Pie is my favourite number…
Over my years as a London based foodie, I have developed an addiction to pies, crumbles, cobblers and anything with a crust outside and stewed fruit inside… The simple mention of this sends a tremor along my spine: Fruit and crust, a very sexy combination indeed. I still do love tarts and tartines, but I think I slightly favour a crust ON TOP rather than UNDER.
Each season offers its own enticing variations and Autumn is a season for : rhubarb, sharp apples and black currants. All three are quite acidic so in this version, I have put a little more sugar than usual to counter balance the tartness of the fruit but you can make it less sweet if you wish.
- 1 stalk of rhubarb
- Bramley or other cooking apples, 2
- Handful of frozen blackcurrant
- Cornflour, 1 Tbsp
- For the Gluten Free crust:
- Ground almond, 100g
- Chesnut flour or rice flour, 50g
- Butter, 100g
- sugar, 100g
Cut up all the fruit, mix it with the frozen berries and the cornflour – the object of the cornflour is to soak up the juice of the rhubarb to avoid a very wet pie!
Mix the flour, sugar and butter with the tip of your fingers until you have a sand-like texture. Lay the fruit in a pie dish or gratin dish. I have used frozen blackcurrants here, but you can opt for blackberries instead. They have a more subtle flavour but work deliciously toward a very British taste.
Top the fruit with the flour mix, trying to cover all of the fruit but do not worry if the lumps do not hide it perfectly. Just try and shake your sandy mix everywhere.
Put in a hot oven for 45min at 180º C.
Eat warm with some clotted cream or yogurt. If you are in France, it goes also well with a nice Faisselle or full fat fromage frais. This is the ultimate in homely, comforting puddings and with this GF version you won’t be leaving anybody out!
A patchy cover is not a problem…
Once you have mastered the art of tempering your chocolate , a whole world of sweet opportunities opens up!
Here I have just used melted chocolate (tempered to a T!) to brush inside mini silicone cup cake cases in order to produce my mini version of the so iconic and delicious Mont-blanc pudding!
Once the inside of the cup is brushed several times with chocolate, let it cool. Delicately peel off the silicone cup and you are left with a nice chocolate shell ready to fill as you please.
I have used Clement Faugier “Creme de Marrons” and topped it up with Chantilly made in my siphon: 500ml single cream, 1 sachet of vanilla sugar and a drop of dark rum. Put the cartridge in. Shake the siphon and start spraying!
The top is decorated with a chocolate coffee bean. Delicious combination.
I love my new ISI Gourmet Whip bought last summer and I have to stop myself making Chantilly at every opportunity…
Valentine’s day is a day to put teenage gloom or adult cynicism on hold and celebrate LOVE! Actually, it is always essential to stop and celebrate LIFE, LOVE and the here and now… When I was younger, I despised the whole idea and pretended not to care for cards… I hardly thought an annual day for love was on anybody’s agenda but the chocolate makers.
But maybe, just maybe, Valentine’s day is not so corny after all : Is it not just about WHAT and WHO makes us happy? Is celebrating happiness not a serious and important matter?! So I’ll give a short vacation to my sense of taste and my sense of ridicule, and I’ll embrace the day as a small romantic window to enjoy. I have booked lunch at a very plush starred restaurant and I’ll be giving an edible card to my Valentine. Never neglect to celebrate the good bits, will be my new motto. I might even throw in a heart themed breakfast with the lovely edible flowers I bought at Borough market on saturday…
So here is my “Idea of the month”, none less.
- Self-raising flour 425g- I used chesnut flour for one third and the result was light and spicy but I had to add 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
- Pinch of salt
- All spices (or 4 Spices) 1 Tbsp
- Cinnamon 1 tsp
- Mace 1 tsp
- Ginger 1 tsp
- Cardamom, 2 pods crushed
- Honey 170 g
- Soft brown sugar 375 g
- Butter 115 g
- lemon zest, 1
- 1 egg plus one yolk – keep the white for the royal icing later!
- 1 Tbsp of treacle- optional but nice
Heat the oven to 150°.
Mix all the dry ingredients into a big pot.
Melt the butter, honey, sugar and treacle on low heat. Let it cool first, then mix it in the dry mix and add the eggs and lemon zest. Beat well until you get a creamy base.
Reserve in the fridge for half hour. Don’t forget to line the baking trays. I use a reusable Silpat sheet on mine.
Spread the dough on your working surface and roll it down to 1 cm. Then with a sharp knife or shape cutters, cut out the heart or teddies shapes and transfer them onto your tray.
Bake for 30 minutes at 150°. The pieces will raise a little and take a nice brown colour. Don’t worry if they get a bit out of shape, you can always trim later.
Take some coloured or white edible paper and cut out similar shapes, then write little kind messages (or saucy ones) with an edible ink pen or a bit of food colouring on a thin paint brush. Either scatter them in an envelope of handmade paper as I did in the first picture or stick them with a bit of sugar paste at the back of you gingerbread hearts and teddies and then decorate the other side with sweets and icing! More is more- on this occasion.
Hanging hearts and my new kitchen hanging light!
Chesnut, in all its guises, is one of the treats I look forward to when the kids go back to school and the weather turns a bit chillier – and you know it is that time of year again and summer is over…
Chesnut Soda bread
This time, I have used chesnut flour to make my favourite soda loaf and I think you will LOVE – as we did here- its chewy, light and muffin-like bite… Because it has no gluten, chesnut flour is easily digestible and in this recipe I have replaced the traditionnal buttermilk with oat milk to make it suitable for vegans!
As I am continuing on my health trek and avoiding all animal products, this recipe came as a particular “coup de maitre” and I am exceedingly chuffed with the result. It is so yummy it is more of a cake than a bread and sooo vertuous it is hard not to love it.
- Wholemeal flour 150g
- Chesnut flour 150g
- Bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp
- Pinch of salt
- Olive oil 50ml
- Oat milk (oatly) 250ml
The idea with a soda bread is to mix all the ingredients very lightly and NOT to knead at all. That makes it ideal for first-timers!
So mix the flours and soda in a big bowl. The bigger the better.
Add the salt and olive oil – it is a bit much I know but you’ll love the texture: open and light and nicely buttery without a hint of butter.
Throw the whole lot of milk in and mix well. Roll out onto a floured surface and add a bit of wholemeal flour if too sticky. Just pat to shape. No kneading required.
Cut a few marks on the top, like a cross or anything to help the raising.
Bake in a hot oven at 180〬 for about 25 min. It needs to have raised and to sound a bit hollow to the touch. Eat it warm or the same day with a bit of nut butter: I love it with hazelnut butter but it is delicious on its own as well or with olives as a starter , as in the photo.
Enjoy and let me know if you did when you next visit!
Wholemeal flours and gluten-free flours such as chesnut are a good source of vitamins and fibres and they are suitable for a healthy diet for the whole family. I try and discourage my children to eat white, highly refined flour and they are definitely won over when I can produce an alternative as tasty and indulgent as that! High 5!
children running on the wave-breaker