Maggie Beer

croutons with rabbit liver make a tasty treat.
croutons with rabbit liver make a tasty treat. Photo: Supplied

TOMATO SAUCE

Makes 1 litre

I prefer to make my tomato sauce with these extra ingredients, so that when I reach for a bottle from my pantry, it needs no further preparation for use in pasta sauces (though being the indulgent person I am, I often gild the lily with an extra flourish of olive oil).

Cherry clafoutis has hidden treasure inside.
Cherry clafoutis has hidden treasure inside. Photo: Supplied

1.5 kg very ripe tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

Maggies Summer Harvest
Maggies Summer Harvest Photo: Supplied

1 stick celery, chopped

½ cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil

sea salt flakes

This pasta could benefit from some fresh tomato sauce.
This pasta could benefit from some fresh tomato sauce. Photo: Supplied

½ tsp–2  tbsp sugar (depending on the ripeness of the tomatoes)

¼ cup (60ml) verjuice or white wine

freshly ground black pepper

2 large basil leaves

Wash the tomatoes, then cut them into quarters, discarding the calyx, or base of the green stem, from each and cutting away any blemishes, and put them into a large preserving pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and olive oil to the tomato, tossing to coat well. Add salt and sugar and stand the pan over a fierce heat. Stir the mixture constantly, watching that it does not catch and burn, until it starts to caramelise and the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the verjuice or white wine, then check for seasoning, adjusting with salt and sugar as necessary. Grind in black pepper, then add the torn basil. Fill sterilised, hot jars or bottles (see Glossary) with the sauce and seal. The sauce keeps for months.

CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

Serves 6

I prefer not to pit cherries when making a tart such as this, as the stone helps keep the shape and flavour of the fruit intact. Be sure to warn your guests, though, before they tuck in.

500 g fresh dark cherries

1  tbsp castor sugar

2  tbsps kirsch

CUSTARD:

2 large eggs

¼ cup castor sugar

¼ cup plain flour

½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream

½ cup cream

grated rind of 1 lemon

butter, for baking

icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the cherries in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle the castor sugar and kirsch over them. Bake for 5–6 minutes or until the cherries are cooked but still firm. Set the cherries aside and reserve the cooking juices.

For the custard, beat the eggs in an electric mixer, then add the castor sugar and beat until frothy. Carefully add the flour and combine, then add 1 tablespoon of the reserved cherry cooking juices, the crème fraîche, cream and lemon rind.

Dot a gratin or small baking dish with a little butter (I use a 30 cm oval copper baking dish), then spread half the custard over the base of the dish. Spoon in the cooked cherries to cover the custard, then add the remaining custard. Bake for 25–30 minutes; the top will be golden and the cherries will appear as little mounds in the custard. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar.

CROUTONS WITH CARAMELISED ONION, ANCHOVIES AND RABBIT LIVERS SPLASHED WITH VINO COTTO

MAKES 12 CROUTONS

If you can't find rabbit livers, you can use chicken livers instead. For this recipe, you'll need 9 chicken livers, as they tend to be smaller than rabbit livers. Remove any greenish bile and cook them whole, then cut them in half once cooked and remove the connective tissue.

125 g unsalted butter

1 French stick, cut diagonally into 12 × 1.5 cm-thick slices

1 × 120 g tub Maggie Beer Caramelised Onion

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

6 whole rabbit livers, cut in half

sea salt flakes

2 tablespoons vino cotto

6 anchovy fillets, halved

24 sage leaves

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220C. Melt 80g of the butter and brush one side of each bread slice with melted butter, then bake on a baking tray until golden. Meanwhile, gently heat the caramelised onions in a small saucepan over low heat.

Heat the remaining butter in a frying pan until nut-brown, adding a little olive oil to prevent it from burning. Season the livers with salt, then add to the pan with the sage leaves and sear on both sides. Immediately deglaze the pan with the vino cotto.

Quickly assemble the warm croutons. Top each crouton with a spoonful of caramelised onion, place a liver piece on top and brush with the pan juices, then top with an anchovy half, a couple of sage leaves and a drizzle of olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.