Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Banana Tart

I noticed a few days ago that one of my readers was interested in my banana tart recipe from my holiday feast. Since bananas are now back in season and cheap here right now (less than a buck a pound) then I thought this'd be a good time for the recipe.

The trick is the filling (the banana stuff). The casing is simple. Just get a pack of shortcrust pastry sheets, use a 3 inch cookie cutter, put the cut rounds into something like this:

Poke the bottoms a bit, and then bake in an oven till the pastry is done. Or you could do it even simpler: just go to the shops and get a pack of pack of pre-cooked tart shells. But they are much more expensive than the sheets.

Side note for suzer: you can get the above baking tray at Coles, they're around 6 dollars and last forever.

Now for the filling!

Firstly, make LOTS. This stuff is so good you'll be eating it by itself. The riper the banana is the better it tastes. Even the ones that are totally black on the outside are great to use.

For every pound of banana, you'll want 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar plus the juice of one lemon.

What do you do? Chop up your bananas (peel 'em first), and toss them, the sugar, and the lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat it up, stir FREQUENTLY. Keep it at a temp that's just bubbling the mixture. When it starts to a light orangish/reddish colour, then it's done (15 to 20 mins, the riper the banana the quicker it cooks).

Pour/spoon into a bowl and let it cool. Once it's cool, spoon it into the cooked pastry shells. Then eat! You can top them with whipped cream, that's good too.

The banana filling can be used for many things: ice cream topping, a spread on toast, filling in a flaky buttermilk biscuit, or just eat it as is. When I buy bananas I'll hide 5 or 6 of them and let them go black; THEN they are great for making the filling.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hollandaise Sauce

This post first appeared on my other blog, way back in the dark ages. For those of you who've been bored enough to trawl those archives, then you've seen (scene) this already. For the rest of you (especially all my new readers!), here ya go:

Have you ever had a rich, yellow, creamy, smooth, buttery sauce at a restaurant and wondered, "how in the hell do I make that?" Or you may have wondered, "what the heck is this wonderful sauce?"

It's that yellow sauce on Eggs Benedict; it's that yellow sauce on asparagus; it's that yellow sauce served with some types of fish... Yes, you've guessed right:


But, alas, you've heard that hollandaise sauce is hard to make and it doesn't always come out 'right'. So off you go to the grocery store and buy a little packet of hollandaise sauce mix --you know the kind! Yup, the one with a paragraph of fine print ingredients that aren't fit to serve to your worst enemy (for those of you that gots em).

So you despair... You love the taste, but the pre-packaged crap will kill you and you don't know how to make the sauce from scratch. Never fear cus it's EASY!!! It takes all of about 3 MINUTES --no wait, it really only takes 45 seconds! No, I'm not doing a 'cheating' Hollandaise Sauce (hey, I can type Hollandaise in my sleep now), this is the real deal.

In fact, it's sooooo easy, I'm going to give you a few variations --of the recipe, get your mind out of the gutter, this is not Penthouse!

Here we go:

What you need:

1/3 cup (75 ml or 2 1/2 oz) of real butter (DO NOT USE MARGARINE!!!! More about that crap in a few posts...)
a pinch of salt (non-iodised sea salt! Ah, more about the salt you all have to put up with in the US soon)
1 tbspn (15 mls) lemon juice Have I mentioned I have my own lemon tree out front? No I haven't? Well I have now.
2 egg yolks eggs from chooks, not emus (An emu is a very cool bird, I'll try to upload a pic for y'all)

What you do:

In a small saucepan (Don't use a coated saucepan, BLECK!), heat everything except the egg yolks until the butter is melted but not bubbling. Then: TURN THE HEAT OFF.

Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl (ten seconds perhaps).

Pour egg yolks into saucepan while whisking like a lunatic (I can relate to that).

Use immediately

There now, wasn't that quick and easy? You can make the sauce in about 45 seconds with some practice getting the egg yolks out without the egg whites (I know three different ways, I'll pass them along to you eventually). BTW Always save the egg whites. If you aren't going to use them soon (more soon) then they freeze well, just make sure you put them in a container before tossing them in the freezer.

Now for some variations on a theme...

Use half lemon juice and half lime juice. Or all lime juice, they are both tasty.

Use some tarragon (great herb). Put the tarragon in the melted butter and let it sit for a bit before whisking in the egg yolks --you may need to SLIGHTLY heat the butter mixture back up. You can use either fresh or dried, no worries.