recipe; modern hand blenders work a lot faster than your wrist can.

Eggs Benedict - ingredients

Start by making the Hollandaise Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks (separate from the whites and save them for a meringue later)
  • 100g butter
  • salt and pepper

Recipe:

  1. In a small saucepan heat the vinegar and lemon juice together until bubbling. Whilst this is heating up, pour the egg yolks into a hand blender and blitz for a minute with a pinch of salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper.
  2. Turn the blender back on and then slowly pour the acids into the egg yolk.
  3. In the same saucepan that you used to warm the vinegar/lemon juice, melt the butter. Do this over a gentle heat until it starts to bubble – don’t let it burn.
  4. Turn the heat off, an turn the blender back on, then very slowly pour the melted butter into the egg mixture, blitz for another minute and set aside.

In my haste to get this blog written, I just tipped the vinegar and butter into the blender and you’ll see my Hollandaise has curdled somewhat, so disregard the recipe at your own peril.

For the poached eggs, the trick is to use water that is as still as possible. I also use a deep frying pan instead of a saucepan as there’s less distance for the eggs to fall (and hence fall apart). Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of hot water and bring to a boil until little bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat down.

As you want the water to be as still as possible, crack the eggs on the work surface and then bring as close to the water as possible before gently tipping in (in one go). I wouldn’t suggest poaching more than 4 eggs in one go until you’re a pro as the white will naturally sprawl out in the pan anyway. Boil for 1 minute exactly using a timer. Turn the heat off completely and leave the eggs to poach in the water for another 10minutes. By this point all the white will be completely cooked but the yolk will still be perfectly soft. You will need a gently touch to get them out the pan – again no vigorous movements.

Serve the poached eggs on toasted muffins and pour the Hollandaise generously on top. This goes very nicely with bacon/pancetta if you have any in.

Eggs Benedict