How hard can it be?….. Right?
This weeks food fanatic Jenny Ferguson was the hottest chef in town when she ran her Sydney restaurant ‘You and Me’ in the late 70′s and early 80′s. She was also a bit of a pioneer, promoting and encouraging female chefs at a time when the men definitely dominated our professional kitchens.
These days Jenny doesn’t eat at the top tier restaurants as their complicated food leaves her cold. In fact her pet hate is a chef that keeps a pair of tweezers in his or her pocket so as to be able to place those micro herbs in the perfectly oh so precise spot on the plate.
Her new book ‘At Home’ is all about food for family and friends and Jenny is quite frank about being an old fashioned girl. Her inspirations lie in France, but not the heavy early days of French cuisine. Jenny leans towards the lighter version, innovative yet grounded in tradition.
Red onion, Oregano, Black Olive and Gruyere Tart…..Polenta with Steamed Asparagus, Sage Butter and Soft-Poached Eggs….. Asparagus Soup with Crisp Prosciutto and Parmesan….. Twice cooked Duck with Figs….. You know exactly the type of home cooked meals I’m talking about.
Her dishes are tried and true, refined over decades and totally fool-proof.
Except for that damn Tart!
But don’t let my failed attempt at Jennys lemon tart discourage you, I know exactly where I went wrong, I didn’t lower the oven temperature to 140 degrees for the second part of the baking and Jenny says the ability to bake does not depend on genetics.
Note to self…… Can I bake it? YES I CAN!
This is quite simply the BEST lemon tart filling I have ever tasted. It’s gorgeous. Give it a go….
Jenny Fergusons Lemon Tart
For the Shortcrust Pastry:
275g plain flour
Pinch of salt
125g butter unsalted, cut into pieces and chilled
50ml of cold water
Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts until the mixture comes together and resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and water and pulse until it forms a ball. Tip out and flatten into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly for at least 30 minutes before using (makes 500g)
150g caster sugar
200ml lemon juice (around 4 lemons)
2 egg yolks
300 ml pouring cream
Plus two egg whites for brushing the pastry
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Roll out the pastry thinly then lift onto a 25cm tart tin with removable base. To ‘blind bake’ the pastry, line with baking paper and baking weights and bake for around 5-10 mins or until the pastry is firm. Remove the weights and paper from the tart and brush with the beaten egg whites. Bake for a further 15 mins or until the pastry is golden.
While the pastry is cooking, prepare the filling. Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice. Whisk the eggs and yolks in a separate bowl then combine with the juice and the cream. Strain thru a fine sieve.
Lower the oven temperature to 140 degrees C. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry shell and bake for around 50 minutes or until firm in the centre. Allow to cool in the tin. When cold, cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream or plain creamy yoghurt on the side.
Tune into The Main Ingredient with Kelli Brett every Saturday at 5.30pm EST / ABC Local Radio Digital – Online. 6.30pm Sundays Statewide on ABC Local Radio WA.