Thursday, September 30, 2010

Promises

The character of a person is the total of their attributes, traits and abilities that determine and at the same time are expressed in the unique way of behavior, thought and reactions of that person. A trustworthy person, a manipulative person, an ambitious person, an impatient person, a person of good character. We all go through life meeting people that we deem either good or bad, worthy or unworthy of our company, love or friendship, people we can depend on and people we know that are going to let us down.




We all judge others by their words, actions and reactions and everyone has their own standards by which they evaluate those around them. I guess most would say that what they look for in others is honesty and I would agree. But what is also very important to me, is that a person keeps their promises.





I try to never promise anything I can't deliver and I really hate it when people do otherwise. Is it so difficult to be consistent and at least try to maintain some level of accountability? Well, sometimes it is. I mean, there are exceptions. There are times that not keeping your promise is kind of fun.





What if somebody promises you a white cornmeal bread and instead offers you a feta-stuffed Greek bread? What if somebody promises you a vegetarian dish with peas and dill and instead offers you a spicy Indonesian salad? What if somebody promises you a chocolate tart and instead offers you a goat's cheese tart with honey and a pistachio crust? What then? Don't blame me. Blame my mad culinary impulses. It's only food after all.





And what do you do with food? You simply enjoy it! Listen, I know that a chocolate tart sounds tempting but this tart is better, believe me. It's more complex than a chocolate tart, creamier, more refreshing, more gutsy. Even though this is not a Greek recipe, it contains ingredients that are often used in Greek desserts—goat's cheese, Greek yoghurt, Greek thyme honey, pistachios—and it actually reminds me of the classic Greek treat of simple strained yoghurt dressed with lots of honey and sprinkled with chopped walnuts.





Greek strained yoghurt is known everywhere for its creaminess and its exquisite quality and Greek honey has been valued since ancient times both as food and as a medicinal source. The ancient Greeks considered honey to be a natural, healthy and essential part of their everyday diet rather than a supplement, and it was eaten on its own or added to different kinds of sauces. There are innumerable references to honey in ancient Greek historical and philosophical texts such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the "Deipnosofists" by Athenaeus and texts by Plato and Aristotle. According to Greek mythology, honey was the nectar of the gods and Zeus was raised on honey.





Greek honey is considered to be one of the greatest in the world largely due to the rich variety of fragrant, indigenous flowers of the Greek countryside and mountains and the unlimited supply of sunshine. The biodiversity of the Greek countryside contributes to the fact that there are multiple types of honey, each with its own particular properties and flavor. Greek honeybees devour the nectar from the fragrant oregano and rosemary plants, from chestnut trees and the delicate orange and jasmine blossoms, and of course from wild thyme flowers, making wild thyme honey unique to Greece.





Greek wild thyme honey, with the finest one being from the island of Kythera, is intensely aromatic, it has a light golden color and an incomparable rich and deep flavor that can't be described. It's something you have to taste. When some friends from Holland tried the thyme honey I have brought from Greece, they couldn't believe that honey could have such an extraordinary taste.





The same thing can be said about the Greek pistachios or as we call them in Greece "Fystikia Aeginis", which means nuts from the island of Aegina. Aegina is a beautiful, green island located very close to Athens where pistachios have been cultivated since the 1860s. "Aegina pistachio" is the official name of this pistachio variety which is also called "kilarati" meaning round. I'm always amazed by the sight of the fresh pistachios hanging from the trees in Aegina—they develop such a gorgeous red-pink color where the sun hits them.





Now, this tart over here with all these ingredients can only taste fantastic, don't you think? It has a honeyed sweetness and an earthiness from the thyme as well as a slight tanginess from the yoghurt and goat's cheese, with the acidity of the lime balancing the buttery and nutty flavor of the pistachio crust. This tart is all about textures—the fluffy cheese-yoghurt cream, the biscuit-like crust, the sticky, luscious honey and the crunchy pistachio crumbs on top. All that in one bite. And you'd think that they would constitute a heavy result but nothing can be further from the truth. It is light, refreshing, totally delicious and something that you have to make immediately.











Goat's Cheese and Greek Yoghurt Tart with Thyme Honey and a Pistachio Crust
Adapted from Food & Wine

The Greek fresh soft goat's cheese called Manouri (produced traditionally in central and west Macedonia and Thessaly in northern Greece and the island of Crete) with its silky smooth texture and milky, slightly citrusy flavor, is one of the best choices for this tart. If you can't find it, a great substitute would be a French chevre or any other high-quality soft goat's cheese.

You can play around a lot with the flavors of this tart. You can use orange blossom honey instead of Greek thyme honey which will give a slightly different flavor to the dessert.
You can use lemon juice and zest instead of lime. Lemon has a milder flavor than lime and this will be reflected on the overall taste of the tart.
You can use walnuts or pecans instead of pistachios for the crust.
(Read this on how to store nuts properly)






Yield: 1 tart (28 cm in diameter)

Ingredients

for the tart base/crust
70 g unsalted shelled pistachios, plus extra for sprinkling over the tart
115 g unsalted butter, softened
115 g granulated sugar
½ tsp pure almond extract
½ tsp salt
180 g all-purpose flour

for the tart filling
310 g soft goat's cheese
500 g Greek strained yoghurt, full fat or 2% fat
2 Tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp lime zest, finely grated
80 g icing sugar

120 g thyme honey, preferably Greek

Special equipment: fluted tart pan 28 cm in diameter and 2 cm deep with removable bottom, small food processor, stand mixer or hand held mixer


Preparation

for the tart base/crust
In a small food processor, add the pistachios and process them to fine crumbs (it's ok if there are some larger pieces in there as well). Be careful not to grind them too finely because they will become too oily and pasty.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand held mixer), beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until pale, for about 1 minute. Add the ground pistachios, almond extract and salt and beat at medium speed until combined. Add the flour and beat at low speed until incorporated and the dough is crumbly (it will be very crumbly but once you start spreading it inside the tart pan it will come together beautifully).

Scrape the dough in the middle of a 28 cm in diameter fluted tart pan. Using the back of your hand or the bottom of a glass, press the dough over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Try to spread the dough as evenly as possible and don't worry about creating an overhang because the dough will not shrink when baked. Place tart in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Take the tart pan out of the fridge and prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake the crust on the middle rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes, until lightly golden. Once cooked transfer tart pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

for the tart filling
In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand held mixer), beat the goat's cheese, yoghurt, lime juice and lime zest at medium speed until combined. Add the icing sugar and beat at medium speed until you have a smooth, fluffy and homogeneous mixture.

Scrape the filling into the baked and completely cooled crust and refrigerate for 2 hours so the filling sets.

Just before serving, place the thyme honey in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it foams. Then pour it all over the filling of the tart and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with the extra pistachio crumbs, cut the tart into wedges and serve immediately.

The tart is best eaten the same day that it has been prepared because then, it is more fluffy and light. The longer it stays in the fridge, the firmer the filling gets and it will have a different texture (which is not necessarily bad).

You can keep the tart for 2 days in the fridge, covered with cling film. Keep in mind though that the crust will lose its crumbly, biscuit-like texture each day it remains in the fridge, because of the moisture, thus becoming softer.





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28 comments:

  1. I am knee deep...This looks fabulous. The honey looks so seductive. I imagine the multiple textures to be incredible.

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  2. Bad, bad person....good, good blogger! Follow your instincts and belly. The tart sounds delish!

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  3. When I saw the picture I thought it was meringue, like in a lemon tart. The recipe is really intriguing. Good yogurt with walnuts - or pistachios - and honey is my go-to dessert when I want something fuss free and energizing. This recipe is really beautiful, thanks for sharing :)

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  4. Delicious Magda. What's not to like, goat cheese, pistachios, thyme honey, tart crust?

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  5. Tracy — they truly are

    Peter — I always do ;)

    Caffettiera — heh, I guess it looks kind of like meringue but it's something better than that and more healthy!

    Ivy — what's not to like... exactly :)

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  6. This looks heavenly! I've been eating a lot of Greek yogurt lately, mixing honey into it and sharing it with my one year old who is now aloud to eat honey and who says "yum" at the very sight of it coming out of the fridge. I know I would love this tart!

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  7. Wow. I must try this honey. And those pistachios. This post has convinced me now that they must be amazing! ;) This looks delicious and an awesome array of flavors.

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  8. Magda, You have such a talent for making the foods of your homeland So Enticing. I must try that thyme honey, somehow, some day!
    Fabulous recipe---

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  9. I'm sold. Goat's cheese beats chocolate!

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  10. Magda, You've got me drooling! Please, oh please... Keep twisting your promises like that!

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  11. Nicole — isn't that the best snack ever? Your baby is so cute!

    sohdalex — if you're ever in Greece, look them up!

    Nancy — thanks! I'm sure you can buy this honey online.

    Denise — :)

    Kay — thank you!

    my kitchen diaries — ok :)

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  12. I would rather eat this than a chocolate tart any day - the unique blend of flavors sounds fantastic. And the photos are seductive like the sirens in Homer's Odyssey! Thanks for next weekend's dessert!
    David

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  13. i am totally with you when it comes to someone being dependable. I appreciate that a lot!
    Your tart is so creamy and wonderful; you make me want to discover these amazing Greek honeys and pistachios~

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  14. Oh dear, that looks so refreshing but rich. The tart crust sounds delicious too. Chocolate who?

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  15. This is a beautiful tart. And the lovely Greek ingredients (oooh that yoghurt...) complement it perfectly. I just made a tart that required the same kind of baking dish, I can't seem to find it here in Italy. Must look for it on my next travel abroad, my tart turned out much less beautiful as a result

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  16. Such a lovely, rich tart. Looks amazing.

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  17. I can't wait to try this! I love all the ingredients. I don't know if I'll be able to find Greek thyme honey, but I'll certainly have a look. Fantastic recipe!

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  18. Until I went to Greece I was only so-so about yoghurt - I eat it because it's good for you and it went well with my muesli but when I had thick creamy sheep's milk yoghurt with the thyme honey congeaed in little clumps in the cold yoghurt appearing like chewy nuggets of toffee between my teeth, I was a convert...So, this looks like a recipe for me, I hope I can find a honey that does it justice.

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  19. this recipe looks delicious, I can almost taste that tart.que rico.

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  20. oh, now, see? i have that recipe, torn out and stuffed in a file, and have not done ONE THING about it, all this time. well, except drool, of course. i'll consider this a kick in the pants.

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  21. I wanted to jump through the screen and get to that pie.. it looks amazing. plus i love your writing :)

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  22. This was absolutely incredible! The blend of flavors is sublime and I think it would be fun to try different honeys to give different flavor boosts. Perhaps 3 different honeys in small ramekins on the table and let people choose? I used Provençal rosemary honey - and wonder about sunflower, oak or linden honey... Thanks, Magda~
    David

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  23. Before I plan my holiday to Greece, next year I'll consult you....I love the sound of the extraordinary thyme honey and this tart looks delicious. Cool, creamy, crumbly, sweet, scented and damn tasty!

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  24. I made this today and I can vouch for its amazingness. I used lemon because that's what I had and an Austrian "Wald" honey which is dark and complex in a brown sugar way. I'm afraid I didn't follow instructions regarding the size of the tin and it went sloppy because the filling wasn't spread over the crust thinly enough but I have only myself to blame. Good work Magda, a keeper.

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  25. I'm so happy you liked it Sasa! :) I have to taste that Austrian wild honey, I'm intrigued.

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  26. I just planned to create such a tart, but I do not have to, as you made it! Great! I was just writing about honey on my blog, and of course the famous thyme honey from Crete which is unforgettable. Love it. Next week I make your tart. Thanks. Eva

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