Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Sunday Sauna + Quince & Pear Tart Recipe

Sunday night in Brisbane: For the last five years, rain, hail or heatwave, a group of sauna maniacs have invaded our home to indulge in their strange rituals.
While I prepare the sauna Suzanna greets the guests with a drink...

Sam is the first to arrive tonight. She has brought one of the two deserts - tonight it is a Quince and Pear Tart.(or Strawberry Jam & Hazelnut - also works with Blackberry or Blueberry Jam or even Apricot Jam & Almond)

For the strawberry variation I also added sliced fresh strawberries between the jam and pie topping

Shortcrust pastry
1 cup walnuts (approx 100g)
60g butter, chopped and at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated apple (1 whole small apple, cored and peeled)
100g quince paste
Pure icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 180cGrease dish, line bottom and sides of dish with pasty and blind bake(approx 10 minutes at 180c).

Allow to cool.Process the walnuts until the texture of coarse breadcrumbs (one advantage with the variations suggested above is you can buy pre-prepared hazelnut meal or almond meal at the supermarket).Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, add the vanilla, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the apple and ground walnuts.Spread the quince paste evenly over the cooled pastry base. Spoon over the walnut mixture and smooth.Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Dust liberally with icing sugar to serve.

Sam is a Morris Dancer - but apart from that is a lot of fun. She is also an amazing seamstress and makes the most extraordinary coats and costumes. She is credited with making the stage clothes for the Australian group Cloudstreet who are on their second tour of Britain at the moment. The main course tonight is being created by one of Australia's fast fingered jazz guitarists, Keith Urquart. He's not letting on what it is, but I suspect a curry.

There are about twelve regular members of the Sauna Club, but the numbers often reach into the mid teens with the record being twenty-two. The evening starts with a few beers and a Guinness... talking of which... I'll be right back...

(Oh, and after a few, we get in the sauna, the pool and eventually the tucker).

Ah! That's better. Now, where was I? Oh yes. Baggage has just arrived. Baggage is a scientist who deals with little critters such as fire ants. She also sings beautifully. Shez lives half the year in Cairns and the other half in Brisvegas. Her voice is also amazing and she runs the Singing Workshops at the Woodford Folk Festival. Then there is Rastas & Fi... more of them later, and John and Nic and... But right now the sauna is at 98 degrees celsius and there is another Guinness waiting.

Later:.... Now who did I forget? Maha, Debbie, Randall (supreme fiddler with The Jar
And then there is Irish singer (from Dublin) Jenny and cello player and singer/songwriter Bec... Anyway, you get the picture. After spending a couple of hours going between the sauna and the pool, everyone heads inside for food and music. Kinda like an old style soiree, but more insane.

I was going to mention a bit more about Rastas and Fi. But that will have to wait until some other time as Keith has a bottle of 16 year old Lagavulin.

The first sip tasted like a mouthful of salty kelp that had grown up in a burning peat bog..." aging takes out the fire but leaves the warmth" says the label. It doesn't lie.


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