Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Vanilla Apple Lattice Pie

This dish is from our mate Mel's recipe book. Mel moved from South Africa (where she also had a cooking school) to Brisbane in 2011. She opened up Vanilla Zulu in Wilston, but has recently moved to nearby Teneriffe. To celebrate the new premises, she has just published her book of recipes, tips and hacks: Culinary Quickies

Mel asked me to write a review for her website, which you can read at the bottom of this post.  My only proviso after using one of her recipes is that she really needed a good editor!  (Sorry Mel; and I'm available.)  I also like to see recipes that have the list of ingredients in order of use, but that is a small quibble.  I had to do a bit of guesswork to fathom this recipe out, and I made a couple of very slight changes, but it's pretty much Mel's dish as per her book.

our mate Ms PP holding up her piece of pie (cute toes)

Here is my ever-so-slightly adapted version of Mel's recipe:

Serves 8:


2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed (or make your own - now stop that cackling, folks)

3 tbs apricot jam

250 mLs really thick custard

70g. almond meal

1 tsp vanilla extract

100 mLs of thickened cream

2 large apples, sliced thinly - or use stone fruit of your choice

a pinch of cinnamon (optional)

50 mLs milk - to brush the pastry

2 tbs granulated (white) sugar - to cast over the top of the pie


1 cup (125g.) of icing sugar

about 1 tbs hot water - maybe a bit more, or a bit less

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cocoa powder


Place one sheet of the thawed pastry onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper

Spread the apricot jam over the pastry, leaving a 2cm. border on all sides

Whisk the custard, almond meal, vanilla and cream together - it should be really thick; you don't want it to seep out the sides

Now spoon this mixture on top of the jam and spread it out

Place the apple slices neatly over the custard mixture, and throw on the cinnamon if using

Fold the second piece of pastry in half lengthwise and slice on the fold to make a lattice pattern, leaving a border of 2cm.

Brush around the custard and apple filling with milk, then place the second piece of pastry over the whole shebang (after gently unfolding it so you have one large piece again)

Press down the edges, and brush the pie with the rest of the milk

Sprinkle the sugar over the top, and bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes or till golden

Take the pie out of the oven and cool for a few minutes while you beat the icing ingredients together EXCEPT the cocoa powder

Reserve 2-3 tbs of the icing and mix the cocoa into it

Now drizzle all the white icing over the pie, then the reserved cocoa icing for contrast

Delicious hot or cold, with cream or icecream or nude (tee hee)


You can buy 'thick custard' at the supermarket, or make your own, ensuring it is very thick - Mel says 'thick enough to bounce off a wall'

Try hazelnut meal for a change

Use red or green apples, as you wish - I used Royal Gala (red) 

spread the apricot jam over the pastry

stir the custard mixture together 

spread the custard over the jam

slice the unpeeled apples thinly

cut the lattice pattern into the fold of the pastry (Mr P. did it for me) 

layer the apple slices over the jam and custard  (with the pinch of cinnamon)

place the pastry over the filling and sprinkle on the sugar 

pour the icing over the pie

never mind the burnt bits :-)

golden and crunchy on top (well, just a bit burnt)

This pie went down well with everybody.  It was crunchy and golden on top, with a sweet, soft filling inside.  The apples had cooked perfectly, and the icing added an even sweeter dollop to the whole affair.  Yep, we had it with cream.  Well, why not gild the lily when you can? :-) 

red apple artwork by Sherry's Pickings

My review:

The book is written in her endearing and quirky style, but provides solid information and tips for the confident cook and the culinary novice. You'll find dozens of quickie recipes, and innovative ideas for meals. The recipe for Magical Moroccan Mince with pistachios and date gravel inspired this reviewer to take the brave step of letting the mince do its own thing without stirring and on a high heat, until the meat became brown and luscious - which kind of goes against your instincts but actually works. I now find myself using this technique often when cooking a protein, as does hubby.

Mel’s book gives you starters, sides and mains, plus desserts and cakes. Her Little Black Book of Culinary Bling is included in this book, giving you even more ideas to brighten up your plates. There is nothing pretentious about her recipes, just good, honest food that is easy to make, and will appeal to your family and friends. I first encountered this dessert in one of Mel’s cooking classes - Vanilla Apple Lattice Pie: puff pastry, apple slices, custard and cream and sugar, all baked to perfection and glazed with a vanilla and icing sugar paste.

There are plenty of illustrations, and a guide called How to Shop which gives the basics for your pantry items. I like the fact that there are no apologies for using shortcuts like bought puff pastry. We all know the home cook is rarely, if ever, going to make her/his own! This is a handy and cheerful book, allowing you to try new recipes with confidence. You too will be able to cook fish with crispy skin, or end up with the perfect steak. As Mel says in her introduction: “you can almost have me right by your side guiding you all the way.” And yes, I think that’s exactly how you will feel! And while it’s not a huge tome, it is a useful and practical addition to your kitchen library.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

In My Kitchen - January 2019

Happy New Year, dear blogger friends.  Hope you had a fabulous Christmas/Holiday break.  This is IMK Lite for January, so let's make it short and sweet.  I most likely won't get a chance to check out your posts till mid-month, just FYI :-)  Our Christmas was small and serene, and full of food and drink and friends.  I hope yours was too!

So, let's get cracking.  Here in my kitchen:

coconut candy

This was kindly given to me by Sandra from Please Pass the Recipe, after her recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.  Chewy but tasty.  Yep, the candy not Sandra.  It's made in Vietnam, from coconut milk and coconut cream.  I'm saying candy 'cos that's what's on the label!  But you know we don't use that term in Australia very often, if at all.  

as per the label ... :-) 

I love this little gadget!  I have a drawer full of gadgets (yes you, garlic wheel) that I don't often use, but this is such a cute implement.  I actually have it in the freezer right now, with parsley in it.  You just push it down as per the photo, and then grate off the herbs with a microplaner.  Not really a necessity, but a bit of fun now and then.  So just keep it for the occasional turn.  After all, you've paid a million dollars for your chef's knife already, haven't you? :-) 

another book about food for my shelves

This is not a cookbook as such; here Ruby is discussing food and how and what to eat.  She quit her job writing food columns with the Guardian newpaper mid-year of 2018, as she felt the food world was cynical, elitist and toxic.  Strong stuff!  I am looking forward to reading this one.

yep, more ceramics from Miss B., and a wooden spoon 

Miss B. gave me the pink mug and the green tumbler, and my sister gave me the wooden spoon.  I can hear you chuckling, Tiffin Fiona!  But you can never have too many spoons.  I think it comes from our childhood, where mum only had one (one I tell you!!) wooden spoon in her kitchen, and for all purposes - sweet and savoury.  In fact, my sister quizzically told me recently that her oldest daughter has separate wooden spoons for sweet and savoury.  I just looked at her, and at my two huge utensil jars full of spoons, one lot for sweet and one lot for savoury .... 

Well, that's it for this month.  I've been succinct I think :-)  But I'm saving the best for February.  Hope to see some of you here this month though.  Happy New Year, chums!

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