Blackberry Tart with Mascarpone and Vanilla

It’s getting a little late now for foraging for blackberries, but if you are lucky enough to find some, or planned ahead and have a tub in the freezer, this is a simple and delicious dessert. it works just as well with raspberries, blueberries or plums.

I’m not one for desserts. You can probably guess that from the lack of sweet treats here, but this is irresistible. You may want to adjust the amount of caster sugar based on the sweetness and ripeness of your fruit.

1 x 375g pack of puff pastry
1 x 250 tub of mascarpone
4 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g or thereabouts of berries of your choice
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

Pop the oven onto 220C

Roll out the pastry to about 5mm thickness (or use ready rolled). Line a tin with parchment and lay the rolled pastry on top. You want the pastry to be rectangular and fit the size of your tin. Now take a sharp knife and score around the perimeter, about 2cm in from the outer edge. Now pp it into the oven for around 8-10 minutes until puffed up but not browned.

Take out the oven and gently press down the middle area. Allow to cool.

Mix the mascarpone with the caster sugar and vanilla extract, then blod or gently smear over the middle of your part-cooked pastry. Top with the berries, then scatter the demerara sugar over. Pop back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the edges are browned and the berries are starting to release their juices.


Gnocchi with Spinach, Mushrooms, Mascarpone and Courgette Balls

…or how to take some healthy ingredients and turn them into something a little decadent. I was going to make this using half cream but, whereas cream tends to split quite easily, mascarpone keeps itself together quite nicely. Serve this with a green salad with balsamic dressing. The sweetness of the balsamic works well with the creamy sauce. I also cheated and used bought gnocchi rather than make my own. The courgette balls are optional and this dish works well without them if you haven’t the time.

This would serve 4 as a main – perhaps with garlic bread if you need more carbs.

Start by making the courgette balls as per this recipe. When you have made these keep them warm in the oven while you start on the sauce.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
8-10 mushrooms – finely sliced
250g spinach – chopped
250g mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of grated nutmeg

Take a large frying pan and heat the olive oil. Fry the garlic and mushrooms until the mushrooms start to soften. Now add the chopped spinach and fry gently until wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Reduce the heat then add the mascarpone. While this is melting, put a large pan of water on a high heat for the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi as per the instructions (2 minutes in boiling water), drain and add to the mushrooms, spinach and mascarpone. Season with salt, black pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Stir well then add the courgette balls.