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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Tarte au Chocolat

Since my favourite tart of all time is lemon I thought it wise to try a different flavour, who knows, this may become my all time favourite instead?  Tarte au Chocolat or simply chocolate tart is a fab dessert to make.  This recipe is from American pastry chef Anna Olson and I first saw it on her TV programme on Food Network.  Anna's show is very good to watch, the idea is the show is themed on one particular area (this one comes from the chocolate pastry show)  Anna shows you how to correctly make the base ingredient and then shows you two other ideas, progressively more challenging, using the same base but adapting.  On the chocolate pastry show she starts with simple cookies, progresses to the tart and then finishes with mini warm chocolate orange tarts. 

I have decided to fully follow Anna's instructions, you can actually watch her make the tart online and I intend to follow along.  The ingredients are all in cup measures so I will have mine at hand.  I will measure out each of my cup measures as I go and put the gram amount in the ingredients section below.  She also does not use baking beans during the initial bake of the pastry, again I will follow along.  I noticed on the TV show that her pastry shrunk away from the sides of the tin quite a bit, so I wont worry when the same happens to mine.

The pastry is made rather differently to what I would call normal sweet pastry.  I have made a chocolate based pastry before by simply adding in cocoa to the pastry base while mixing.  This time the pastry is more of a cookie/biscuit base and is mixed in a stand mixer in a very different way to what I normally do.  Also when mixed the mixture is like a wet cookie dough and must be chilled before it can be rolled out.  The finished result looks very impressive - dark, silky and rich.

Just like Tamasin's lemon tart I intend to blog this post no matter what the outcome...so here goes...


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

My Gadgets - Part One - "Big & Expensive"

I am really in to my kitchen gadgets.  Over the years I must have spent a fortune on them, slowly building my collection.  You have the big expensive things - stand mixer, food processor, blenders and espresso makers.  Then there are the little things - garlic peelers, salt pigs and microplanes.

This post is about the things I can't live without, the things I should have left on the shelf and those things that I really wanted but actually only used the once.  

Part one is about my biggie gadgets; expensive and fancy.

Please note, these are not technically reviews, just my comments. 


Banana and Coconut Muffins

I came across this recipe while looking for something to do with over ripe bananas (apart from making banana loaf cake).  I liked the sound of coconut and banana together, very tropical, and was almost tempted to add in some pineapple since I had some in the fridge, but decided to stop myself as I thought this may be Caribbean overload.  

Currently I am on a strict healthy eating, ummmm, diet, therefore breakfast usually consists of a measured amount of cornflakes and milk...its getting boring!  I thought maybe something different would help me stay on track.  Adding up all the calories comes to roughly 245 each, which is a lot for breakfast as my cornflakes and milk are only 175.  But I think I can cope with the extra cals as long as these are yummy!  Since 12 would be far too many for just little me to eat I have decided to freeze 6 of them, hopefully they will keep well.  Will update this blog post once I see what happens in a week or two.

The recipe was found in a Sainsbury's Magazine, makes 12 large cakes, and for once does not require my whole collection of gadgets (although I was tempted to use them anyway since I am a gadget-holic)

These muffins are amazing warm from the oven.  They are light, yet filling and very moist with the extra chunk of banana on top.  A definite breakfast or any time of the day fix. 


Monday, 27 May 2013

Tarte au Citron TAKE TWO!

I have already posted one recipe for my favourite tart of all time - Tarte au Citron.  But as you would have read, it did not turn out as planned and therefore I thought it better to correct the problem and repost a new entry for my ever faithful Mary Berry recipe instead.  This time the pastry, still sweet, is slightly different and the filling is cooked for less time.  It works!  Well almost aways.  I recently brought a new tart tin (the one in the photos) because the current tin I have is very shallow and I always ended up with left over lemon filling.  My old tart tin has air holes to prevent 'soggy bottoms' and was also non-stick, this new one had nether.  The tart did seem to stick to the base and was rather difficult to serve.

Anyway, here is lemon tart or 'Tarte au Citron' cooked correctly using a recipe that has always worked for me.  


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Watermelon and Feta Salad

This salad is inspired by Nigella Lawson from her 'Forever Summer' book.  I have removed the olive part because I don't like them and played around with the quantities a little but the original recipe is still there.  

I really love this salad, it is particularly nice on a hot summers day eaten cold from the fridge.  The watermelon is sweet, the feta savoury and the herbs bring out all the flavour.    The red onions are soaked in lime juice to remove their sharpness and the whole combination just works.  This salad is best eaten very cold as this brings out the freshness of the watermelon.   Served outside is best, though not compulsory.



Best not to mix it too much once you put in the feta otherwise you will scar the bright red of the watermelon with flecks of white - still very tasty but you will lose marks on the 'eat with the eyes' bit.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Martha's American Food

I admit I have a cookbook habit.  It started when I put a shelve up in my kitchen to store the 4 modest books I owned.  Then, for some reason, I started to develop a habit of going on Amazon and finding bargain books.  Some second hand, some brand new but reduce but my golden rule was always hardback.   I do have the odd paperback cookbook but 95% of my whole collection is hardback.  They just feel better, look better on the shelve and seem to inspire me more to cook.  

My book collection consists mainly of a few authors which I admire - Nigella, Ina Gartan, Tamasin Day-Lewis and then I have a range of other authors, some well known others new, which I enjoy flicking through whenever I get that time to bake feeling.

I have decided to write a short review of my newest book - Martha's American Food.  Yes it is a US book therefore the quantities are in cups and temperatures in F not C.  However I have a number of American cookbooks now and seem to be slowly adapting to their 'unique' (perhaps simple) ways.

Originally I planned to blog Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake but in my rush to make it I noted that as I put the tins in the oven I had totally forgot to take any photos - doh!   So here is my short and sweet book review (please don't expect anything to compete with those Amazon Top Reviewers posts...)


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart)

I love, love, love lemon tart.  This is something I could very easily make on a Friday night and by Sunday have consumed the whole lot.  There is just something about nipping down to the fridge whenever you feel like it, cutting a thin slice and carefully picking it up by the edge, seeing the wobble and 1, 2, 3 mouthfuls its gone.  Instant sweet fix.

I have only recently started making this fabulous tart and my go-to-receipe has always been Mary Berry's however recently I came across a new version of the 'Ultimate Lemon Tart' by the Queen of Tarts herself Tamasin Day-Lewis.  I have always been a massive fan of Tamasin and her no-nonsence approach to cooking real food so when I saw this recipe in her upcoming book I had to try it.  I will add more about her upcoming book in the footnote of this post.


She states that after years of cooking what she thought was the ultimate lemon tart she wondered how it could be made even better.  The trick, lower heat and slower cooking.  She states over an hour in her recipe, the result, a heavenly light and smooth custard mixture with an almost too sharp lemon taste - possibly perfect I think.

This is my first attempt at this recipe and I am going to blog it no matter the outcome.

So, here we go.  I have simply copy and pasted Tamasin's recipe below. Italics are my additional comments, photos are my own.

PLEASE NOTE: This not my best work, it was a disaster actually, although still eatable! If you would like to make Tart au Citron I recommend my second blog post, find it here.