29 December 2011

Strawberry Tartlets

For dessert for the first BBQ of the season, yes that's the one that ended up indoors and more of Sunday roast, I wanted to use some more of my Supper Club loot.  This time it was the turn of Pip's strawberry jam.  I thought about swirling it through ice cream for some sort of strawberry ripple creation and I still think that would be quite delicious, not to mention quintessentially summery; all that gooey jam and plump strawberries off set with some homemade vanilla ice cream sounds like a match made in heaven to me.  However, Mum is not overly fond of strawberry ice cream, yes strange I know, but each to their own. Life would indeed be dull if we all like the same things.

So back to the drawing board and browsing through the latest Donna Hay magazine she had some mini strawberry tart tatins.  Mini rounds of puff pastry and strawberries all cooked in to caramel, again with a dollop of ice cream another perfect strawberries and cream combination and one that will just have to make an appearance at some point over the Summer months.

However I did want to use said strawberry jam rather than caramel and didn't want somewhat blackened tart tatins so turned them on their head in to some mini strawberry tartlets and on the side some of the best ice cream in the whole world.  A big call I know, and I am still working through an ever growing list of ice creams that I just must make, but anyone who has tried this one is pretty much in agreement, or at the very least that it is quite exceptional ice cream. You can read about it here and what flavour would that be?  Well that would be fennel ice cream.  It will even convert fennel haters to lovers!! For more on that head over here.

Strawberry Tartlets


1 sheet store bought puff pastry
Handful of  strawberries
Strawberry jam
1 egg, lightly beaten


Pre heat the oven to 190C/375F

Cut out little discs using a large cookie cutter and score an inner circle with a paring knife or an inverted ice cream scoop works a treat and gives you a perfect circle!  You want to leave this little edge to allow all that puff pastry to puff.

Half each strawberry and then slice almost to the end, but not quite, to allow you to fan out a half strawberry on each tartlet. Think pretty presentation of an avocado fan, just smaller.
Top with a little strawberry jam as a glaze and brush the edge with the beaten egg.  Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and puffed.  Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream, fennel ice cream works a treat with the strawberries.

Puff golden pastry, an explosion of strawberry flavour and a few dark, delicious little caramelized bits; I reckon those little bits are always the best.  Add to that a dollop of ice cream and the whole lot was scoffed.  Not a little tartlet or a single scoop of ice cream to be had.

If you like this you might like this Chocolate Caramel Tart

This is my entry for Sweet New Zealand which is being hosted by Bron over at Bron Marshall...for more more sweet inspiration head over here.


26 December 2011

Just Photos - La Cigale

A perfect Saturday morning is the sun shining and a trip to La Cigale, the French market here in Auckland.  So many tasty treats on offer, breads, cheeses, pates, cakes, pastries, croissants, freshly squeezed juice, olives, flowers, seasonal fruit and vegetables.

And only one way to start the day and that would be with coffee and breakfast.  For me a long black and being a the french markets I had to go with the continental breakfast.   French bread, a hard boiled egg, ham, salami, Gruyere cheese, Dijon mustard and cornichons.

Sustenance completed and time for a wander around the markets.  Along with the markets there is a beautiful store with a fantastic array of products from France.  They really do do things so beautifully. 

And then there is all the food...

Cheese....we picked up some lovely soft, fresh white goat cheese and a little taleggio to be slather on to some freshly baked bread.

And the pastries...buttery, flaky deliciousness.

 And pizza...how good does that look?

The Serbian sausages above are amazing, full of spices and good hit of heat.  If yoghurt or cheese is your thing check out the Buffalo Yoghurt and cheeses from just down the road in Clevedon...creamy and oh so delicious.

Some of my favourite flowers...poppies and peonies.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings the markets is transformed in to a French bistro.  Each night one entree, 2 main courses, 2 desserts and cheese are on offer. You can read about that here.

La Cigale
Open Saturdays 8am to 1.30pm
Open Sundays 9am to 1.30pm
69 St Georges Bay Rd (off the Strand end)
Ph 3669361

19 December 2011

Salmon Rillettes

Tis the festive season, my parents arrived last week and the next few weeks are filled with dinners, BBQs, and not to mention Christmas and New Year, or Hogmanay as have in Scotland.  This weekend was to be the first of the BBQs.  A lazy Sunday afternoon on the deck, a few vinos under blue skies, a little sunshine and delicious aromas wafting from the BBQ.  The Auckland weather, however, had other ideas so a lazy Sunday BBQ became more of an indoor Sunday roast as the weather most certainly wasn't going to spoil an afternoon with friends and family. So the outdoors came indoors, and with a little manoeuvring* one of the outdoor tables came indoors and was dried off with the hairdryer.

I have made these salmon rillettes from Around My French Table quite a few times now and they are a firm favourite, as are most of the recipes I have tried from that book.  It is definitely one of my favourite cookbook purchases of 2011** Light and infused with chilli, lemon and bay they are quite delicious piled on top of some crusty white bread.

*Furniture moving is not our strong suit, memories of an old sofa getting stuck in the communal hall way in my London flat led to the use of a saw! Today only 3 attempts required, through the french doors and kitchen door, then the front door and finally made it through french doors and via my bedroom.

**For more cookbook purchasing inspiration check out David Lebovitz's picks here...perfect for Christmas gifts and there are certainly a few that will be being added to my 'must have' list...because of course I need more cookbooks....!

Salmon Rillettes, from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table


1 lemon
1 red chilli
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
5 white peppercorns
5 coriander seeds
2 small spring onions, trimmed, finely chopped, long green tops reserved, or 1 shallot finely chopped, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 pound salmon fillet, cut in to small (1cm) cubes
150g smoked salmon, cut in to small (1/2cm) dice
White pepper
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed

Bread, crackers or toast for serving

With a vegetable peeler, remove a strip of zest from the lemon and toss it in to a medium saucepan.  Finely grate the rest of the zest and set it and the lemon aside. Cut a small sliver of chilli, without the seeds or membrane, and toss it in to the saucepan with the lemon zest.  Seed and finely chop the rest of the chilli and set it aside.

Pour the wine and water in to the saucepan and add the bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander, onion tops if you are using spring onions, and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil over a medium heat.  Lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes to allow all the flavours to infuse.

Add the fresh salmon to the pan, cover and poach for just 1 minute.  Strain and place the salmon in a medium sized bowl.  Throw away the  herbs, spices and vegetables.

With the back of a fork lightly mash the poached salmon.  Add the smoked salmon, zest, chilli and chopped onion or shallot to the poached salmon, season with salt and pepper and mix everything together.  Add the butter and use the fork to stir and mash it until you have a thick spread.  Squeeze about half the lemon’s juice in to the bowl and stir it in.  Season again with salt and pepper.  Taste and add more lemon juice if you like and finally stir in the pink peppercorns.  Pack the rillettes in to a jar or bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface.  Chill for at least 2 hours as the rillettes should be firm.

Pile atop some crusty bread and dig in and chilled glass of white on the side along with some good company and you do indeed have a perfect Sunday afternoon.

The cutest, tiniest little vases

If you like this you might like this Lemon and Tahini Salmon Salad
One year ago - Lemon and Ricotta Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.


15 December 2011

Raspberry Curd & Christmas Supper Club

This post is not what it was supposed to be.  For our Christmas Supper Club rather than Secret Santa we decided that we should all make something homemade.  I have a shed full of jams and marmalades but with it being Christmas I felt the need for something a little more festive, a little more Christmasy.  The inspiration came from Laura over at Hungry and Frozen.  Well I would always be inspired by homemade ice cream, as what is not to love,  but this was so much more.  Crimson hued cranberry curd swirled through to add a fruity tartness, not only sounded delicious but it all looked so wonderfully festive.  I thought my dilemma on what to make for Christmas Supper Club was solved.  Alas, there would appear to be a drought on cranberries in Auckland, frozen or fresh, despite Christmas fast approaching and them being so synonymous with the festive season.  If there is anytime stores should have an abundance of cranberries it should surely be now.

So what to do?  Homemade vanilla extract crossed my mind, but I left that a little late.  Limoncello...a batch brewing but not quite enough for 6 bottles.  Herbed salt was an option too but what won out was a bit of a twist on the cranberry curd....if cranberries would work then why not raspberry?  The thought of swirling it through some vanilla ice cream won the day.

So last week the Supper Clubbers all rocked up to a veritable Christmas feast.  To kick off the festivities a champagne cocktail and a festive goat cheese log.  It's almost Christmas so bubbly was the only way to go.  Simple and elegant; just pop a sugar cube in a glass and add 5 drops of angostura bitters, top with bubbly and add a sliver or 2 of orange zest.  I foresee a few encore performances for this cocktail over the holidays, light and a little aromatic with the bitters and orange zest.

Th goat cheese log, tangy and full of flavour from a little Dijon, paprika, cayenne and capers. To top if off dried cranberries and pistachios adding fruity and crunchy to the mix not to mention their festive hues.

For our entree Christmas Salmon with a Cranberry and Almond crust. Ever so light, and a wonderfully crunchy topping flecked with crimson cranberries. And then the main event, Duck Breast with a Red Wine and Cherry Sauce with some minted peas.  The duck perfectly pink and the sauce rich and tart. Duck and cherries really are a match made in heaven. On the side and Asparagus and Gruyere Tart which can only be described as sublime.  Crumbly, cheesy pastry topped with a rich mascarpone, cream and egg yolk mixture, and then my favourite spring green asparagus to top it all off. Not a single crumb was left.

Of course no Supper Club or Christmas feast would be complete without dessert.  Dessert was light, sweet Crunchy Meringues with a Summer Berry Salad and Cointreau Sauce. The crunch coming from walnuts and cornflakes, yes cornflakes!  The cointreau sauce creamy with that hint of orange perfect over the fresh Summer berries.

Christmas Supper Club means gifts and this year we decided on homemade gifts and what a treat it turned out to be.  A screen printed Supper Club tea towel (pic up above), tapenade, date chutney, strawberry jam, chilli jam, strawberry sauce and my contribution raspberry curd.  So far the chilli jam has basted chicken nibbles and become a fantastic Thai dipping sauce for some prawn and coconut rice paper rolls.  This weekend the plan is for the strawberry jam to become part of of some mini tart tatins and the date chutney will make friends with some cheese. The tapenade is perfect for a few crostini and thinking the strawberry sauce the perfect topping for an ice cream sundae.

Supper Club loot

Raspberry Curd

Makes 6 small jars for gifts, with a little left over for the chef


500g / 1.2 lbs raspberries, fresh or frozen
225g / 1/2 lb granulated sugar
60g / 2oz unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt


Place the berries and two tablespoons of water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the fruit is very soft.  Remove from the heat and push the berry mixture through a sieve in to a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl over a saucepan with an inch or two of water.

Add the sugar, butter and eggs.  Place the saucepan over the lowest possible heat and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.  Keep it on a low simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd thickens.  It will thicken a little more once it cools.  Make sure you don't let it boil, as it will curdle.  If you see even a sign of bubbles whip it off the heat and dunk in a ice bath and stir like crazy!

Pour the curd in to hot, sterilised jars, label and store in the fridge.  Serve on toasted crumpets with a cuppa.

If you like this you might like this Lemons
One Year Ago Christmas Muffins

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