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Archive for the ‘pastry’ Category

French Lentils

We haven’t had a housewarming, per se yet. But we decided last week that something was needed to make our house feel like home. And I also needed something to kick start the kitchen a little. A Winter Dinner was quickly put together, some friends asked around and the fire was lit in the hearth. With Winter having arrived a little earlier than I think we were expecting, the meal was warm and comforting, with loads of winter veg and a little bit of chocolatey goodness to help it all along the way. We started off with a Chestnut and Onion Soup, which is a traditional French soup and neither too hearty not too brothy; followed by a main course of Filo baskets filled with Beetroot, Butternut and Onion, topped with a Broccoli and Pepita pesto and accompanied with a variation of the divine Deb’s Curried Lentils and Sweet potatoes and some fresh Cherry Tomatoes. But my favourite bit was, of-course, dessert, as it so very often is. Le Dessert was a miniaturised variation of Nigella’s Nutella cake, topped with a precious marron glacè and swathed in a white chocolate and saffron ganache. Oh, yum. The little cakes were warm from the oven and slightly sticky on the inside. Chocolate heaven. Mmmmm.

An no, I’m afraid I’m not going to give you the recipe’s this time. I have Christmas Stuff to do! My, it’s busy this time of year. Instead, here are some temptingly yummy pictures to water your mouth over a little.

Fireside dinner 1

 

Fireside dinner 1

 

Fireside dinner 3

 

 

 

 

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Newfoundland 2007 4

I seem to have my jet-set engines on at the moment. I’m only just getting my breath back from our trip to Newfoundland and already I’m busy packing for another bout of airports and baggage check. Naturally I’m thrilled to be partaking of one of my great loves in life: travel; but it also means that I’ve not had too much time to do any cooking. And all those squash and pumpkins just lying there, calling me! I love this time of year and I’ve been waiting patiently, almost on tender hooks, to sink my cooking teeth into some new dishes. Well, they’ll just have to wait, I’m afraid, until I’m back from my exploring. Oh, our lives are not boring, at least! Now the question is: will I have time to make real Christmas pudding this year, when the time to make it would be now? The proof of that pudding … well, you know. C’est la vie, non? Right now, though, I’m still dreaming of Newfoundland, with its raw, majestic landscapes and its wild, unforgiving storms and its seas, which throw themselves, now calmly, now violently at the shores like a heartbroken woman. The kind of seas you want to stand overlooking, on a cliff, and conduct into a crescendo. The kind of land filled with fervent passion and cold cruelty, wherever you look. And with blueberries and partridge berries covering the ground, just begging for a pie.

Newfoundland 2007 5

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Apple Mulberry Pie

Mmmm.  What more can you say about apple pie?  Well, actually, I can think of a thing or two.  Let’s be honest.  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like apple pie, even if it’s somewhere deep down inside your most private thoughts?  Saying you don’t like apple pie is like saying you don’t like puppies, or the Seychelles, or the Sound of Music.  Ahem.  You know, a friend once told me, long, long ago, in a far away land, that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like the Sound of Music and those who pretend they don’t.

I always have to be strict with myself regarding apple pie: to wait wait wait for the fresh crop of apples in the early autumn to make apple pie.  It’s all about eating seasonally, non? And yet every now and then I will break down and buy apples in April or May, those shipped in from South Africa or last season’s released from months of cold storage and make a big old apple pie.  Yet, that first pie of Autumn, with it’s super crisp, slightly tangy, tart apples is better than the Seychelles, better than it all, and a reminder to us all to be patient next year and just wait a few more months.  This pudding definitely has the proof in it.

*note: the dried white Mulberries where a gift to me from my wonderful friend, Ms A, who has opened my eyes to the culinary wonders of Persian food in all it’s glory.  You should be able to find them at any Iranian or Middle Eastern food store.

Apple Mulberry Pie 2

Apple and White Mulberry Pie

1 x pate brise
– 2 cups flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar
– 2 sticks cold butter
– ¼ – ½ cup ice water

filling:
1 cup dried white mulberries
1 Tbsp Whiskey
Hot water
2 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
pinch cloves
pinch salt
2 Tbsp butter

– put the mulberries in a small bowl, cover with hot water and whiskey and allow to sit for a at least an hour to soften.

Make the pastry:
– whisk together flour, salt and sugar.

– chop cold butter into small pieces and then run into the flour mix until it starts to resemble oat meal with pea sized chunks of butter.

– add water and mix with your hands until a dough just starts to form.  Dump the almost-dough onto a piece of cling wrap.  Divide the mix into two, putting the other half onto another piece of cling film.  Shap each piece into a rough disc, cover completely with plastic and pop in the fridge for an hour.

– pre heat the oven to 440˚F

– remove one half of the chilled dough at a time and roll out into a circle, large enough to line the pie tin with a a good 1½ inch flap over.  use one half to line a greased pie tin, in the fridge, and keep the other flat, on a baking sheet in the fridge for the top.  Refrigerate pastry for another 15 – 20 mins while you prepare the filling.

– mix apples with lemon juice, flour, sugar and spices, leave at room temp for 10 mins.  Add mulberries and mix.

– take pie shell out of the fridge. Fill with apple mulberry mix and dot with butter.

– Brush edges of pie crust with water and place top pastry over the filling, pressing down on the edges to seal the pie.  Trim the pastry edge to a 1 inch over hang. Tuck top pastry under bottom along the edges to form a good seal.  Use your fingers or the tines of a fork to reinforce and decorate pie edge.  Cut 4 slits into the pie, starting from about 2 inches short of the top and running to about 4 inches from the edge for steam vents.

– decorate with pastry leaves, if desired, and brush pastry with milk or beaten egg.

– place you oven shelf on the lowest rung available and bake pie for 50 – 60 mins until juices are bubbling out of the slits and the pastry is golden brown.

Apples and Mulberries

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white chocolate tart with blackberries 1

I’ve been using Mr P’s camera for the last while to take blog photographs, seeing as how I’m still a poor and starving artist. Wait. Did I just say ‘starving’? Well, hardly, but I’m still holding out for the camera I long for and in the interim I’m a Borrower. On Sunday I did something I’ve never done before, trained as I am with the reflexes of a cat (ahem) and dropped Mr P’s appropriated private possession, destroying the focus and retraction on the lens. Not wanting to beat about the bush for too long I ran out at first light, well 10am when the shops opened doors you must be a stickler for detail, and purchased a replacement model, which is shiny and new, with bells and whistles (the old one just had the bells) and fits in to the hand like it was born to be there. The proof of the pudding, as always in this house, is in the eating, so we’ll have to wait and see the first foodie photo’s it takes before we judge.

In the mean time, perhaps I could interest you in a little something something for that sweet tooth. A little derivative from Sylivie, who somehow always leaves me feeling a little breathless and under qualified in the baking department.

*note: this recipe needs about 6 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight. It’s great for entertaining as you can make the shells and filling the day before and just whip up and decorate the tarts before your guests arrive.

white chocolate tart with blackberries 2

White Chocolate Tarts with Black berries

for the pate sable:
200g butter, softened
pinch salt
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp + 1½ cup flour

for the filling:
70g white chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp + 60 ml Cream

1 punnet black berries, washed

make the pastry:
– beat the butter with the almond flour, salt and sugar until creamy.

– add the egg, vanilla and 1 Tbsp of the flour and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

make the filling:

– in a bain mare, melt the chocolate with the 2 Tbsp cream

– when the ganache is smooth, remove from heat to cool a bit. Add the rest of the cream and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

– whip the chocolate cream until it’s stiff. It whips up really quickly.

– fill the baked tart shells and top with black berries.

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Chocolate and Pear tart

I’m a tart for a tart, if you know what I mean. It seems to me that not that many people make tarts and pies in their own homes because they perceive making pastry as too much work and trouble to bother with. Much easier to make a cake, non? Well, the truth is that I love making pastry. And I don’t just mean in the eating thereof. I mean the whole shoopshebang of it. I love getting my fingers involved in a pate brise, I love having the ball of dough shaped in my hands before it goes in the fridge and I love, love, love rolling it all out on a floured work surface. It seems such an elemental thing, one of the simple pleasures in life, the antithesis of the rush and grind of everyday chores and work loads. When I’m in a bit of a grump, sometimes there’s nothing for it all but a bit of dough therapy. Of course, there’s an infinite amount of satisfaction in eating a freshly baked bit of pastry, filled with what-have-you, don’t you agree? Oh, and when you’re cooking for friends, who doesn’t love a bit of an after dinner tart?

asian pears

*note: the pastry for this tart is a Pate Sable, which needs to be worked with really cold or it’ll be to soft to roll, so make sure you refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. I had mine in the fridge overnight and then let it sit at room temperature for just under 10 mins before using.

Chocolate and Pear tart 2

Dark Chocolate and Pear Tarts

makes 3 or 4 small tarts, or 1 medium one

for the pastry:
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
110g butter, softened
100ml icing sugar (about 55 g)
1 egg, beaten

for the filling:
3 or 4 small Asian pears, peeled cored and chopped to 5mm pieces (to make about a cup of fruit)
60 ml cream
1 Tbsp Caster sugar
1 tsp butter

100g good dark chocolate (I used 70%)
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp whiskey (optional)
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites

Make the pastry:
– whisk the flour and cocoa together until well combined

– beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and 1 Tbsp of the flour mix and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

Make the filling:
– chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place in a double boiler with the spices and butter and allow to melt slowly.

– heat the cream and sugar for the pear over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Add pears and increase heat. Bring to a simmer and cook pears for about 15 – 20 mins, caramelising the pears. remove from heat and allow to cool.

-When choc is melted and smooth, add whiskey and egg yolk and mix well. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

– whip egg whites until stiff. Vigorously stir in a big spoon of the egg white to life the mixture then gently fold in the rest of the egg white in 3 or 4 goes.

– carefully add pear, reserving some for a garnish, and incorporate well, being careful not to flatten the chocolate mousse.

– divide between tart shells, garnish with remaining pear and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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Beetroot and bluecheese tart

I have a confession: I love beetroot. I steam them whole, peel them and eat them like an apple. I love them raw, grated or chopped into a salad. I love them hot, cold, salted, honeyed, mashed, sliced, boiled, grilled, red, golden, candy striped and even pickled in a summer salad. My Mr P, though, as wonderful as he is, is no big fan of the beet. Thus, in my sneaky, sly way, I have to disguise them as something other than a beet-plucked-from-the-ground if I’m going to get (a) him to eat them and thereby (b) have them for my own dinner too.

We had friends over for dinner last night, an occasion that happens far too infrequently in my opinion, and I found out that one of the guests has a slight aversion to beets as well. Digging deeper I found that the reason for this is because he thinks back on beets as the dish served with coleslaw in dodgy take away restaurants. Now, is that a challenge or what? How could I not try to win over two people with one tart? It’s so much better on the beet side of life. Oh my, well personally I loved this tart. I have no idea if the other oh-my-gosh’s were genuine or subtly faked, but I didn’t really care. The crust was thin and super crisp and the fennel and caraway popped up now and then to mingle with the stronger cheese and beet flavours. The walnuts warmed the whole thing up in the mouth and I think this is one to make again, serve hot, cold or maybe ,because the crust is so light, on a baguette the next day.

The pastry is made with oil, not butter, so has a great, light flavour. I’ve been wanting to make an oil pastry for a while now. They’re all the rage, don’t you know. I’ve yet to try a sweet one.

*the trick with this rather crumbly pastry is to roll it out on one of those thin, flexible, plastic surface protectors (or a well held down piece of parchment) and then put the pie dish upside down on the rolled pastry, flip and voila.

Beetroot and bluecheese tart 2

Beetroot, Bluecheese and Walnut Tart

for the pastry:
⅓ cup quinoa flour
⅔ cup plain white flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
pinch salt
½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
½ tsp caraway seeds, also crushed
⅓ cup walnut oil
1 egg white

4 medium beets
1 large red onion
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or veg oil)
80 g blue cheese (I used Bleu d’Auverne)
⅓ cup walnuts, coursely chopped

Make the pastry:
– combine all the dry ingredients and blend well

– add oil and egg white and mix until a dough just forms.

– wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for a half hour

– pre heat oven to 350˚ F ; roll out (on a loose board, see note above recipe) and line a 9″ tart tin

– cover with parchment, fill with beans or rice and blind bake at 350˚ F for 15 mins. Let cool.

Make the filling:
– steam the beets for about 20 mins. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and slice thinly

– peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat oil on a medium to low heat and saute the onion gently until soft and caramelised ; about 20 – 30 mins ; allow to cool a bit

– spread onion over base of tart ; dot with bits of cheese ; arrange beets on top ; add remaining cheese and walnuts

– bake for 20 mins at 350˚F

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Pear and blackberry tart with chestnut flour pastry

Since the first time I read about it, in a book given to me by the hosts of a Water Colour holiday * I went on last year, called “Simple French Cuisine from Provence and Languedoc”, I’ve been wanting to use, and looking for, Chestnut Flour. The idea intrigued me. Can you make pastry with it? I found some in a bin in a bulk health food store eventually and bought a bag, even though I had no idea what to do with it.

After a bit of reading, I found that it’s a traditionally used flour in parts of Italy and France, among other places, when other flours are unavailable. And traditionally, the pastry I wanted to make was done on a counter top, like pasta pastry. You know the one: you dump all your flour onto your counter top in a nice big pile, make a well in the middle and throw the eggs into it. Well, I’ve never done this before, but I’m not one to back down from a challenge it I can help it. It was a bit of a tricky, sticky task, and after 15 mins of kneading the eggs and butter into the flour I was covered head to toe in the fine chestnut flour and my hands up to my wrists were a sticky, icky mess. Of course I’d forgotten to take off my wedding ring, so all it’s crevices are now caked in dried pastry. Eventually, in exasperation, I put the whole lot in a bowl and mixed it with a wooden spoon, adding more flour until a more manageable consistency was reached. If I hadn’t been laughing so much I would have been cursing!

Well, the end product is still delicious. Does anyone have any tips for working with Chestnut Flour? Any help is appreciated!

* The McEwans run a wonderful workshop holiday, whether you’re there for the lessons, the cuisine or the insightful personal guides to the area and local towns near Lodev. The hosts are warm and intimate, the food, cooked by Mrs McEwan, is inspiring, fresh and hearty and the skills available to you from Mr McEwan are invaluable whether you’re a watercolour hobbyist or a veteran painter.

Pear and blackberry tart with chestnut flour pastry 2

Pear and Blackberry Tarts with Chestnut Pastry

makes 6 tarts

for the pastry:
2½ cups Chestnut Flour
2 sticks butter, soft
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Jumbo egg

for the filling:
¼ cup ground almond
⅓ cup Sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp Vanilla Essence

1 just ripe pear, quartered, cored and sliced finely
1 punnet blackberries

– make the pastry:

– beat the softened butter with the sugar until creamy

– add the egg and flour and mix, using a spoon and then your hands, until a soft dough is formed. Add more flour is necessary.

– flatten into a disc, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 45 mins.

– grease and flour pie tins.

– in a small bowl, mix almond, sugar, egg, butter and vanilla until well blended. Refrigerate for about 30 mins.

– using pastry in bits (keep the unused amount in the fridge in the mean time) roll out on a floured surface and line pie tins. Refrigerate for 10 mins before filling.

– divide filling cream between shells, arrange pears and berries. I placed a piece of pastry on top of each pie for added decoration. (if doing this, brush lightly with milk so that it browns in the oven)

– bake at 325˚F for 30 – 35 mins until browned and yummy.

these are best served warmish with whipped cream

Pear and blackberry tart with chestnut flour pastry 3

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