Summary: 2012 was the “year of the guava”, in that I was finding more creative ways to use our annual surfeit of them. This is another experiment that turned out well.
Listen while you read to “Sunday Afternoon” from the “10 Strings” album by the Panache Orchestra, as I’m pretty sure all of these concoctions described below were cooked up on Sunday afternoons.
In this post I described my experience making a pie with fresh guavas, with the results being so pleasing that I decided to try a different kind of pie: a savoury guava tarte that would be based on a fruit-with-chêvre theme. Google as I might, I could find no such thing, so I took the nearest approximation I could find, and did a little improvisation on it. I had to get busy using up the guavas since the other day when the litter boxes located in the corridor leading off the kitchen got a little too neglected I was nonplussed to note that overripe guavas smell rather like cat piss, so best to use them before they reach that less-than-desirable state.
On the recipe linked above, I followed it pretty much as written, except for substituting guavas for melon (of course), and instead of using honey made from lavender flowers, I made my own by using the honey I had on hand at the time (raw unfiltered buckwheat honey from the farmers’ market), cutting some lavender flowers from my garden, picking the tiny purple flowers out from their heads and adding them to the honey-butter mixture in the pan. I prepared the guavas the exact same way as I had for the pie described in the post linked above, but just a few this time to approximate the volume of melon in the recipe I was modifying.
I had a package of puff pastry in the freezer that I had bought ages ago and after letting it sit out to partially defrost for a while, to my considerable surprise, managed to separate and unfold one of what turned out to be three sheets without incident. I mean, it didn’t stick all over itself and get all gnarled up like I was expecting it too. That’s why I didn’t wait until it was completely defrosted as the directions on the package said to before trying to unfold it. If it was stuck together, I figured it would be easier to slice apart if it were still somewhat frozen.
For the benefit of curious readers who are not fluent in French, here is a quick and dirty translation of the recipe linked above:
1 melon (small-ish muskmelon-type)
200 grams of chèvre (goat cheese)
1 Tbs almond meal
2 Tbs milk
200 grams of prepared puff pastry
2 Tbs lavender honey
10 grams of butter
Preheat the oven to 180º C (≅ 350º F)
Peel, remove seeds and cut the melon into 10 slices
Heat a tart mold (I used an 8” baking pan) on a frying pan and add the butter and honey (and lavender flowers)
Once the butter has melted, place the melon slices in a rosette shape in the mold
Let it cook undisturbed over med. heat for about 5 minutes
Meanwhile, mix the goat cheese with the milk and almond meal until creamy
Remove the tart mold from the heat
Pour goat cheese mixture over the melon slices
Place the sheet of puff pastry on top, folding the corners underneath
Place the tarte in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes
Let it cool and set briefly before turning out onto a plate
WOW!!! The combination of flavours was exquisite! The lavender-infused honey complimented the still-astringent guavas beautifully, as did the almond meal mixed in with the chêvre, and the buttery pastry held it all together even if it didn’t pouf up quite as much as it was supposed to. Next time I’ll just squish together a handmade galette dough and use that instead since hand-making puff pastry exceeds my tolerance for extremely labor-intensive, cranky endeavours.
When I tried the dish “froid” (“cold”, as indicated in the recipe), as in “straight out of the refrigerator”, it was not as good as “warm, straight out of the oven” when we first tried it. The next time we ate it, I wrapped a couple pieces in foil and put them in the toaster oven on the “quick reheat” preset, and it was better, but still not quite as good as it was the first time. I wouldn’t expect “room temperature” (i.e., “chambré”) to improve matters enough to justify the amount of time it would take to leave it sitting out to reach room temperature, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong. It’s happened before 😉
The verdict: This dish is spectacular right out of the oven left to cool off for a little bit, and perfectly good as a leftover when gently warmed. I feel quite confident that blasting it in the microwave to take the chill off would destroy it.
More Guava Adventures:
When I wrote my earlier post about the guava pie, I was hesitant to try making guayabate (guava paste), but did end up making a batch after all. I followed the linked recipe exactly (well, not “exactly”, since I didn’t use as much sugar as the recipe called for), only I halved it and used a blender instead because I do not have a food processor, something I hope to put right in the near future! I’m not sure what I did wrong, but it never set up quite right. I even tried drying it in a low oven but to no avail. It was delicious though, so perhaps the guavas weren’t ripe enough, or maybe I need to study up on the proper technique for making jams and getting fruit to gel properly, or maybe since the species of guavas we have is different from the Caribbean varieties, it has different properties that affect this, such as a lower pectin content?? I’ll keep experimenting since I have been nothing but pleased with the results of all these experiments!
The guayabate was delicious served w/cheese & crackers for appetizers. It’s especially nice over bleu cheese.
Continuing with the guava-chêvre theme, I did end up making a riff on Cuban pastelitos de guayaba with the guayabate in which I also used up the last two sheets of puff pastry I had topped the savoury guava tarte with (described above), and they turned out very good. It was especially fun making this while Chi practiced congas to Cuban music in the adjacent room.
I also subbed chêvre for the cream cheese in the linked recipe. Will certainly be making more of those next year, however instead of using pre-fab puff pastry, I’m going to try bedding them down in galette dough made like this. I made that (linked recipe for tomato galette) with the bounty of beautiful, delicious heirloom tomatoes I grew last summer, although I used a regular pie crust I already had on hand and it was incredible. I was planning on making more of those this summer, but sadly I wasn’t able to get funding together for my tomato plan this summer 😦
Guava leaf tea
I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me three years and a really disgusting maggot infestation in my compost bin for me to figure out that I was throwing away (Up until fall of 2012 I had been chucking out the leaves along with the branches after the annual guava tree whack-down) very high quality “brown matter” that could be put to good use in my composting effort, and that also makes a very nice tea that has medicinal properties.
Chi was the one who found a recipe to make guava leaf tea and made some.
This is how to make guava leaf tea:
1. Gather some guava leaves (can be young/tender/old/dry — doesn’t matter — just reasonably clean and good condition)
2. Wash the leaves and steam them for 4-5 minutes until they change colour
3. Lay them out on a screen in a single layer to dry overnight. After drying, the prepared leaves can be stored in a bag for future use
4. Make tea by boiling a few leaves in water for about 10 minutes. Drink hot, room temperature or chilled. It has a pleasant, mild, somewhat sweet-spicy taste.
After the 2nd or 3rd batch that he made, we decided that leaves that are sort of old taste the best. The tender young ones apparently haven’t developed the characteristic sweet, spicy aroma that the more mature ones have.