This Month's Recipes...
March – Starter – Tomato Tart with Anchovies
From page 145 of The Pocket Bakery.
A reminder of walks through Antibes market with my grandmother who lived near the town for 50 years and loved the local food.
1 baking sheet measuring approximately 25x40cm/10x15inches
For the cooked tomato:
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 basil leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil
For the tart:
Flour, for dusting
300g rough puff pastry (pages 136-137 of The Pocket Bakery)
12 anchovies, cut lengthways in 2
12 black olives (preferably Niçoise), halved and stoned
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water and 1 pinch salt
Put all the ingredients for the cooked tomato in a pan, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Puree in a blender/food processor, or put through a food mill (mouli).
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7 and put the baking sheet you will be using in the oven. Dust the worktop with flour and roll the pastry out to ¼cm thickness. Pick it up, rolling it onto a well-floured rolling pin, then unroll it onto a sheet of baking parchment. This will be easily slipped on to the preheated baking sheet and ensures the base of the tart will be crisp.
Spread the cooked tomato on to the pastry leaving a border of about 2cm; place the anchovies all over the surface, plus the olives, all evenly spaced.
Brush the edges with egg wash and bake for 15-25 minutes until the pastry edges are golden. Check that the base is cooked by gently lifting the corner of the tart and looking underneath. If not quite cooked, give the tart a few more minutes, turning the oven down so you do not burn the edges.
Eat hot from the oven, or at room temperature. This tart reheats very nicely.
Main – Grilled Mackerel
From page 257 of The New English Table.
It is not how you cook it but how you buy it. Track down the freshest mackerel, wash and pat dry. Brush with olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side, preferably outside over charcoal. Mackerel flesh is buff coloured and translucent before cooking; once grilled it turns white, and the meat is succulent and firm. The flavour of a very fresh mackerel, like all the best fish, is very delicate.
As to what to eat it with, many old recipe books suggest stewed fruit, but I suspect these sauces were created to hide the taste of stale fish oil in less than fresh fish. Much better to eat it with a fresh sauce of cucumber, red chilli, spring onion, lime flesh and juice, and a little very good olive oil. If you still want fruit, try it with pomegranate seeds or even a small dice of melon.
Dessert – Rhubarb Fool
From page 339 of The New English Kitchen.
480g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
150g golden caster sugar (or you could substitute apple jelly – see page 365 of The New English Kitchen)
300ml whipping cream
demerara sugar, or multi-coloured sugar crystals and Moroccan dried rose petals
Put the rhubarb in a pan with the sugar and a splash of water, then cover and cook gently until soft. Allow to cool, then refrigerate. Whip the cream until it holds its shape and fold it into the rhubarb. Spoon into a glass bowl or individual glass dishes and dust with a little demerara sugar or a few coloured sugar crystals and Moroccan rose petals.