pastry

All posts tagged pastry

Cute Look, Naughty Flavour: Portuguese Pastel de Nata with an Italian Twist

Published June 23, 2013 by The Feminist

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Naughty me. I think I just pissed off both the Italians and Portuguese. I guess this means that Santa won’t be bringing any gifts this year…

Yeah, whatever. I’d much rather be naughty than nice, because that way I’ll always end up with pretty fab desserts in my house!
Like this one for instance! It’s an amazingly quick and easy combination of a Portuguese Pastel De Nata with the ultimate Italian flavours of ricotta cheese and lemon.

I can still remember the first time I ate a Pastel de Nata. I was in Lisbon, the weather was perfect and I was enjoying a good cup of strong coffee while watching plenty of good-looking Portuguese cuties walk by. However, once I took a bite of this very famous egg tart, I couldn’t care less about all those Lisbon cuties and could only focus on the cutie in front of me on a plate. You have to admit, these little tarts look pretty amazing, huh?!

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As always, I didn’t want to bake an exact copy of the original. I believe it is better to do something totally different with an all-time classic, because that way you won’t get disappointed when it turns out your attempt on the classic is not as tasty as the one you tasted on your holiday.

Hence, I decided to add two of my favorite Italian flavours: ricotta and lemon. The zest of the lemon gives the tart the perfect zing and the ricotta creates such a wonderful creamy and rich texture, it’s practically impossible not to start smiling!

Portuguese Pastel De Nata with an Italian Twist

Ingredients (makes 6)
• 250gr ricotta cheese
• 1 egg
• 3 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp chopped candied lemon peel
• Zest of half a lemon
• 1 sheet of puff pastry
• Cinnamon
• 4 tbsp caster sugar
• Juice of one lemon

Method:
1. Preheat the oven at 200°C. Grease a muffin tin with butter.
2. Unroll the sheet of puff pastry and sprinkle over some ground cinnamon, then roll the pastry into a Swiss roll shape and cut into 6 rounds.
3. Put these into 6 of the holes in a muffin tin and use your thumbs to stress and mould the pastry into the holes so the bottom is flat and the pastry comes up to the top.
4. Put the pastries in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, whisk together the ricotta, egg, lemon zest, candied lemon and honey until you get a smooth batter.
6. Take the muffin tin out of the oven and use a teaspoon to press the puffed up pastry back to the sides. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the tart cases. Lower the heat of your oven to 180°C and bake for a further 10-12 minutes. (They should be still a bit wobbly but they will firm up once removed from the oven, trust me 😉 )
7. Heat the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and let it bubble until you get a lovely golden caramel. Pour some caramel over each tart and put aside.

The Epitome of Elegance: Rose and Apricot Millefeuille

Published April 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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Forget Grace Kelly, Jackie O. and Marilyn. No Hollywood diva can compete with the delicate and dainty appearance of the Millefeuille. Although I usually opt for the more robust cakes and pies with bold and rich flavours, today I felt like tackling the grandeur and grace of one of France’s greatest classics.

My version of the Millefeuille is –as always- a bit different from the original. Instead of thousand layers of puff pastry (which is what “millefeuille” literally means), I just had two. Admittedly, my version may not have the majestic luxury of the French classic, but I believe it still looks rather delicate and refined. (Just nod your head if you agree 😉 )

However, when it comes to flavour, my very own personalized rose and apricot Millefeuille far surpassed the rather boring flavour palette of the original. (no offence to all French pastry chefs) I went for a rose and honey flavoured custard topped with fresh apricot, dried cranberries and home-made meringues. It tasted so exquisite, it was almost impossible to believe I had made it myself! It would even make Michel Roux jealous!

Michel Who? Exactly. No one nails the essence of superior flavour better than I do. Me, pretentious? Just remember: if you want to be a good baker, you have to be a bit boastful! 😉

Rose and apricot Millefeuille

Ingredients(makes 6):

• One sheet of puff pastry
• 2,5 dl milk
• ½ tsp rose water
• 3 egg yolks, (you can save the egg whites for the meringues or use shop-bought meringues)
• 2 tbsp corn flour
• 2 tbsp caster sugar
• 3 tbsp runny honey
• Handful of dried cranberries
• 3 ripe apricots, peeled, stoned and halved
• Almond flakes
• Icing sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Cut out 6 rectangular pieces of puff pastry, brush them with some of the remaining egg white and sprinkle over some almond flakes. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool completely before cutting them in half horizontally.
2. To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour until pale and fluffy.
3. Heat the milk, honey and rose water in a pan over medium heat until it starts to boil. (I also added a couple of drops of red food colouring to give the custard a beautiful pink hue.)
4. Add some of the hot milk to the egg mixture and mix well. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan of milk and beat constantly on a low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Pour the rose custard in a bowl and cover with cling film. Let it cool completely.
5. Cut the puff pastry cases in half and spread a thick layer of rose custard on the bottom layer.
6. Top with small chunks of apricot, dried cranberries and some crushed meringues.
7. Finish with the top layer of puff pastry and dust with icing sugar.

Food porn alert: my experimental take on two absolute classics

Published April 3, 2013 by The Feminist

Here I go again. I simply can’t help myself. I find it so much fun – and very liberating!- to create my own version of some absolute classic dishes. I like to think of it as creative stimulation. It keeps me focused and encourages me to think outside the box. Because we all know that life is much more fun when you’re able to step out of the confines of life’s daily routines and conformities. Or to quote George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “You call yourself a free spirit, a ‘wild thing’, and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage.”

That’s me. I would take down that cage with my bare hands if I had to. Luckily for me and my sensitive hands, I do not have to resort to these violent and drastic measures, cooking will do. Honest, experimental cooking.

So this blog post is a sincere f*** you to all the food bigots out there, who believe a tarte tatin should remain a tarte tatin and a moussaka should stay a moussaka. I hope you like it there in your cage. I’m sure it all feels very safe and comforting. Me, on the other hand, I don’t like my wings clipped. It is MY kitchen, and in MY kitchen I prefer to fly. Call it my culinary Peter Pan syndrome.

Long story short: I baked the most delicious sage and onion tarte tatin, served with a rocket, apple and goat’s cheese salad. The intense sweetness from the tarte tatin in combination with the sharp cheese… Gasp! It looked so pretty and tasted so good, I got all warm and fuzzy inside. Hence, the food porn alert from the title.

The other drool-worthy dish was an amazing vegetarian Moussaka aubergine boat. We’re all familiar with the phrase “death by chocolate”. Well, consider this a “death by spices”. 😉 Not because it was eye-wateringly hot, but because the beautiful blend of aromas, spices and herbs was so overwhelmingly perfect, I felt like I’d just died and gone to heaven…

Perfect experimental dishes that make your knees quiver: what more could you possibly want?

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Sage and onion tarte tatin

Ingredients:

• One sheet of puff pastry
• 40gr of butter
• 2 heaped tbsp of muscovado sugar
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 20 sage leaves, chopped
• 5 to 7 onion (depending on the size of the onions and of your pan 😉 )

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.. Peel the onions and slice them in half.
2. Heat a large frying or sauté pan. Melt the butter, sugar and balsamic vinegar together.
3. Arrange the onions on the base of the pan and then scatter in the chopped sage leaves and season with salt and pepper.
4. If your oven is big enough to fit the frying pan, fit the pastry over the onions, pushing down and tucking in the edges all round the inside of the pan. (Or transfer the caramelized onions into a tart tin and then cover with puff pastry. Make sure you get as much caramel from your frying pan into your tin!)
5. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
6. To turn the tarte tatin out, place a flat plate on top of your pan/ tart tin, then turn it upside down, give it a good shake –et voila!- a sage and onion tarte tatin!

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Vegetarian moussaka aubergine boat

Ingredients:

• 1 aubergine
• 150gr cooked lentils
• 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• ½ tsp cumin
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp dried oregano
• ¼ tsp dried coriander
• Pinch of smoked paprika
• Pinch of chilli powder
• 2tbsp tomato puree
• 1 tsp chopped fresh mint
• 100ml Greek yoghurt
• 20gr feta cheese

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Hold the aubergine horizontally in front of you and cut of a “lid”. Scoop out most of the flesh to create a boat. Bake the aubergine boat in the oven for 15 minutes, until the flesh is softened.
2. Fry the scooped out aubergine flesh in a pan with olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, tomato puree and spices until the aubergine has completely softened and is puree-like.
3. Stir through the cooked lentils and chopped mint and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat through.
4. Take your aubergine boat out of the oven and stuff it with the wonderfully fragrant lentil mix.
5. Mix the Greek yoghurt together with the feta cheese and salt and pepper and spoon over the aubergine.
6. Grill the moussaka boat for 5 minutes, or until bubbling on top.
7. Prepare to die and go to heaven.

Some things are better left unsaid. But then again, that’s just not my style so I’m going to say it anyway: This was delicious!

Published February 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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Some things are better left unsaid. Other things ought to be shared with every person on the planet. This recipe falls in the latter category (no surprise there, I presume?)This pesto, courgette and mozzarella tart is healthy, hearty and delicious! The pesto is full of flavour and the beautifully grilled courgette slices work so well with the milky white of the mozzarella.
And what’s more: It is ridiculously easy to make and 100% meat-free! Even the most blatantly innate meat-loving cynic will love this bright and sunny dish. Serve with a triple bean and cherry tomato salad (forgot to take a picture of that one, sorry!) and you won’t even remember meat ever existed!

And no, I’m NOT exaggerating!

Pesto, courgette and mozzarella tart

Ingredients:

• 1 sheet puff pastry
• 2 small-medium size courgettes, in slices of approx. 5 mm
• 200gr good quality mozzarella cheese
• Homemade or store-bought pesto (I won’t judge 😉 )
• Basil leaves to decorate

Method:

1. Grill the slices of courgette on a hot grill until nice grill marks appear.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place the puff pastry on a non-stick baking sheet.
3. Generously spread pesto over the pastry base, leaving a 2cm gap around the edge of the tart.
4. Arrange the courgette and mozzarella slices in a spiral shape on top of the pesto, overlapping slightly.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Fold over the edges of the puff pastry and put bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
7. Garnish with basil leaves and buon appetito!

When the rum is never gone: Caribbean baking

Published December 16, 2012 by The Feminist

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Jack Sparrow would have loved this one! Caramelized bananas, crisp puff pastry and a good dash of rum turned this dead easy tart into a true Caribbean delight. Not only was it ridiculously easy and quick to make (ANYONE can do it!), but it also transports your taste buds to sunnier and more exotic places.

It may be raining outside, but with the help of this tart, these bloody raindrops will turn into bright blue oceans. Mark my words, this afternoon I will be lying on the beach, drinking rum with Jack Sparrow and singing “Yo ho ,yo ho , a pirate’s life for me!” Because, with the right amount of imagination and a good slice of homemade deliciousness, anything is possible!