Posts Tagged 'vanilla bean'

brioche bread and butter pudding

in spite of the fact that this elegant rendition of a stodgy, heavy, unattractive classic was met with the response “yeah…ive never been a big fan”, it is in fact wonderful. done with the right bread. panettone is preferable. but sadly it is not christmas time and we’re not in sicily and panettone isnt sold on the side of the road in trucks all year round. mores the pity. brioche however is an agreeable alternative. should you be willing and able, you can make your own brioche. but not even i would suggest doing that for filling a ramekin and drenching it in custard. you’d be insane. and you should probably find something better to do with your time. but maybe its passion that drives you. and a refusal to give in to the miserable alternatives that are presented to you late on a sunday evening in a city where bakeries have no name and no soul. faux parisienne “patisseries” full of wealthier-than-thou ladies who lunch long into the night are no place for pastry enthusiast (recently labeled a snot, as recently, in fact, as in the space between the last sentence and this). but you gotta do what you gotta do and there was a neglected blog to attend to. so here it is, brioche bread and butter pudding. heavy heaven.


375ml double cream

6tbsp milk

1 vanilla pod split and scraped

4 eggs

150g sugar

1 brioche loaf (small)

75g saltanas

preheat your oven to 170 degrees. put milk and cream into a saucepan.

add the vanilla and place on medium heat on the stove. bring to the boil. dont let it boil over so watch it and remove from heat when its reached boiling and remove the vanilla pod.

meanwhile whisk your eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy

slowly pour the hot cream into the eggs, whisking constantly. set this aside to cool completely.

slice your brioche and butter the slices. then cut into small squares.

put the brioche into the buttered ramekins and sprinkle with saltans.

pour over the custard so it fills half the ramekin. leave this for 5 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard. then fill with the remaining custard. sprinkle with a bit of sugar if you so desire.

put this in a bain marie and then into the oven for 15 minutes until set. remove and promptly eat.

in the immortal words of master shake from aqua teen hunger force…cha cha cha cha delicious!


pear tarte tatin

theres something to be said for caramelised pears wrapped in puff pastry, coated in sugar, dripping with butter. its been going since 1898 (yes, the same year the vienna university of economics and business administration was founded under the name K.U.K exportakademie…a very good year) and though its been tried and tested, its never tired and it never fails. its fantastic for those who, much like the tatin sisters, have kitchen based experiences which so often end in chaos, confusion and catastrophe. you might wonder what a 112 year old dish is doing on this highly modern website. the answer is twofold – fold a) 10 sheets of puff pastry and nothing to do and fold b) its a classic…and according to the iranian latte set, it seems to be making a come back. try it -with apples, or plums or pears…anything that goes well with butter and sugar, so the scope is infinite.


5 william pears

90g butter

90g caster sugar

2 vanilla beans

1 sheet all butter puff pastry (rolled out to about 20cm diameter)

nb. you will need a frying pan with an oven proof handle. or a boy who takes things apart to make them better and/or different(ly better), who is able to unscrew the pre-existing non-oven proof frying pan handle.

preheat the oven to 190 degrees. in frying pan scatter the butter and the sugar. cross the vanilla beans (which should have already been split and scraped with their vanilla gold dust removed and set aside).

peel, core and cut the pears in half. they might need a squeeze of lemon to stop them oxidizing (big word for a little blog).

then put the pan onto a low heat and melt the butter with the sugar and vanilla.

next add the pears

…oops. add them cut side up. please.

then cover these with your puff pastry and tuck in the edges around the pears…as if tucking then into bed – a glorious, if not hazardous bed, of butter and sugar.

as the butter and sugar melts, spoon the liquid over the pastry. cook for 5 minutes until the sugar caramelises and goes a golden colour.

put the pan in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

remove from the oven, spoon the caramel over the pastry. then place a large plate on top of the pan and flip it. caramel is very hot. and we have already been burned once this week so try to find a more competent person to aid you here. maybe the same clever boy who de-handled your pan. he seems to know what he’s doing.

if people around you have suddenly decided to go on a diet…then take this tart elsewhere. (old men are good for this – they seem to have, in some ways, given up and therefore given in and will be excellent and willing recipients of any excess baked/caramelised goods presented to them.)

danish pastries

my experience of denmark is two fold – danish copenhagen vanilla ice cream (in which even as a young child, with a penchant for campbell’s bolognese sauce from a tin and wendy’s flake shakes, i was able to discern a superiority and even while lacking the requisite language and therefore knowledge to identify those black seeds of vanilla which speckled my hitherto harmonious and uninterrrupted sea of white, i knew they were somehow doing very significant things.) the second is danish pastries – which, ill admit, never really blew my hair back. neither conceptually nor in reality. chocolate and almond croissants always just seemed to make made more sense. but it gets cold, you may not have a kitchen aid, you might also not have 48 hours in which to attempt and invariably wish you hadnt attempted croissants and all the while wintery dreams of europe and its fancies fill the void between where you are and where you want to be. so something had to be done, made and eaten. and therein lies the secret of the danish – what i had been missing all this time – ease. you can create something close to perfection in a matter of minutes (joy: this is figurative…it actually took about an hour, including but not exclusive to, standing still and thinking what to do next time). in the hierarchical and elitist world of pastry (you cant really do much without a kitchen aid, a commercial oven and a number of pastry chefs)…danishes are the great leveller. and in the timeless and poetic words of snow: “pastry is a right, not a privilege”.


puff pastry (shop bought because who in their right mind would attempt otherwise)

any fruit you like (but for this i used 2 apples, 2 pears, 1 punnet of strawberries, 2 plums)

caster sugar (for sprinkling)

1 egg for egg wash

…for the pastry cream

1/2 cup sugar (50g)

2 egg yolks

4 tblsp cornflour

1 vanilla bean

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

first make the pastry cream. pour milk and cream into pan on the stove. put vanilla bean and its constituent seeds into milk and bring to just before boiling point. remove from heat and set aside. in a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornflour until pale and fluffy. the cornflour will make this ordinarily easy task much tougher and so you may need your kitchen aid, who should be conveniently located on the other side of the kitchen bench at all times, to finish it off.

slowly and carefully pour some of the hot milk over the eggs and sugar and whisk til it hurts. then you can more liberally pour in the rest of the milk. then return this to the pan and bring back to the boil, stirring constantly. boil for one minute. then strain through a sieve and add the butter and stir until melted. set aside to cool. when it has cooled to warm, cover with gladwrap (or clingfilm, depending on what side of the world you come from and to what extent your language has been victim of imperial cultural domination) and let it cool completely.

preheat the oven to 180 degrees. then prepare the fruit. in any way you like. cut, quarter, chop, dice…whatever feels right.

then get your pastry out of the freezer, or the coldest part of your fridge if your freezer has frozen over. and cut into squares. i cant give measurements here because i dont really do numbers. what i do do, and know a great deal about, is the size of a pastry and so too should you. so i will just say, these squares should be danish size. spread a layer of the pastry cream on the base.

finally place the fruit on the pastry cream in any way you wish. fanning and arraying worked well.

then you will need to use some egg wash for the sides with the new pastry brush you finally acquired and place them on a baking tray. put in the oven and cook for about twenty minutes or until golden brown. (do not get distracted during this time, wander off to pursue other interests or pleasures and return to find an ovenful of blackened pastry…salvaging only one, cursing yourself and your attention deficit tendencies. i wouldnt do such a thing. and my best advice to you is not to either.)

then remove from the oven …

theres something to be said for modesty and humility. likewise, a little self-consciousness in writing. but i think it is fair and accurate to say that with this, i have reached a culinary peak. so too has my photographer reached an artistic apex, the likes of which you are not likely to witness again. that is to say, this is as good as it gets. and i think thats good enough.

creme anglaise and/or vanilla ice cream

before i begin the custard/ice cream discourse i feel i should briefly reflect on a recent criticism i received from an ambling older fellow. it was put to me thusly: “could you perhaps not be so unremittingly cool and be slightly less cool for the sake of grammatical comprehension.” hardly. my initial response however was tempered somewhat when i took into account the scope and scale of my audience – you know who you are. and the fact that i can count them on one hand, granted one which was blessed with a few extra digits. make that two. and it occurred to me that in order to maintain the interest of this small, wonderful and dysfunctional collective of individuals, much less attract the interest of a broader cross-section of society, i should perhaps respond more openly and, if nothing else, feign interest in constructive criticisms which might come my way. so henceforth and herewith i shall endeavour. to. be, more; liberal# in my use’ of punctuation! and so it is, i declare the death of cool in favour of grammatical and structural accuracy. now, onto the question of custard, if i may. >?@*()


6 egg yolks

2/3 cup of sugar

1 cup milk

2 cups double cream

1 vanilla pod – split and scraped

in a saucepan pour the milk, cream and the vanilla pod and heat on a low heat until just before boiling point. remove from heat and set aside.

in a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy and doubled in volume.

then carefully, gently, and calmly slowly pour a little bit of the hot milk/cream over the egg/sugar mix and whisk like a mentalist. this is the crucial moment. if your attention is diverted, or even if your whisking arm is weary, you run the dreaded risk of scrambling your eggs. once you have whisked in the first bit of milk, you can take a step back from the psychological and culinary edge and proceed to pour in the rest in a more relaxed fashion…though it is important to continue whisking.

then return the mix to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over a gentle heat. it will slowly start to thicken and you will know you are good to go (not that theres ever anywhere to go) when you can draw a line through the custard on the spoon. if you are using this for custard then place the cooled mix in the fridge to set. if you are marching inexorably on to make a vanilla ice cream sent from heaven then pour this cooled mix into an ice cream machine and churn for 20-ish minutes. whichever way you go, you will find yourself at the end, in a full fat sea of vanilla-y goodness in which i encourage you to wade, bask and finally sink to the bottom.

moons apple pie

adapted from snow, adapted from rose levy berenbaum, adapted from james martin, adapted from jamie oliver, and adapted from my minds in answer to a FAQ, no, i cannot and will not “just choose one and stick to it”.

never having made an apple pie or any sort of pie, but having worked extensively in the realm of tarts, it was with fascination and holy horror that i approached this here pie. and inevitably i made a mountain out of a very big hill. but thats how we roll. torn between so many pie crust pastry recipes, it started to feel increasingly as though culinary walls were closing in on me and that old defeatist voice inside my head kept telling me to give it up. fortunately the other voice in my head that says things like ‘have an easter egg’ was louder and clearer and won the day. sugar and cocoa coursing through my veins i returned to the task with a clarity (or perhaps it was an enabling lack of clarity) of thought and went with the shortcrust i know well, modified marginally to suit a pie. so here it is…

shortcrust pastry…ingredients

500g plain flour

100g icing sugar

pinch of salt

250g unsalted butter

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

in food processor, or using the two food processors god gave you*, mix the butter, flour, salt and sugar together until coarse breadcrumb stage. add one egg at a time until combined. then bring the dough together to form a ball (it will be quite wet by the time your third egg goes in so dont be alarmed and start sending kitchen aids down to the shop for more flour to start again…accept your lot and hope for the best.) wrap in gladwrap and put in the fridge to chill for as long as you want…minimum an hour.

remove pastry after time passed, cut off a third and put it to one side. roll out the rest. i found a remarkably efficient way is between two sheets of baking paper. roll the pastry up over your rolling pin and gently unroll it over a 26-28cm pie dish. push it into the edges. prick the base with a fork several times. (if you have not yet made your apples or have them ready for tipping into said pie dish, then put this back in the fridge to chill and remove at the appropriate point…when that is is really not for me to say. for me it took place somewhere between 11 oclock and why is this all taking so long o’clock)

* nb. this is not indicative of any particular religious bent nor is it an endorsement of the god delusion or any form of organised religion. my religion is rap.

apple filling…ingredients

10 granny smith apples peeled and thinly sliced

1 lemon

100g sugar

1 vanilla pod

50g butter

1 egg beaten

preheat your oven to 180 degrees. put the apples with a squeeze of lemon juice, the sugar and a de-seeded vanilla pod into a bowl and let mascerate for one an hour-ish.

tip the juices out from the apples and set aside in a separate bowl…this can either be used to spoon over apples once they are in the dish or put on the stove and reduced down to create a concentrate a la snow. i did the former.


remove pie dish from its place of chilling. tip in the apples and dot with knobs of butter. spoon over some of the reserved apple juices.

then get the third of pastry from the fridge. roll it out to form the lid and place it atop the apples. its best i think if you have a mountain of apples so when you lay the pastry over the top, you can see the bumps and curves of the apples which lie beneath. brush the sides with egg wash and squeeze the edges together. remove excess pastry from the sides. brush the top with egg was and sprinkle with sugar (and cinnamon if thats what does it for you).

place this monster in the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes.

it wasnt what i wanted or dreamed of, it wasnt snows, and it wasnt done with the same aptitude and certainly without the joie de vivre. but it was done and it was what it was…and what more can you ask from your own creative production? and isnt that sense of emptiness and impossibility and ultimately failure inevitable? but we march on and eat on regardless. so cut into it and eat with vanilla ice cream or cream if youre like that, custard if your blood is english, alone if you are a purist…and you’d be right to be. its roof of the mouth burning stuff and as nigella says, other than a bath thats not hot enough burning your mouth is one of lifes great go gentle.

snows apple pie…

because it deserves its own post.

apple pie (adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum)

Rose makes the ultimate all-American Apple Pie. However, I for one feel a little uncomfortable at the idea of gelatinous apples (and America in general for that matter), so I’ve adapted this recipe to form my ultimate Apple Pie. Not sickly sweet! No blind baking needed! Flaky crust guaranteed! No egg glaze because Moon hates eggs! Apples to die for! Leftovers for breakfast!

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: get your kitchen assistant (the most useful item in your kitchen is your kitchen assistant. If you don’t have one I recommend and will loan you my sister, who has 10 years of tray-greasing experience and is now an excellent baker in her own right, for a very reasonable rate) to grease a 9 or 10 inch pie tin, depending on how you like your pie/crust ratio.


12 tbsp unsalted butter, frozen for ½ an hr

2 c + 3 tbsp all purpose flour (don’t overload your cups, keep it fluffy!), also frozen for ½ hr.

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

4.5 oz cream cheese

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

(OPTIONAL: 1 tbsp sugar, I don’t but you can. This is America, after all)

• cut butter into cubes & freeze for at least ½ an hr. freeze dry ingredients in a bowl for at least ½ hr

• rub together to form a crumb, add cream cheese and then vinegar.

• If needed, add 1-2 tbsp iced water.

• When mixture has come together and feels slightly elastic, shape into 2 balls, cover in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least ½ hr. (This picture is funny)

• Refrigerate for ~1/2 hr. roll out (I like to roll out onto the glad wrap cover as this makes it easy to pick up and put in pie tin)


3 pounds apples, peeled, cores & cut into ¼ inch slices

1.5 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ c light brown sugar

¼ c granulated sugar

vanilla (nobody’s looking how much you put in)

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp + 1 tsp breadcrumbs


• Mascerate sliced apples, lemon juice, sugars, vanilla & salt for ½ hr- 1 ½ hrs

• Pour liquid from apples into a small saucepan, add butter & reduce for 5-10 mins, till liquid is thicker & a little sticky.

• Add breadcrumbs to apple mix and toss

• Pour liquid over apple mix & stir through


• Set oven to 425 F
• Roll Pastry flat, line bottom of greased pie tin

• I like to add a very fine layer of breadcrumbs at this point to help separate the pie crust from the pie filling.

• Fill pastry with apples- I really like to overload, they will cook and soften so really go to town. Put a big baking tray on the rack beneath your pie tin to catch any juice if you’re worried

• Top with 2nd rolled sheet of pastry- I like to flute the edges.

• Cut a few slits in the top of the pastry, decorate any which how.

• Serve with ice cream/cream/assorted Americana


• It’s already the most divine thing you’ll ever taste, but why not add a few raisins and cook for 10/15mins on low heat, making a kind of apple raisin vanilla butter compote. Great with anything, particularly oatmeal, yoghurt and mornings.

Sophie Delizio!!

THE AUTEUR’S: NYC correspondant Jo Schornikow, special assistance from Joseph Raite