The frangipane almond mix is lovely with many fruits. In winter, use poached pears, quinces or prunes; in summer, try cherries, peaches, raspberries or figs.
1 sheet good-quality sweet shortcrust pastry (store-bought or home-made)
1 Beurré Bosc pear, lightly poached, then cut into quarters, core removed
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, to serve
1/2 cup whipped fresh cream
2 egg whites, whipped with 1/4 cup caster sugar to firm, glossy peaks
1 cup mascarpone
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1/4 cup plain flour
For the icing, gently fold the cream and egg white through the mascarpone.
Lightly butter and flour a fluted, loose-bottom flan tin (24cm in diameter and 2.5cm deep). Roll out the pastry until it is about 3mm thick. Cut out a circle allowing a 5cm border around the flan tin base. Roll the pastry over a rolling pin and gently ease it into the tin, pushing the sides in gently. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Trim excess pastry and prick the base a few times with a fork to prevent blistering and rising. Line the tart tin with foil, add raw rice and blind-bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, lift out the foil and rice. Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the base has dried out.
For the frangipane, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the sugar and mix until well combined, then add the ground almonds and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gently stir in the flour and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the pear pieces neatly in the pastry shell, and gently spoon in the frangipane. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180°C. Cool until just warm, and remove from the tin. Allow to come to room temperature, top with the mascarpone mix and toasted almonds.
For the lamb marinade, you can use whatever herbs or spices you like. Remember that some, such as clove or cardamom, can be overpowering, so keep the flavours balanced. Use as much - or as little - chilli as you like.
The marinade works well with lamb leg or shoulder, chicken or pork. A sweet potato or pumpkin puree would also be delicious, instead of parsnip.
12 good-quality lamb cutlets
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp chopped marjoram
1 tbsp chopped thyme
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
freshly ground pepper
60g unsalted butter, diced, plus extra
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 parsnips, peeled, cored and diced
chicken stock (or water), to just cover
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
Remove the cutlets from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
For the puree, place 60g butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan with a lid over a low-medium heat, and cook the onion and garlic slowly, without colouring, for 8 minutes or until soft and sweet. Add the parsnips and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the stock and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season well, then blend to a smooth puree, adding more butter, if necessary. Add lemon juice to your liking.
Set aside and keep warm.
For the marinade, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic and salt to a paste. Add the herbs and pound for about 2 minutes. Add the cumin, chilli flakes and 1/4 cup olive oil and stir until completely incorporated.
Mix the cutlets with the marinade and leave for 1 hour to infuse.
Preheat a barbecue. When hot, place the cutlets on the hottest part. Cook for 2 minutes on 1 side, then turn over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, or until done to your liking. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and set aside to rest in a warm place.
Place 3 lamb cutlets on each plate. Mix a little extra olive oil with the juices from the resting plate, and pour over the cutlets. Give a good grind of fresh pepper. Place a spoonful of parsnip puree on each plate (or serve it in a bowl in the middle of the table). Finish with lemon wedges on the side.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
The 2010 M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Shay's Flat Shiraz, from Victoria's Pyrenees ($30), is a result of an exciting project by French vigneron Michel Chapoutier. It shows deep black fruits, and savoury and spicy notes. A great match for the flavours of the lamb cutlets.
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