Guyanese: Pine Tarts

A friend of mine ‘returned home’ to get married in Guyana and a couple of our mutual friends joined her for the experience. For most of them, this was their first trip to Guyana; although of Caribbean descent themselves, I had to admit I was slightly nervous for them as Guyana is a very different experience to say Jamaica and Trinidad and so I was interested to hear their take on the country, especially as I hadn’t seen the country for over 10 years myself.

They all came back smiling I am pleased to say, not only for our friend whose wedding was beautiful and heart warming, but also for the love of the country. “Those Pine Tarts were so amazing!” recalled one of my friends, also the Chief Bridesmaid at the wedding. “And although I don’t eat a lot of meat, I really enjoyed the pepperpot stew”.

I was curious to hear how much Guyana had really developed since I last visited. When I was there, it felt very rural yet lively with friendly, approachable people and social events that brought out the whole community. But those Pine Tarts, yes I had to agree, are pretty good. My mother use to make these during the summer holidays once the school term was done and would sometimes pack them into our bags for summer play-scheme.

Pine tarts a very easy to make with either fresh or canned pineapple. The sweet pastry really holds the filling together and tastes just as good as the jam inside. So if you have time during the summer holidays, I would recommend setting aside an hour or two to make some of these tarts for the family. You won’t regret it.

Guyanese: Pine Tarts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 

For the Pineapple Filling

425g Pineapple Chunks (or fresh pineapple chunks)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

For the Pastry

1/2 cup salted butter (soft)

1/2 cup of vegetable shortening

2 3/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg (egg wash)

3/4 cup ice cold water

Method

The filling

1. If you are using fresh pineapple, then peel and cut the pineapple into large chunks and transfer into a food blender, pulsate for a minute until you have small lumps. You want to then measure out 2 1/2 cups of pineapple from that to use in the filling.

2. If using pineapple from a can, take the fruit and half of the juice and pulsate in the blender until you have small lumps.

3. Place the fruit into a sauce pan with the remaining juice and the spices and sugar. Simmer slowly for 30 mins under a low to medium heat or until the mixture thickens to a jam like consistency. Keep stirring regularly to avoid it burning. When ready, remove from the heat and set aside to cool down completely.

The dough

4. Place the flour, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together until it forms a crumbly texture. Then little by little, add the cold water until you can form a dough. Knead the dough to a  smooth log (about a foot long), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for between 30 minutes and 4 hours before use. When you are ready to use it, leave the dough out the fridge for about 30 minutes to get to room temperature.

The assembly

5. Cut the log into 1 inch thick rounds, flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a 6″ circle (I used a plate).

6. Place 1 1/2 tablespoon of pineapple filling into the middle of the circle and brush the edges with egg wash.

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7. Fold the corners of the dough into the middle, to form a triangle. ensure the ends are sealed, you can use a fork to do this.

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8. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

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9. Bake in the oven (Gas Mark 5) for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

10. Serve hot or cold.

Blueberry Scones

IMG_6458I was hunting around as I usually do, looking for something different to do with Blueberries. I normally throw them into smoothies, and I remember once making a blueberry drink for a friend’s dinner. And now come to think of it I also made a blueberry sauce to go with some quick pancakes when my Uncle came down to spend some time with us (you know those pancakes you make and they turn out so nice…but you can’t remember how you did it? It was one of those days).  Ok so I’ve kind of lost the argument: I have done a few things with Blueberries, but I have to say these scones excite me the most. Not only are they really quick and simple to make but extremely tasty!  To speed up the process, this can be made in a food mixer.

Blueberry Scones

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 stick cold unsalted butter, grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra heavy cream for brushing the tops
raw sugar for sprinkling the tops
Method

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl  mix 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder, orange zest, and salt. Then add the cold butter and mix well. In another bowl, combine the egg, vanilla and heavy cream and whisk well.  Slowly pour cream into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until you see no more lumps.  Now add the blueberries to the dough, together. You might want to use your hands it this point to avoid the berries bursting prematurely.

Spoon out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball.  Then with a rolling pin roll the dough about 3/4-inch thick into a circle shape.

Cut the dough into quarters then cut again into eighths, diagonally, making triangles.

Brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch.

Adapted from recipe by La Petite Brioche

Red Onion Fougasse Bread

IMG_4167This flat, round fougasse loaf is very popular all over France and is a very similar to the Italian focaccia. Here I decided to make a mustard/ garlic butter which I brushed over the bread once baked, if I’m honest I was trying to mimic the fougasse garlic bread I love so much which is served at the restaurant Cafe Rouge, which came drenched in this garlic butter sauce which tasted like none other.

But I digress, this bread is as enjoyable and fun to share and tear over some soup! I strongly recommend using a strong white bread flour for this recipe, it will make such a big difference to the to the texture: the bread turned out really nice and fluffy on the inside and with a light crust.

I also found it expanded in size quite a bit, so make sure you leave a lot of space in the pan between breads. This recipe is adapted from the BBC Good Food website if you want to see other versions of the bread.

 

Red Onion Fougasse Bread

  • Servings: Makes 3 large loaves
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 red onion – finely sliced

1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra

coarse sea salt

For the Dough

7g sachet easy-blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp olive oil

For the Garlic Butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

50g butter

1 tsp english mustard

few fresh thyme sprigs – chopped

Tip the flour into a mixing bowl. For easy-blend dried yeast, stir this into the flour. For fresh yeast, crumble it and rub into the flour as you would with butter when making pastry. Add the salt and sugar. Boil the kettle and measure 100ml into a jug. Top up with cold water to the 300ml mark. Test the temperature with your finger – it should feel perfectly hand-hot. Add the oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid all at once. Mix quickly using your hands or a wooden fork to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Wipe the dough around the bowl to pick up any loose flour. Sprinkle the work surface with flour and tip out the dough.IMG_4159

Knead by stretching it away from you, then folding it in half towards you and pushing it away with the heel of your hand. Give it a quarter turn and repeat, developing a rhythm.

When the dough is smooth, put it back into the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1 hr (no need to find a warm place). The dough is ready when it springs back when you press it with your finger. Thinly slice the onion and gently cook in the oil until softened, about 5 mins. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead in the onion. IMG_4161

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half. Roll or press out one piece of dough to a rectangular shape about 20 x 25cm, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper.

Make a large diagonal cut across the centre of the dough almost to the ends. Make three smaller diagonal cuts either side of the large cut to make a leaf shape.

Then with your fingers, gently pull the bread where you have made the slits creating an inch gap. The bread should resemble branches at this point (see baked image above)

Repeat with the other piece of dough. then sprinkle with a little flour and sea salt.

IMG_4172Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 8. Leave the loaves to prove for 20 mins then bake for 13-15 mins until golden.

In the meantime melt the ingredients for the garlic butter in a pan gently.

When the loaves leave the oven, brush them with the butter a few times over and then leave to cool.