Sunday, July 21, 2013

{French night} Brioche and more

Our July meeting explored all things French. The lovely Alison demonstrated the making of Brioche. While that was left to rise we had a good excuse to sit around and feast on French nibbles and sip French bubbles, needless to say it wasn't a difficult wait. Along with some brioche prepared earlier we enjoyed pate, white bean dip, mushroom dip, French goats cheese and quince paste with baguette and sour dough.

After the first rise of the brioche, the dough was kneaded a bit more and then we shaped it into mini loaves and Brioche a Tete. During the second rise we enjoyed dessert. The crème brulee and pear and almond tart were delicious.

Alison's Brioche Recipe
600g bakers flour
70g caster sugar
20g salt
35g dried yeast
70g +/- milk
380g egg (about 7 whole eggs)
185g butter, softened

Mix together flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
Warm milk. Add milk and eggs to flour and develop dough, kneading by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook. Add flour if too sticky.
Dice butter and place on top of dough without mixing. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size.
Knead butter into dough and shape into loaves or desired shape.
Repeat proving.
Brush with egg or milk and bake at 220C until baked.

Alison's Bruleed Chicken Liver Parfait
recipe by Heston Blumenthal
For the alcohol reduction 100g peeled and finely sliced shallot
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
15g sprigs of thyme, tied together with string
150g dry madeira
150g ruby port
150g white port
75g brandy
For the parfait
400g chicken livers (stringy veins removed)
20g salt
4 large eggs
400g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
125g whipping cream
Demerara sugar, for the top

1. Put all the ingredients for the alcohol reduction into a medium saucepan and place over a high heat. Bring to the boil and reduce to a thick syrup. Remove and discard the bundle of thyme, and put the reduction to one side until it is required.
2. To start the parfait, fill a medium saucepan with cold tap water and heat to approximately 50ºC. Combine the livers and salt in a sealable sandwich bag. Crack the eggs into another sandwich bag, with the butter in a third.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place the bags in the water, being careful to keep the tops of the bags out of the water. Allow the bags to warm for 10 minutes so that all the ingredients are the same temperature before you start mixing them.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 110ºC / gas mark 1/4.
5. After 10 minutes, remove the bags from the water and put the livers and eggs into a tall container and add the alcohol reduction. Blitz smooth with a hand blender. Slowly add the melted butter to the liver mixture while blitzing as if making mayonnaise. When all the butter has been fully incorporated, pass the mixture through a fine sieve lined with a double layer of muslin. Squeeze out as much of the mixture as possible, then stir in the whipping cream.
6. Pour the mixture into eight eight centimetre diameter ramekins so that they are two-thirds full. Place the ramekins in a deep roasting tray, and pour just-boiled water into the tray until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the roasting tray with foil and place it on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven.
7. After 15 minutes start checking the parfaits by carefully removing the foil and inserting a digital probe into the centre of a parfait. Once the temperature reaches 62ºC, remove the roasting tray and take the ramekins out of the water. Leave them to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature before chilling in the fridge, for at least six hours or overnight.
8. About 30 minutes before serving, remove the parfaits from the fridge. Just before serving, sprinkle with a thin layer of demerara sugar and brûlée with a blow-torch to form a glassy top.

Marianne's Brandade á la Soissonaise (Puree of White Beans with Garlic and Herbs)
recipe by Julia Child
1 can white beans (recipe says garbanzo beans or black beans can also be used)
20 leaves fresh basil
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 C Tahini paste
2 tsp minced garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 T olive oil (plus more for drizzling on top if desired)
chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Empty the can of white beans into a colander placed in the sink, rinse well with cold water and let drain at least 5 minutes.

While beans are draining, wash basil leaves, spin dry in salad spinner or dry with paper towels, then put basil in the food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.

Add beans, lemon juice, tahini paste, and minced garlic and process until beans are well pureed, about 1 minute. When mixture is blended, add olive oil through the feed tube, 1 T at a time. Taste mixture to see if you want more lemon juice, then season with salt and fresh ground black pepper and pulse a few times to mix in. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired, and serve with pita bread, veggies, or crackers.

Beth's White Bean Puree with Herbes De Provence
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 can white beans, drained
¼ cup roasted red peppers, finely diced
Using a food processor or blender, puree all the ingredients except the red peppers. Add water if necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the bean puree is completely smooth. Top with the red peppers and serve.
Shara's Brandied Mushroom Dip Recipe
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
½ cup onion, finely chopped
250g mushrooms, finely chopped
½ cup roasted red peppers, drained and finely chopped
2 oz French ham, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
2 teaspoons dry, unseasoned breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Melt butter in a large frypan over medium heat, and then sauté onions until they just start to turn tender and translucent – about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, red peppers, ham, and parsley; cook, stirring occasionally for an additional 5 minutes. Add brandy and stir until it has evaporated a bit – about 90 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.
Cath's Crème Brulee
serves 6
4 C thin cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar, extra, for topping

Preheat oven to 160°C.
Place six 3/4 cup capacity ramekins in a baking dish or large roasting pan.
Place cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 3 minutes, then set aside for 20 minutes to all the vanilla bean to infuse.
Return the cream and vanilla to a low heat, add the egg yolks and sugar and stir for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove and discard vanilla pod. Pour evenly among the prepared dishes. Pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the custards are set. Remove from the baking the baking dish and refridgerate for 1 hour until cold.
Robs tip: if your crème brulees appear to have split at this point, replace the boiling water in the baking dish with iced water and sit the brulees back in to cool rapidly, this should save them!
When ready to serve, place the ramekins in  baking tray and sprinkle the tops with the extra sugar. Use a brulee gun to caramelise the sugar. Alternatively place until a hot grill (you may like to pack ice around the brulees to stop them melting) or sear with a very hot metal spoon.

Skye's Pear and Frangipane Tart
recipe from Stephanie Alexander's The Cooks Companion
240 g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
180g unsalted butter, cold
1 egg yolk
30-60ml cold water

In a large bowl combine the flour and sugar. Grate in the cold butter, and using your hands rub it between your fingertips until it resembles sandy breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg yolk, and start by adding about 30ml of water. The pastry should start to come together into a ball, if it's still a bit dry keep adding a little more water until it has all come together. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for
about an hour.
In the meantime butter and flour a 30cm round pastry tin. On a floured surface gently roll out your pastry until its about 3mm thick. Lift it into the prepared tin, and gently press the pastry into the base, running your fingers around the edges to make sure it's all pressed into the 'seam'. Prick with a fork and return to the fridge for at least another 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 190°C. Remove your tart shell from the fridge, line it with a square of baking paper and pour in baking beans (or some rice will also do the trick) and blind bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to colour. Remove the paper and beans, and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the base is no longer translucent and is cooked(but not coloured.) 

Frangipane Filling
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
200g almond meal
2 eggs
zest of one lemon
Poached Pears
1/2  cup sugar
2 cloves
rind of an orange
1 cinammon quill
100ml red wine (optional)
3 large pears, peeled, cored and quartered
In a small pot combine the sugar, spices, orange rind and wine, if using, with 500ml water, and bring to the boil. Drop in the pear quarters, cover with baking paper, and turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the pears are soft. Strain (keeping the poaching liquid for another time) and set the pears aside.
For the frangipane filling, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Stir through the almond meal, eggs and lemon zest until well combined. 

Fill your tart case with the frangipane mix and press the pears into the top. Return to the oven at 180°C and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and it feels firm to the touch (check the middle, it is always the slowest to cook!).

Serve with cream, ice cream or crème fraiche.

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