Monday 27 March 2017

Roast rhubarb galette

Galet: Old French meaning pebble. So what's a galette then? Isn't that a tart?

A galette is several things; always the way with food. In the north of France it might be a buckwheat pancake served with eggs and ham. In Belgium it's a waffle. In North Lahndahn it's a pretentious name for a tart by a cook who can't EVEN BE BOTHERED TO MAKE HIS OWN PUFF.* It can be, in fact, anything served flat and round. But I'm using the best known definition of a 'flat cake of pastry, often topped with fruit'. OK, rhubarb is a vegetable but it's close. You may well have neighbours popping round with rude sticks of the red stuff. This is your chance to escape the inevitable mulchy crumble.

I'm always looking for new ways of serving rhubarb, especially ones that involve a crunch. The reason this isn't a tart is I wanted to ensure a really crisp and light crunch. Texture is as important as taste, otherwise we might as well blend everything. The other reason is that I can prepare rhubarb and galette at leisure, combing just before service, ensuring the crisp base stays crisp.

It's a great combination. I'm going to use this with peaches and apricots, come the season.

One of the prettiest things in the kitchen.

The rhubarb was roasted in a 140°C oven for about 15 minutes. Cut small and sprinkled generously with caster sugar, the rhubarb keeps its shape this way.

Puff pasty galette

Preheat oven to 200°C.

My galettes are made from puff pastry. I normally use a commercial all-butter number. I will make my own again one day. One day. It is such a faff. The recipe I used to use is M. Roux's. I make individual ones but for family meals, a large one works just as well. When I do make it, I'd mix in some vanilla seeds too.

Roll out your pastry to thickness of a pound. The old round pound! Hey, maybe the new one will be thinner?

Using a tartlet ring cut shapes out. This is much easier when the pastry is cold and stiff so return it to the freezer for a few moments if it's a warm day.

Lift out and carefully centre the pastry in the case, pushing down the excess onto the base. This gives you a slight ridge, all the better to withhold your fruit.

Beat an egg with a little milk and brush the pastry discs. Now sprinkle a big pinch of caster sugar over each. This ensures extra crispness and crunch. 

Bake for 12 minutes. For a large galette you'll probably need 20 minutes. The pastry will dome alarmingly. Remove and gently press the centres down with a spoon. Return to the oven for maybe 6-8 minutes. You want a good, deep golden colour. Remove and allow to cool before uncasing them.

Just before service. Pile rhubarb and a little of the roasting syrup into the centre of each galette and sprinkle with more caster sugar. You could, if you have the time and patience (and who doesn't) arrange the pieces of fruit like a mosaic. Roast for just five minutes at 220°C. Allow the tarts to cool to hand holdable then serve.

I served mine with pistachio ice creamcrystallised pistachios and some of the roasting syrup further pan reduced until sticky and then drizzled. It would also work with a simple vanilla whipped cream.

*Honestly, this is the one thing I serve that I don't make from scratch.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Pistachio ice cream

Pistachio ice cream with crystallised pistachios and a chocolate tuile.

Of all the regular ice cream flavours, pistachio is my favourite. Odd then that I'd never thought of making it myself. Although perhaps the cost of the raw ingredient was off putting. This is doubtless the most expensive of the regular gelato flavours. It's easily ten times the cost of my Valrhona chocolate ice cream.

The inspiration came from my neighbour Michael over a feedback session. By 'feedback session' I mean those evenings where - wine in hand, possibly as a drink, possibly as a weapon - I insist on a full and frank set of opinions on whatever new food I have fed friends.  It's possibly one of my most endearing traits. On this occasion it was a rhubarb dessert that I'd served with Crème fraîche sorbet. Michael thought it would benefit from some pistachios crumbled over it. He was very right. I ambled off down pistachio alley to find an entirely new dish: rhubarb galette with crystallised pistachios and pistachio ice cream. I'll recipe this up soon.

Roast rhubarb galette with crystallised pistachios, rhubarb and rose syrup and pistachio ice cream.

As with almost all my ice creams, this is a version of my custard base recipe. The bad news is you can only make pistachio ice cream using pistachios. Why do these nuts cost so much? I thought cheap stuff was meant to 'grow on trees'. Yeah. So, you will need to buy some pistachio paste. This was the first one I found and - to the consternation of my anti globalisation readers - is delivered by Amazon. I could not find it in any local shop or supermarket. It's about £9 for a 190g jar. Be careful though. This was my second purchase, I first ordered the almost identically labelled pistachio pesto. Although in retrospect, seeing that the pesto is entirely nuts with some salt; critically NO parmesan, I might try that too. Seriously. I add salt anyway to most of my ice cream recipes. It's a Heston gig.

You could try making your own paste but that means buying raw pistachio kernels which are also very expensive and making nut butters is a fraught, blender-burning experience. I know from my hazelnut endeavours that making a perfectly smooth nut paste is very hard work that results in wasteful sieve-fulls of bits. Tolerable when using 'cheap' nuts but... these are pistachios, the uranium of the Fagaceae family.

This has a better flavour than the commercially available ice creams I've had. I suspect they use a cheaper flavouring that has never seen a nut tree. This ice cream has nuance. It tastes of the nut. It's also not as sweet. You won't get the near luminous, Halloween green colouring - more of a 1970s German army olive drab - but I think we can all agree that's a good thing. I've never yet had a pistachio that I could read a book by.

The problem with the paste is it includes sugar; it's ferociously sweet. I had to compensate by reducing the sugar in the custard. I have since found pastes with no sugar and will update the blog when I use it. The new paste costs £14 for the same small 190g jar. I won't be making it very often.

Pistachio ice cream
Serves 16 as a dessert accompaniment (see above) or 8 as a dessert or one sad person bent on an evening of woeful self reflection.

Make a custard (technique here) using 350ml full fat milk, 140 caster sugar, 6 egg yolks and 250g of mascarpone (replacing) the double cream and a pinch of salt. Stir the pistachio paste into the mix. Churn the chilled mix in whichever machine you use.

You could, of course, halve the amounts but then you'll have half a jar of absurdly expensive paste left.