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PRUNE TART WITH WALNUT PASTRY (Serves 6)

The walnut pastry is very light and crisp and perfectly compliments the richer filling of this easy to make tart.

For the pastry:
25g / 1oz walnuts
175g / 7oz plain flour
75g / 3oz butter
1 tblsp caster sugar
1 small egg, beaten

For the filling:
6-8 large stoned 'no soak' prunes
125ml / ¼ pint orange juice
2 large eggs
25g / 1oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, optional
142ml / 5 floz pot single cream
142ml / 5 floz pot double cream


To serve:
crème fraiche

Soak the prunes in the orange juice for at least one hour or longer if possible. Heat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6.

To make the pastry, blend all the ingredients, except the egg, in a food processor. Add enough beaten egg to make a soft dough, then wrap and chill the pastry for 30+ minutes. Roll out the pastry and use to line a 20cm / 8 inch loose based flan tin. Line with greaseproof paper & bake blind for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC / Gas 4. Whisk together the eggs and sugar. Split the vanilla pod, if using, and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the egg and sugar mixture, then whisk in the single and double creams. Remove the paper from the pastry case. Strain the prunes and lay them in the tart base. Pour the vanilla cream around the fruit and bake for about 30 minutes or until the custard is just set in the centre.

Serve with crème fraiche


MULLED WINE SYRUP (Makes 750ml / 1¼ pints)

Have this syrup ready and waiting to make a glass or jug of delicious mulled wine, or a refreshing fruit dessert at a moment's notice.

750g / 1½ lbs granulated sugar
600ml / 1 pint water
3 sticks cinnamon
12 cloves
12 allspice berries
zest or pared rind of one large orange


In a large saucepan, mix together the sugar and water. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Add the spices and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest or pared rind. Cover the pan and leave the spices to infuse and the syrup to cool.

Strain the syrup through a fine sieve and pour into a clean screw-top bottle. Store in a cool place and use as needed to make mulled wine or clementines in mulled wine syrup.

To make mulled wine:

1 bottle red wine
½ wine bottle water
60-150 ml / 2-5 fl ozs mulled wine syrup, or to taste
To serve:
orange slices

Mix together all the ingredients and heat gently before serving.

To make clementines in mulled wine syrup:

Remove the peel and pith from a few clementines or satsumas. Slice the fruits in half, horizontally, and arrange cut side up in a shallow dish. Pour over some mulled wine syrup then cover and leave in a cool place until ready to serve with whipped cream or Greek yogurt. Note: Peeled and thinly sliced oranges can also be used.