Since watching Gone with The Wind and reading Cold Mountain for the first time last year the American South has become an intriguing obsession, especially when it comes to food. I have never been to the south but the romantic descriptions of sweet tea, salt pork, red eye gravy and fried chicken skins makes my mouth water. So today i decided to bake something I have never tried or made before, Pecan Pie. First of all finding dark corn syrup in rainy Cambridge was my first mission, which i failed and had to settle for golden syrup, corn syrup can only be bought in the UK online or in specialist stores. I used a mixture of different recipes I have picked up and tried to create my own… which turned out not so bad. (^-^)
What You Need:
Pastry: 1 egg, 175g butter, 250g plain flour, 20g caster sugar, 1 tbsp water
Filling: 100g pecans, 50g butter, 3 large eggs, grind of salt, 250ml golden syrup, 25ml apricot brandy, 200g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c.
In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and rub in the butter to create bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg and water and combine with a round edged knife in cutting motions. Once into a ball, kneed lightly on a floured surface and refrigerate for 10mins. Then roll out the pastry to fit the case and refrigerate for a further 20mins.
For the filling, add the syrup, sugar and salt to a pan and melt down and boil. Set aside. Whisk three eggs in a heatproof bowl and pour in the slightly cooled mixture. Over a tray of boiling water place the bowl of mixture into the bath and stir vigourously making sure it is combined well, then adding the butter and brandy. Place the chopped pecans into the refrigerated pastry case and pour over the warm mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mins or until dark brown. Then serve.
This month i decided to go for the home of fantastic dessert and Patisseries, France. Tarte Tatin is a sweet, simple and rustic style apple tart which is made upside down in a frying pan and then baked in the oven. This is also an unusual dish as in France hot desserts are rare, and this one comes with a fantastic story. The origins of this tart are that two sisters made the dish by mistake by cooking apples for an apple pie for too long in a pan, quick thinking led to adding a pastry top to the pan and then baking it in the oven, the results a sticky chewy caramel, accompanied by oval shaped apples and a thin crisp pastry base. The French version of such a classic dish is so unique in flavour and look, that it’s defintaly an all time favorite.
What You Need:
Pastry: 2 egg yolks, 150g plain flour, 25g sugar, 100g butter
Filling: 5 eating apples, peels and cored (granny smith), 50g Butter, 100g sugar
Combine the flour and butter, to form bread crumbs and then add the sugar. Mix in the egg yolks with a knife and combine the ingredients until it forms a dough. Lightly need and the refrigerate for 20mins.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
In a nonstick frying pan with a metal handle, add the sugar and butter and heat on med/low until a nice yellow syrup has formed. Add the apples curve-side down and heat for 15mins, until they are golden brown and the syrup has turned to a brown sticky caramel. Take the chilled pasty and roll out to fit the pan, place the pastry on top of the apple mixture and fold excess down the sides of the pan. Place in the oven for 20mins on 200C and then a further 20mins on 150c. Turn out onto a try or large plate and eat warm.
Decembers ‘Cook of the Month’ comes form the cookery book ‘The French Kitchen’ (2002, Doubleday, London) , by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. Harris is also the author of Chocolat, so if you have read the book you can imagine how scrumptious and inviting the recipes, language and photos are. This book also does not disappoint with a chocolate section. The one recipe that did stand out for me was a Blueberry Tart, which in the book looks like it came straight out of boulangerie.
So i went and picked up some fresh blueberries from the city market yesterday. I would of had more blueberries in the tart if someone in the night didn’t eat them! But anyway, there was enough for what I want to do. What is great about this recipe is that so far this is the best pastry I have ever tried to make, Pâte Brisée. This is a nice light, buttery and flakey pastry which was so easy to work with, roll and bake.
The recipe was easy to follow but it can also be adapted for season and taste. This would be great to substitute the blueberries with blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries or even strawberries. I will also be using the Pâte Brisée recipe again for the future. You can find the recipe here or buy the book (it’s worth it). In the end it tasted great, was easy to make and I learnt something new… a perfect ‘Cook of the Month’.
“Serve cold, if you can wait.” (^-^)
My Family sat down today to a lovely traditional pork roast dinner, which was lovely. So I decided to make a dessert for everyone. I was a bit dubious at the start as for starters when it comes to pastry making I feel a little devil is sitting on my shoulder watching me screw up, and secondly cooked bananas have never been my taste, ever since eating a tin foil wrapped hot banana with chocolate sauce on a very cold and wet camping trip with the Cub Scouts when I was a child. However, a new challenge is always good, and I will never perfect my pastry making skills unless I keep practising, and the result was not bad at all, but quite delicious!
What you Need:
Filling: 7 bananas, 100g of butter, 1/2 cup of water, 1tsp of mixed spice ( cinnamon, coriander and cloves), 2tsp vanilla extract, 1tablespoon of caster sugar. Syrup : 4 tsp butter (melted) 1/2 tsp of mixed spice
(For the pastry I followed a simple short-crust pastry recipe, which I let rest in the refrigerator for one hour and the rolled out and baked blind)
Preheat the oven to 180c
Simply, slice four bananas and add to a saucepan with the water, butter, vanilla, spices and sugar. On a low heat gently heat and watch the the butter melt and the bananas soften, until it forms a nice thick sauce. Set aside to cool. Then pour into the awaiting pastry case and even out with a spatula. With remaining bananas chop and arange on the top of the mixture. Place in the oven for 10mins.
Whilist in the oven prepare a light syrup with melted butter and mixed spice. Once the pie is heated take it out and pour over the syrup and spinkle the top of the tart with sugar. Pop the tart under a hot gril for 2-3mins, or until golden brown.
Serve hot with a dollop of fresh cream. (^-^)
For lunch I decided to make a nice simple quiche with left overs in the fridge for me and my younger brother, and it turned out great with lots of flavour.
What You Need:
Shortcrust Pastry Case ( I made mine using a simple recipe which I then baked blind), 5 eggs, 300ml Milk, 5 Rashers of Bacon, 1 Onion, 200g Strong Mature Cheddar, 100g Parmesan Cheese, 1 Tomato. Salt & Pepper to season.
Preheat Oven to 160C.
Firstly whisk the eggs and milk and season well. Then chop the onion and bacon roughly and on a low heat fry on the pan to gently soften. Take half of the cheddar (grated) and put on the bottom of the pie case followed by the onions and bacon. Now top with the the rest of the cheese (Cheddar & Parmesan) and the sliced tomato. Now with the egg mixture fill (Best done on the oven shelf to stop spillage when moving) and bake for 30-40mins, until golden brown. Leave to stand before eating and eat warm or cold .
While I was living in South Korea I made many American friends who were living there. One of them was Gretchen, I remember around American Thanksgiving time she told me how amazing Pumpkin Pie was and it was a shame she could not make any because people in Korea rarely have ovens. So Gretchen and I hopped on a train for two hours in search for the mythic pie, but atlas we never found. So now I am back in England and that time of year has come around again so I have decided in honour of my friend to have a go at making Pumpkin Pie…. here goes lol
First I decided to use a real pumpkin and not the canned kind. Unfortunately I could only get the Halloween kind, which is o.k just make sure you get as much water out of the pumpkin as possible (I will explain later). First I chopped the pumpkin in half and took out all the seeds and stringy bits. Then chop up into smaller slices and steam, it probably will take around 10-20 mins but you know when it is done because the pumpkin with be bright orange and the skin will just slid off the flesh.. yum! Now when that was all nice and soft, to take out all the water I took the flesh and put it in a cloth and made a bundle and squeezed all the excess water out. Finally put in a blender and blitz until smooth, then refrigerator-ate.
Now I prepared the pie base, a nice simple recipe of short-crust pastry which I then baked blind in the oven for 20 min and left to cool.
Once the pumpkin mixture was cool I transferred it to a sieve over a pan and left for 1 hour to just to eliminate anymore pesky water, because you don’t want a soggy bottom for your pie!
5 eggs, 1tsp ground ginger, 1tsp Ground Allspice, 1.5tsp Cinnamon Power, 3 drops of Vanilla Essences, 300ml of Evaporated milk, 1 cup of golden caster sugar and 3 cups of Pumpkin.
Mix these all up well and pour into you prepared pastry case and pop in a preheated oven at 210C for 15mins and then 175C for 40-60mins.
Cool and then eat ! Yum! Thanks Gretchen for inspiring me to make an unusual dish for an English Guy.