Berry Nutty Tart

It's as good for you as it looks and tastes

It’s as good for you as it looks and tastes

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Fifteen years ago I came home to find Beloved curled in a fetal position in our shower, moaning in pain. It was not the first time I had seen him thus during the previous year, not even the twentieth time, but this was the worst and I was scared. When I managed to help him to a sitting position I went from scared to horrified at the realisation that his Doctors had got it terribly, terribly wrong. An incipient stomach ulcer doesn’t turn the whites of your eyes a pale, dirty yellow. I grabbed his dressing gown with one hand and his ear with the other. I am not talking figuratively here .. I mean I literally grabbed his ear and “helped” him to the car against his protests that he wasn’t that bad. A few traffic-law-violating minutes later I marched him .. by the ear .. up to the the Triage Nurse in the local ER. She took one look at his eyes and hit the Big Red Button. Hours later he was in surgery to remove the necrotic remains of his Gall Bladder and a sizable chunk of his liver. Don’t be too hard on the man. This was late Friday afternoon and he was due to start his shiny new job on Monday morning. I was very pregnant with Angel at the time, so I had just had to resign my job. Money was tight and the new, well paid job was something we desperately needed. However, had he not sought help when he did, he’d have been dead by Monday. It was a very sobering thought.

Since that rather dramatic day, two things have happened. The first is that anytime we argue about health issues I have the option of playing my trump card; “By The Ear”. The second is that I did a great deal of research into foods that assist with liver function. Top of this list are foods containing antioxidants; plums, all the purple coloured fruits and vegetables .. and berries, especially strawberries.

Next are foods rich in Vitamins C and E to aid digestion and metabolism; strawberries again!!

We can’t forget minerals such as Manganese and Potassium for proper metabolic function; you guessed it .. strawberries!!

Lastly (and most importantly) it needs to taste good because it’s useless if no-one eats it.  Who doesn’t love strawberries? Are you seeing the theme here?

NOTES:

Why Raw Fruit?  Technically this is a flan because we are not cooking the filling, but you’ll forgive me that right?  Vitamin C breaks down very quickly when exposed to heat so I have elected to keep the fruit raw and preserve this important antioxidant. Not only does that give a boost to the nutritional value of the dessert, it helps to digest and metabolise all those minerals and B group vitamins in the seeds and nuts.

Why All The Nuts? Nuts and seeds rich in B1 and B9 feature in many of the dishes I prepare. Nut oils are rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. Various studies have linked the consumption of nuts with decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, gallstones and bowel cancer (they’ll certainly keep you “regular” 😛 ).  Walnut oil is very high in both glutathione and the amino acid arginine, which support liver function, particularly in the removal of ammonia. LSA (Linseed, Sunflower seed and Almond) adds a healthy serving of folic acid (vitamin B9). Flax seeds are especially high in folate as well as Thiamine (vitamin B1).

It’s NOT Low-Fat; The nut butter, meal and oil make this a low/zero animal fat dish, depending on whether you make the Vegan option below. If you are on a reduced fat restriction, you’ll need to avoid this dessert.

Nut Butter/Paste;  ABC (Almond, Brazil, Cashew) paste is my personal favourite and a very good broad spectrum mineral supplement, however any whole nut paste (including peanut butter) will work in this recipe. Choose one without added salt or sugar.

Making it Vegan Friendly.

  • Substitute a tablespoon of thick nut butter/paste for the egg in the biscuit crust.
  • Substituting for the Marscapone is a little trickier. Refrigerate 1½ cups of full fat coconut cream overnight (it should solidify into a sort of curds and whey).  Cook an extra pear when you make the puree for the crust. Use half for the crust and chill the rest until very cold. Strain the solids out of the coconut cream and whip until soft peaks form. Fold in the cold pear puree.  Use ½ cup nut butter and 3 Tablespoons of either LSA or almond meal to make sure the filling is quite firm.

The Pastry Makes Great Cookies!! True story. Grease and line a biscuit tray. Roll the prepared dough out onto the tray until it’s about 8mm/¼” thick. Score lines into the dough with a butter knife, where you want the cookies to break apart. Bake as for the tart shell.

Makes 1 x 22cm/9″ tart (serves 8 – 10)

Tart Shell Pastry/Cookie Dough

  • 1 large cooking pear
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5½ Tbsp grapeseed oil OR walnut oil OR almond oil OR macadamia oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1¼ cup plain/allpurpose wholemeal OR wholewheat flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal OR LSA
  • ½ cup raw pecans OR walnuts

Peel and core the pear. Dice or slice finely.

Place into a small saucepan with the water and heat over medium heat until simmering. Cover tightly and allow to simmer 5 minutes or until the pear is very soft.

Mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 170ºC/340ºF. Grease a 22cm/9″ flan tin with a little oil or melted butter. Sprinkle with a little flour or very fine almond meal.

Place oil, sugar, vanilla, egg and cooled pear puree into a large bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Stir in remaining ingredients, except the pecans/walnuts, Stir until dough is well mixed and smooth

Process pecans/walnuts in a food processor or chop into small pieces (it won’t matter how fine as long as it’s not nut paste).

Fold the chopped nuts into the dough.

Place a large sheet of baking paper onto a clean work surface and roll the dough out to a rough 25cm/10″ circle.

Place the prepared flan tin into the center of this circle of dough. Slide a large flat plate or board under the baking paper. Slide one hand under the plate/board and hold the base of the flan tin with the other. Flip the plate/board over, holding the flan tin in place. Your pastry should now be safely inside your flan tin.

Smooth and press the pastry evenly into the base of the flan tin, making sure it comes all the way up the side of the tin. Trim any excess if necessary.

Bake 15 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

 

Filling

  • 500g marscapone
  • 170g/6oz nut butter/paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp almond milk OR milk (optional)

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until very smooth.  Marscapone and nut butters can vary a great deal in consistency, so if the mixture is too thick, whisk in the almond milk. The tart filling should be thick and creamy rather than very stiff.

Spread the filling evenly over the cooled pastry base.

 

Topping

  • 125g/40z fresh blueberries
  • 125g/4oz fresh raspberries OR blackberries
  • 250g/8oz fresh strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp Berry conserve OR thin jam

Wash and hull the strawberries. Slice in half lengthways.

Wash and drain the other berries.

Arrange all the berries evenly over the surface of the filling. Drizzle little blobs of jam to fill in the gaps.

Refrigerate immediately until you are ready to serve.

 

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