With the senior students concentrating on NCEA examinations, the young men from year 9 showcase what they can produce.
Christmas is fast approaching and the organised among you will have already started to plan the big dinner. We would like to share a couple of easy ideas that will look stunning when it comes to dessert time. While not exclusive to Christmas, these desserts will not look out of place next to or instead of the traditional desserts.
Christmas is a time of excess and indulgence in foods that are in the Eat Less section of the healthy eating pyramid - foods that are high in fat and sugar - so in keeping with that long tradition, we will give you a couple of high- fat, high-sugar desserts. Moderation, of course, is the key and we know Christmas comes only once a year.
So our treats include tarte tatin, lemon meringue pie and a quick and simple homemade ice cream.
Tarte tatin is French and simply means an upside-down apple dessert. Folklore has it that this classic dessert came as the result of a mistake by two sisters who were trying to cook an apple pie. This dessert can be made in one large pan and then cut into slices.
For those looking for a quality dessert for a dinner party, it can be made individually by making it in small omelette pans and baking them in the oven.
When served with icecream (my favourite is vanilla), it ticks all the boxes as a simple but decadent dessert.
The well-loved lemon meringue pie doesn't need much of an introduction. The three key elements - sweet pastry, lemon curd and meringue - are all individual dishes that any budding young chef should have in their repertoire, as they are all foundation dishes that lead on to many other great desserts.
If you have time to make your own sweet pastry for the pie or puff pastry for the tarte tatin, then by all means go for it. For those with less time, it is fine to use premade pastry sheets.
Everyone seems to have their own family curd recipe passed down through generations, which is ideal for this recipe.
Just remember that it should taste like lemon and shouldn't run when cut.
There are three types of meringue. The first is simply beaten egg whites and sugar, which can be piped on top of the pie and baked. This can be slightly unstable and can weep. The other two types are "classic chef style".
One is called an Italian meringue and this is when you boil your sugar, water and cream of tartar and then whisk this syrup into your egg whites.
The other style is called a Swiss meringue and this is when you warm your sugar on an oven tray, then whisk all the ingredients together over a pot of water at about 45 degrees Celsius. These meringues are more stable because they become partly cooked while they're being made.
We use this recipe with year-10 boys. It makes two litres and costs about $4, excluding the flavours.
This recipe is always successful. However, it does require following the steps correctly and having the right consistency of the various components.
The standard recipe makes a great vanilla icecream. It is very easy to add any flavour and some of the great ones produced at school have been crunchy bar, passionfruit pulp from a jar, Oreo cookie, macadamia nut and chocolate chip. The variations are limited only by your imagination.
We can't tell you with any accuracy how long it might last in the freezer, as the boys have eaten it within seconds of opening the container.
We would like to wish you a very merry Christmas, a safe and happy New Year and some quiet time for all. Keep those young chefs building on their skills and improving their confidence. The more time spent doing that now, the sooner dinner time for you will become free time.
Lemon meringue pie
1 sheet of pre-made sweet pastry
60ml lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
30g melted butter
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Line a 20cm flan ring with the pastry and bake blind.
Boil the sugar with half the water.
Mix the cornflour with the remaining water and add to the sugar mixture.
Stir until thickened.
Stir in the lemon juice, zest and melted butter.
Remove from heat and whisk in the yolks.
Pour into the flan case and leave to set.
Make a standard meringue with the whites and sugar or use one of the other meringue recipes on this page.
Pipe meringue on to flan.
Place the pie in a hot oven (220degC) for a few minutes to set and colour the meringue.
Pinch cream of tartar
4 egg whites
Boil the sugar, water and cream of tartar to 115degC (soft ball stage).
Whisk egg whites into a stiff foam.
Continue whisking while steadily adding the sugar syrup.
Continue whisking until the meringue is firm and cool.
Pipe on top of pie and bake until golden brown.
335g castor sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp lemon juice
Warm sugar on a tray in the oven.
Whisk all the ingredients over a bain marie (double boiler) until warm (about 45degC).
Remove from the heat and whisk until cold and firm.
Pipe on top of pie and bake till golden brown.
This is just a fancy apple tart that you cook upside down.
150g soft butter
1kg cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 sheet of pre-made puff pastry
Spread the softened butter over the base of a frying pan (about 20-24cm). Make sure that it can go in the oven. (No plastic handle!)
Sprinkle the sugar over the butter.
Arrange the apple quarters neatly on the butter. Pack the apple in as close as possible. You can fill any gaps by cutting the apple to suit. It is really important that you do this neatly as this is going to be the final presentation of your dish.
Cook gently on the stove stop until the butter and sugar begin to caramelise. Do not let it burn.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 180C.
Remove from the oven.
Cut the pastry to fit the pan and fit it over the apples. Remember the caramel is very hot and you do not want to get this on your hands.
Bake in the oven until the pastry is well coloured.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the tart.
Place your serving dish over the tart and turn out.
Serve with your icecream and eat while warm.
This recipe works really well when the individual components are prepared correctly and folded together so the icecream stays nice and "fluffy" when frozen.
4 eggs separated
1/4 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Your choice of flavour (Moro bar, berries, winegums, etc)
Use an electric beater to beat the egg whites until they are stiff. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down above your head without them falling out. Add one of the 1/4 cup sugar to the whites then beat them again for 2 minutes.
Put the other 1/4 cup sugar in with the egg yolks and then beat them until they are thick and pale.
Gently fold the whites and yolks together using a wooden spoon.
Pour the cream and the vanilla essence into one of the bowls used to beat the eggs, and whip until thick, but do not make butter.
Fold the egg mixture into the cream. Add your chosen flavours, fold in, pour into icecream container, date and label the container and put in the freezer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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