French Apple Tart

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Today feels like spring has sprung. I know, I know - it's only february but any sunny day past december gets me in the mood for spring dresses (particularly this one, please please) and less layers. I'm down to three today, practically tropical! The sun is shining and even though theres a long wait until summer I don't feel too bad about getting a little excited over spring. By mid march, I may've even whacked out the skin coloured tights. Crazy talk I know, hopefully the girls understand what I mean.
Anyway... This tart definitely the perfect way to welcome in spring with a wave goodbye to the colder months. Layer upon layer of sweet apples brushed with apricot jam in a case of pastry goodness. Perfect for a sunny afternoon and a cup of tea.
This also might be a lovely offering on Mother's Day, easy pretty and fairly cost effective. Just thinking ahead guys, we haven't got long to go.
Also, I know I said no more desserts but I can't show my love for the sun with a jacket potato, it's just not the same. Back to some savoury blogging next!

This recipe is adapted from the Sainsburys book of Puddings and Desserts by Carol Handslip, first published 1980, it's a staple in my Mum's kitchen.

For French Apple Tart you will need:

For the pastry:
175g plain flour
75g butter
75g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
few drops of vanilla essence

For the filling:
1.5kg cooking apples
50g caster sugar
4 tablespoons apricot jam

Begin by creaming together the butter and the sugar.

Beat the yolks together and combine with the sugar and butter mixture. Add in the vanilla essence now too.

Sieve the flour in gradually and stir together until a ball of dough is formed. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for about half an hour.

Peel and core your apples. 

In situ apple shot.

Finely slice the apples and place into a large bowl of water with a dash of lemon juice in to stop the apples from browning.

Now roll out your pastry so it will line the bottom of your tart dish. This quantity should fit a 20cm dish.

Press the pastry into the flutes of the dish.
Preheat your oven to 190c.

Transfer the apples to the pastry lining. Make sure you blot the apples before you put them into the dish or you'll have a watery tart. Not ideal.

Layer on in some kind of pattern. I tried to be neat, but ended up going a little freestyle.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the apples just start to brown.

Heat your apricot jam for about 1-2 minutes to loosen it up.
If you would like to strain this for a completely smooth finish you can, but personally I think it makes little difference when it's being served up to a hungry family.

Brush the tart completely with the jam whilst it's still warm.

Serve with a little cream or creme fraiche.  

Enjoy being everyone's favourite person until the tart disappears. Once it's gone, they'll want you to whip up another one.

Pepperoni Student Pasta

Thursday, 21 February 2013

I've noticed recently that I've been blogging a lot of desserts.
I'm sure you, as much as I love a dessert but to be honest this blog is becoming a little bit like window shopping. Sure, it's nice to have a look around, but realistically are you going to be making chocolate tarts every other day? No. I'm hoping to stop doing that too.
I want a bit of a change.
I want to get to my student food roots. I want to get back to why I started writing this blog and thank you with a recipe that isn't for an occasion, or would warrant you going out your way to buy ingredients (because come on, there is uni work to be avoiding after all, and that keeps us busy enough).
Pasta was a natural decision. Stereotypically we live off the stuff, but it doesn't have to be all plain pasta with a little dried tuna stirred through. No, no, no. This recipe is a stock cupboard firecracker and will liven up your humble student repertoire to Gordon Ramsey like heights. Promise.
Why pepperoni, you may ask? It's cheaper than pancetta and packs a punch of flavours. I used the rest of my pack throughout the week in omelettes and other various kitchen adventures including my Emergency Pizza. When you can't afford to buy a lot of meat, a few spicy slices of pepperoni really brightens up your week. As sad as that sounds...
So this pasta is from me to you, student to student.
And it's the best of both worlds, helps you get through the kilo bag of pasta your mum sent you off to uni with (last year) and is so deliciously spicy you won't have to put your heating on. The glow of your cheeks after a bowl of this will keep you warm.
Student winning. Let's get cooking, shall we?

For Pepperoni Pasta you will need (for two large bowls):
75g pepperoni
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 scotch bonnet (or any other chilli, the bonnets were in the reduced bucket)
1 squidge tomato puree
1 squidge ketchup
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mixed herbs
3 handfuls dried penne
Salt and pepper
1 glug olive oil
A little grated cheese to serve. And some chopped parsley if you're feeling fancy.

To begin, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Whilst it is heating up, chop your pepperoni into square(ish) shapes. Once the oil is hot, throw the pepperoni in and cook off for about 3 minutes.

Whilst the pepperoni is cooking, finely chop the garlic and your chilli of choice. Throw these into the pan once your pepperoni is starting to crisp a little around the edges.

Leave to sizzle for about 2 minutes.

Now pour in your chopped tomatoes.

Squidge in the tomato puree and the ketchup and stir through.

Add in the paprika, herbs and season to taste. You may find that you need more ketchup if you want to take the edge off the tomato/chilli combination.
Your sauce needs 15 minutes to simmer, so now is a good time to cook your pasta. 

Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce. It should be smelling pretty wonderful now. Beware: housemates may flit in and out of the kitchen with envious looks on their face.

Stir through, grate a little cheese and prepare to serve.

Portion into bowls, sprinkle on cheese and marvel at your handy work.

Et voilĂ !
What a beautiful dish you've made. Tweet and instagram immediately. #studentgourmet
Yeah I hashtagged... Yeah, it was overkill.

English Oreo Cheesecake.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

I have been ever so neglectful! I've been promising exciting recipes and have I delivered? No. Atrocious behaviour. I hope you'll take me back readers, I plan to win you over with the following post.
English Oreo Cheesecake. I'm a big fan of cheesecake and of Oreos so it seemed only logical to put the two together. The only reasons I call this recipe 'English' is because (to my knowledge) the internet is void of a UK Oreo Cheesecake. I am here to fill this void, UK measurements and all.

So, here is what you will need:

24 Oreo biscuits (or similar)
45g (3 tablespoons) butter
250g Cream cheese
150g Sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla essence
3 Eggs

This recipe is actually very affordable, so no excuse not to give it a try, folks! I've made it even more affordable by substituting half of the Oreos with Tesco's Choco's. Cheaper alternatives masquerading as Oreo biscuits. 

Similar in both looks and taste. I can verify on both accounts. 
So, to begin, heat your oven to 175c. Make sure it isn't too hot. You do not want to overcook this.
Once this is done crush 16 of the Oreos. Most chefs will advise to do this in a resealable plastic bag. As I do not own one of these, I put them in a bowl and used my potato masher, inventive eh?

Make sure you crush the biscuits to a fine, crumbly consistency.

Once this is done, melt your butter and add to the crushed biscuits.

Use the mix to line the bottom of a springform tin. Press firmly down.

Now you have your base, you need the cheese that makes up the cake. Put the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl.

Now you need to beat this all together. I would advise to do this with an electric whisk. I cannot follow my own advice on this occasion as I do not own an electric whisk. The only option left to me was to get out the guns and whisk manually like mad.

Blurred photograph = super speed. 
Beat the three eggs in a separate bowl/mug and once the mixture is smooth, add them gradually to the mix. 

Beat again. BEAT IT! It doesn't matter who's wrong or right - just beat it, beat it... Thanks MJ. 

Once you've finished beating and singing Michael Jackson, crush up the remaining 8 biscuits. Then stir half of these into the mixture.

Pour the mix over your base. Will look delicious. Do not be tempted to eat the thing without baking it. You'll only regret it later. 

Sprinkle the other half of the crushed biscuits over the top. Again, resist scooping it up and gobbling away.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Make sure not to overcook. The centre should be almost set. Leave to cool, break a little of the crust off to taste - I would advocate this step above all others. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, although I would recommend overnight.

Cut into slices and serve to many to become everyone's favourite person.

Enjoy! Keep left over cheesecake in the fridge (haha, who am I kidding? As if anyone is going to have leftovers...)
L. xxxx 

Millionaire's Valentine Tart

The art of food seduction is both subjective and varied in execution.
You may feel like the way to extract a groan of pleasure from the eater is by serving up a big plate of Baked Chilli Cheese Fries, as the very wonderful Joy the Baker does - think I might have to have a plate of these later today. Alternatively you may want to go for the more traditionally decadent Champagne Truffles like the equally wonderful Poires au Chocolat, something classy and romantic. There are so many ways you can hit the spot with food it is quite hard to decide in what way (and how of course) you want to wow someone. And last Thursday (the 14th of February to clarify) was my turn to step up to the plate and try and create my own form of food seduction. No pressure, right.
I had to think logically. Naturally, dessert needs to be a show stopper. Surely there has to be chocolate... And what could push that over the edge and into foodie oblivion? Think, think, think...
Lathering upon lathering of caramel.
Millionaire's Valentine Tart. Angels sing.
Added bonus points if the person you are cooking for is already a sucker for Millionaire's slices.
I adapted a recipe from BBC GoodFood that you can find here.

For Millionaire's Valentine Tart you will need:

For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g cold unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp cold water

For the filling:
250g Caramel - as I've yet to master caramel I used mine from a tin
100g 70% plain chocolate
100g white chocolate
6 tbsp melted butter
2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
4 tbsp golden caster sugar

To finish:
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1 handful of seductive looking red fruit

There is a little bit of work and assembly but whoever you make this little beauty for will be very grateful and you will be the unrivalled mistress or master of the kitchen.

To begin, make your pastry by pinching together the cold, chopped butter, the flour and the vanilla essence. Do this until you reach a breadcrumb like consistency and then add the water and form a pastry ball.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and then use it to line a 20cm fluted tin.
Chill the pastry for 30 minutes and then heat your oven to 180c.

Once chilled, line with greaseproof paper and baking beads. If you don't have baking beads you can use pasta or pulses and can reuse them the next time you bake.
Bake blind (with the beads and paper on) for 15-20 minutes then remove the beads and paper. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Spread the caramel over the base whilst the pastry is still warm and set aside whilst you make the chocolate filling.
Lower the temperature of the oven to 160c.

Begin by melting both quantities of chocolate, broken into pieces, in a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water. Make sure the bowl is above the water and not touching it.

Stir the chocolates together. Once you've finished with the spoon you are totally obliged to lick it.

Stir in the melted butter and leave over the simmering water to keep warm.

Now whisk together all of your eggs and the sugar.


Do this for about 10 minutes.

 Your mixture should be a light, airy consistency a little bit like a runny mousse.

Now combine the chocolate mixture with the eggs mixture by folding the chocolate in with a metal spoon. Keep folding until you have an even, chocolatey colour.

Pour on top of the pastry and caramel. If you have any chocolate mixture left over I found it refrigerated very well and tasted like chocolate mousse. Very enjoyable with a chopped banana.
Bake the completed tart for 20-25 minutes until the top is set but still has a little wobble.
Chill for at least three hours or preferably over night.

Dust with icing sugar and serve.
Sorry I haven't got a picture of the whole thing, I got a little giddy over how delicious it looked! But can you blame me...

Toss on the fruits if you'd like or serve it alone and let the baby speak for itself. 
So good

Tuck in food seduction artists everywhere!

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