Tag Archives: puff pastry

Apricot Tatin and Caramelized Pecans Brittle … Let’s enjoy the last days of the Summer

31 Aug

Summer time in my family always reminds me of great amount of peaches, nectarines, melon or apricots trays stored in the freshness of the garage or the cellar.
Yes, all Summer long we enjoy tasty tomatoes, fresh salads, basil from the gardens and fruits all the time….
As the numbers tends to vary dramatically from one week to another, we always have to think about new ways to recycle the leftovers.
When it comes to fruits, we usually think about homemade jam, preserves but also poached fruits or tarts.
Ripen apricots are perfect for the Tatin as they will caramelize and soften in the oven.

Ingredients for the Apricot Tatin:

  • a block of good puff pastry or a ready to use one
  • a dozen of apricots halved and stoned
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 50g of unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • aromatic herbs optional (rosemary, basil…)
  • plain flour for dusting
  • unsweetened vanilla whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Ingredients for Caramelized Pecans Brittle:

  • 1 cup of pecans
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • a Silpat or parchment paper

Method for the Tatin:

Start a caramel in a medium ovenproof frying pan (about 24cm in diameter). Put the sugar in the pan over a medium heat and let it cook until the sugar gets a nice golden brown color. Don’t stir the sugar but swirl it around the pan every now and then so that it caramelize evenly.

Apricots Halved

Stir the butter in carefully as it may splatters in reaction to the extremely hot caramel. At that stage, if you want to give an extra flavor to your Tatin, add the herb of your choice (be careful with rosemary, it quickly overpower the other flavors, only put a small amount). Stir for about 2-3 minutes until a smooth caramel starts to get together. Remove the herbs if you have put some and place the apricots on top, keep on cooking for 2-3 minutes on very low heat just to get the apricots slightly cooked. Then let them cool down for 15-20 minutes.

Apricot Caramelize

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

If your puff pastry is not rolled out, flour a flat and clean surface and start to roll it out until 2mm high and cut a circle out of it, 2-3cm wider than the pan. Place it on top of the apricots and gently push down or fold the sides so that the puff pastry fits in the pan. Using a fork, prick the surface so that it doesn’t rise too much.

Bake the tart in the pan for 25 minutes or until the apricots are well cooked and the surface of the puff pastry gets a nice golden color.

Apricot Oven

Using an oven glove, get the Tatin out of the oven and leave it to rest a few minutes then place a serving dish (larger than the pan) on top of the pan and quickly turn it upside down. When you feel that the Tatin is out of the pan, remove the pan, clean the edges of the serving dish and serve it straight away with vanilla whipped cream or ice-cream.

Apricot Result 2

Apricot Result

 

Method for the Caramelized Pecans:

For the pecans, start another caramel in a clean heavy bottom frying pan. Bring the sugar to a nice golden brown caramel and spread the pecans on top of it. Using a silicon or wooden spatula, quickly help the pecans to get coated off the heat. Gently pour the content of the pan on the Silpat or a piece of parchment paper. Let it cool down and once it is cold, roughly chop it in order to get small pieces of caramelized pecans.

Spread them on top of the whipped cream, ice-cream or tart.

Apricot Pecan Caramelized

Apricot Served

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Pepper, Ham & Goat’s Cheese Tatin

12 Jul

Here is another great recipe that I learned from my sister Sophie…. and as usual, it’s a fast BUT breathtaking one! It’s colourful, tasty and economic as well. Isn’t it a good news? Especially when you have to feed great tables of starving family members asking for variety in their plates…..

The other good news is that kids love it as well because it’s a little sweet and not too strong because we use fresh goat’s cheese. And if you want to keep it veggie, just remove the ham, it still tastes great!

Ingredients

  • 1 portion of puff pastry – preferably ready to use
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 log of fresh goat’s cheese such as Petit Billy or Chavroux (no rind)
  • 2-3 slices of ham
  • 1-2 tbsp of demerara sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Coriander or Flat parsley

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°
Cut the peppers into 2, remove the stalks and the seeds, it gets faster if you quickly rinse them once opened…. Then cut them into long stripes 3-4 mm wide.
Also cut the ham into 3-4 mm stripes and the lenghth of the peppers. I usually cut the ham in the middle lenghthwise then cut it into stripes!

Drizzle a large frying pan with olive oil and get it hot enough to fry the peppers. Once they get a nice coloration and start to soften, sprinkle a tbsp of demerara sugar on top of it to enhance the caramelization.
Once the sugar has nicely coated the peppers, set them aside and quickly fry the ham in the same pan to get it slightly caramelized but not dried.

Turn off the fire and pour the peppers back to the pan. Quickly mix them altogether and nicely spread them in a large tart dish.
Unroll your puff pastry on top of the dish and fold back into the dish the excess of puff pastry.*


Bake it for 15-20 minutes until the puff pastry os thoroughly cooked and gets a nice golden brown colour.
As the tart is still hot, turn it upside down on a serving plate.**


Let it cool down a little and drop little portion of goat’s cheese the size of cherry all over the tart. It will get slightly hot without melting.
Finish with some coriander or parsley leaves.
Serve it hot or cold, on a buffet or as a starter with a bunch of mixed leaves.

*You can also make individual tarts for starter. Use tartlets pan and process the same way. It will make 6-8 tarts about 10cm diameter.

**If you wait too long, the sugar caramel will get hard and stick to the bottom of the dish. If this happen, quickly put your tart back in the oven to soften the caramel.

Let’s change and have a Strawberry and Pistachio Mille-Feuilles!

1 Mar

Whenever you go to a Patisserie in France, you can ask for a baguette,  a croissant, a brioche or a pain au chocolat but among all the French specialties you can find in a Patisserie, you can also find the Mille-Feuilles.

That dessert is really a French basic. It is sold as a single portion or a larger desert to share. And when you go to a Patisserie, if you want a Mille-Feuilles this is what you have to look for: 3 layers of puff patry with 2 layers of pastry cream in between and a layer of fondant on top with chocolate fondant stripes to make it easy to identify.

As I learned how to make it, I really was thinking that it was among my least favorite desert. To me, it looks very old-fashioned and most of the time, the vanilla pastry cream is very heavy and the fondant on top makes it definitely too sweet… but it’s only a point of view! Most of my friends still love it as it is today!

Anyway, I came to look at new ways to make the Mille-Feuilles and I gave it another try… and I have to say that I changed my mind.

It’s still the same recipe but you can make it more glamorous by adding fruits, color and flavor and also make it look different in term of presentation…

Here it is…. the Strawberry and Pistachio Mille-Feuilles! And it is even quicker to prepare as you don’t have to spread fondant on top of the Mille-Feuilles!

Ingredients for the puff pastry layers:

  • one puff pastry sheets
  • icing sugar
  • 2 baking trays

Method for the puff pastry layers:

Roll out your puff pastry on a baking tray covered with a silicon mat or a piece or parchment paper. If you are using a block of puff pastry, roll it into a rectangle about 25 cm x 35 cm and about 5 mm high. Keep it about 1/2h in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 170° and once the pastry is firm and cold, cover it with another tray or a rack about the same size as the pastry. The pastry needs to be covered otherwise it will rise too much.

Bake it for about 20 min until the pastry gets a nice golden color. Let it cool down on the baking tray.

Increase the temperature of your oven to 250° or on the grill. Using a sieve, cover the puff pastry with a thin layer of icing sugar and put it back in the oven for 2-3 minutes until the surface is caramelized. Depending on your oven, you will have to stay close to your oven and maybe turn the tray after 1 minute if only one part of the pastry get caramelized.You can also finish it with a blow torch.

While the puff pastry is still hot and the caramelized sugar still soft, cut it with a serrated knife into 3 stripes of the same size (10 cm x 20 cm). As the edges may not be perfectly straight, cut the edges to be sure to have three layers matching perfectly.

Here is the result…

Ingredients for the pastry cream:

  • 25 cl of whole milk
  • 2 cl of vanilla extract or a vanilla pod cut lengthwise and seeds scrapped with a sharp knife
  • 2 yolks
  • 45 g of sugar
  • 1 tsp of pistachio paste
  • 25g of butter diced
  • 25 g of corn flour or flour or 1/2 and 1/2
  • 2 gelatin leaves soaked in cold water
  • 1 tbsp of Mascarpone
  • Fresh strawberries cleaned and cut into quarters or whole raspberries.

Method for the pastry cream:

In a pan, bring to a boil the milk and the vanilla extract (even better if you have a vanilla pod!).

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and the yolks till creamy white. Whisk in the flour or corn flour then pour in the milk and the pistachio paste. Whisk it and pour it back into the pan.

Gently bring the pastry cream to a boil and constantly whisk it. The liquid will very quickly get thick and stick to the pan. If you have been using flour, keep on whisking as it is boiling (at least one minute) to get rid of the flour taste.

When the pastry cream is cooked, turn the heat off and incorporate the diced butter and the soaked gelatin leaves.

Whisk again then pour it into a bowl, cover with cling film and let it cool down. If you want your pastry cream very smooth and creamy, you can mix it with a hand held food processor then cover it with cling film.

Method for assembling the Mille-Feuilles:

Get the pastry cream out of the fridge and give it a good whisk. You can even incorporate a tbsp of Mascarpone at that stage to get it smoother.

Pour it in a piping bag with a nozzle about 8-10 mm.

On a flat surface or a rack, place the first layer of puff pastry.

If your layers are not all nicely caramelized or if one of them as a hole or any imperfection, keep it for the middle layer and keep the nicest one for the top…

Pipe the pastry cream on the puff pastry, about 3-4 generous heaps next to each others or nice lines a few millimeters from the borders of the pastry as it will expend a little with the pressure.

Now place the strawberries in between the pastry cream heaps and press gently on top of each one to make sure they will stick to the cream.

Cover them with another layer of puff pastry and keep going on with the same process until you have placed the last layer of puff pastry.

To finish, you can simply sprinkle icing sugar on top of the Mille-Feuilles.

I like to let a nice stripe of caramelized puff pastry apparent. I just place a piece of folded paper on top of the Mille-Feuilles and sprinkle the icing sugar on the puff pastry still uncovered.

Here you are…. Your Mille-Feuilles is ready to serve!

When it comes to cutting the Mille-Feuilles, use a long serrated knife such as bread knife and start to cut in the middle of the cake and on the edges. It will be easier and the slices will look very professional.