Mango and Thyme Tarte Tatin

Mangotatin3_lefermier110216Today I decided to share with you a different version of a very traditional French dessert called the Tarte Tatin. Traditionally it is done with apples but today I’ve put a modern twist on it or you can say an “Australian twist” by using mangoes instead. Now is the perfect time to use mangoes, they are in full season, ripe and full of flavour. I thought I’d pair the mangoes with thyme, it might sound weird at first, but once you’ve tried this delicious recipe, you’ll understand. I think the thyme balances the sweetness of the mango and the caramel, it adds freshness to this wonderful dessert.

Mango and Thyme Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

  • 3 mangoes
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • ½ bunch thyme

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven at 180 °C .
  2. Put the sugar in saucepan and add just enough water to dissolve it. Cook the sugar until you have a golden brown caramel, then pour it into a round tart dish and leave it cool down.
  3. In the meantime peel the mangoes, slice the cheeks off and cut them into wedges. Place the mango wedges on top of the caramel in a circular pattern, creating 2 layers.
  4. Sprinkle the roughly chopped thyme on top of the mango and cover the dish with the puff pastry.
  5. Bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
  6. Leave the Tarte Tatin cool down a little bit, then carefully place a round serving tray upside down on top of the tart, place one hand on top and one at the bottom and quickly flip it around.

 

 

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Homemade Brioche

 

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If I had to describe brioche to someone who had never tried it before, I guess I would say that it’s a hybrid between cake and bread. It often comes in loaves just like bread, but as soon as you slice it you can see the texture is lighter, and more buttery, yet not quite spongy enough to be cake. It’s because of exactly these properties that the French class Brioche as a viennoiserie, along with pastries like croissants and pains au chocolat.

The first written reference to Brioche was in the 15th century and though it’s origin isn’t confirmed, it’s generally believed to been a Norman creation (i.e. from the north of France).

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Savoury brioche is often eaten at breakfast in lieu of bread in France. Sweetened varieties can be likened to Greek Easter bread, and in fact, my favourite kind of sweet brioche, called Mouna, is also served around Easter time. Mouna is traditional in Pied-Noir or Algerian cuisine, and because this is where my Mother was born, she has made it for Easter ever since I was born.

You can use brioche to substitute for bread wherever you want to add a richer flavour and fluffier texture. For example, use it as burger or hot dog buns, or slather some cheeky nutella on top of a slice at breakfast, or, use it to make French Toast like many Aussie cafés are already doing.

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Ingredients:

  • 500 g strong flour (bakers flour or OO)
  • 20 g salt
  • 20g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
  • 300g unsalted butter, soft
  • 6 free range eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon milk, warm

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Method:

  1. Crumble the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm milk to it and dissolve the yeast using your finger tips or if using dry yeast, sprinkle it over the warm milk and let it activate for about 10 minutes (or until it starts bubbling on top)
  2. Place the flour, salt and sugar in an electric mixing bowl with the hook attachment (I like to use a Kitchen Aid) and mix the three ingredients together.
  3. Add the yeast to the flour and mix a little. Then add the eggs one by one and mix until combined.
  4. Knead the dough on high speed for 8-10 minutes to really work the gluten in the flour and give the brioche dough the strength and elasticity we want ( the dough should not stick and the sides of the bowl should be clean).
  5. Add the butter a little bit a the time, wait until the butter is incorporated before adding more! Knead for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Loosely cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest until double in size. Then, knead the dough on a lightly floured bench to knock the air out of it and put it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge over night.
  7. The dough will be easier to work with and have a better flavour by proofing slowly overnight.

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The next day:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Take the dough out of the fridge and slightly knead it on a floured bench.
  3. Portion the dough in 100g balls, this recipe should give you about 10.
  4. Now you can form whatever shape you want, I chose to make buns with my brioche because I was having homemade Hotdogs for dinner!
  5. Place your Buns on a flat baking tray lined with baking paper, you may need to use more than one tray as we do not want them to close to each other. Loosely cover them with glad wrap and leave to proof in a warm spot until double in size.
  6. Brush the brioche with a couple of beaten egg yolk mix with a little bit of milk and sprinkle some hail sugar on top if you’re making sweet brioche or some sesame seeds for example for savoury brioche.
  7. Bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, the brioche should be golden on top.
  8. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Tip: Do not let the yeast come in direct contact with the salt as it would kill it.

 

 

 

Back to Basics: 5 Formal Vegetable Cuts.

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Today I wanted to share with you 5 of the different ways that I was taught to cut vegetables back when I was training to be a chef. While it won’t change the taste of your veggies, it will change the look of your dish and show your level of finesse as a cook or chef.

Here are the different cuts, how to achieve them and when you’d typically use them.

Cut: Julienne – Thin string or matchstick shape

How to do it: Slice the vegetable length way as thin as possible, then stack your slices and cut paper thin strips length way. If you are starting with a round vegetable like a carrot, cut one side of it off so you have a flatter surface to rest it on.

When to use it: Commonly used as a garnish or in sauces

Cut: Mirepoix – Chunky square cut

How to do it: Cut chunky square shape of vegetables about 1-1.5 cm.

When to use it: Used in sauce bases like stock, normally including carrots, onions, celery and leeks.

Cut: Brunoise – Little cubes of vegetables or fruit about 2-3 mm size

How to do it: Similar start as the julienne, but cut the string of vegetables about 2-3mm then dice them in 2-3 mm cubes.

When to use it: Mainly used to decorate dishes, in salad or added to sauces at the end for better aesthetics

Cut: Macedoine – A slightly bigger version of a brunoise about 6-8mm in size

How to do it: Same process as the brunoise but slightly bigger.

When to use it: Most commonly used in cold salads such as Macédoine de Légumes

Cut: Paysanne – Thinly sliced vegetables of around 1mm in thickness

How to do it: Cut your vegetable in 4, so you have triangular shape pieces and then thinly them. You should end up with thin triangle of vegetables.

When to use it: Mainly used in potage, broth or in casseroles where the cooking time is short.

 

Et, voilà! Try one of these cuts next time you’re making a stir fry, ratatouille or salad.

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for more.

Fresh Homemade Pasta

 

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Pasta is synonymous with Italy and despite theories that suggest it was brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo in the 13th century, its Italian origins go back much earlier than that.

It’s now more widely accepted that pasta in Italy dates back to Etruscan times (1st century AD) when the Romans ruled the area we now call Italy. The kind of pasta that existed was known as “lagane” (where the term for modern day lasagna comes from), but it was baked instead of being boiled in water.

Pasta in its modern form is thought to have been brought to the southern part of Italy, in particular to Sicily, by Arabian invaders and then settlers from the 8th century onwards. The first term for pasta was “macaroni” which in Sicilian meant “kneading dough with energy”.

From a process that used to take almost a whole day to complete hundreds of years ago, pasta has now become one of the quickest and easiest recipes to make! The recipe I am sharing with you today should only take you about an hour to complete (and that’s including resting time for the dough!).

Try making the real stuff next time you feel like a delicious pasta dish, the taste is worth it!

 

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Ingredients:

  • 500g “00”Flour
  • 100g Fine Semolina
  • 6 Free range eggs
  • Pinch of salt

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Method:

  1. Place the flour and semolina in a mixing bowl, make a well in the center and crack the eggs into it.
  2. Beat the eggs with a fork until smooth.
  3. Using your finger tips, mix the eggs with flour a little at a time until everything is combined.
  4. Knead well until all the ingredients combined and give you one smooth pasta dough! You can use a food processor if you’ve got one, just put everything in and mix until combined.
  5. Once you’ve made the pasta dough, you need to knead it to work the gluten in the flour to make your pasta springy and not flabby! Knead it until it feels smooth, then wrap it in cling film and rest it for 30 minutes in the fridge.

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To Roll the Pasta:

  1. If you’re using a machine make sure it is attached securely on the work surface (you’ll need the longest work surface you have)
  2. Dust the bench with “00” flour and set the machine to the widest setting.
  3. Take a piece of dough and flatten it slightly with a rolling pin, then feed it through the machine, if it sticks a little slightly dust the pasta with flour. Change the machine down a setting and roll the pasta through again.
  4. Fold the pasta in half, change the machine back to the widest setting and roll the pasta through again. Repeat this process until the dough become really smooth(3-4 times).
  5. Then roll the pasta through all the settings, down to the thickness of a playing card for pasta like tagliatelle or lasagna, a little thinner if you are making stuffed pasta (to the point where you can to see your hand through the pasta)
  6. Once you’ve made the pasta you need to cut it or shape straight away because fresh pasta dries quicker than you might think, so don’t leave it on the bench for too long or you can cover it with a damp cloth which will prevent it from drying!

Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel  here for more.

Bastille Day Dessert: Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé serve 4

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What’s wonderful about the soufflé is that because the basic recipe can be adapted to include any flavour you like, sweet or savoury, you can really make the dish your own. I’ve chosen it as the dessert for my Bastille Day feast this year and because July is in Winter here in the southern hemisphere, I’m flavouring it with oranges, both the real stuff and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

Soufflé had a reputation for intimidating the most avid cooks, due to the fact that you never know whether it’s going to be an epic success or failure until the moment you take it out the oven and gingerly place in onto the serving plate. But as they say you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit (or the soufflé in this case), so role up your sleeves, take careful note of the instructions and you’ll be set for sweet success.

For the Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolk
  • 25g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 orange zest
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded
  • 5cl Grand Marnier

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest and vanilla skin to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile whisk the yolk, sugar and vanilla seed together.
  3. Add the flour to the mix and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and mix well so that all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour the mix back in the sauce pan and cook on medium heat while whisking until it start to thicken, then cook for a further 5 minutes while whisking.
  6. Pour the crème pâtissière in a clean bowl add the Grand Marnier and whisk until combined. Cover with cling film, make sure the film is in direct contact with the crème to prevent the formation of a skin, then put in the fridge to cool down.

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For the moulds:

  • Brush the moulds with soft unsalted butter, making sure to cover the entire surface. Place them in the fridge to set the butter.
  • Once the first layer has set repeat the process once more, then dust the moulds with caster sugar.

For the soufflé:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 55g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven a 240 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak in an electric blender, a good way to know if they’re ready is to tip the bowl upside down if it doesn’t fall off, it’s ready!
  3. Slowly add the sugar while whisking on medium speed and whisk for a couple of minutes or until the sugar is combined.
  4. Mix ¼ of the egg white with the crème pâtissière and whisk to loosen the mix.
  5. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold everything together.
  6. Gently spoon the soufflé mix in each mold, gently tap the mold on the bench to avoid leaving any air bubble and smooth the top of the soufflé with a palette knife.
  7. Bake the soufflé for 8-10 minutes at 240 degrees.
  8. Dust the top of the soufflé with icing sugar and serve straight away!

 

 

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

Back to Basics: Choux Pastry

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As we know them today, Choux pastry was created by a pâtissier named Avice in the 18th century. They were named as such because they looked like little cabbages and the French word for cabbage is “choux”. The original recipe though is thought to have been created in the mid-sixteenth century by an Italian chef in the service of Catherine de Medici.

Choux pastry is one of the quintessential French recipes. The pastry itself is quite easy to make but it’s what you do with it that contains the ‘WOW’ factor. The show-stopping French wedding cake, the Croquembouche, is a tower made of choux pastries, covered with caramel and spun sugar. Profiteroles, éclairs and churros all use the same basic choux recipe and as well as gougères, which are a savoury option, filled with cheese.

For something simpler, why not try filling them with my delicious orange and vanilla crème pâtissière and coating them in a crunchy caramel topping. They will make the perfect dessert to share with friends or family after a delicious meal or to entertain guests at an afternoon tea party!

To watch the how to video on my YouTube channel, click Here

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Makes approx. 36 Choux

Ingredients:

  • 500ml water
  • 200g Butter (unsalted), diced
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 8 Eggs

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Method:

  1. Bring the water and butter to the boil.
  2. Once the butter is completely melted, reduce the heat to medium, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Cook the dough for a few minutes to dry it a little bit, this process take should take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough into an electric mixer bowl and mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment to cool it down. The dough should just warm before you add the eggs.
  5. Start adding the eggs one at a time while mixing.
  6. Once the eggs are all mixed through, transfer the mix into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  7. Line a couple of flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and pipe 2cm circle on the tray, make sure you leave about 1cm between each choux.
  8. Bake at 200 degrees for 20-25 minutes, the choux should sound hollow and feel a little hard when you press them between your fingers.
  9. Once cooked place them on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

Crème Patissière (French Custard)

Ingredients:

  • 40g Plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 500ml Full Fat milk
  • 4 free range egg yolks
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds out
  • 2 orange zest
  • 20ml cointreau

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest, Cointreau and vanilla pods to the boil.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds together. Then add the flour and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the milk over the egg mixture and whisk well until everything is mixed through.
  4. Return the pot to the stove and cook on medium heat while whisking until it thickens up. Once it starts boiling cook it for about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the crème patissière into a bowl, place a layer of glad wrap directly on top of it and leave to cool completely in the fridge.

Caramel:

Ingredients:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 15cl water
  • 100g pearl or hail sugar (for the finishing)

Method:

  1. Mix the water and sugar together in small saucepan and cook the sugar until it becomes golden brown, and then take it off the heat.

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Finishing the choux:

  • Make a small hole in the bottom of each choux using the end a pen.
  • Pipe the custard in the choux using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.
  • Dip the top of the choux in the caramel and the Pearl sugar.