Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coconut Mango and Pineapple Custard Tart with Tropical Glaze

My coconut, mango and pineapple custard tart recipe is much lighter, yet just as decadent. You will not believe it is made with 2% milk. In addition, there is no need to fuss with pie crust. Using graham cracker crumbs, makes it so easy. 
To further enhance all those summery tropical flavours found in the custard, I made a mango and pineapple glaze sweetened with peach jam. In the recipe which follows I reduced the amount of sugar to 1/4 cup from the initial 1/2 cup I myself used (note: you might also consider leaving out the granulated sugar altogether). I personally found the combination of the sugar and jam in my glaze a bit too sweet. However, my personal 'test kitchen staff' disagreed saying it called for that extra sweetness.


Coconut Mango and Pineapple Custard:
4 eggs
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mango puree (1 mango)
3/4 cup fresh pineapple puree or crushed pineapple (drained)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup 2 % milk

Graham Crumb Crust:
1 1/2  cups graham crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted melted butter

Tropical Glaze:
2 cups sliced fruit (mangoes and pineapple)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup peach jam
shredded coconut for the top (toasted in the oven until golden)



Graham Crumb Crust: 
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line the bottom of a  9" spring-form pan with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan.

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the butter. Mix with a wooden spoon and transfer to the prepared spring-form pan.

  With your hands or a meat tenderizer, press firmly making sure to cover the bottom of the spring-form  pan.

  Bake the graham cracker crust in the oven for 10 minutes at 350º F

Coconut Mango and Pineapple Custard:
In a bowl beat the eggs. Whisk in the sugar, coconut, cornstarch and the vanilla.

 Put the mango pieces in a food processor and pulse....Add the mango puree to the egg
custard batter....

 Puree the pineapple pieces

 Whisk the pineapple puree and milk into the custard batter 

Pour the coconut fruit custard into the spring-form pan

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Given the addition of the fresh fruit puree I went with a longer baking time. The interior was still moist and held together when cut to serve. Cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Tropical Glaze:
Add the sliced pineapple, sliced mango pieces and sugar to a non-stick frying pan. Cook on medium-low heat to dissolve the sugar.
Stir in the peach jam and continue cooking to liquify the jam.

Continue cooking and stirring as needed until the fruit is softened.

Pour the hot glaze on the baked tart

Spread the fruit glaze to cover the top of the tart

Sprinkle toasted shredded coconut on the glaze

Friday, May 25, 2012

Homemade Pappardelle Pasta with Asparagus, Red Pepper and Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

Now I know why pappardelle pasta is so popular in Italy where they actually have festivals honouring this close cousin to the fettuccine. Pappardelle are much broader, cut into strands up to an inch in width. They are visually beautiful, resembling wide satin ribbons, wrapping all the luscious ingredients from your favourite sauce.
Traditionally, pappardelle are served with a rich thick braised meat sauce or 'ragu'. For my homemade pappardelle, I went with a lighter primavera type sauce. Not only is it a healthier version but also a time saver. You do not  need to labour for hours with my easy to make asparagus, red pepper, eggplant and cherry tomato sauce.  It is an ideal vegan, vegetarian friendly pasta dish, yet sure to please all the meat lovers out there.

Pappardelle pasta  (cooked al dente in salted boiling water and drained)
1/2 cup or more pasta water ( reserved water used for cooking the pasta)
extra virgin oil
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper diced
1 cup peeled and diced eggplant
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 lb fresh asparagus (cut into pieces)
3 cups cherry tomatoes
1 tomato chopped
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
Salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes (optional)

In a skillet pour a generous amount (3-4 tablespoons) of extra virgin oil. Heat the oil and add the onions. Allow the onions to become a golden colour. Add the diced eggplant and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes to enhance the flavours. You may have to add more oil as the eggplant  tend to absorb it. Stir in the red peppers, asparagus pieces and chopped garlic ( you can add some chili flakes for a spicier sauce). Saute for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the cherry tomatoes. Stir and add about 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are soft. If needed add more pasta water. Toss in the the drained pasta which has been cooked al dente in salted boiling water. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce as you continue cooking for a minute or two. Grate the desired amount of parmigiano cheese. Serves 4 or more.

I know that the idea of making homemade pasta for the first time can be intimidating for many of us.  Once you conquer your fears, I guarantee that you will get hooked on making homemade pasta. I've provided a step by step photo tutorial to help guide you through the process. 
Nothing compares to homemade pasta. The added bonus is that it freezes will so you can have some on hand for those last minute meals. Just make sure to let it dry slightly and use parchment paper to separate the layers of pasta when freezing in your plastic containers. The pasta will keep for several months...if it lasts long enough .

Homemade Pappardelle Pasta:

4 Cups of all purpose flour
6 large eggs

Place the flour on a clean surface (a counter or large wooden board). Make a well in the center of the flour. Break the eggs into the well and lightly beat with a fork.

Start incorporating the flour a little at a time. Continue blending in the flour with your fingertips. The amount of flour used will depend on the size of eggs and humidity. You may not need all the flour.
Remove excess flour from the work surface and start kneading your dough on this lightly floured area. Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Make a disk with the dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let stand for at least 30 minutes or more.

Roll out the dough into a 9 inch disk and cut into 6 pieces. I start my machine at #6 and roll each piece. I then lower it to #4 and roll the dough pieces once again. Continue this process until #1, which will give you a thin dough. Roll the strip of dough into a cylinder and cut 3/4" to 1" strips.

Place the strips on a clean cloth or a work surface light dusted with flour and allow to dry before cooking in salted boiling water.  The pasta also freezes well for later use.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fusilli Pasta with Broccoli Red Pepper and Pine Nuts

 Are you looking for a healthy vegetarian and vegan friendly pasta dish? I would love to share my super easy fusilli pasta recipe with  broccoli, red pepper and pine nuts. My step-by step recipe with accompanying photos will guide you. In just under 30 minutes, you will have a delicious pasta dish to rival any restaurant's but for a fraction of the cost.

1/2 lb (250 grams) fusilli pasta
4 tablespoons extra virgin oil
1 onion chopped
1 sweet red pepper diced
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
4 large tomatoes diced
4 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper 




A In a small frying pan toast the pine nuts. Set aside.

In a pot bring water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water. Cook the pasta for 9 minutes.

Add the broccoli. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, until the pasta and broccoli are al dente. Strain the pasta and broccoli, reserving some of the pasta water.

While the water is boiling for the pasta, begin the tomato sauce. The time needed for the pasta to cook might vary,depending on the brand. The De Cecco Fusilli pasta will take approximately 12 minutes to cook al dente.

In a deep skillet or frying pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onions. Season with salt and pepper. 
Saute the onions for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped red pepper and garlic. Continue cooking for 3 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes  
 Continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes
Toss in the pasta and broccoli. Add some of the pasta water. This will help stretch and add flavour to the sauce.
Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese
 and the pine nuts

Transfer to serving bowl. Drizzle a small of extra virgin oil on the pasta and sprinkle on the chopped parsley.