This is the second of the dishes that I made for the Autumn Fruits Cookalong on 1st October. Apple tarts are one of my favourite desserts and to my mind, the best tart of all is the French apple tart or Tarte Aux Pommes, with it's beautiful concerntric circles of apples, that I've still not mastered, as you'll see in the pictures.
This recipe is from Raymond Blanc, but he claims that it is "Maman Blanc's" recipe. Either way, it's a delicious way to end an autumn meal.
The first step to this recipe is to make the pastry. This is a richer version than my own short crust recipe as it has egg added to it. However, the method is almost the same.
Measure the flour into a bowl, add the butter in small squares.
Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water and the egg to the mixture.
Work together with your hands gently until the mixture has just come together into a dough.
Tip the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead with the palm of your hand for about 30 secs until the dough feels smooth. Flatten the dough out to about 1 cm thickness.
Place the pastry between two sheets of cling film and put it into the fridge for 30 mins.
While the pastry is chilling, grease your tart tin thoroughly. As I've mentioned before I like to use old butter wrappers for this as it's a good way to use up the left over butter.
After 30 mins, remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out between the two sheets of cling flim until it's big enough to fill the tart tin.
Remove the top layer of cling film and carefully lift the pastry into the tart tin so that the remaining cling film is facing upwards. Remove the second sheet of cling film but keep it to one side.
Tuck the pastry into the edges of the tin and fill up and gaps with any overhanging pastry. Trim off any remaining pastry.
Prick all over the bottom of the pastry case with a fork, this prevents air pockets forming underneath and pushing up the pastry during baking. Cover over with the sheet of cling film that you retained and put back into the fridge for another 20 mins.
While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 220°C and prepare your apples.
First peel the apples, then quarter and core them. Finally cut them into thin slices. Put the apples to one side till you need them.
Make the filling for the tart just before the casing is ready to come out of the fridge. Put 15g of the sugar, butter, lemon juice into a pot and gently heat.
When the sugar has completely melted, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the brandy (or calvados). Set to one side.
Remove the pastry case from the fridge and arrange the apple slices in concentric circles, starting from the outside and working your way in.
Pour the brandy the mixture over the apples and brush evenly across the top. Put the tart into the oven for 10 mins.
After 10 mins reduce the temperature of the oven down to 200°C and bake for a further 20 mins.
While the tart is baking, make up the filling for the final stage of the tart. First, put the remaining 50g of sugar, eggs and cream into a bowl. Whisk together until well combined. Put to one side until the tart comes out of the oven.
After the 20 mins the pastry should have turned a pale gold colour and the apples should be caramelised. Remove the tart from the oven. Sprinkle the tart with a tablespoon of the sugar and pour over the egg and cream mixture.
Put the tart back into the oven for 10 - 15 mins until the filling has just set and the top has turned a golden brown colour.
Leave the tart to stand for hour to cool. Serve with a little cream.
This is the first of my Autumn Fruits Cookalong recipes. Venison is not a cheap meat but it is lean and delicious. As it is such a lean meat I decided to wrap the meat in streaky bacon so that it wouldn't dry out while roasting. The blackberry sauce paired so well with the meat, I'm sorry that I never tried it before, but I will definitely be keeping this recipe up my sleeve for future autumn feasts.
To make the blackberry sauce I slightly modified this recipe from Gordon Ramsay. The venison preparation has been handed down from my Danish grandfather, who is something of an expert on the preparation of game, having been shooting and eating it for most of his life.
Apologies in advance for some of the pictures, both myself and my mum (who took some of the pictures) were suffering from serious shaky hands. I've taken the best possible version of each shot and hopefully you can make out what's going on.
This recipe starts out the night before you want to serve the dish. This is to prepare the venison so that it is both tender and not so gamey in taste. This step is not essential but if you do it you will end up with a very flavoursome piece of meat that's not overpoweringly gamey.
I used a whole saddle of venison for this recipe and had it cut in two by the butcher so that it would fit into my roasting tin better.
The first thing to do in this recipe, the night before you cook it, is to put the venison into a deep dish or basin and pour in the buttermilk until all the meat is covered. Leave in a cool place overnight, away from any animals you may have in the house. One litre of buttermilk was enough for the amount of venison I was using to be covered, but if you were using more meat you would probably need additional buttermilk.
Fast forward to the evening you intend to cook the venison. First things first, preheat the oven to 200°C. Now to the venison, the buttermilk will look a little bloody but that's normal. Remove the meat and throw away the buttermilk.
Place the vension onto a plate and wipe off the excess buttermilk with a sheet of kitchen roll. This is quite important as you don't want the flavour of the buttermilk to interfere with the taste of the meat. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you do want to remove as much as possible. Leave the meat to one side while you prepare the bacon to wrap it in.
Lay half the bacon out in your roasting tray side by side, slightly overlapping. Then place one piece of the venison on top and wrap the end of the bacon across the top, ensuring that the venison is completely covered.
Move the completed piece of venison to one side of the roasting tray and repeat the above steps for the other half of the venison.
Season the top of the venison bacon rolls with a little black pepper and place in the oven for 25 - 30 mins. At which point the bacon should be just crispy and the meat inside a little pink in the centre.
While the venison is cooking it's time to put together the blackberry sauce.
Put 275g of the blackberries into a saucepan with the red wine and the chicken stock. I had a consulation with my dad about the type of wine to use in the sauce. He thought that it would be best to use a fruity wine, so in the end we picked a Côtes du Rhône, which worked extremely well.
Bring to the boil and leave for 10 mins until the blackberries have gotten soft.
Set up a sieve over a bowl or jug and work the blackberries through it, until you're left with pulp and pips. Scrape the underside of the sieve into the jug and the pour the contents back into the pot.
Add the honey and the redcurrant jelly and bring back to the boil. Then let simmer until reduced by half.
At this point the venison should be ready to come out of the oven. Place it on a carving board and let it rest while your finish the sauce.
Put the butter and 2 tablespoons of the juices from the bacon and venison into the sauce. Whisk the butter into the sauce until it has completely melted in.
The sauce should now be smooth and silky. Add the remaining blackberries into the sauce, let them cook a little. Taste the sauce and season with a little salt and pepper.
Slice the venison and serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables of your choice. Spoon the sauce over the meat and potato. That's it, a delicious autumnal dinner.
On the 1st of October, the Irish Foodies Cookalong was once again in full swing. Previously featuring pizza, cookies, seafood and vegetarian (which I missed as I was taken out to dinner that evening) cooking, this month the challenge was the seasonally appropriate, Autumn Fruits or TwootyFruity as it was hash tagged on Twitter. The judge for this month's Cookalong is David Llewellyn from Llewellyn's Irish Orchard Produce.
To me the first thing that sprang to mind with autumn fruits was blackberries and apples, but I wanted to do something a little different than a crumble with the two combined, delicious and all as they are.
So I thought about what else could be considered autumnal and my mind strayed to thoughts of wild game. The next part was easy as I had recently seen venison in my local butchers, so I decided on a roasted saddle (or loin) of venison with a blackberry sauce for my main course.
But I also wanted to make a dessert, and I had a pile of apples generously given to me by a colleague at work. When thinking about apple desserts the one image that always pops into my head is that of the artfully layered apple of the French apple tart or Tarte aux Pommes. This then would be my dessert for the evening.
Both dishes went down extremely well with my family and a family friend who happened to be over that evening. The recipes will be posted here later in the week so you too can wow friends and family with some autumnal dishes.
At the end of August, not long before I headed off on holiday, the lovely people at Gill & MacMillan sent me a copy of Catherine Fulvio's new cookbook, Catherine's Italian Kitchen to review. I managed to have a good read through it and try a couple of the recipes out before I headed off and I have to say that there are some excellent recipes contained in its pages.
Catherine runs the Ballyknocken Cookery School and Ballyknocken House. This book covers the recipes that were featured in Catherine's television programme of the same name that aired last year.
First, let me start with the layout of the book, it's a nice portable size, which is useful for me as I am always carting cook books back and forth between my flat and my parents' house. The table of contents is nicely laid out with subdivisions within the main sections, further helping you to find the recipe that you want. There is also an index at the back so that you can do a quick search by ingrediant to find a particular recipe. I find this particularly useful as some of my mum's older cook books don't have this and it can make it difficult to find the recipe you're looking for.
The front of the book has some useful notes on ingredients and a useful shorthand of marking recipes with E or F, to show whether it is easy or can be frozen. A set of conversion tables completes the information at the beginning of the book.
Each recipe includes a note from Catherine on the history of the dish, whether personal or general as well as a suggestion for a modification to the dish or a tip to help the dish be the best it can. I find these things particularly interesting, as I like the insight into why a chef or cook has chosen a particular recipe for their book.
I've tried out a few of the recipes on my friends and family, all of which have gone down incredibly well. Below are pictures of some of the dishes I made; rosemary focaccia, lemon granita and apple cake with olive oil.
However, the dish that went down the best was her slow roasted pork belly.
All in all I found the book to be very informative (the section on making your own pasta is particularly inspiring). There were a lot of interesting recipes, especially in the meat and fish sections, that I would never have thought of in regard to Italian cuisine, as the first things that spring to mind is pizza and pasta. The instructions were clear, concise and easy to follow. I would recommend this book to people looking for an Italian cook book that covers the basics but also has some more unusual dishes too.
If you want to see more by Catherine, her new series Catherine's Roman Holiday is currently airing on RTÉ One, Friday at 8.30pm. Gill and Macmillan also have a 20% discount off the book on their website.