I’m going to take it as a good thing that over 20 days into January my new years resolutions are still in the forefront of my mind. For the first week of the month, I asked nearly everyone I conversed with what their resolution for the year was. All these snippets of hopes have been rattling around my head encouraging me to work harder to become closer to the person I want to be at the end of 2014. My favourite of these resolutions was from a friend who wants to learn a new skill every month, from how to shuffle cards to how to bake a loaf of bread.
Extracurricular learning for pleasure is not something that I have given much thought to in the last few years, which is a shame because I should have. Borrowing my friend’s idea I have collated my own set of abilities I would like to possess by 2015. However, basic home maintenance was a complete bust when I tried a little amatuer plumbing and ended up disabling our bath/shower for a week until we could get a professional in.
When Argos asked if I would like to review one of their kitchen appliances, I decided to shift my goal to getting over my irrational fear of making pastry and chose a Kenwood Multipro Food Processor. I was so excited when it arrived, as I have wanted one for a couple of years now. I can’t wait to see if I can recreate a Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals dish under the time limit. My best time so far slicing by hand has been 19min 22sec (yes, I timed myself – but everyone who picks the book off my shelf asks if it is actually achievable).
Argos has a large range of Kenwood products available to buy here. I chose the Multipro as it’s attractive, with a brushed metal base and a large variety of attachments, including a glass smoothie jug, which is always really useful when you live in a small city apartment where space is at a premium. I have used it a couple of times already and I have been really impressed. It is incredibly easy to use and to clean afterwards and the build quality feels strong so I am hoping to be able to use if for years to come.
The only small flaw that I have noticed is that the lid doesn’t form a tight seal with the bowl so a little flour was thrown out when I turned it on. Having never really used a food processor before I don’t know if this is a standard issue, but apart from that I have been really impressed with it. I can not express the pride I felt when after a couple of minutes of using the food processor I was holding a ball of pastry dough. It has been a source of much internalised guilt whenever I buy a roll of shortcrust pastry knowing I have all the ingredients for it sitting in my kitchen.
Tarte Tatin was my signature dessert before I started this blog. It has a rustic charm – which translates to it still looking beautiful even if it is a little rough and ready. It is quick and simple, and it’s creation can be fitted around preparing your main meal (it works particularly well accompanying roast dinners). This version has been updated to include a little depth of flavour from the cardamom and cinnamon. It is soft, sweet and crumbly in the middle whilst chewy with toffee and treacle undertones around the outside.
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Spiced Pear Tarte Tatin
recipe from Jamie Oliver
250g Plain Flour
50g Icing Sugar
125g Cold Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash of milk
Blitz the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs.
Add the egg and vanilla and blitz until combined.
Add a small splashes of milk combining well between additions until it forms a firm dough.
Remove from the food processor onto a floured work surface and split in two.
Roll each half into balls and then flatten.
Wrap individually in clingfilm and place in the freezer until frozen.
125g caster sugar plus 2 tbsp
6 cardamom pods
½ tsp cinnamon
Line your pie dish with baking paper and preheat your oven to 190C
Heat the 125g of sugar over a low medium heat, do not stir, just occasionally swirl the pan to make sure the heat distributes evenly. I found this stage very tricky, I burnt the sugar 3 times. I stopped this happening the last time by repeatedly taking the pan off the heat and swirling until any golden coloured caramel was completely mixed in with the rest of the sugar. It takes a bit of extra time and concentration but it’s worth it. This may be partially due to my electric hobs and not having complete control over their temperature.
When all the sugar is melted add the butter and spice and stir until combined.
Drizzle over the prepared dish trying to get it to cover as much of the dish before it sets.
Peel, core and slice your pears and arrange over the caramel.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven.
Following the BBC method using a cheese grater grate the frozen pastry in as long a slices as possible over the pears until approximately an inch thick. I found this bit difficult to do quickly and accurately so instead I grated the pastry on a chopping board which made the slices shorter but it then all hit the hot pears at the same time.
Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 2 minutes.
Using oven gloves place a larger than the dish plate over the tarte tatin and with a swift consistent movement turnover, turning the tart out onto the plate.
Best served hot, though we enjoyed a lot of our cold too!
In association with Argos