My Irish husband decided the other day to compile his very own bucket list. On the list was … to swim in seven of the great oceans of the world; visit the Antarctic, take a motorbike trip through Africa – and yes, jump out of a plane. But bless his Irish soul, he also wants to take me to see the cherry blossoms in Japan and renew our wedding vows in the gardens of the Taj Mahal.
Then there was #16: To master the techniques of the world’s 50 most classic recipes…
Bouef bourguignon, coq a vin, crème anglaise, gratin dauphinous, puff pastry are on the list. As well as traditional South African favourite classics like melktert, koeksisters, bobotie and waterblommetjiebredie.
Melktert and puff pastry
Of course he is always too proud to ask for advice when it comes to his kitchen adventures, but I had to climb in boots and all when he announced he was going to make melktert and puff pastry … both from scratch! Let’s face it, to make your own puff pastry is no walk in the park and I always use bought pastry. But headstrong Rick would have nothing of this packet stuff… but I had a plan.
How to zhoosh up store bought puff pastry
I phoned Theresa de Vries of Kokkedoor and shared with me her recipe to zhoosh up store bought puff pastry. You take the bought pastry, open it up and grate 125g cold butter on top of the dough. You close the pastry by folding it from top to bottom and from side to side and roll it out. Then roll it out a second time. Perfect pastry for a milk tart.
Rick made Theresa’s milk tart filling as well. Some hours later with my nerves almost shattered, my Irishman did a sterling job and served up his first milk tart.
(Recipe: Theresa de Vries)
1 pack puff pastry
125 g ice cold butter, grated
For baking: 1 egg, separated and egg yellow whisked
1 cinnamon stick
2 eggs, separated
15ml corn starch
1ml almond essence
5ml vanilla essence
1 ml salt
Pastry: Fold the dough open. Spread the grated butter over the dough. Fold in half from the bottom then fold from the top. Fold the left side towards the middle then fold the right half towards the middle. Push the dough down lightly with the rolling pin and roll out. Fold up, cover with cling wrap and put in fridge for an half an hour. Roll out for your tart.
Filling: Place 250 ml milk, cinnamon, salt and half the sugar and butter in a thick bottom saucepan and bring to the boil. Mix the remaining sugar, corn starch, flour, egg yolks and vanilla essence with the remaining 250 ml of milk and whisk until there are no lumps. Remove the milk from the heat and remove the cinnamon sticks. With a hand whisk beat the flour mixture quickly into the milk mixture until blended. Return to the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture.
Bake: Place the dough in your baking tin. Brush the bottom of the dough with egg white and pour in the filling. Brush the edges of the dough with egg yolk. Bake at 200°C for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar on top and serve.