23 April 2013

GUEST BLOG: Afters hours

By guest blogger HELEN ROADHOUSE

Kevin White, aka The Ginger Kid, was back at Chorlton High School last Tuesday to show us some Impressive Afters. We were lucky enough to have both Alicja and Maz helping out, both chefs in their own right, so the participants had a wealth of cooking knowledge to draw from. Apple Tarte Tatin and Panna Cotta was on the cards, so we cracked on with the Panna Cotta as that takes a while to set. The double cream was infused with the aromatic seeds from a vanilla pod. Kevin talked about how he picked his vanilla from the Barbakan shop in Chorlton and had acquired some fine fat juicy pods. Only half a pod per pan of cream was needed. Kevin showed us how to split the pods and scrape out the seeds. We had some gelatine soaking ready for the cream and vanilla, so that was whisked in and left to cool. This really is not a good dessert for those watching their waistlines, but it was starting to look mouthwatering.

Next, we got on with the pastry for the tarts and the fruit for the syrup. We soon realised that we were learning more than a few different cooking techniques tonight - the participants were certainly getting their money's worth! There were a lot of different parts to this session and lots of skills to master, but the end results really will impress dinner party guests! Kevin advised that it's better to use butter than margarine for pastry as margarine has too much water content to make ideal pastry (but that is what makes it great for cakes) and not to knead too much as we don't want to stretch the gluten in the flour. The pastry was wrapped up and left in the refrigerator to rest, then our attention was turned back to the Panna Cotta, filling up little foil pots with the mix. These too were refrigerated athough Kevin didn't expect they would be completely set as they really need a few hours at least. Still, he'd brought a few he had made earlier, so we could all have a taste of what was to come!

We had apples peeled and chopped, drying on some paper towel ready for the pastry. Kevin then had us making caramel for the tarts, and this is where the fun started! The butter, sugar and water have to be boiled but watched like a hawk so the mixture doesn't burn. When ready, it was poured into the bottom of the tart tins. Of course there was a minor disaster that ended up as burnt caramel but there was plenty left from the other pans to save the day and a lesson learned to keep an eye on the pan!
Apple pieces were arranged in the little tart tins and small pastry circles rolled, placed over the apples and tucked into the tins, then the tarts went into the ovens.

Next, Kevin showed us how to prepare a pineapple and some kiwi, which we poached in some cinnamon-infused sugar syrup to go with our Panna Cotta. Of course your favourite alcoholic tipple could always be added to flavour the syrup should you want to! We tried Kevin's Panna Cotta, which was deliciously smooth and when turned out of the dish was perfectly formed and looked irresistible! Same with the tarts - everyone's was golden and the caramel-infused apples with melt-in-the-mouth pastry base was delicious! Everyone said they would be making the Tarte Tatins again at home, as will I. Madeleine said she found the variety of different skills involved interesting while Ian had never made pastry and puddings before and found the whole session friendly, interactive and not at all intimidating, and Noor said it was interesting seeing how easy and quick it was to make the afters.

There was more than enough for everyone to take home and although Kevin said I should put my Panna Cotta back in the fridge, it never made it that far and was demolished within minutes of getting it home! Mmmmm mmmm!

More photographs from this event can be found on the CGF Facebook page. Remember to "like"!

The Ginger Kid's next session with Cracking Good Food takes place on the evening of Monday 17 June at Altrincham Grammar School For Boys, when we'll be making pasta from scratch. See our website for more details and how to book: http://www.crackinggoodfood.org/.

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