Archive for July, 2009

Nick’s Apple Parcels

Thursday, July 9th, 2009


After watching one of the latest Masterclass episodes on MasterChef, we were tempted by the raspberry tart made on the show, and the extremely easy method of making shortcrust pastry. They used a food processor to make the pastry and it looked a lot easier than my very recent experiment with making pastry by scratch in my first Daring Bakers Challenge of the Bakewell Tart.


As they didn’t have the video or recipe for the raspberry tart up on the MasterChef website at the time we made it (that night I believe), we had to search for a similar recipe. This one is adapted from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes and it turned out great. Nick made up the rest of the recipe, using up some of our apples in the fridge and making it into a tart crossed with a pie, naming it Nick’s Apple Parcels.

Nick’s Apple Parcels

Recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe

Serves: 2 (with some pastry left over, which can be rolled and made into biscuits or used to cover the top of a small pie)

250g organic plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar, sifted
125g good-quality cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, beaten
A splash of milk
Flour, for dusting

2-3 Pink Lady (or other) apples, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon caster sugar

Icing sugar, for dusting


Place flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until it turns into fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until mixture comes together and forms a nice dough. Add a little milk if necessary and process. Knead until smooth, cover and refrigerate for 30m minutes (we used ours straight away as we couldn’t wait).

Mix apples, cinnamon, vanilla essence and caster sugar in a bowl and set aside.

Roll out dough and cut into large squares (12 x 12cm), 2 for each parcel. Place some of the apple and cinnamon mixture on top of one square of pastry and place another on top. Seal edges and cut slices on top layer. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20minutes, until pastry golden and cooked. Dust with icing sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


Gordon Ramsay, the MasterChef Judges and The Good Food and Wine Show 3-5 July 2009

Sunday, July 5th, 2009


Now some would say that counting down the days to buy tickets in the pre-booking period and calling your husband panicking 30 minutes before the lines open 6 months, 6 days and 1 hour before an event might be considered a little…. Let’s say… obsessive…


I would be one to agree with that view.

But it did not stop me late January making sure I did not miss out – as this is the first famous person I’ve met (that I can remember) and the first Good Food and Wine Show I’ve been to. Last year I was too busy and the year before that was the first time I’d really heard much about the show.


Gordon Ramsay was very different to how he acts on his shows. He seems to be more like how you see or hear him in interviews. Quite nice, with the occasional rude joke and a little swearing (I don’t even recall him swearing… maybe once or twice – but I missed it, which is not such a bad thing).


He made (with help from another chef) Cod and Tomato Chowder, Glazed Salmon with Spinach and Radish Salad and for dessert Poached Pears in Mulled Wine – with the most fantastic smelling caramelized figs! Unfortunately I wasn’t picked to go up and taste test the dishes (two females and two males from the audience were chosen).


After the show, Gordon did a book signing and was absolutely lovely in person. He greeted Nick and I, giving me a kiss on the cheek and having a small conversion about who does the cooking in our house, baking and how it is a science and wishing us well. I was delighted with how it went and look forward to cooking some of the lovely dishes from his new book Healthy Appetite, which we got singed.




A Photo from Healthy Appetite: Vanilla pannacotta with blueberry sauce:


In between this show and the next, we went around the Good Food and Wine Show trying out new foods and a lot of wines. The foods on offer ranged from lovely chocolates in a variety of intriguing flavours, nougat, biscuits, cheese, olives, olive oil, cakes, ham and lovely dips.

I was lucky enough to find my way to The Biscuit Tree, where ChocolateSuze was chatting to Lili and was extremely generous is giving us a taste test of some of her lovely biscotti and shortbread. The only problem with this was trying to decide on which to buy. 🙂 We ended up choosing a lovely Cardamon & Pear Pistachio Biscotti. The flavours complement each other really well and don’t compare to anything you can buy in the shops. Nice to meet you finally Suze! 🙂


The wines on offer took up probably more than half the stalls, I decided to try and find a wine which I liked and since I don’t really like wine, Nick ended up with double the amount of wine he had asked for. I did find a couple which I liked though, so all-in-all with a lot of taste testing done – a few Muscato’s will be remembered and possibly bought in the future.

Moving on to the last show we saw before we left, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris (two of the judges from MasterChef) from the Boathouse and The Press Club respectively, were on stage making a lovely array of dishes including Jam filled Donuts. Matt Preston also made an appearance during their cooking, with Gary and George giving one of his cravats to an audience member. Matt made sure the oven and oil was at the right temperature, as he mentioned the day before it wasn’t checked which made some of the dishes not turn out as they should.



Gary and George were very entertaining, working very well together, with many good jokes throughout. Some of the contestants from MasterChef came on the stage, with the audience picking Poh to help them with the donuts.


I had seen George’s book The Press Club a while ago and had put it on my Birthday wish list. Although after hearing George was doing signings, I made sure I bought his book at the show and got it signed, so we’ll have to see if I have to wait till my birthday to get it, or whether it will be a present to myself 🙂 . George seemed surprised by the number of people at their show as it was more packed than the earlier Gordon Ramsay show (perhaps because it cost extra and was quite early in the morning).


Just looking through the photos in The Press Club is enjoyable, with each dish presented like a piece of art. I look forward to making some of these dishes, especially as I have a big love of Greek food – especially sweets.



Photo from The Press Club: Island of Chios Mastic Pannacotta, Greek Doughnuts:


All-in-all, I really enjoyed my first Good Food and Wine Show in Sydney. I would have liked a few more foods available to try and I also found the prices quite high on a lot of the food to eat there. The shows themselves were very enjoyable, more for the celebrities themselves than the actual cooking.


Thursday, July 2nd, 2009


I was so inspired while watching MasterChef when Adriano Zumbo brought out a massive Croquembouche (a custard filled profiterole stack covered in toffee/caramel).

Hearing the crispy crunch as the contestants bite through the toffee covering layer, then seeing the thick custard and lovely fresh choux pastry… I just melted. I wished badly that I could be there trying one. (Maybe not competing – it seemed very stressful, with contestants burning their hands left, right and centre.)


After such a good recommendation (of stress and burnings) – why wouldn’t I give it a go? 😛 Well I hoped that doing it at home without as much stress would allow the experience to be a good one.

I just needed a reason to make one, and what better than a “Welcome Home” dinner? (You would want to leave and come back every week if this was your reward for returning… or at least I would).


Can I just say… this is truly the BEST, most FANTASTIC custard ever!!!! (sorry I didn’t get a photo that did it justice) The whole combination of choux pastry, custard and toffee was just amazing! I will definitely make this again, but next time I will be a bit more careful with the toffee…


I made the quantities given on the MasterChef website (check out their video), and it ended up making around 180 profiteroles (8 trays worth) and enough custard to fill half of them, with enough toffee to coat those with custard. As we had so many pastry shells left over, we filled half of the remaining profiteroles with vanilla whipped cream and dipped the top in melted dark chocolate. For this reason I would suggest making half the quantity of profiteroles (or if you only want one small Croquembouche, make a quarter of the profiteroles and half of each the custard and toffee). Due to the excess in cooking, I ended up taking a small tower and some chocolate ones to work… those poor people 😛


I found the toffee didn’t last very well for the next day, I’m not sure of the best way to store this overnight if you make it in advance, but I’m sure the custard could be made the day before, I’ve also heard the profiteroles can be made in advance… I’ll try and get back to you on what works….


Recipe from Adriano Zumbo on MasterChef Australia

Choux pastry:
425g Water
530g Milk
20g Sugar
20g Salt
400g Butter
530g Flour
16 Eggs

Pastry cream:
1300ml Milk
330g Eggs Yolks (around 18)
330g Sugar
130g Cornflour
130g Butter
2 Vanilla beans

660g Sugar
200g Water
260g Glucose

To make the pastry cream, place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan. Heat gently until the milk almost boils. Remove from the heat, whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until thick and pale. Gradually whisk in the warm milk. Return mixture to same saucepan and stir over medium heat until the custard boils. Spread over a tray to cool rapidly. Cover the surface of the custard closely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming, at 55°C transfer to a bowl and stir through butter and refrigerate to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celsius convection. Lightly grease 4 oven trays and set aside. Combine the butter with water, sugar, milk & salt in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and using a wooden spoon quickly beat in the flour. Return to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan. Cook, beating over low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook flour. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.


Transfer to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture to release any more heat. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well between each addition until all the eggs have been added and the mixture is thick and glossy. Beat for a few more minutes, or until thickened.

Spoon the mixture, in batches, into a piping bag fitted with a 1.25-1.5cm nozzle. Cover remaining pastry with cling film. Pipe mixture onto trays about 3cm x 2cm high leaving room for spreading. Bake for 25-30 minutes, in batches, or until firm and hollow when tapped. Transfer puffs to wire racks.



Put custard into a piping bag with a nozzle less than 1cm. Poke a small hole in the base of each puff and fill with custard.

For the caramel, combine water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils add glucose, and cook until caramel in colour. Remove from the heat and dip the base of the pan in a bowl of water to cool slightly. Grease a cake ring and place ring mould on a baking paper lined tray, pour enough caramel to coat the base 5mm. This is the base for the croquembouche. (I didn’t make this base)
Dip the puff bases in enough toffee to coat and place upside down on a tray lined with baking paper.

(I just put a bit of toffee on the base of the profiteroles in a line so I could still hold the edges of the base. I then dipped the top in the toffee and stacked the profiteroles making a cone shape, sticking them together with extra toffee if needed)

To assemble, oil the croquembouche cone. Dip the sides of the puff balls in the toffee one at a time and place around the base of the cone. Continue adding balls until the cone is covered.
Transfer the base for the croquembouche to a serving plate. Place a small amount of caramel on the base. Grasp croquembouche gently and lift from the cone and place on the caramel base.

Re-heat the remaining toffee then dip two forks back to back in it. Spin toffee around the Croquembouche. Decorate with violets.


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