Friday, 15 January 2016

Puff pastry for Epiphany

I love our village shop, down from four pubs to one part time it is the centre of the village. It stocks a range of local produce as well as everything else you would expect, occasionally, then they change it all around.

As French Club coincided with epiphany I felt duty bound to tackle a Galette des Rois - and felt stuborn when I could not buy the puff pastry.

Things I have learnt about puff pastry. I has shed loads of butter in it, yes really. I know, it should not be a surprise but when you have to measure out 550g of the artery blocker you do marvel; double what you need for your standard short crust. Secondly, it takes time, tonnes of it. Start it in the morning don't even think of leaving it to the afternoon if you want it that evening. Besides that it is simple, Father Dan of Elasticated Waists (my Guru Dan Lepard) naturally has the perfect recipe in this bible. I failled slightly as I ran out of time, but in the 6 hours I had I made a passable attempt. in the future I will stick with rough puff!

Galette des Rois had always passed me by, when I lived in Paris I was a student with limited exposure to family traditions. I just noticed that after Christmas there were slim pickings at the patisseries as they were taken over by a family sized pastries wearing limp paper crowns. Having made it I definitely would repeat - I played round with the recipe, but this version is what we like.

400g puff pastry
2 rounded tbsp apricot or damson jam (I had some delicious tart damson jam, which is rather off piste but worked a treat)
100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
1 lighly beaten egg
100g ground almond
1 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 200' or have a smug Aga moment.

Find a bowl or plate that is roughly half way between side plate and main course size (25cm). Roll out the pastry and make two discs by cutting around the plates.

Spread the jam on one disc leaving a 2cm rim around the edge.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, adding the egg towards the end. Stir in the almonds, rum and vanilla. Carefully dollop on top of the jam.

Don't forget to hide as many whole almonds in the mix as sovereigns required! If necessary to avoid civil war make a suitably large nick in the circumference of the pastry so know where they are 'hidden'. The puff pastry will rise so you can't be too subtle and you still have the top layer to disguise your diplomacy.

Brush a little water on the rim around the edge then sandwich on the top layer. Squish the rims together with a fork. Use a knife or fork to make a funky geometric pattern across the top of the pie.

Baked until golden (25-30 mins) in hot oven.

Use your time to make a crown / crowns.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

French Club

Moving school is a big deal - we have quite a full score card of ticks with the new school: OFSTED good: tick, personable form teachers: tick, walking distance: tick. One thing that we left behind was French and the Pickle was not impressed. So there was one things for it: French club.

I lived in France many many years ago but it should be within my grasp but the first task was to find a format. With a little help of our frenemies at Amazon I found a book, and to that we will add food and cooking.

I feel like an old crone when I think back to my days in Paris when we used to go out for a Menu Prix Fixe for 5 Francs that normally included a pave steak and frites.

I challenged the village butcher to supply me with a pave - it was a last minute idea and I had not thought it through, he had to check on line and came up trumps, or I guess that should: be he came up rumps, because that is what it was.

We had the French CD uploaded and a menu from Paris of old:
Pave, frites et salad
galette des Rois - because it is epiphany.

Lesson 1: Au Zoo
Allows au zoo et j'aI vu un kangourou...

I could say the proof is in the pudding, but I have waffled on too long so the pudding will be in my next post. But in terms of the success of the French Club will be if the little ones will still be as enthusiastic next week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Shooting star

It is dark outside, cold and dark
Dark that consumes, that freezes,
Cold that takes a penetrating hold.
I look up and see the stars
The dark gives up her secrets
The sky seems bigger, the stars brighter.
Big Dipper, Orion and a constellation of ignorance
A tray of gluhwein to thaw the loneliness
Camaraderie in awe and silence
A shooting star
The church bells start to ring in the new year
I can't hear the bells but I have that star
Happy 2016

I am a New Years cynic, once we headed to Avebury for summer solstice. Being contrary it seemed logical to eschew annual resolutions for something more permanent. That sun rise we made promises, promises that I have reminded myself over the years so New Years have been burden free,

This year during quite time we discussed wishes for 2016. Prioritising wishes with the Pickle, nothing required for DB - yes, he was quite definite no clubs...ever. Maybe the need for resolutions can be reconsidered, after all I did not hear the bells but I did see that star.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad