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 andĀ tiny plums

So, when my market was selling cartons of cherries before Christmas, I went a little crazy. Let’s be honest,Ā I don’t make great choices under pressure. What I really wanted, was the recipe for Varnish on King’s Cherry Whiskey Sour, which isĀ 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 WarrenĀ 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 CherryĀ 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 ā€“ mine is this one from Smitten Kitchen, and itā€™s perfect. Itā€™s pretty much foolproof, so if youā€™re a beginner, itā€™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, itā€™s up to you how you do this ā€“ you can punch stars or holes into the crust, or cut it into strips and go the traditional weave crust ā€“ be creative, this is the fun part! If youā€™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 itā€™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 ā€“ 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 kilosĀ of carrots, and it resulted in epic carrot soup? Well, I also accidentally found myself in possession ofĀ 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
65gĀ 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 220Ā°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 180Ā°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 beĀ 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 TaylorĀ (you know, MasterChefĀ 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 theĀ components of the tart could be made upfront, and then put together right before serving.

Ā 

Strawberry Jam Tart with Ricotta Cream

By Julia TaylorĀ 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
300gĀ 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 itĀ justĀ 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 theĀ 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. Ā Serve immediately.

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But what do you do when you accidentally buyĀ 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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Australia: A study in numbers and biscuits

Australia. Lets crunch some numbers!

Home to:
22,620,600 people
8 of the 10 most venomous snakes
4th richest woman in the world
3 of the world’s most livable cities
3 of the world’s top 50 beaches
160 kinds of shark (these last two are clearly related)
4 of the best restaurants

Then of course, there are the things that instantly scream ‘Aussie’.
Our sporting prowess. Current losing streak.
Vegemite.
Stubbies. In both short and beer form.
Hoges.

From there, we can break it down further.Ā Our stories, told by Bryce Courtney, Tim Winton, May Gibbs, Kate Grenville and Caroline Overington.Ā Growing up, my favourite was John Marsden. Tomorrow When The War Began was the first series to completely consume me; I loved it. I badgered my dad into taking me to the book store the day it was published, and didn’t leave my room until is was finished.

Of all the details to stick in my head, I remember very clearly how the characters specifically requested Iced Vovos to be dropped to them by possible rescuers. Of all things, WHY Iced Vovos? To be fair, I’d never had one, so what would I know?

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Iced Vovos are a magical, magical biscuit. Your life will be changed, just like mine.Ā Like Tim Tams, the are uniquely Australian. And awesome.Ā 

Ā 

Arnott’s Iced Vovo Tart

From Good Taste Magazine

Base
100g Iced Vovo biscuits
150g plain sweet biscuits (I used Marie ones)
130g unsalted butter

Marshmallow layer
150g pink marshmallows
1 tbsp milk
200ml thick cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Jam
2 gelatine leaves
125g frozen raspberries
80ml water
1 tbsp caster sugar

Topping
400ml thick cream
2 drops pink food dye
1 tbsp coconut flakes

To make the base, process (or bash with a rolling pin the biscuits to a fine crumb. Melt the butter, and combine with the biscuit crumbs. Grease a tart tin with a removable base, then firmly press the biscuits into the base of the tin. Place it in the fridge for an hour to firm.

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For the marshmallow layer, over medium heatĀ in a small saucepan,Ā stir the marshmallows and milk until they are smooth. Transfer into a bowl, and stirĀ occasionallyĀ for 6 minutes, until cooled slightly.Ā Beat together the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Mix half the cream into the melted mallows, folding to combine. Add the rest of the cream and fold together. Spread the mixture over the tart pan, andĀ refrigerateĀ for 2 hours.

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Jam time! Throw the raspberries, water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, until the raspberries are super soft, and the sugar isĀ dissolvedĀ  Remove from heat and set aside. Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4 minutes or so to soften (but not go mushy, like I did the first time), squeeze out any excess water, then into the raspberry mix, stirring untilĀ dissolved. Press the raspberry mix through a fineĀ sieve, discarding the seeds, and reserving the jam. Leave the jam for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cool. Pour the jam evenly over the marshmallow, and then back into the fridge until set.


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To make the topping, beat together the cream and colouring until it forms firm (but not stiff) peaks. Ā Spoon into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle, and pipe two long rows along the edge of the tart, then sprinkle with coconut.

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Keep in the fridge until ready to serve, to keep it firm and easy to cut. Trust me, It goes soft and gooey really quickly.

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Oh, and happy Australia Day.

Road trips and chocolate salty treats

Where’s your happy place?

You know, the place you go to on a crappy Tuesday morning, with the week stretching ahead of you; long and unrelenting. The place you’d rather be?

One of mine is, without question, Margaret River.

I spent a lot of time there as a kid, so it’s full of those really awesome happy memories and life lessons. I learnt that snakes are afraid of loud noises. So are chickens, and will attack you if startled. I learnt that no, walking on fire is not easy (to be fair, my brother learnt that lesson, I just encouraged him). I learnt that you don’t let someone with short term memory loss hide the Easter eggs for the egg hunt. And once I was old enough, I learnt that wine is amazing. Hangovers, not so much.

I was lucky enough to head back to Margs with Where the Wind Blows Her, Col Panna and Carolanne’s Kitchen. There’s nothing better than going on a holiday with people who share you interests. Namely being: eating, eating, wine, eating, wine, eating, nap, eating. And buying things. Priorities. I haz dem.

It’s hard to pick from all the great treats and tidbits I got to nibble on while I was there – An incredible tasting plate at the Berry Farm, Berry mojitos over lunch, mead made from local honey, pĆ¢tĆ© from the Venison Farm. But I think my favourite find of this trip was Bahen & Co. Chocolate. I met Josh at the farmers markets, quietly explaining his process of how he makes chocolate. He doesn’t have a fancy stall, or a sales pitch – he doesn’t need one. His chocolate is that good. You may be aware of the concept of single origin coffee? Well, his chocolate kind of works the same way. From bean to bar, there are only two ingredients. Cocoa beans and a little cane sugar. That’s it. Oh, and it’s all made in a 100 year old machine. That he brought back from Spain, if I recall. You know, as you do. When he’s not hanging out withĀ cannibals, of course.

I came home with all ofĀ the 4 kinds of chocolate on offer, but my absolute favourite was the salted chocolate and almond. So in one of my ‘It’s-Friday-night-and-I-have-nothing-else-to-do’ baking sessions… I set about recreating that kind of awesomeness in a ganache tart.

Salted Chocolate and Almond Tart

For the crust:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped, bean reserved
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the ganache:
500gĀ dark chocolate, good quality dark chocolate
200gĀ unsalted butter, chopped
Sea salt flakes (not table salt)
A couple of really good cracks of fresh black pepper

1/4 cup flaked almonds
Sea salt, to garnish

Heat the oven to 180Ā°C.

Combine butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and salt in a bowl and mix until incorporated. Add flour and mix until a dough forms.
Roll out the dough gently and press into the bottom and sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom.

Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once cold, prick all over with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread flaked almonds on to a baking tray.Ā Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside.

To make the ganache: Break up the chocolate in a bowl. In a small pan over medium heat, bring the cream up to an almost-but-not-quite boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir until smooth and glossy. Crack the black pepper over the chocolate, and then add the sea salt a teaspoon at a time. Now, I haven’t provided a measurement for the salt, because everyone’s tastes are different. You do want to be able to taste the salt though, so don’t be afraid!

Pour ganache evenly over tart shell and spread with a knife.

See those little white bits? Salt.

Refrigerate, overnight if you can. Just before you serve, sprinkle with toasted almonds and sea salt flakes.

Now, it might sound a little weird that I’ve given the ganache a liberal crack of black pepper. But when you think about it, salt and pepper do wonders to bring out flavours and just add an extra kick to savoury foods – so why wouldn’t work with sweet ones? Let me tell you, it’s a trick I’m keeping up my sleeve from here on in.

Afternoon (tea) Delight

Have you ever had that thing where, say, you decide to buy a red car. In the following days/weeks/whatever, all you see are red cars? I’m having the recipeĀ equivalentĀ of that.

Right now, I’m staring at 6 recipes, inĀ varyingĀ forms, of tarte tatin. Which is a littleĀ weird, because until the onslaught of recipes started creeping into my food magazines… I didn’t know what one was. An upside down tart with apples (traditionally) caramelized in butter and sugar, it turns out.

The internet does many things, sadly transporting theĀ incredibleĀ smell one of these baking in the oven is not one of them. I can’t even begin to tell you!

You could use frozen puff pastry here. But don’t. Make this rough puff instead. It hands down beats the frozen stuff, the buttery flavours are heaven with the rich caramel.Trust me on this.You should definitely pair this with a cup of tea, it’s utter perfection.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Ingredients

Rough Puff
250g strong (baker’s) flour
250g unsalted butter, chopped (at room temperature)

Tart
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
50g chopped butter
4 green apples, peeled, cored and quartered

To make the puff:Ā In a large mixing bowl, add the flour with a pinch of sea salt.Ā Add the butter, and with our fingers, rub the butter into the flour. Make a well in theĀ centerĀ of the flour, add 100ml of cold water in splashes and combine until you have a rough dough.

On a bench covered in flour, roll into to a rectangle.Ā Fold a third of the pastry into theĀ center, then fold the bottom third up over that. Give dough a quarter turn and roll out again. Repeat folding, rolling and turning twice more. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes.

For the tarte: Heat the oven to 190*c.

Heat an oven proof frying pan over low heat. Add the sugar and water, stirring to dissolve.

Up the heat to high and boil the syrup for 7-9 minutes, until a light golden colour, without stirring. Add the butter and stir until combined.

Take the pan from the heat and arrange the apples in the caramel, cut side facing up.

Roll out the pastry til slightly bigger than the pan. Cover the apples with the pastry and tuck in the apples, folding in the edges. Cut 3 small lines in theĀ centerĀ of the tart.

Place the pan in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden. Loosen the edges with a knife, place a place over the tart and turn out. Serve with cream or ice cream.

I have abandonment issues.

Everyone is leaving me.Ā 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’mĀ beginningĀ 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 likeĀ theseĀ ones. You guys are selfish. Stoppit.

Anyhow, sulking aside. All these farewells mean only one thing: TequilaĀ Food.Ā 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 ofĀ champagneĀ cocktails. I hate champagne. Glace cherries were always quicklyĀ funneledĀ 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 200Ā°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.Ā 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.