She’s my… |Bourbon Cherry Pie

It’s no secret that one of my favourite things about summer is eating myself sick on stone fruit. I spend all winter dreaming of grilled peaches, poached nectarines and tiny plums

So, when my market was selling cartons of cherries before Christmas, I went a little crazy. Let’s be honest, I don’t make great choices under pressure. What I really wanted, was the recipe for Varnish on King’s Cherry Whiskey Sour, which is probably my favourite cocktail of all time. Sadly, Jamie isn’t giving up the goods, so I settled for putting that cocktail into pie form which was probably just as delicious, and with slightly fewer next-day regrets.

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Pie is a kind of dish that you walk away from feeling accomplished. No one can ever accuse you of it coming from a box, or ‘cheating’ in any way. From having to pit the cherries, to wait for the dough to chill, you earn this pie every step of the way. Should you have any worries that it’s a lot of effort for nought, let me assure you that the final result is nothing short of completely worth it.

Yeah, you bet I played Warren on repeat while I make this sucker. There was hip swaying, and kitchen dancing, and a rollicking good time was had by all (me). In fact, I heartily suggest that you do the same.

 

Vanilla Bourbon Cherry Pie

From Half Baked Harvest

1.3 kilos fresh cherries, pitted (I really only had about 900g, which was fine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed from the pod
zest from 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
demerara sugar or granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

 

Make your favourite pastry recipe – mine is this one from Smitten Kitchen, and it’s perfect. It’s pretty much foolproof, so if you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to start.

Once dough is chilled, let it sit on your bench for 5 minutes or so to soften enough to be rolled. Grease/butter a 22cm/9-inch pie dish, and heat your oven to 220 degrees C.

On a floured bench top, roll out one half of the dough to a 30cm/12 inch round. Very carefully, lift it into your pie dish. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, then prick the base all over with a fork.

Roll out the second half of the dough on a floured bench in to a 30cm/12 inch round. Transfer onto baking paper.

To decorate the crust: now, it’s up to you how you do this – you can punch stars or holes into the crust, or cut it into strips and go the traditional weave crust – be creative, this is the fun part! If you’d like ideas, check out here. Once done, place the dough in the fridge to firm up.

Add the cherries, sugar, cornflour, bourbon, vanilla and lemon zest in a large bowl, and toss them together to make sure it’s really well combined. Scrape the fruit and all the delicious juices into the pie dish.

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Carefully place your pie crust over the pie and remove the baking paper. Crimp the bottom and top crusts together to seal in all the goodness, then brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Whack the whole thing back in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.

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When ready to bake, place the pie dish on a baking tray (this catches any spills when the pie bubbles up and makes your oven easier to clean – trust me on this), and bake for around 30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C, and bake for another 50-60 minutes to get the juices bubbling.

Leave to cool on a wire rack for a good 4 hours before tucking in, and serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

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And that’s why I’m not allowed to play with fire

Accident prone. Klutz. Breaker of nice things. Danger to self and society. I get called a lot of things, and they’re usually all true.

I set fire to my hair once. Ok, ok! I’ve done it twice. Both times were accidents though, much like the time I singed off the tips of my eyelashes. What?! Don’t look at me like that, it could have happened to anybody. All I’m saying is, don’t use a stove-top kettle with a hangover. And curling irons are dangerous. As are aerosol cans and gas stove tops.

I don’t normally like to advocate burning things. Pyromania is bad, mmkay?

HOWEVER. There is an exception to the rule in butter. Sweet jeebus, burnt butter is a miracle ingredient that makes everything taste better. Even butter better is that it has both sweet and savoury applications. That’s right, it goes just as well in pasta dishes as it does in cakes.

Remember how I accidentally ended up with 5 kilos of carrots, and it resulted in epic carrot soup? Well, I also accidentally found myself in possession of 2 kilos of apples. Thus, apple pie.

I’m a little afraid of making proper pies, so instead, I make galettes. It’s all the key ingredients of pie, but easy and ‘rustic’. The simple step of browning the butter before adding it to the apples kind of makes you wonder why you never thought of it before.

With 48 hours to go until Spring, and Winter taking its dying breaths, this weekend is the perfect time to give this a go.

Brown Butter Apple Galette

From White on Rice Couple

2 sheets of puff pastry, or my favourite recipe here
340g unsalted butter
9 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
65g caster sugar
100g packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (the fresh stuff, not from a bottle)

Preheat oven to 220°C

Add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter for a couple of minutes until it starts to foam, and then turn brown. The butter will take on a slightly nutty, toasted smell. Once this happens, remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss together the apple slices in a large bowl with the sugars and flour, until the apple is well coated. Once the butter has cooled, add it to the apples, making sure you scrape in all the little brown bits (because they’re delicious!). Add the lemon juice, and toss again to coat. Set aside.

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Roll out the dough between two pieces of baking paper until evenly round and about half a centimeter thick. Add half of the apples to the middle of the dough, spreading them out evenly and leaving a border around the edge of about 5cm.

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Fold the edge of the dough over the apples, creasing if need be. Repeat with the remaining dough and apples.

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Brush the edges of the dough with cream, milk or a whisked egg, and sprinkle with a little more sugar, and then a little bit of flaked salt.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180°C and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Double up

There are many great pairs in this world.

Mac and cheese. Romeo and Juliet. Ten and Rose. Peas and carrots. Siegfried and Roy. Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Homer and Marge.

There are probably fewer great ‘threes’. All I could really think of was Eleven, Amy and Rory. Maybe Crosby, Stills and Nash. Destiny’s Child. Or Harry, Ron and Hermione.

But right along side them should be scones with jam and cream. Who doesn’t love them? I’m a sucker for a good Devonshire Tea, and decades of nanas, well, I’m not going to argue with them.

So when the email announcing the next Secret Cake Club meeting hit my inbox, I couldn’t resist. I love jam and cream, but knew that I wouldn’t be the only one thinking of them.

I love love love this recipe from Julia Taylor (you know, MasterChef 2012 dessert queen) for it’s simplicity, as well as its make-in-advance-ness. I had a busy few days in the lead up to Cake Club, and all the components of the tart could be made upfront, and then put together right before serving.

 

Strawberry Jam Tart with Ricotta Cream

By Julia Taylor via MasterChef Magazine

250ml thickened cream
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 orange, zested
400g firm ricotta
1 punnet strawberries, hulled, halved if large

Dough
200g plain flour
30g almond meal
55g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg

Strawberry Jam
500g strawberries, hulled
300g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 granny smith apple, peeled and grated

To make the dough, mix together the flour, almond mean, icing sugar and butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add an egg and combine until it just comes together. Shape the dough into a rectangle, then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the jam, over a medium low heat, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook for 50 minutes or until at setting point. Tot test for setting point, spoon a teaspoon of jam onto a cold plate, then freeze for 5 minutes. When you run your finger through the jam, it should wrinkle and the line should still be there. Then eat the jam from your finger and marvel your handiwork, because it’s delicious. Set aside to cool.

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Heat the oven to 180*c. Roll the dough out thinly, then line a loose bottomed pie tin. Freeze for 15 minutes. Line the shell with baking paper, fill with baking weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and paper, then bake again for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool.

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For the cream, whisk the thickened cream until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sifted icing sugar, orange zest and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth, then add the cream mix and beat until smooth and combined.

Spread the jam evenly over the tart shell. Spoon the cream over the jam, and then decorate with extra strawberries and any extra jam.  Serve immediately.

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But what do you do when you accidentally buy a kilo each of ricotta and strawberries, because you forgot to write down the amount you need on your shopping list? You make this, the most foolproof and forgiving cheesecake in the world.

See what I did there? Two recipes, using similar ingredients – but with completely different results. BOOYA.

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Leaves and Autumn and Pie! Oh My!

I’m beginning to get what people see in Autumn.

I didn’t really get it at first, it was this kind of nothing season before all that beautiful winter rain kicks in. I’m a fan of lounge room fort building, weekends in pajamas and jumping in puddles. At least I would be, except every time I wistfully proclaim that I want a pair of wellies, Wade says no. Totally not a team player.

Taken out the front of work last week…

But this Autumn thing has stuff going for it. I’m beginning to enjoy the briskness in the evenings (not in the morning. Makes it hard to get out of bed, thus making me late for work. Sorry, Boss), but still warm in the middle of the day. Pretty things to wear in the shops. Boots. Adding blankets. Changing colours on leaves. It’s all rather lovely, when you think about it.

The other good thing is, of course, the change in the kinds of food you’re craving. It’s a little less of the clean, light flavours, they start to deepen, become richer. Slow cookers are being dusted off, shanks and roasts are being purchased, robust flavours are starting to take over.

I set about this evening to make pie. Who doesn’t love pie? They’re both big and little, sweet and savoury. There’s no flaw here, only pie-filled winning. Huzzah. The best part about this one is that it’s ‘free form’. Calling something free form, or ‘rustic’, is the fancy, foodie way of saying that we can’t be arsed making it look perfect. This is a win for you playing at home because it means you don’t have to learn some ridiculous presentation technique. However it comes together for you, that’s how it’s meant to look. Run with it.

The flavours here aren’t complex, nor do they have that winter heaviness. The herbs are perfect companions for chicken, and the chorizo kicks it up a notch. The perfect stepping stone for the winter yet to come.

Chicken, Chorizo & Potato Pie

From Australian Good Taste Magazine

400g potatoes, cut into 4cm pieces
2 tsp olive oil
500g chicken thighs, diced
1 chorizo, sliced
1 leek, trimmed, thinly sliced
2 sprigs frest thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemart, leaves picked
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg, whisked

1) Place the potatoes in a pot of boiling water. Cook until just tender, drain and refresh in cold water.

2) While the potatoes boil, heat the oil in a fry pan. Brown the chicken in batches for a couple of minutes. Set the chicken aside in a large mixing bowl. Cook the chorizo for a couple of minutes each side, until golden. Throw the leek, rosemary and thyme into the pan and stir until the leek softens. Add the potatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine all the ingredients. Add the leek and chorizo mix to the chicken, season with pepper and combine. Set aside to cool a little, about 30 minutes.

3) Heat the oven to 200*c. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place one sheet of pastry on the tray, and spoon half of the mixture into the middle, leaving a border of about an inch. Fold up the sides around the mixture and brush the edges with egg yolk. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.

4) Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Note: Only brown the chicken, it will finish cooking in the oven. I’d recommend chicken thighs over breast, as the breast dries out pretty quickly. Be generous with herbs, as always. I also threw in a handful of mushrooms, just because I had them and I could.

What do you love about Autumn? Or are you not a fan?

I have abandonment issues.

Everyone is leaving me. I wish I was kidding.

One close friend packed up and moved to Melbourne late last year. Another moved to Dubai, and flits in and out with the predictability of a cyclone. The Best Friend is moving to Canberra next month to join the Army. I’m beginning to get a complex, maybe it’s me.

But the latest jewel in my string of goodbyes are the team of gorgeous people I worked with before swapping roles in November. They’re moving offices, leaving me with no one to fist bump at random points during the day. Who will I palm my baking experiments off onto now? I do have other friends, but I happen to also like these ones. You guys are selfish. Stoppit.

Anyhow, sulking aside. All these farewells mean only one thing: Tequila Food. Barbecues, morning tea, dinners. In typical fashion, I expressed my begrudging happiness for my friends in the only way I know how.

I love cherries. They’re how I know it’s Christmas time, and when I got older, they were the reward at the bottom of champagne cocktails. I hate champagne. Glace cherries were always quickly funneled out of mum’s pantry. The morello cherries are slightly sour, giving balance to the overly sweet glace.

Cherry Ripe Tart

Pastry – from What Katie Ate
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
100g chopped butter
3 tbsp chilled water

Filling – from Taste
1 1/2 cups (265g) morello cherries in syrup
1/4 cup caster sugar
200g chopped red glace cherries
3 tsp arrowroot or tapioca flour
1 cup shredded coconut
150g dark chocolate
2 tbs pouring cream

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add the sugar, and stir to combine. Add the butter, and work to a consistency of fine breadcrumbs (or dirt, which is kind of what it looks like). Add water, a tablespoon at a time and mix until a dough forms. You may not need all of the water, so add slowly. Wrap the dough in cling wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

2) On a floured surface, roll out the dough. Line a loose-bottomed tart pan with the pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork, then line with baking paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and weights and further bake for 5 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

3) Drain the cherries, keeping 1/2 cup of syrup. Place the sugar, morello and glace cherries and syrup in a small saucepan medium over heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Combine the arrowroot with 2 tbsp of the liquid from the pan, mixing until a smooth paste. Add the paste to the cherry mixture and stir for a minute, cooking, until thick. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Fold the coconut into the cherry mixture, then spoon into the tart and refrigerate for an hour to set.

4) Warm the cream in a pan over simmering water. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, stirring while it melts. Set aside to allow the ganache to cool for 10 minutes. Spread the cooled ganache over the tart, slice and serve.

Tapioca flour or arrowroot is a thickener, akin to corn flour. You could probably swap them if you don’t have arrowroot, however it may make the mixture a little cloudy. But that’s ok, it won’t impact the taste at all.

The cherries I found in my local supermarket, in with the tinned fruit, not where you find the glace cherries. Also, if you can’t be bothered making the pastry (you should though, it’s really easy) you can sub in Careme chocolate shortcrust pastry (300g worth), found in the supermarket of IGAs.