While the ins and outs of my day job are fairly far removed from my passion for cooking and my home life, I am not the only food obsessive I have come across in the private security sector. One of my immediate colleagues (and expert in Middle East Security) hails from the Isle of Mull where his family run the local chocolate shop; another, a former member of the SAS, runs a gastro pub when not deployed on deeds of daring do; and my director of kidnap response (formerly of the CIA) first communication with me was to send a booklet on where to get a good steak in Scotland – the cheek of it! Indeed, food is such a morale booster for my colleagues deployed to places such as Baghdad and Kabul that we now employ local chefs at our compounds in both cities, and reports suggest that the food is excellent. I hope to share some authentic recipes with you soon.
Anyway, over the last few years I have witnessed a pattern emerge and it transpires that the busier I am at work, the more I hit the kitchen in an attempt to transport myself back to mummy mode. The result is a steady stream of cakes into the office for my colleagues to taste; a small apology to those who have to work with me during such times! The good side of this is that the tireless consumption of cakes and bakes by my workmates has proven very helpful for the development of my recipes. Unfortunately, as I’m currently on maternity leave my usual audience for trying new “fancy pieces” is unavailable. Today’s recipe fell on my husband and one of my best friends to try. They approved.
Today’s recipe: Pear and Chocolate Tart
Although not seasonal, my eldest daughter’s declaration that she liked pears (a fruit – woo hoo!) sent me running to the shops to buy some, whereupon she declared that she only liked pears at nursery, not at home (Agghh). After a few days of looking at a fruit bowl full of pears, combined with my Aberdonian hatred of waste, I felt the need to do something with this glut of imported fruit. Inspired by Rose Prince’s recipe for a quick apple tart in her fabulous book Kitchenella, I thought I’d try something similar with pears... and chocolate!
500g slab of ready made puff pastry
15g dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons apricot jam
1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 220 oC (200 oC fan).
Thoroughly grease or line a large baking tray – I use my grill pan as it is the perfect size.
Roll out the pastry into a large rectangle and transfer to the baking tray. Pierce the pastry base all over with a fork to prevent it bubbling up when cooking.
Peel and core the pears and slice them thinly. Place them on the pastry sheet, overlapping them to cover all but approximately 1cm around the edge of the pastry base.
Scatter the chocolate chips over the pears and put the tart in the oven until the edges of the pastry are golden brown and the pears are slightly singed at the edges.
To glaze, melt the apricot jam and water together, strain and, using a pastry brush, paste the border and entire surface of the tart with the apricot glaze.
This is delicious served warm with a good vanilla ice cream, or as I discovered to the detriment of my post-baby weight loss plan, just sliced and served patisserie style, cold and unaccompanied.