Apple and Almond Tart

We are lucky to live in such a hospitable town. During the first ten weeks following our arrival here last September, even as the engine of a new school year and fresh routines began to chug in earnest, we must have had one party invite a week, sometimes two, which petered off (just a little) over the less sociable winter months. Now, in the summer, the once-weekly party habit (this week there were three – did I mention how lucky we are) seems to have resumed.

At the weekend, we were off to dinner with two other families with young kids. I was told to bring nothing, which kind of threw me. I kept busy, went for a run, took the kids swimming, did some chores, all the while struggling not to contribute in some way when .. oops, I’ve accidentally baked a pie. I do enjoy showing my appreciation of our generous friends by creating something with my hands. Gauging by the speed of the tart’s disappearance, I don’t think our hosts minded at all.

  • pie crusts, 2 (readymade is fine)
  • whole eggs, 3, plus white of another
  • sugar, 1 cup
  • butter, 1 stick, softened
  • vanilla, 2 tsp
  • ground almonds, 2 cups
  • apples, 2-3, peeled and sliced thinly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, 175C
  2. Prepare apples, peel and slice thinly
  3. Keep apples aside in some orange juice to prevent discolouring
  4. Cream sugar and butter
  5. Add the eggs, one by one and beat till white and fluffy
  6. Add vanilla, then the ground almonds to the batter
  7. Pour the batter into the pie crusts, dividing evenly between them
  8. Arrange sliced apples on top
  9. Sprinkle some coarse sugar over the apple slices to help them brown while baking
  10. Bake for about 50 minutes, check it’s done with a skewer
  11. Serve warm, dusted with sugar, or with fresh, whipped cream

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August 27, 2009. Tags: . Baked Goods, Desserts. Leave a comment.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This salad is inspired by one that a friend brought over to a potluck dinner party recently. I was wowed by the bite, colour and tanginess of it, and its fiberful promises. As I guessed at the basic ingredients and remembered only three (corn, beans, lime juice), I have ended up throwing in additional ingredients which seem to work well together. The salad would go beautifully with grilled fish. Enjoy!

  • black beans, 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • corn on cob, 2, microwaved 1m10s each and decobbed
  • large tomatoes, 2, chopped in tiny cubes
  • red pepper, 1, cubed similarly
  • english cucumber, 1/2, cubed tinily
  • shallot or red onion, 1, chopped finely


  • chilli, 1 or 2, green, chopped finely
  • garlic cloves, 3, chopped finely
  • lime juice, squeezed out of 2 limes
  • brown sugar, 3/4 tbsp
  • olive oil, 1 tbsp
  • cilantro/coriander leaves, 1 handful, chopped
  • mint, handful, chopped
  • salt and pepper, as needed

  1. Combine all the veg and beans together in a bowl
  2. Whisk salad dressing with a balloon whisk and pour over the salad
  3. Give it a good grind of salt and pepper, throw in the herbs and toss
  4. Perfect for a barbecue or as a summer meal accompaniment

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August 10, 2009. Tags: . Salads, Sauces and Dressings, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Watercress Soup

So glad to be home! First day back after a lovely two weeks in London on holiday. However much fun was had with family, friends, at restaurants, museums and parks, there’s nothing quite like being where one’s stuff is.
I had hoped to blog on the go, but this isn’t easily done when one’s phone provider is AT&T, who make it impossible for 3G phones to roam anywhere outside of North America without red tape, long-winded permissions and of course, astronomical added fees – all no-nos for busy mums with an eye on post-holiday and recession-trimmed budgets. So, I had no access to email, facebook, twitter or the Internet, and have to admit, felt quite lost.
Having spent the week’s grocery allowance restocking the fridge and larder today, and amid a flood warning as a monsoon stormed outside (not much difference there from this trip to London), I quite fancied a soup. This is a simple watercress and spinach one which I had expected would produce tasty leftovers. Unfortunately not a drop is left – testimony, I hope, to how well it turned out.
  • watercress, 1 bag (4 oz or 115g), washed and large stems removed
  • baby spinach, 3 handfuls, washed and chopped
  • small leek, white part chopped finely
  • shallot, 1 medium, chopped
  • butter, 1 1/2 tbsp
  • potatoes, 2 small ones, washed, skinned and cubed
  • milk, as needed (about 2 cups)
  • stock, veg or chicken (about 1-2 cups)
  • bay leaf
  • ground coriander, 3/4 tsp
  • lemon juice, about 1/2 tbsp
  1. First, saute the leek and shallot in butter on low to medium heat, till softened
  2. Add the cubed potatoes and some stock, stir till potato is cooked
  3. Add ground coriander and bay leaf
  4. Add 1 cup milk and 1 cup stock, bring to simmer
  5. Add spinach, cook 1 minute, add watercress
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning, cook no longer than another minute or two
  7. Add lemon juice if some tang is required
  8. Add more milk and/or stock as needed
  9. Pour soup into a blender and whizz till creamy
  10. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or yoghurt

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August 2, 2009. Tags: . Soups. 2 comments.