Pistachio Sablés 

 

As I type it’s now a very wet and rainy September morning.  Most of the country’s children have gone back to school. I’m a supply teacher in my day job, which I love but as there’s no work around at the beginning of term I’m finally managing to catch up on my very neglected blog.

It seems ages ago now we’re back into school mode. Well in our house I have my older one back off to uni today.  She’s driving down in her car for the first time and my younger one doesn’t start back at college until next week. Time flies and before we know it we’ll be mentioning the dreaded “C” word!!  But for now I’ll still think about summer and our holiday.

When we were on holiday in the south of France a couple of weeks back we did a lot of our food shopping in the local Carrefour.  I always feel stressed and wound up in supermarkets at home.  I reckon it’s because I’m always in a hurry, they move things around and you end up forgetting half the things you came in for in the first place.  But in this Carrefour, even though it was a massive “grandes surfaces” it felt like a pleasure to shop there.

Of course wherever I go on holiday I have to search out their baking aisle.  I don’t always buy things from the baking aisle but I couldn’t help myself here.  The selection of nuts, dried fruits, flavoured baking powders, extracts and the usual cake decorations were amazing.  Seeing different flavoured baking powders was a new one on me.  I love pistachios so I bought a packet of ground pistachio nuts hoping to use them in a recipe somewhere.  Of course when I buy goodies to take home, my family make snide comments about how I’m going to make us go over the baggage allowance.  I think we had about 500g spare this time, thank God!

Two days after we got back from France I had invited my lovely Clandestine Cake Club friends over to my house for afternoon tea.  It was a great excuse to bake for them so I thought about how I could use my pistachio nuts in a recipe.  In the end I plumped for a biscuit recipe which I adapted from a recipe in The Great British Bake Off Everyday”  The original recipe was for Coconut Sables.

Pistachio Sables

Makes 20-24 biscuits

160g plain flour

a pinch of salt

75g icing sugar

160g unsalted, cold and diced butter

2 medium free range egg yolks

100g ground or crushed Pistachio nuts (I used Vahine Eclats de Pistaches Torrifiees)

First, put the pistachios, flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl and combine them evenly.

Then add in the cubes of butter, rubbing them in until you get fine bread crumbs.

Next you add the egg yolks to the bowl until the mixture becomes like a ball of dough.  I then take the ball of dough out of the bowl and roll it into a disc that’s about 2.5cm thick.

 Wrap your dough in some cling film and leave it to chill in the fridge for about half an hour  until you are ready to use it.  Or if you are like me, you run out of time, leave it longer and then you find it is too hard to manipulate!

When you have the dough out of the fridge, sprinkle a little flour onto your work top and then roll out your dough to the thickness of a pound coin.  Cut out circles with a cutter (either plain or fluted) which is 7.5cm in diameter.

Put the biscuits onto greased baking trays and pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  Oven temperature: 180oC/ 350oF/ Gas Mark 4. In the original recipe the biscuits should have been pricked with a fork before being baked but I forgot!

I found that once you ate one of these cookies, you didn’t want to stop.  So I had to hide them away until my friends came over. I could just imagine eating a massive bowl of pistachio ice cream with one of these little treats.

img_3434-1
Afternoon tea at SmartCookieSam’s. It’s also the perfect excuse to use my late mother in law’s china.
img_3436
Afternoon Tea at SmartCookieSam’s. Don’t look at the creased tablecloth!!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Tomato Provençale Tart.

The SmartCookieSam family have just come back from our summer holidays in the South of France.  It’s been 9 years since we last went to France.  We’ve always loved going there and as I speak French, it always feels like a special place to me.  Of course part of going to France is to enjoy all the lovely food and wine and our holiday  was no exception.

We stayed in a beautiful villa outside the medieval town of Flayosc near Draguignan and for most of our shopping used the huge Carrefour supermarket on the edge of Draguignan.  I was blown away by the sheer quality of the fruit and vegetables for a start.  Tomatoes never taste the same in the UK as they do in the mediterranean countries, to me.

The day after we got home I had to head up to our local supermarket to stock up.  I’d been so taken by all the Provencale type foods and dishes I’d seen, I was keen to make something  French for our dinner.  My son was over at his girlfriend’s house and he balks at anything with tomatoes in it unless it’s ketchup! I was looking in one of the Great British Bake Off books and found a mouthwatering sounding recipe in the book to accompany the 2013 series The Great British Bake Off Everyday.  There was a recipe for Roast Tomato Tart.  It captured all the typical Mediterranean flavours and could be adapted to have pesto sauce  in it in place of mustard.  I chose to stick with mustard.  The tart is a shortcrust pastry base infused with rosemary, baked blind and then spread with Dijon mustard and grated Gruyere cheese.  Then the tart is topped with sliced tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and then salt and pepper.

The recipe makes a tart in a circular 1 x 23cm loose based quiche tin but I chose to try out a rectangular flan tin I’d bought in John Lewis last year and never used.  I found I had slightly too many tomatoes to go in the tin but I just added them to the side salad I was serving with the tart.

Ingredients:

200g plain flour

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried, as I didn’t have fresh)

140g butter chilled and diced

3-4 tbsp iced cold water

800g ripe tomatoes

1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard or pesto sauce

175g Gruyere or Emmental cheese, grated

1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A couple of pinches of herbes de Provence

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First, you make up the rosemary shortcrust pastry.  This can be done in a food processor or by hand.  I thought that by the time I’d faffed about getting the food processor out, I could have made up the pastry.  But if you have one and it’s not a pain getting it out of the cupboard, it makes making pastry so much easier.  Rub the butter into the flour until it makes fine breadcrumbs then add the water little by little.  Form into a ball with the end of a round bladed knife.  It should be a soft but not sticky dough.  Wrap the dough into cling film and put in your fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.

Flour your work top with some plain flour or if you’re like me, pour too much out so it goes all over the kitchen floor.  When you have done that, get the dough out of the fridge and roll the pastry out to fit the flan tin allowing extra to overhang because of shrinkage.

Then the oven needs to be heated up to 190oC/

 

Excuse the awful pictures but I was taking the photos in a hurry.  Especially doing them before Mr SmartCookieSam saw me taking the pictures and would say he didn’t “want to see his dinner on bloody Facebook!”

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Vanilla Sables- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

For my third bake towards the family picnic I never went on last week I chose to make some Vanilla Sables.  Vanilla Sables are the French equivalent of shortbread biscuits and I’ve seen them when I have been on holiday in France, especially in the Normandy and Brittany regions.  I’ve seen them called Sables Au Beurre too.  Unfortunately there is meant to be an acute accent above the “e” in the word “sable” but I still don’t know how to add different languages and characters on my laptop.  I can do it on my phone as I have the French keyboard installed but not on the computer.  I still struggle to write my posts on my WordPress App so one of these days I might actually learn how to do it.

These delicious French biscuits were a hit with the adults and children.
These delicious French biscuits were a hit with the adults and children.

The recipe introduction in The Great British Bake Off Everyday book states that sables are “very rich, crisp, sandy textured biscuits”. That’s probably where they get their name from then as sable is the French word  for sand if I can remember rightly from my A Level French days.

I made up the cookie dough quickly in my food processor by adding flour, salt and icing sugar to the bowl and then adding cubes of butter through the funnel bit by bit. This was blitzed together until I was left with the sandy like texture. Once this was done I added the yolks of three eggs bit by bit through the funnel until the dough formed into a large ball.

The dough was chilled for half an hour wrapped in cling film in the fridge so that the dough would be easier to roll out.

After 1/2 hour out came the dough again and it was then rolled out on my floured work top to the thickness of a pound coin.  I then cut rounds out with a fluted circular biscuit cutter.

Here is one half of my biscuit dough rolled out. I tend to roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin and I try to make sure it is even throughout.
Here is one half of my biscuit dough rolled out. I tend to roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin and I try to make sure it is even throughout.
The biscuits are cut out into fluted rounds and placed on baking trays.
The biscuits are cut out into fluted rounds and placed on baking trays.

Before baking, the biscuit rounds needed to be brushed with beaten egg. Once this is done, they are then scored with the side of a knife in the traditional lattice pattern. Then there is another layer of beaten egg to glaze on the top. This gives the sables their distinctive appearance.

The baked cookies just out of the oven.
The baked cookies just out of the oven.
Delicious buttery Vanilla Sables. Perfect with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream!
Delicious buttery Vanilla Sables. Perfect with a cup of tea or a scoop of ice cream!

Although these were meant for the family picnic, once my family had seen them, that was it!  The biscuits vanished!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx