Caramelised balsamic shallot tarte tatin

If you think of a tarte tatin, people will conjure up images of deliciously sweet and syrupy apple desserts however think again! This tarte tatin is savoury, moreish and there’s not a single apple in sight. I have previously made an onion tarte tatin however you just can’t beat the softeness of the shallot with its gentle flavour which goes perfectly with the tartness of the balsamic and the savouriness of the pastry. Balsamic and thyme is a match made in heaven so I have included this in the caramel and also sprinkled some more leaves over the top to finish. I used normal shallots however banana shallot will also work well.

Readymade puff pastry sheets tend to be quite large and may need cutting down. You will need to make sure the pastry round is slightly larger than the pan itself so the pastry can be tucked in snuggly.

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Ingredients- makes one tart which serves 2 for dinner
400g shallots
25g butter
1 tbsp balsamic
1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 premade puff pastry sheet

1. Double check the instructions on the puff pastry you buy but otherwise preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan ready for action shortly. In the meantime, boil a kettle of water and pour into a heat proof bowl that is large enough to hold the shallots. Soak the shallots for 10 minutes before removing, allowing to cool and then peeling them. Carefully cut the shallots in half from end to end so they stay together as best as they can and set aside.

2. Take a frying pan that is around 22cm in diameter. Heat the butter, sugar and balsamic vinegar along with the leaves from several fresh thyme sprigs. Season lightly. Place the shallots cut side down in the pan. Cook on the hob over a low to medium heat until the shallots start to soften which will take around 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to cook them on a high heat otherwise the balsamic mixture will burn. You will find the balsamic reduces down a bit which is what you want.

3. Take the puff pastry sheet and gently lay it across the top of the shallots. Tuck the sides in so they hug the shallots and cook in the oven for around 20 minutes until golden and cooked through. You can tell if it needs a little longer as pastry may look paler in places. When cooked, remove the pan from the oven and get ready to turn it out. Lay a board or serving plate across the top of the pan and turn it over. If the pastry needs a little hand then use a knife and run it around the edge to help loosen it. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot pan or with the hot juices. If a shallot or two is stuck to the bottom of the pan, gently coax it off and pop back in its rightful place. Serve with a simple salad.

Balsamic and thyme shallot tart tatin- a savoury twist on a French classic!

 

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Honey and balsamic sausage tray bake

This is a one tray wonder that requires very little time and attention so it is perfect for a midweek meal. Choose good quality sausages that are well seasoned and remember sausages don’t always have to be pork- I used zebra sausages from Oslinc: www.oslinc.co.uk.

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Ingredients- serves 4
8- 10 good quality sausages
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 large sweet potato- cut into cubes
2 red onions- cut into wedges
2 large beetroots- cut into cubes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp runny honey
Sprinkling of chilli flakes
Seasoning

1. Get going by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a large pan and add a drizzle of vegetables oil before heating. Add in the sausages, garlic and rosemary and cook until the sausages are turning golden. Remove and set aside.

2. For the vegetables, take a roasting tray and add a little oil so the veggies don’t stick. Add in the vegetables and pour over the honey and balsamic vinegar with a good crack of pepper and salt. Sprinkle over some chilli flakes and toss again. Add in the sausages, garlic and rosemary and give another toss before covering with foil and cooking in the oven for around 35-45 minutes. The sausages should be cooked through so the juices run clear and the vegetables will be tender when tested. Just before its ready you can remove the foil and cook for the last few minutes uncovered to get an extra bit of colour.

Honey and balsamic sausage and vegetable tray bake- a midweek winner that is short on time and big on taste!

English pancetta, radicchio and balsamic laced risotto

This risotto uses an unusual combination of ingredients but it’s a marriage made in heaven; the slightly bitter edge of radicchio, the smoky pancetta and the caramelised finish of the balsamic. I used sliced English pancetta from a Hampshire butchers but use whatever you can get your hands on.

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Ingredients-serves 2
Knob of butter
Olive oil
1 banana shallot- finely diced
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
100g radicchio- shredded
200g arborio rice
600ml chicken stock
4 slices of pancetta diced and 2 cut into thirds
2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
1 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar- I used a caramelised one
Parmesan to serve

1. Get going by melting a knob of butter and a glug of oil in a wide pan before adding the shallot and garlic. Cook until softened. Next up goes the diced pancetta and cook until nearly crisped.

2. Pop in the rice and stir well so each gratin is coated with the butter. Add the radicchio and a ladleful of stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir from time to time, remembering to add in more stock as the rice absorbs each lot.

3. Just before the risotto is ready, heat a frying pan and dry fry the pancetta slices which you have cut into thirds. As the slices turn golden, remove them from the pan and set aside.

4. When your risotto is ready to serve simply take the pan off the heat and stir in the creme fraiche, balsamic, a small amount of extra butter and some of the parmesan and leave to sit covered for a few moments. Pile high onto warmed bowls and top with the crispy slices of pancetta.

Pancetta, radicchio and balsamic laced risotto- a new twist on a classic that you won’t regret!