Sunday 17 February 2013

Peach, Honey and Pistachio Tart - A Random Recipe

The great Random Recipes challenge from Dom at Belleau Kitchen as entered its 3rd year and it's 25th monthly challenge, how time flies eh? Hardly seems like yesterday I was making this all those many challenges ago. 

This month the choice is ours. The recipe needs to remain random but how we choose the book is up to us.

Easy for me this one. I have bought 5 new cookbooks since Christmas to feed my ever growing addiction to cookbooks, I may need an intervention at some point, So I decided to randomly pick one of these books for my recipe. The book I got was Eric Landlard's Tart it up.

For those of you who don't know, Eric Lanlard is a French Master Patisserie who trained under the Godfathers of Food and Pastry, Albert and Michel Roux and became their Head Pastry Chef. Since then he has opened his own cake business, wrote many cookbooks and presents a few TV shows as well.

I was fortunate to witness a demonstration by him at the Good Food Show where he made a West Indies chocolate tart which, as you would expect from a French pastry chef, looked amazing but also effortless in how he made it.

The recipe I randomly chose is a Apricot, Honey and Pistachio Tart. This was quite an interesting one because it uses Filo pastry to make the tart shell which I have never seen or tried before. I also couldn't find any apricots so substituted with peaches which worked well.

The end result is a lovely golden tart with an excellent contrast in flavours and textures, from the crunch of filo pastry to soft frangipane type filling to juicy peaches. The inspiration for the tart comes from the Middle East and it is easy to see and taste why with its similarities to Turkish Baklava.

Peach, Honey and Pistachio Tart
100g melted butter
6 sheets of filo pastry
2 peaches
75g light muscavado sugar
50g clear honey
25g pistachios, roughly chopped
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
125g salted butter
125g golden caster sugar
65g ground almonds
65g ground pistachios
4 drops of almond extract
1tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

Make the filling first. beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy then beat in the ground nuts until smooth, add the two extracts and then beat in the eggs one at a time.

Grease a deep tart tin (20-22cm) with some melted butter then press in the first layer of filo pastry into the tin, keep the rest covered under a damp cloth.
Butter the filo in the tin then lay over another sheet of filo, with about 3 inches overlap on all sides. Continue with 3 more sheets in a criss cross method.
Fill the tart shell with the filling until about 2 cm deep, flatten with the back of a spoon.
Slice the peaches and place around the tart.
Fold over the filo layers to create a parcel, butter after each layer is folded over.
Butter the last remaining filo sheet and scrunch up and place in the centre of the tart.
Bake in a preheated oven (180C fan) for 40 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Yorkshire Puddings

It is Yorkshire Pudding day. A day to celebrate that glorious puffed up pancake, a vessel for many a Sunday roast nationwide and a much better gravy holder than a weirdly shaped boat on the table.
However, while I have eaten my fair share and probably other peoples fair share as well I have never made them. Not sure why, probably thought they were too much of an hassle or too difficult to get decent results.

Well no more!

Having a dull moment on Sunday I was tweeted by the ever delightful @feastandglory to go and make some Yorkshire puddings, so I got out my trusty cookbooks to find a recipe.

The recipe is fairly standard in most books but I did pick up an interesting tip in the Milestone cookbook which suggested pouring the batter over ice for an instant chill, instead of sticking the batter in the fridge for an hour.

Yorkshire Puddings
100g plain flour
3 eggs
200ml milk
pinch of salt
oil or lard

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan) and fill 6 muffin tin holes with about 5mm of oil or drop in a little chunk of lard.
Place in the oven until the oil is sizzling hot.
Whisk all the ingredients together until a smooth batter is formed.
Place a sieve with about 6 ice cubes in it over a jug. slowly pour the batter over the ice through the sieve.
Once the oil is sizzling hot, pour the batter into each hole until just below the rim.
Place into the oven for 25- 30 minutes.
Having no warning that I was making these, I lacked the required roast meats and stuff to go with it. However my heart lies with the pudding. So using left over poached rhubarb and it's syrup from this cake and some natural yoghurt a tasty pud was born.

Here's to the Yorkshire Pudding, long may it reign over Sunday dinner. Cheers

Rhubarb, Meringue and Vanilla Cake

 I only wanted a Victoria Sponge, just something to fill the cake shaped hole in my life currently. I even bought some raspberry jam which is now sitting, neglected, in the cupboard.
Then I went to the market and it just went all downhill from there because we are now on the edge of my second favourite food season (1st: Tomatoes) which is Rhubarb. Currently Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is currently becoming available if you keep your eyes peeled, although it's quite hard to miss with its bright day-glo pink colour and it metre plus length. Give it a few months and the normal stuff will take over which my local butcher informed me is currently all leaf and no stick.

So having spied and bought a few sticks, the question is what to do with it? Well to be honest I didn't have a clue, this cake is entirely the subject of my whims at that moment.

I'm gonna need a bigger boat board
Firstly I made the cake, fairly standard sponge technique, the cream was already decided for the original sponge I was going to do. At this point I had planned to gently stew the rhubarb, just in water, until it softened to go in the middle.

As the cakes were in the oven, I was staring blankly at some spare eggs at which point I decided mini meringues would be nice on top and having haven't made them before, I thought it would be cool to have a go, so I made a few dozen, (egg white goes a long way) I left them in the oven to dry overnight.

So Sunday arrives and my plan to poach the rhubarb in water was annoying me so I upgraded to a sugar syrup and dropped in half a split vanilla pod and poached gently until soft, then because I can't stop at times, I decided to caramelise some other bits of rhubarb in the same way I did for a previous cake.
so...yeah, after some assembly. I now have cake and the cake shaped hole is filled.

300g butter, softened
300g SR flour
300g Sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

150g double cream
1 vanilla pod
150ml water
75g sugar
1 stick of rhubarb (about a metre) cut into chunks 2-3 inches long

2 medium egg whites
50g caster sugar

Caramelised rhubarb
1 stick of  rhubarb (about a metre) cut into chunks 2-3 inches long.
100g caster sugar
10ml water

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each egg is fully mixed in.
Fold in the flour until a smooth batter is made.
Divide between two lined 18inch cake tins.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160C (fan) for about 30 minutes until a skewer can be removed clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Whisk up the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time whilst constantly whisking. as soon as it is all whisked in then stop.
Pipe on to a tray lined with foil into small mounds.
Bake in a preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 100C (fan).
Leave to cool and dry completely in the oven after baking.

Rhubarb filling
Dissolve the sugar with the water over a gentle heat, add half a vanilla pod, split down the middle.
When gently simmering, add the rhubarb and poach for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften, remove and allow to cool. then slice the little sticks in half.

Caramelised rhubarb
Slice the sticks into half and place on a chopping board, pink side up.
Gently heat the sugar and 10ml of water. swirl gently to ensure all is melted. slowly bring to the boil. Watch the colour, if the edges begin to darken swirl the pan to mix it up. Boil gently until a golden colour is formed.
Drizzle the caramel over the sticks and allow to cool and set.
The stray caramel can be broken up and added to the cake as decoration, I made little platforms for the top meringues.

If your cakes are bit off centre, trim them until they are level.
Pour the cream into a bowl and remove the seeds from the other half of the pod and drop in. whisk until smooth and soft peaks form.
Spread over one side of the cake.
Arrange the poached rhubarb in the middle and crush up some of the uglier meringues and sprinkle them across.
Place the other side of the cake on top.
Dust with icing sugar then arrange the caramelised rhubarb and meringues however you like.