With an impending holiday to the US and old university friends coming over for dinner on Saturday night, I decided to opt for an American slanted menu.
Normally your mind conjures up the usual favourites on a US restaurant’s menu of burgers and sticky ribs but I wanted to put together a menu that might better reflect the culinary offerings delivered in family homes across the different states. The flavours of dishes being dictated by the local ingredients available and recipes learnt and handed down through the generations by watching their grandparents, parents and siblings cook them.
I think it’s clear that I’m a Jamie Oliver fan and the “Jamie America” cook book provided the choice of dishes I was looking forward to pondering over.
Leafing through the pages I was quick to decide to cook a Venison and juniper berries stew , served with flat breads with a “Mad dog Salad” (a hot zingy salad with tortilla chips, grilled avocado, pine nuts and plenty of interesting leaves to provide the freshness against the chilli).
Deciding on dessert however is always a little more challenging.
I wanted to have another attempt at sweet pastry (it feels like a bit of a nemesis of mine!) and came across a Bourbon Pecan Tart. Jamie Oliver’s Bourbon Pecan Tart stems from the state of Louisiana where they have an abundance of Pecan trees as well as Molasses.. the two key ingredients of this tart.
Whilst I love pecans and molasses, I’m not overly keen on bourbon so decided to make a few alterations to the recipe.
I added some orange zest to the base along with a sprinkling of cinnamon, just to bring the cinnamon flavour through from the sweet pastry base all the way to the apple slices decorated on top. I also used a pomegranate molasses which gave a lovely rich flavour to the filling.
The sweet pastry was my best attempt yet although I could have rolled it out thinner, but I had the fear of a soggy bottom from the gooey ingredients.
This really is a rich buttery treat, which I think is the best way to send off the winter weather that has been around way past it’s sell by date. I’m now looking forward to finding recipes for some fruity light summer puddings over the course of the next few months.
But, before that, have one last fling with winter and enjoy some Pecan Pie.
Pecan Pie with cinnamon apple slices
1 x sweet pastry – with the addition of orange zest and a sprinkling of cinnamon to the dough.
450g pecan nuts
3 large eggs
175 golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100ml molasses (I only had pomegranate molasses)
50g unsalted butter, melted
1 apple peeled, thinly sliced and dusted in cinnamon
Plenty of vanilla ice cream to serve
Start by making the pastry adding the orange zest and sprinkling of cinnamon. The pastry will need to be at the point that it has been blind baked and then you can start on making the filling.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Take half your pecans and bash them up finely.
To make the filling, whisk the eggs, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add your finely bashed pecans and mix again with a spoon until completely blended and smooth. Add the molasses, melted butter and mix well, then fold in your reserved whole pecans. Pour this mixture into the pastry case. Gently place the slices of apple on the top of the mixture.
Put the tart in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling starts setting at the side and looks rich and dark on top.
Remove and leave to cool in its tin for an hour to really help it set before serving.
Serve a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Rich, crunchy , delectable heaven.