Just realise it’s the last week of October and it will be Halloween 🎃 this weekend! But meanwhile I am going to enjoy my week off work and hopefully do some more baking in the meantime! 😉😂 (Since work lately has made it near impossible for me to bake at all…)
From our visit to Brighton, we had some green apples 🍏🍏 left over from our hotel breakfast sets. So I decided to make some mini apple pies using them, depicting my favourite things from the fall season (mid autumn festival 🌕, Halloween 👻, autumn leaves 🍂 and, of course, squirrels! 🐿❤️) I used my normal recipe of shortcrust pastry which is 2:1 ratio of plain flour to butter. Warm, buttery and tart 😋 😋 – perfect in this cold, rainy day!
Just a short post today – the first since I have been back at my family’s home in Scotland. In the past week, I have raided my mum’s kitchen a few times 😂 but I am more grateful that I can avoid doing dishwashing for a bit! 🤣
The weather is much cooler here in Edinburgh than in London. (That last week there before I hopped onto the train was getting unbearable! 🥵🔥🔥) As a result, I have been really enjoying my mum’s hearty home cooking. It was my turn to cook tonight, and I decided to make a filo quiche using the scraps left in my mum’s fridge (we had some already sliced carrots and onions from the previous nights, plus some unused bacons and courgettes). 😉
As a baker, I always like to challenge myself with new styles of baking and learn new techniques. One day I decided to pick up Filo pastry. It is a pastry known (quite notoriously 😬) for its difficulty and effort… and indeed it kills my arms every time making it with the endless amount of rolling. 😵😵 (It’s one of those thing that you might as well just buy in the shop isn’t it? 😂😂) I heard you can making the rolling process easier with a pasta machine, but it is a tad too expensive for me to get my hands on…💸💸 (Plus I have no intentions of making fresh pasta any time soon lol.) However, whether homemade or shop-bought, this thin, crisp pastry is definitely one for many delicious recipes. 😋❤️
I adapted my Filo pastry recipe from Paul Hollywood’s Spanakopita recipe on BBC food (See link here👉 https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/spanakopita_26903) Why don’t you also give it a try? 😉 Let me know what ideas you may have with Filo pastry in the comments!
Bonjour to another day in Paris! Having finally recovered from the food coma yesterday, I was up early raring to go out and explore. My first stop was to get some breakfasts from a bakery, called Du Pain et des Idées, which my friend had recommended. I chose their chausson à la pomme fraîche, which is an apple pastry. I also used this opportunity to practice my KS3 French, and I thought I did a pretty good job. That was until the server immediately answered me with English… 😅
Moving on to my next stop which was the Louvre, I decided to take the metro line there. To be honest, I was initially a bit nervous about taking the metro but it turned out to be just as straightforward as taking the underground tube in London. Directions were very easy to follow as long as you followed the signs and more importantly they have air con! (For those of you who don’t know, London underground has no air condition and can be as hot as a sauna in the summer…)
When I did arrive at the Louvre, I was taken aback by how long the queue was. (Okay, I did expect there would be a queue, but this took queuing to another level!) Looking around the place to buy a ticket, I ended up being told that tickets were only available online and all the tickets for entry today were sold out! 😭 (I think my lack of thorough research is showing…) However, I did have a great walk around outside. 😉 The temperature wasn’t too bad and it was very easy to duck back into the mall shall it get too hot. 😅
For lunch today, I decided to visit another restaurant that my friend recommended, called Le Comptoir de La Gastronomie. The restaurant appeared to be very well known and popular in Paris, especially their foie gras dishes. As a fan of foie gras, this place was one not to be missed by me.
As the reviews suggested, I was not disappointed! 😋 The ceviche was very refreshing with the lime and was very appetising. The foie gras though was absolute the star of the show as it was cooked perfectly and accompanied very well with the lightness of the salad. I was pleasantly surprised by the gingerbread as it actually worked rather well with the rest of the dish. 😊 After lunch, I took a stroll around a shopping mall nearby (to walk off the calories lol) and went back to the hotel for a quick nap before heading out again for the evening.
After a brief visit to the famous arc, I decided my main activity tonight was to visit the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t much of a long walk from there, and I was very much looking forward to seeing the whole view of Paris from the tower. I went for the cheapest ticket which required me to take the stairs up rather than using the lift.
Not going to lie, my legs were absolutely shaking as I walked up to the first floor. 😖 The gusts of wind blowing against me did not help one bit at all. (I was constantly worried that I would end up dropping my phone 😰…) I was sweating so much (mainly from nerves) that I needed to take a seat down on the first floor before continuing…
I didn’t know if it was because I got some practices or I was just suddenly filled with adrenaline, but the walk to the second floor felt a lot easier. And if you were able to conquer this fear of height like me, the views from there were absolutely breathtaking! 😮❤️❤️ (I took some videos too, you can see those from my Instagram!)
I was starving by the time I got back to the hotel though, so ended up eating a cheese-and-ham toastie (though a very subpar one… 😂) at the bar at 1am! And honestly, it felt nice to be on the ground again! 😂
One of my favourite things in the summer is no doubt a smoky barbecue party with friends. Yesterday, my work colleagues were cooking up a meaty feast in the back garden. Chicken, ribs, prawns, sausages, burgers and all could name! 🍗🍖🍤🌭🍔 What possibly can a meat lover like me says no to? 😋 (Even better with a cocktail in my hand haha!)
Since I did not contribute to the grill, I paid my dues by whipping up (quite literally) a dessert for everyone there. To keep up with the finger food theme, I decided on some chocolate profiteroles topped with freeze-dried raspberries. To top it off, I also did some chocolate-dipped strawberries. The strawberries at this time are the best around this time in the year. One of the biggest joy I get from baking and cooking is to see the joy you bring to others with the food you’ve made. So, very happy that my colleagues enjoyed it! 😊
Chocolate Profiteroles with Freeze-dried Raspberries and Chocolate-dipped Strawberries
Quantity: 15-20 profiteroles
For the choux pastry:
50g unsalted butter
65g strong white flour
30g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
For the pastry cream:
4 egg yolks
65g caster sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g dark chocolate
50g white chocolate
1. Start the choux pastry by placing the butter in water in a saucepan. Heat until the butter has fully melted, bringing the water to boil.
2. Keeping the saucepan over heat, tip all the flour into it in one go. Beat vigorously until it forms a smooth dough. Remove it from heat afterwards.
3. Add the beaten eggs a bit at a time to the dough, stirring vigorously after each addition, to achieve a soft, smooth batter. Take care at this stage as you may not need all your eggs. The batter must not be too runny or too stiff. To check that you have the right consistency, lift a bit of the batter up with a spoon. It should just hang off the spoon, holding a V-shape.
4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.
5. Line the baking tray with baking parchment. Sprinkle droplets of water over it. (This creates steam to give a crisp crust on your profiteroles.) Pipe your choux batter in small circles, leaving enough gap between them as the choux will rise considerably.
6. Bake the profiteroles for about 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden and fully cooked inside. As soon as they are taken out to cool, use a skewer to pierce the bottoms of each profiteroles to create an air hole to let out steam, and place them on a wire rack.
7. While the profiteroles are baking, make the pastry cream by whisking the egg yolks together with the sugar until a pale yellow is achieved. Sieve the flour and mix it into the yolk mixture until well-combined.
8. Heat the milk with the vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat until there is a gentle simmer.
9. Slowly pour about half of the hot milk to the yolk mixture, whisking as you are adding. Then return the mixture to the remaining milk in the saucepan.
10. Bring the mixture back to boil by heating, whisking continuously as it is cooking, until a smooth custard is formed.
11. Line a tray with cling film, and pour the pastry cream on it to cool and set in the fridge. You may dust some icing sugar over to prevent a skin forming.
12. When the profiteroles are cooled and the pastry cream is set, pipe the pastry cream into the profiteroles through the air hole at the bottom. Take care to ensure the profiteroles are well-filled.
13. Melt the chocolates over a double boiler or using a microwave. (Take care with the white chocolate as it is easy to get overheated and turn lumpy.)
14. Dip the filled profiteroles and strawberries in the melted dark chocolate. Allow it to cool and set slightly before drizzling the melted white chocolate over with a spoon. Dust the profiteroles with freeze-dried raspberries.
The sun might have gone and rain is falling, but the picnic is still very much going on uninterrupted. The buttery texture of the salmon & avocado quiches, followed by the richness of the raspberry & mango Bavarian cream is sure enough to put a ray of sunshine in anyone’s heart.
Salmon, Avocado and Cherry Tomato Mini Quiches
Quantity: 8 tarts
105g unsalted butter
130g fresh, skinless
and boneless salmon fillet
½ an avocado
(optional, I recommend basil)
Rub butter into flour with hand until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add a little cold water a table spoon at a time to bring the mixture together. The mixture should be just combined and be careful not to overwork the pastry. Chill the pastry dough for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and shape into the tart moulds. Make sure the pastry is pushed into all the corners of the moulds. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes before baking.
Chop the cherry tomatoes in halves and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle garlic olive oil on top, and season with salt.
Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Cook the cherry tomatoes at the bottom of the oven while baking the pastry.
Using a fork, lightly prick the base of the tarts. Place baking beans on top of baking paper on the tarts to prevent rising. Blind-bake the tarts for 20-25 minutes. Remove the paper and baking beans, and continue baking for 5-10 minutes, or until they are biscuit brown.
To make the egg and cream mixture, beat the egg in a bowl. Add the double cream gradually, and then stir in cheese, herbs and salt.
Dice the avocado, and chop the salmon fillet into tiny bits. Season them. (I suggest adding a bit of lemon juice too.) Remove the tarts from the moulds once they are cooled. Place the salmon, avocado and roasted cherry tomatoes in the tart shells. Pour the egg and cream mixture into the tarts, and sprinkle more cheese on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and golden brown.
Raspberry and Mango Bavarian Cream
1 tbsp lemon
2 egg yolks
7g leaf gelatine
Place the raspberries (save a few aside for decoration), water, lemon juice and 20g of the sugar in a saucepan, bring them to a boil. Crush the raspberries as you are cooking. Pass the puree through a sieve and leave to cool.
Soak the leaf gelatine in cold water and set aside.
Beat egg yolks in a bowl with the remaining sugar, and whisk until it is smooth and pale yellow.
Add the milk to the egg mixture and whisk. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook on a low heat until thickened. Continuously whisk as you are cooking to prevent the mixture solidifying at the bottom.
Take the softened leaf gelatine out of the water and squeeze out any excess water. Add the gelatine to the custard and mix well until it is fully dissolved.
Take the custard off the heat, and pass it through a sieve.
Add the raspberry puree to the custard and mix until well combined.
Whisk the double cream until it is airy. Fold the cream into the mixture until well combined.
Pour the mixture into wine glasses. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or until fully set.
Add the mango pulp on top of the set Bavarian cream. Decorate with raspberries and dried banana chips, and serve.