And on Christmas Eve, Raspberry Cream Tart …

Very early before sunrise on Christmas Eve in the heart of the Mediterranean today, the strong winds howl and from my bed where I sit with a cup of coffee writng this post I hear the waves splash viciously against the rocks. I close my eyes and dream of summer, I long for the sun, the warmth and the brightness that fills me with happiness but I must not forget that it will be with us again very soon.

And I can smile again as I have Luke keeping me warm and this is what I am looking at

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Impossible not to smile as he is adorable, soon to be 14, sweet and gentle Luke with his Santa hat getting ready for his Christmas treats.

And yesterday I met a group of 4th year culinary students who have so much to look forward to. They were the winners of a professional cooking competition run by a local company to promote creativity and innovation at the culinary school.

I enjoyed chatting with Rodianne, a sweet and gentle natured young lady. She is doing her practical training with the Corinthia Group at one of the local hotels and will be leaving in February for further training at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. I am excited for her as she has her whole life and career to look forward to.

It is her recipe I am sharing with you this morning as I know that there will be a lot of last minute preparations for tomorrow’s meal or even perhaps tonight’s dinner and this is an ideal dessert. I love something fruity after a heavy meal. It is simple, delicious and looks divine. I like Christmas food to be vibrant and colorful.

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You will need:

For the sweet pastry:

• 200g flour
• 125g butter
• 50g sugar
• 1 egg

For the raspberry pastry cream:
• 500ml milk
• 100g sugar
• 60g flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 vanilla pod
• 3 drops of raspberry flavouring

Extra ingredients:
• 100g dark chocolate
• 1 punnet raspberries
• 1 punnet blueberries
• 1 punnet blackberries

• 11 inch fluted tart pan

Method for the sweet pastry:

1. Rub in the butter into the flour until it looks like fine crumbs.
2. Whisk the sugar into the eggs.
3. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until it forms into a dough. Add a few drops of water if the dough becomes dry.
4. Rest the dough for 30 minutes into the refrigerator.
5. When the dough has rested, roll out on a floured surface large enough to fit the tart pan. Do not trim excess dough when it is in the pan, in case it shrinks in the oven.
6. Cut a circle out of baking paper bigger than the pan, and put on the dough. Fill the pan with rice and bake the dough in a 175ºC for 8 minutes until cooked.
7. When cooked, remove the rice from the tart shell and leave to cool.
8. When cool, remove from the pan and place on a tart board.

Method for the raspberry pastry cream:
1. Split the vanilla pod in half, scrape the seeds with a knife and add together with the pod to the milk. Heat the milk on a low flame and let the vanilla pod to infuse.
2. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour. Whisk vigorously to avoid any lumps from forming.
3. When the milk is warm, remove the vanilla pod. Gradually add the egg mixture to the milk, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Cook until the mixture covers the back of the spoon.
4. Cover with a baking sheet, to avoid a skin from forming. Leave to cool.

Method of assembling the tart:
1. Melt the dark chocolate on a bain marie. Brush the bottom of the tart shell with the melted chocolate. Place in the fridge for 5 minutes for the chocolate to set.
2. Spoon the raspberry puree` in the tart shell and smooth the top into an even layer.

And here is a lovely photo of Rodianne…… I wish her and her family a lovely Christmas

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