Sunday, 29 June 2014

Recipe: Cherry Pie, Chocolate Tart, Super Simple 5 ingredient BLISS!

This is the kind of recipe that’s I love writing about, those little triumphs in the kitchen that can really take the edge off a crappy day. Not just the relaxation and distraction of creating, but the “phoenix from the ashes moment” of having created something really very nice out of leftovers (and bits and things).

After the the supper club last week we had some left over cherries, I’d bought a box to go with the petit fours:

I new I’d have a busy week ahead, and I could just imagine them, the following Saturday, in the same bowl on the kitchen table, with a giant bloom of mould growing on them. So I had a look around the kitchen this is what I found: mascarpone cheese, a roll of flaky pastry, and a lemon.

Well pastry screams PIE (and smiles!) so I hunted around for a tart tin but the only thing I could find was this dingy sized pyrex dish which would have made a half decent glass bottomed boat! Kept looking . . . muffin tray? Maybe, could make 12 mini pies . . . kept looking and found a rather dinky pyrex dish, not exactly the tart tin I was looking for but about the right size, the sides were too high but, mheh, yeah, I reckon it’d do, so I rolled with it.

Found some sugar for a stock syrup, and an egg . . . right ready for action!

ingredients (serves 6-8)
for the cherry pie
375g flaky pastry (1 pack / pre rolled)
400g cherries (stoned)
400g stock syrup (200g sugar & 200g water)
250g mascarpone cheese
300g chocolate spread
1 egg
4 sheets (gelatine)
1/2 lemon (juiced)
3 star anise (optional)
pinch of cinnamon

for the garnish
soured cream (something sharp, to complement the sweet tart).

apparatus / equipment
22cm pyrex dish
pastry brush (or a bit of kitchen towel works well)

method - quick version 
Blind bake the pastry @ 180C for 20min. Seal it with beaten egg.
Mix the chocolate spread and mascarpone cheese until smooth and spread it onto the pastry for the bottom layer.
Soften the stoned the cherries in a stock syrup and infuse with star anise and cinnamon for at least an hour.
Once infused, strain, and place the cherries on top of the chocolate to create the middle layer. 
Add gelatine to the syrup, reduce by 1/2. cool and pour over the cherries. Allow to set.

This is so simple! That’s what makes this cherry and chocolate tart even better. Turn the oven on to 180C.

Butter the pyrex dish, and unroll the pastry onto it. Lift the edges so the pastry can be pushed right to the bottom without tearing. (specially if it’s deep) I reckon a loaf tin would would work too. It would result in more of a terrine style pie.

At this point I’d normally line it with baking paper, and add some ceramic balls to blind bake the pastry. But, as I said, I was doing a bit of free styling in an unfamiliar kitchen. So no baking balls!! I did brush the pastry with a beaten egg though to water proof it from the filling. Bake for 20mins @ 180C

While the pastry is in the oven, put the water and sugar into a sauce pan and put it on full on the hob. Add the star anise and the cinnamon. While that comes to the boil, wash and stone the cherries. Add them to the boiling syrup (taking care not to splash yourself) and as soon as it’s back up to the boil take it off the heat.

Put the gelatine into some cold water, leave it for 5 mins then squeeze it of excess water and add it to the syrup.

Next, mix the mascarpone and the chocolate until you have a smooth and creamy chocolate pate.

Spread the mix into the bottom of the pastry lined dish. Then sieve the cherries, keeping the syrup, and place them on top of the chocolate. Then put the whole tart in the fridge to set. (Best to cover it in cling film so it does’t take up any weird flavours like kippers or blue cheese)

Reduce the the syrup by half, then add the lemon juice, allow to cool and pour onto the tart. (after removing the cling film obviously) Return to the fridge to set.

to serve
Once set, cut into slices and serve as is, or with a scoop of soured cream, or maybe a lemon ice cream

Sooo good! So so good!

thinking ahead
You can make this a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge no problem.

what could go wrong? (notes)
“I tried to warm up my portion of tart” - DO NOT do that unless you want a pool of chocolate sauce with a bunch of angry cherries looking up at you!! Last thing you want!

“My gelatine turned into gloop and I could’t get it out if the water!” - Soak the gelatine in COLD water NOT warm water.

techniques used
Patience (required for the setting of the tart)

I reckon this would be pretty good with a mix of soft fruits, strawberries, blueberries etc
Use agar to make the veggie version of this, or reduce the sauce a little more and don’t use a setting agent at all!!


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Recipe: Coconut & Cointreau Sorbet

This is one of those recipes that makes you look good, for very little work indeed! It has an amazing combination of flavours, and it's a really light finish to a meal.

Extract from the Movember Cook book which
you can get here: Cook Like A Man - Movember

ingredients (serves 8 x 70ml)
for the sorbet
130g caster
250ml coconut milk
150ml coconut juice
1/2  lime (juice & zest)
50ml cointreau

for the garnish
small mint leaves (tip of mint plant)
lime zest

apparatus / equipment
ice cream machine or 
food processor

Put all the ingredients except the lime and the cointreau into a pot on the hob. 
Turn on to a medium/high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Then add the lime juice and the cointreau, and mix them in thoroughly. 
Put the mix into an ice cream machine and follow its instructions. 
If like me you don't have an ice cream machine, freeze the liquid in a couple of ice cube trays. It will separate into 2 layers, pop out the sorbet cubes and put them into a food processor, run the motor until you have a slush puppy consistency. Refreeze immediately, in a tupperware box.

to serve
Serve in a decorative cup or a martini glass, put a couple of good sized scoops in.
Sprinkle a few zest strands onto the sorbet.
Pick the small leaves from a mint plant and place one in the centre of each sorbet.
Serve immediately!

thinking ahead
Best to make this in advance; at least one day in advance! It takes quite a while to cool and longer to freeze!

Why not try it with a raspberry liqueur

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Experiment Recipe: Shin of Veal

After 6 months being bounced around from one place to another, I've finally found somewhere I can cook!! You have no idea how much that means to me!! I didn't until this week! To be able to cook in a kitchen without being frowned at for one reason or another, gorgeous aromas emanating form my sauce pan or stock pot . . . hmmmmm; I have to say, it's nice to be able to get back to experimenting in the kitchen, vey nice indeed!! 

On that note here's and experiment I did the other day, with what looked like a rather large lamb shank, actually veal.

As you can see from the components (carrots, cabbage, potatoes), there's lots of very standard things in this experiment. It's is really about the veal shin, and how is comes out after braising. I've treated the rest of the accompaniments very simply. So if worst come to the worst, we've got some nice veggies and things to eat, think I might make a giant yorkshire pudding too, you know, just in case!! He he . . . 

Now that's a yorkshire pudding!! (The pyrex dish is 12" long)

ingredients (serves 4) 
for the veal & gravy
2 shin of veal (seasoned and seared brown)
3 onions (charred)
1 leek (cleaned and cut unto 2cm lengths)
2 star anise
2 chicken stock cubes
2L water
4g flavoured salt

for the carrots
4 carrots (pealed, and cut into 1/3's)
50g butter
1 tsp flavoured salt 
2 star anise

flavoured salt
300g salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder

for the savoy cabbage
1 savoy cabbage (outer leaves off, but into 1/4's)

for the potatoes
8 medium desiree potatoes (cleaned, 1/4's skin on)
or jersey royals at this time of year

apparatus / equipment
Frying pan.
Large braising pot.

Coat the meat in a thin film of oil - so the salt sticks - then sear it in a pan to brown the outside.
Once browned put it in the pot where it will be braised.
Peal and halve the onions, then add a little olive oil to the same pan and put the onions in flat side down, cook on a medium high heat until the flat sides are charred, then add them to the pot.
Add 2L water, bring to the boil and set to simmer 3hrs

Put all the ingredients in to a small pan, bring to the boil then set to simmer for 30-40mins

flavoured salt
Measure the ingredients and then mix well until a evenly distributed seasoning is created! Job done!

savoy cabbage
Boil in salted water, drain, leaving it as dry as possible, allow it to let off steam on a tea towel. The leaves of  a savoy cabbage will are all crinkly and will carry a lot of water, you want that to be lovely gravy instead of water, so get them as dry as possible.
You don't want lots of water diluting the gravy . . . . eeeeuuuwh!!

Boil them in salted water, a 1.5inch diced potatoes take approx. 6-8mins (after the water starts boiling) to cook. Depending on the size of course!

thinking ahead
Put it on at lunch time, it'll be ready for tea time with very little effort!

to serve
Put each thing into serving trays and let people help themselves!!

verdict - ahem I mean conclusion:
Gorgeous!! The the meat falling off the bone and the tendon was super soft and unctuous! I bought 1 shin to experiment with, but 2 would be better for 4 people. 


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More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes
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