Broad beans, lemon zest ricotta, fresh mint oil, parma ham with pink peppercorns

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I have been meaning to a write blog post on this recipe for sometime now as I seem to be averaging eating it once a week in the last month or so. It’s one of those recipes that once you’ve prepared it you want to dive in and eat it so I needed to be speedy with the camera work, hence the lack of lots of photos.  It is absolutely perfect for a lunch either by yourself or if you have a few friends coming over. The bright greens and the complimenting flavours of lemon, broad beans, mint, olive oil, garlic, ricotta, parmesan, parma ham and pink peppercorns really appeal to me. The pink peppercorns I managed to source in Turkey last year and they have the most wonderful flavour. Whilst I imagine a quick trip to Turkey may not be realistic you’ll be glad to hear that you can find them at most supermarkets – they are definitely worth seeking out as they have a very distinct flavour – very different from the black variety.

I stumbled across this recipe years ago in Skye Gyngells book ‘A Year in My Kitchen’ and as far as I’m concerned it’s a winning recipe. The only slightly time consuming part is taking the skins off the broad beans – which to be fair does not really take that long, especially if you have a friend to chat to whilst you are sharing the podding together.

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Other than this time, I always prepare the dish with fresh broad beans but for some reason the two places that normally stock them this morning had run out, so I had to suffice with frozen. They tasted equally good, although they were a slightly smaller in size, which made peeling them take a little longer. I reckon if you have a glorious sunny day with friends coming over for lunch this is the perfect dish. To accompany it, a glass of Riesling or ginger cordial would always go down a treat. A great wine merchant called Symposium, based in the picturesque town of Lewes in East Sussex, I always find comes up trumps with recommending great drinkable wines. I’m based in London and they always seem happy to deliver a case or two to me when I am needing to stock up. If you are interested send Henry an email henry@symposium-finewine.co.uk and he’ll send you their wine list.

Broad beans, lemon zest ricotta, fresh mint oil, parma ham with pink peppercorns

Adapted from Skye Gyngell’s book ‘A year in my kitchen’

Serves 4

1kg of fresh broad beans in their pods (or 500g podded/frozen)

250g fresh ricotta

50g parmesan, finely grated

1 lemon, zest and juice

8 slices of parma ham

1 garlic clove

handful of fresh mint

75ml olive oil

pinch of pink peppercorns per serving

sour dough bread (or ciabatta)

1. If using fresh broad beans, take them out of their pods and place into a pan of boiling water for under 1 minute. If you are using frozen broad beans you need to leave them in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and run under cold water immediately and then peel off  the outer shell of the broad beans and discard.

2. Take a large handful of fresh mint and finely chop up all of it bar a few leafs that you will sprinkle over the top at the end. Place the finely chopped mint leaves in a bowl with 75ml of olive oil and leave to infuse for 15 minutes or longer.

3. Place the ricotta into a bowl and add the finely grated parmesan. Stir together and then add most of the zest from one lemon – the remaining zest you will sprinkle on the dish at the end. Add the juice from half a lemon.  Stir in all together and leave to one side.

4. In a preheated oven – 180 degrees – place the parma ham on baking parchment with a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Leave to crisp up in the oven for 10 minutes.

5. Slice some sourdough bread and place in the toaster or under a grill for it to become golden. Once toasted cover with a little olive oil and fresh garlic.  Place on a serving plate.

6. Add a spoonful or two of the  lemony ricotta/parmesan to the toast. Add a scattering of broad beans followed by some mint drizzle and then lay two slices of parma ham over the creation followed by some of the remaining lemon zest, fresh mint leaves and a good pinch or two of pink peppercorns. I find that no salt is necessary as the parma ham and parmesan more than make up for the lack of salt.

Eat at room temperature.

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Classic Lemon Tart

Sometimes in life I think it is best to get straight to the point…….

COOKING A CLASSIC LEMON TART IS NO EASY FEAT

However,  I have been fine tuning this recipe now for sometime (I had a few disasters on the pastry front) so I think that if you follow my instructions carefully you should be rewarded with a delicious dessert that will wow your friends into thinking you a natural patisserie chef in the making.

My blog has been up and running for one year now (….jumps for joy…) and after looking through all the recipes I have shared with you I realise that I have tended to ignore the sweeter things in life. This is largely because I rarely eat puddings – I just don’t really have a sweet tooth and I guess part of it stems from the fact that, for the most part, I don’t think they are massively healthy. Then again the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’ is so true, so perhaps over the coming year you may find a few more sweet recipes to tempt you.

So to the recipe in hand. Scroll through the photos below and read the tips I have added to prepare a perfect lemon tart. Let me know if you find any other tweeks necessary that you would like to share with the wider community. I would always love to hear from you.

I prepare the pastry a day ahead and leave it in the fridge. Bring it out of the fridge at least an hour before rolling so that it can acclimatise to room temperature.

Thoroughly grease the loose bottom tart tin with butter. This is really important as you want the tin to come away easily from the pastry after cooking. Failing to do so will result in the sides of your tart breaking.

Sprinkle flour on the surface that you are going to roll the pastry. I have found that to transfer the rolled pastry to the tin is virtually impossible as some of it breaks off. Do not be alarmed. Place as much of the pastry in the tin as you can and with the bits that have broken off simply piece together.  Also make sure that the pastry is sufficiently up the sides so that it is evenly spread.

Remember the bottom of the flan is not going to be seen by a wider audience as you have the lemon mixture going on top of it.

Make sure you have enough ceramic baking beans/and or mixed beans to cover the whole of the tart dish. You want to make sure that they are evenly spread.

Do not whisk the eggs so that they are frothy. A gentle whisk, using a hand whisk is suffice.

Don’t forget to strain the creamy lemon mixture before transferring into the tart base. You want the mixture to be smooth.

I added some raspberries to compliment the lemon tart in both appearance and taste. Strawberries would also be a great addition.

A scattering of icing sugar adds the finishing touch. I noticed a little hand popping into the frame of my photo just as I had taken the shot. Clearly too irresistible not to eat!

Classic Lemon Tart

Serves around 12 people

Adapted from the recipe in Red Magazine April 2012  

I use an 11 inch (29cm by 4cm) tart dish

For the pastry

300g plain flour

45g ground almonds

pinch of salt

200g butter, keep at room temperature and cut into cubes

4 tbsp caster sugar

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 (one and half) tbsp cold water

For the filling

300 ml double cream

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 8/9 lemons (so that it measures 200ml juice)

6 eggs

200g white caster sugar

1. If you can make the pastry a day in advance. If not make the pastry and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Ideally using a food processor, pulse the flour, ground almonds and pinch of salt and then add the butter followed by the caster sugar. Add the add yolks and water and whizz together until the mixture forms a large clump. Work the pastry into a neat ball and wrap in clingfilm and place into the fridge, either over night or for around 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees if using a fan oven or 200 degrees if not or gas mark 6.

3. Grease the tart dish throughly. On a cold surface sprinkle some flour and roll out the pastry and transfer, as best you can, to the tart dish. If it breaks simply press the remaining pastry pieces together to cover the gaps. Make sure the pastry has sufficiently gone into all the grooves of the dish. You will probably find that you have a little pastry left over, which you can either use to make a mini tart or use as you see fit.

4. Place baking paper into the tart dish and cover with baking beans. Place in the oven for 20 minutes to bake blind. Take out of the oven and discard the baking paper and save the baking beans for another time.  Brush the pastry with egg yolk and return to the oven for a maximum of 5 more minutes. Then leave to rest before putting in the lemon mixture.

5. Put the cream in a pan with the lemon zest to infuse gently. When small bubbles appear turn off the heat.

6. Break the eggs into a bowl along with the caster sugar. Using a hand whisk gently stir together – you do not want to make them frothy so do not over do it here. Stir in the lemon juice and very slowly, so as not to cook the eggs, add the warm lemon zest cream.

7. Place the tart shell onto an oven tray and then sieve the lemon mixture into bowl/jug and gently pour into the warmed pastry tart shell. Transfer to the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 18 minutes. Keep checking for the lemon mixture to set (it becomes nicely firm and does not wobble when you move the tray!!) as you may find you can bring it out of the oven a touch sooner than this.  I left mine in for 20 minutes (as the Red Magazine recipe states) but found that it darkens some of the pastry too much (have a close inspection of final photo !).

8. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. Gently remove only the outer part of the tart dish. Serve at room temperature.  Add icing sugar, raspberries to decorate as required.