1. Short Crust and Cherry Pie

    It’s that time of year when we are all getting just a little tired of the fresh fruit bowl… pie season! Let’s start with making the perfect pie pastry, then fill it with what you like. Today, I’ll be filling my pie with cherries, which have been in amazing abundance this year.

    IMG_7788

    Below are my favorite recipes and methods for perfect short crust pastries. Like my grandma’s recipes, the base of these start with a combination of butter, flour and salt with additions of lard, egg yolk and sugar to make them as flakey, rich or sweet as you want them for different recipes. For the purposes of this lesson, I will be making the Double Rich Pie Crust recipe.

    RECIPES

    Basic Pie Crust 250g plain flour, 1 large pinch salt, 140g cold unsalted butter or 100g cold unsalted butter and 40g cold lard, 2 large egg yolks, 3 TBS chilled water (or 5 TBS chilled water, no egg yolks)

    Double Rich Pie Crust 500g plain flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 280g cold unsalted butter/200g cold unsalted butter and 80g lard, 4 large egg yolks, 5-6 TBS chilled water (plus extra)

    Sweet Rich Pie Crust To the 250g flour recipe, add 1 TBS caster sugar with salt.

    Cherry Pie Filling About 1kg/2lbs fresh, tart, whole cherries 1 TBS Almond Liqueur 3 TBS Corn Flour 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 150-200g/1 cup-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (depending how tart cherries are) 2 TBS granulated sugar (for topping)

    METHOD

    First thing’s first – pop a small jug or cup of water in the fridge to chill down. You’ll need it very cold. Now, follow this same method for each pie pastry recipe and you’ll get there. Start by choosing either the slow manual or quick machine method for rubbing fat into flour, then follow the steps after. For now, let’s focus mainly on the quick method. I’ll add some more photographs of the slow method a bit later… To start, measure flour and salt into a large bowl and cut up cold unsalted butter into cubes. If you don’t have unsalted, for heaven’s sake just use salted and omit the salt in the recipe. Life’s too short for needless extra trips to the grocery store…

    IMG_7700

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  2. Pâte sucrée

    The patisseries of Paris make everyone swoon and Pâte sucrée is the base for those fabulous tarts and biscuits that stand at the front of the shop window. Rich yet light, works perfectly with chocolate, fruit, cream, custard, cheese cake, citrus filling and tastes as delicious raw as it does cooked – it really is a wonder of the pastry world. Trust me, when you learn to make this pastry you might not go back to any other! Save for the near-holy american apple pie that is, which undoubtedly calls for short crust… or does it?

    It’s not the easiest to make but when you get it right it is oh so satisfying. The recipe and method I am using is adapted from the Leith’s How to Cook book, which I highly recommend. You can of course make it in a Magimix or other food processor if you want to, or bung the wet ingredients in a bowl and knead in the dry, but it won’t be as good. Besides, pastry making really is for those who get pleasure out of the cooking process as much as the eating, so I’m going to show you the old fashioned way.

    As with most good things baked, butter, eggs and sugar enrich this dough to decadence. Use it for mini fruit pies as I have here, citrus or chocolate tarts, accompaniment biscuits… anything you think needs a sweet base really. One thing to remember though: as this pastry has more sugar than a usual one it should be blind baked (i.e. without filling) at a slightly lower temprature of 190°c/375°f and on the top shelf of your oven for high heat. If you are using a fan oven adjust accordingly, usually down 20°c.

    IMG_6295

    INGREDIENTS
    (Adapted from Leith’s HTC)

    250g plain flour
    1/8 tsp salt
    125g unsalted butter (cool but slightly soft)
    125g caster sugar
    3 large egg yolks (cold)
    3 drops vanilla extract

    METHOD
    (Adapted from Leith’s HTC)

    Have out: weighed ingredients, a pallet knife, cling film (two layers) and a butter knife for the initial stages.

    Start by sifting the flour and salt onto a clean smooth surface, then use your fist to make it into a large ring. You’ll be working in the middle of the ring so make sure to leave plenty of space. Now for some hand movement instructions. Remember when you used to make shadow puppets when you were a kid? Make a goose. Ok now you are going to keep the goose’s beak almost all the way shut while you push down with the pads of your fingers rather than your nails. Once you get started you’ll get what I mean… a bit like pecking.

    First separate cold eggs, reserve whites if you like and keep egg yolks cold until ready to use.

    Put the cool butter in the centre of the circle of flour and push it into the surface with the pads of your fingers so it is smooshed down. Then pour the sugar over the butter and, using only one hand, mix it it in with your finger tips.

    IMG_6296

    Use a few scooping motions if needed to flip sugar back over the butter and pinching motions to smoosh it together. You want to do this step efficiently so that the butter does not melt or become greasy.

    Peck in sugar

    If necessary use your second hand to help move more quickly but ideally keep it to one so you have your other hand free to move flour away if you need to.

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  3. Sweet Potatoes Dauphinoise

    Happy New Year 2014!!! 2013 was busy and exciting for me and the final 3 months were the busiest of all! My greatest accomplishments of 2013 was to finally start cooking school in September. My life-long desire to put my passion for food into action has finally come to life and I couldn’t be happier.

    Eight weeks at Leith’s School of Food and Wine has showed me I am doing exactly what I should do but I am here to report that I have been dog tired, as in can’t even lift my head up off the floor to scratch at the flee behind my ear dog tired. But who cares?! I have never been so happy as I am in chef’s whites merrily cooking or learning techniques and theory involving food. I have learned a million new skills and to do almost everything I have ever done in the kitchen the right way instead of the sloppy way. Just to give you an idea, here are a few examples:

    I have learned to fillet a fish, joint a chicken, scramble, bake, fry, poach, scramble, and boil eggs, whip meringues, pipe icing, brown meat, congeal custard, make a million kinds of pie pastry, whip cream, aerate flour, make choux into eclairs, gougers and profiteroles, whip, fold and cream cakes, render fat, temper chocolate, froth mousse, deep fry goujons, wield a pastry, filleting, boning, santoku, office and fruit knife, bake fruit, roast everything, split curds and whey, baton, chop, dice, concasse, julienne and slice every vegetable imaginable (including my fingers) and bake simple breads.

    I will admit though that as my standards sky rocket in the kitchen at school, my standards at home have slipped into an abyss of quick noodles and scrambled eggs, hence the lack of posts! Not to mention an endless house hunt which has finally come to a moving date – now! But never mind that, let’s start the new year off right and as we mean to go on! Back to regular posts courtesy of more time on my greedy little hands. Yippee!

    IMG_6253

    I have been on and off obsessed with sweet potatoes and now I’m on again. Sweet potatoes are versatile and interesting although often over looked. Let’s start with a dauphinoise shall we?

    Sweet Potatoes Dauphinoise

    Preheat oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6

    Ingredients

    3 medium sweet potatoes (about 500g)
    1/2 large white onion
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    handful of fresh or dried thyme, stripped from the stalks
    400 ml whole milk (can be alternated with double cream but not single cream)

    Method

    Peel and thinly slice onions

    IMG_6233

    and put into a saucepan with milk. The milk should be enough to just cover the onions when they are laying flat as they can in the pan. Crush garlic and add to the pan.

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  4. Easy Roast Tomato and Aubergine with Chickpeas

    These days I am so busy back being a student there is little to no time for cooking at home! Thank goodness I get to cook half the day at school or I would be going crazy.

    Speaking of students – my brother-in-law, who just started university, has asked for some cheap, simple recipes with little washing up. He can already cook basically anything but I hope this dish of tomatoes and aubergine (eggplant) will add some vitamins to his friend’s repertoire! I remember what I ate at university – a whole lot of grilled cheese… I mean a whole lot. Like, everyday.

    The easiest thing to cook while at university other than grilling a sandwich with an iron is probably cous cous. You can make it using just a kettle and a bowl and by chance it’s the perfect accompaniment to this dish, which is cheap, easy, vegetarian and full of flavour. Oh and only one roasting tin used!

    Roast Tomato and Aubergine with Chickpeas

    Serve with Cous Cous

    Serves 2 or 1 seriously hungry person

    Ingredients

    1 eggplant/aubergine
    4-5 medium tomatoes or roughly 200g+ cherry tomatoes, off their stems
    1 head of garlic
    olive oil
    1-2 teaspoons cumin
    1 can chickpeas
    salt and pepper
    1/2 lemon

    IMG_1726

    For the Cous Cous

    1 coffee mug of cous cous
    1/4 lemon
    1/2 stock cube

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°f

    Quarter tomatoes and cut eggplants into relative size chunks according to size of tomatoes. You want even sizes here. Juice the lemon.

    photo 2

    Peel garlic – here is a tip that will change your life if you have a microwave:

    Top Tip: As learned from Cooks Illustrated – If you want skins off garlic for a recipe, pop the whole head of garlic in the microwave for 20 seconds. the cloves will pop out of their skins due to the steam breaking the membrane. The garlic will be slightly less pungent but will still taste great.

    Put all veggies in a roasting tin and toss evenly with olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper to your taste. I use lots of black pepper because I’m a fiend for it.

    IMG_1995

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  5. Plate Presentation… and other news

    Hello all! Sorry things have been a bit quiet this week. I’ve got some fabulous news though! I am now enrolled for a Diploma in Food and Wine at Leith’s! This means more recipes and lessons with refined technique to teach you all! I’ll tell you what, I’ve been having some serious fun in the kitchen!

    First up – a lesson on presentation.

    Ever feel as though you’ve put in all the work and yet it just looks like slop on a plate? Never fear! There are a few tips that will revolutionise your presentation.

    Have a look at this plate of vegetables and hummus…

    20131009-185045.jpg

    I never knew how to make crudités look so lovely and yet on learning this simple lesson I now see how easily any plate can be made beautiful.

    It takes a bit of thought, but the results are ace! In both my two examples, 5 tips have been used to make what might have been a bit of a mess into edible bursts of colour.

    Presentation works a bit like a painting, where the eye is drawn to look at the object in a pleasing way. Think about presenting the following when you plate your dish:

    1) center height

    2) blocks of color

    3) diagonal or circular lines

    4) where possible, use odd numbers

    5) clean plate boarder

    You can try using these tips next time you’re making a snack for your guests! I promise they’ll appreciate your efforts, and they may even think the dish is more delicious for it.

    The truth for most is, presentation is really just as important as taste when it comes to how you feel about eating something.

    20131009-190135.jpg

    This fruit salad may seem a bit fussy, but it looks beautiful, which makes eating it a more pleasurable experience. We do eat to live, but I think we live to eat too. Am I right? I personally might be drawn to the above instead of a chopped fruit salad, for example.

    As is per usual, it’s all a matter of personal taste but see what you think about these tricks next time you put something together to serve your friends. I bet you 100 kiwis they’ll notice!

    I’ll be incorporating more presentation technique into future posts, that way we can all eat tasty AND beautiful food!

    [SHARE]
  6. Good Ol’ Fashioned Lemon and Mustard Dressing

    photo

    OK, we live in a modern world of many dressings. Many choices for many tastes. Some are full of goodness and some are full of stuff like hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. No jokes, you might want to look at the back of that bottle before you pour it on your lettuce, or anything else for that matter.

    So, I’m a bit old fashioned about my dressing and I like to keep it simple. I usually go for Cardini’s Caesar or this – Hugo’s Lemon and Mustard. Hugo is my other half. He has to get credit for something once in a while!

    It’s based on the classic French lemon dressing but without the vinegar, you get a little of that in the mustard anyway. Also, it’s not to be confused with American French dressing, which has ketchup in it… always thought that was weird. Anyhoo, you can put this dressing on practically anything. Salad, grilled veggies, brown rice, hummus, warm potatoes, string beans, chicken, fish, avocados, etc… This dressing is delicious.

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  7. Chipotle Cider Pulled Pork with The Wine Key

    What do you get when one Brit moves to America and one American moves to Britain? The perfect food and wine pairings of course!

    The Wine Key is run by British born Charlotte Chipperfield who is on a mission to remove the intimidation and trepidation of learning about wine by getting back to basics and infusing humor into the world of wine.

    charlotte

    After The Market is run by American born Maggie Thorneycroft, a passionate cook and writer who loves to share recipes and techniques that encourage fun and creativity in the kitchen. Just don’t expect to ever hear the word ‘diet’, Maggie believes that health is about about cooking from scratch and enjoying every bite.

    IMG_5369

    The Wine Key and After the Market have teamed up to bring you sizzling food and wine pairings to keep you cool and refreshed for the last few weeks of summer and will be carrying on to bring you more throughout the year.

    No matter if it is a casual evening on the patio, pool party or BBQ, this pairing will be sure to keep you fueled while soaking up the last days of summer sunshine. So first up in what will be a series of pairings for you to enjoy – Chipotle Cider Pulled Pork and 2007 Domaine Foundis, Naoussea, Greece

    IMG_5379

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  8. Barbecued Mackerel in The Isles of Scilly

    boat on the scilly sea

    The Scilly Isles, Cornwall – a magical part of the UK that I would desperately love to live in were it not so far away from my flight path to Seattle. The gulf stream makes it a micro climate teaming with tropical plants and (sometimes) an inordinate amount of warmth for England. I’m not saying it doesn’t get cold too, but when you’re looking at palm trees everything seems warmer.

    1209129_10101097170275749_725616677_n

    Now, on to the fishing…

    (more…)

    [SHARE]
  9. Peanut Butter Yogurt Cupcakes with Sea Salted Chocolate Ganache

    Well, here we are! The new After The Market! It’s been a bit quiet here for a while but I hope you’ll think it’s been worth the wait.

    I am so happy to share my new site, with more user-friendly buttons and ways to search. I’ve certainly enjoyed the process of putting it together with mastermind graphic designer David Waters and designer/web builder Kimberley Chan. Thank you so much guys!

    To start us off, I think something sweet fits the bill… Enjoy!

    peanut butter ganache

    Peanut butter: the perfect combination of salty, sweet and that protein taste called umami. Leaving out the nostalgia for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, there’s nothing much better than a peanut butter cake in my book, which is why I keep re-visiting my recipe.

    This time I have added Greek yogurt to the mix, which I think has given it a creamier feel yet a lighter texture. The yogurt acts a bit like buttermilk, adding acid to the baking powder to create a nearly frothy reaction. You can see how the batter forms silky peaks.

    IMG_5388

    I’ve topped these ones with dark chocolate ganache and sea salt, so they’re a bit like a fancy peanut butter cup.

    (more…)

    [SHARE]