ALMOST WHOLESOME TARTS
There’s a way of making really yummy food that looks just like the junk we all love and even tastes a bit like it, but it satisfies health and nutritional needs. One way is to make sweet tarts, using a super-mix of oats and nuts as a base and topping them with a variety of healthy options. These are ideal for those days you have friends around who think that vegans and vegetarians exist on air and kale, with an occasional cup of green tea.
Sweet Tart Base (for 8 servings)
You will need 2 cups of rolled oats; 3/4 cup of walnuts; and 3/4 cup of almonds. Place in food processor and grind to a coarse flour-like texture. Put in a bowl and add 2 cups of whole meal flour; 2 tablespoons of sweetener of your choice; and either 1/3 cup coconut oil or olive oil. Work into a nice soft dough. Lightly grease a 23cm tart tin and then press the dough into the base. Bake at 200 c for twenty minutes or until golden brown and firm. Set aside to cool. Cook’s note: I sometimes make two smaller tarts using this quantity. Or halve the quantity and use a smaller tart tin.
Now choose your fruity toppings, making them into a delicious sticky coulis. Some fruits work better than others - my favourites are pineapple, seedless red grapes, blueberries, mangoes, pears or apples. For the tart base that serves 8, you will need 4 cups of chopped fruit and 1 cup of sugar. Place the cup of sugar in a pan and add ¼ cup of water; bring to the boil then add the fruit. Reduce heat and simmer until the fruit takes on a jammy texture. Pour onto the base and chill for 4 hours. Serve with a dollop of fresh creamy yoghurt and, if liked, garnish with fresh berries and chopped nuts.
Peel 8 bananas and cut into quarters. Fry gently in a cast iron skillet to which you have added some coconut oil, some cinnamon, the juice of a lemon and some honey. The bananas will yield their liquid and then the liquid will steadily reduce. When the bananas are sticky, they are done. Transfer to the pie dish and sprinkle with crushed peanut brittle just before serving. If you feel bold, serve with sweetened whipped cream rather than yoghurt
Tropical Mixed Fruit Tart with Vegan Jelly & Mango Cream
Prepare bananas as above, but also pineapple and mangoes as in the first recipe. Place in concentric circles. Make a jelly using mango juice and agar agar. Bring 2 cups of diluted real mango juice to the boil, then add 2 teaspoons of agar agar which you have diluted in 1/4 cup of water. Stir until boiling and then continue to stir for 5 minutes. Pour the warm jelly liquid over the fruit and it will set firmly at room temperature. Delicious with a fluffy mango cream which you make by whipping fresh cream with a little caster sugar until nice and firm, then folding in 3 tablespoons of mango puree. Chill well, and add a dollop onto each serving plate.
Dark Choc-nut with Coconut & Ginger Jelly
If you love the combination of black chocolate and ginger, this one is a winner! You will need a good-sized fresh ginger root - choose a young root with few bumps. Peel the skin off and then, using a potato peeler, slice fine thin slices. Bring a half cup of water and a cup of white sugar to the boil and when the sugar has dissolved add the finely sliced ginger root. Keep boiling at a slightly lowered heat and watch out for the point when the water has reduced enough to make the syrup a bit viscous. Set aside.
Break up a 300gm block of dark chocolate (combine cooking chocolate with good quality eating chocolate for an excellent result) and place in a double boiler to melt. When melted, reduce heat and whisk in 1 cup of fresh cream. Allow to cool. This is your bottom layer, so spread it evenly over the tart base. Add a layer of crushed nuts - toasted hazelnuts or toasted (but unsalted) mixed tree nuts. Now add a layer of vegan jelly, using 1 cup of coconut cream and 1 cup of water, bring to the boil, then add 2 teaspoons of agar agar stirred into 1/4 cup of water and proceed as in the previous recipe. As your jelly starts to thicken, add half the sweetened ginger slices to the mix and pour over the chocolate ganache and nuts. When totally set, garnish with the remainder of ginger slices. Drizzle with coconut cream to serve. Hmm-hmm!