Issue 5, 20 December 2011
Food in Autumn Retreat 2011 - Florence
Dear All, I am
writing to share my experience of the exquisite food we had in this year’s Okido
Yoga Autumn Retreat in Suffolk. All the meals were satisfying, nourishing, light,
and of outstanding quality. I enjoyed the variety of different styles of
cooking that each of the teachers brought to the occasion. On Saturday we went on
our long hike and took with us a surprise packed lunch. The
dessert tart was outrageous, many asking for the recipe while digging for
seconds! The bento box was my favourite, though, with delicious tempura, hijiki
seaweed (tasty, tasty!), pressed salad and the best rice balls I ever had.
I especially enjoyed being cooked for for these 3 days as I do a lot of
cooking for my work and at home. The whole weekend was a refreshing, energizing
and all-round magical experience.
Pear, Carob & Chestnut Tart
Main Dish of a Meal
Here is the
recipe of the outrageous Pear, Carob &
Chestnut Tart - Junko Maria Furugori
inspiration for this dessert was the lovely Italian organic chestnut flour I
had in my cupboard, given to me by a friend. I was originally going to
make a traditional Tuscan dessert called Castagnaccio but decided a fruit tart
would be best given the season and the abundance of apples and pears. So,
I hunted for a suitable recipe using chestnut flour and found one on an Italian
website that I could adapt. Of course, the original version had chocolate
instead of carob and lots and lots of extra virgin olive oil but this version
is still rich with plenty of natural sweetness. You can taste the distinctive
flavour of the chestnut flour, which is almost smoky, marrying the delicious
carob and pear. It's a perfect dessert for the colder months when our bodies
and minds tend to want more warmth and richness. Chestnut flour is a bit of a
luxury (but worth every penny if you ask me!) so it's ideal as a Christmas
For the pastry:
80ml oat milk
sesame oil (untoasted)
3 tbsp grain syrup
270g chestnut flour
a pinch of salt
200g ripe pears,
peeled, cored and sliced
30g dried dates,
2 heaped tbsp carob
1½ tbsp light tahini
½ cinnamon stick (3-4
¼ tsp vanilla essence
- In a bowl, whisk the
oil, oat milk and syrup well.
- Sieve the flour and
salt into the mixture.
- Combine well with a
wooden spoon or by hand until it forms stiff dough. NB No kneading required!
- Cover the dough and
leave to rest for an hour in a cool place or the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to
- Prepare the carob
sauce: cook the fruit with the water, cinnamon stick and carob powder over a
low heat until it's a soft, thick pulp (20-25 mins). Remove the cinnamon stick.
Add the tahini and vanilla essence. Blend till smooth with a hand-held blender.
NB It should be thick enough to spread. Leave to cool.
- Line a tart tin with
a thick base (a tarte tatin tin works well) with 4/5 of the dough. Prick the
base all over with a fork. NB Chestnut flour is gluten-free so it will not be
possible to roll out as 'normal' pastry. It's best to roll as possible,
transfer and then press down with the hands, working up the sides of the tin.
- Spread the carob
sauce over the base. Arrange the pear slices to cover.
- Roll out the rest of
the pastry and cut into strips. Arrange over the pear to form a lattice crust.
Note: this is quite tricky and requires patience, good humour and a palette
- Bake for 25-35
minutes. If baking in a conventional oven (i.e. not fan assisted), then place
in the lower part to ensure the base cooks well.
cooled and enjoy!
We wish you all the best
for the coming year. * *