Sunday, 17 May 2015

Pretty in Pink

Torta di Filo con Rabarbaro, Lampone, Pistacchi & Miele
Filo Pastry with Rhubarb, Raspberries, Pistachio & Honey


It's Springtime, the rhubarb is out, it's in season and it's a good idea to try to make something nice with it... Those long, beautiful magenta stalks just scream "buy me!" Every time you see them!

But, they CAN be a little tricky to prepare- pretty as they may be! And they can very easily and all-too often end up being anything but pretty by the time they are done. My secret? Keep things simple!


One thing that drives me a little crazy, when it comes to food with a strong flavor of its own, especially if it is tart or bitter or a little astringent maybe, is when people over-compensate and kill all the character of whatever they may be preparing... It's such a shame to do so!

I have found that it is much better to simply try to balance the bitter and sweet components and to let things be what nature extended up to a certain point. otherwise... Just go prepare something naturally sweet! Grrr!!


To make this lovely little pastry, which yielded 4 small portions, I needed 5-6 stalks of rhubarb, 2 handfuls of raspberries, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of chopped pistacchio, 1 tablespoon of regular sugar and about 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

And of course, filo pastry and a little melted butter! 3 sheets of pastry and about 1 tablespoon of butter... Oh... And about 10 hrs of time! Eeek! But don't worry, I will explain that in just a few seconds... It's not as bad as it sounds!!!

There are lots of much more refined, elegant and sophisticated recipes out there, making probably much better use of rhubarb... But this works pretty well for me!!!


Now... Before you all freak out about that loooong preparation time... It is not as if you will be doing anything during that time! So fear not!

This is my fail safe method for preparing rhubarb. Prepare it the night before you need it... Just before bedtime. You'll soon see why.

Pre heat your oven to 200 C whilst you peel the stalks. Try to do this carefully so that you remove the outer fibers but retain a little of the pink coloring... If you can. If you can't? No big deal! It will still work out fine.

Chop the rhubarb, rinse the raspberries and add them, wet as they are, sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon and bake for 10 minutes.


After 10 minutes, things will be looking like this... A bit pale! And the raspberries will be super soft and delicate... So no more touching! Instead, turn off the oven and go to bed! The residual heat will finish cooking everything gently and in the morning, you will have perfect rhubarb... Ain't that great? Makes that waiting all worthwhile!


There you go! Still a little pale looking at the moment, but cooked to perfection... And plain and easy sailing from now on, too!


Next, lightly brush the pastry with melted butter and lay it into some kind of baking tray or dish. Sprinkle the base with oatmeal if you like to avoid it getting too moist from all the juices. Good trick!!


Next, spoon in the rhubarb and berry filling and swiftly fold the pastry shut... Carefully, but no need to fuss too much!


Brush with a little more butter and bake at around 180 C for around 15-20 minutes, until it is crispy and golden brown... It will depend a little upon your oven... Just keep your eyes on it and you'll be fine!


The filling is already cooked of course, so basically the baking is simply done to crisp-up the pastry... And once it is golden brown, you can drizzle it with honey, ready to add those beautiful pistachios on top!


Suddenly, it doesn't look all that boring or plain anymore! Amazing isn't it?!?!


Absolutely wonderful I'd say... And just wait until you cut into it and see the filling! Seriously... Why fuss more over something that can be so wonderful in all of its simplicity!?!


Serve it as it is, if you are like me and not craving that extreme sweetness... Or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream maybe, or custard, or vanilla sauce... But in any case- enjoy it now whilst it is in season! Yummy!

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