Spiced Pear Tarts
When I started taking pictures of food I’d no idea why I loved it so much. Only now looking back I realized I’d no proper language than photography to fully express myself when I arrived in UK. In my mother tongue I was used to express myself with a large amount of self humour and jokes. That felt hard to express with a foreign language. I felt homesick and that made me start experimenting with making vegan some of the Ligurian recipes.
With the time passing grew my belly and my desire to reconnect with the honest simplicity of the country life I had in Italy.
The pungent smell of a burning stove, the cooked bread, the simple pleasure of leaking the fingers out of an empty sticky jar of home made jam. Because these sensation where embroidered in my home language and even in my dialect. I wasn't probably prepared to feel that naked and show my skin to the world.
So I started to take photos of those sensations, those flavours and emotions.
The kitchen become my kingdom and with a big belly and a other baby in a crib I started my search for traditional home recipes, cozy artisan ceramic and fabrics. That could now fit in my city kitchen. I developed a taste for handmade but efficient items that made me feel back in the farm house.
I had this recurrent picture of myself peeling tomatoes in the marble sink while one particular tabby, of the numerous cats we had, was sneaking through the kitchen window for a treat. And I kept looking for anything that could make me remember that beautiful corner, the marble, the old wood profiles, and hand stitched linen curtains.
So when Victorinox presented me their natural wood collection I was in awe. I already knew them for the Swiss knives (that my husband always carry with him and saved a lot of family camping situations) and I knew I was talking to a serious and committed brand. The warm feeling of the natural wood of their collection took me back to the old knives that my grandpa and his father made for the family. I remember my grandad sharpening the knives at the “mola”. Those knives where a labour of love and beautiful craft to be treasured. Simple design but detailed and cozy.
Victorinox sharp blades have a cozy, modern and curated handles that makes the knives so comfortable to use and are beautiful to display. They are perfect standing in the kitchen next to my precious farinata copper tin.
300 gr white spelt flour
1 Tbsp flax seeds
5 Tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure almond essence (optional)
75 ml circa tepid milk or water (or enough for a soft dought)
4-5 firm pears, washed (possibly organic)
Quick spicy jam:
4-5 ripe pears halved and cored (over-ripe are fine here)
3 large and soft pitted dates
1 Tbsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp arrowroots
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon
For the vegan “egg wash” mix together:
1 Tbsp coconut sugar, dissolved
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp plant based milk
small pinch of turmeric
In a large bowl mix the flour with sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
Then make a hill with your flour. In a central hole pour the oil and the milk with the essence. With the two hands on the sides scoop the flour over the hole and start folding catching the liquid running out. As you fold the ingredients together a very soft dough will form and you can start kneading it.
Move the dough on a clean surface. Always Fold your dough inward. Turn and fold, dusting the surface with little flour. Work until smooth ball is formed, then place on a well floured surface, under a large bowl. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
In a food processor blend the quick jam ingredients together. Tranfer to a saucepan and cook on a low- medium flame until it thickens up. if struggles to thicken add 1 tsp arrowroot more. Whne done adjust sugar and ginger to your taste, if necessary.
Turn on the oven at 180°C. oil a few tiny tart tins or a large one. I have used a 20 cm diameter springform tin and few small tartellettes of 3 to 5 cm diameter.
On a clean and floured surface roll down your pastry to a 3-4 mm thickness.
Place the pastry in your oven dish, pressing firmly and fill with some jam and the sliced pears arranged in a "fan" shape. Lightly dust with sugar and a small squeeze of lemon.
Cut the leftover dough into even strips, 2 cm circa wide.
Lay out enough parallel strips to cover the tart.
Place one long strip of dough perpendicular to the parallel strips. Unfold the folded strips over the perpendicular strip.
Now take the parallel strips that are running underneath the perpendicular strip and fold them back over the perpendicular strip. Lay down a second perpendicular strip of dough next to the first strip, with some space between the strips.
Unfold the folded parallel strips over the second strip. And repeat until the tart is covered.
For the small tartellettes, you can leave them open or cover them completely with the dough. In this case make some tiny holes in the middle with a sharp knife.
Brush the lattice and edges of the tarts with the vegan egg wash, place in the oven on the lower rack and cook for 30 min circa (15-20 for the small tartellettes).
To serve, slice some more pear and place in a fan-shape over the (cold) tart and pair with a vanilla ice cream dusted with chinnamon. Also a sprinkle of roasted pecans work very well with these falvours.
This post includes product placement from Victorinox.
All the ideas shared here are form my own personal experience and at the best of my personal knowledge.