By Karyn Booth.
I left Belfast at 19 years old and headed to London looking for glitz and glamour, within a year I had secured my position as pastry commis chef at The Ritz Hotel. It was the toughest and most fabulous experience of my career.
Keith Stanley was head chef and reigned over a brigade of fifty-six. Of said fifty-six there was only myself and five other girls, so you can imagine the girl power!
There was a continual a buzz at The Ritz, royalty, the rich and famous, every day brought someone new through those hallowed doors. Rex Harrison (Rexy Baby) lived there permanently and ate peaches and cream for supper.
U2 had private dinners and behaved impeccably (although we didn't) we couldn't focus... Imagine trying to bake soufflés and Bono's sitting upstairs waiting!
One particular highlight was when Princess Diana and Elton John came for Afternoon Tea and wanted to sit with the other guests In Palm Court... The 'Maitre D' was beside himself (he thought they should be in a private room) and dizziness swept through the kitchen like a whirlwind infecting us all, even the *Too Cool for School* Hot chefs were giddy.
Strawberry tartlets were on the menu that day along with Meuille Feuille, Fruit barquettes, chocolate éclairs and sponge fingers. Classic perfection!
This is my Yum Yum Club version. Click on the link to find other delicious recipes.
Yum Yum Club Strawberry Tartlets
Have a go at making this fool proof pastry yourself; you can go to the Yum Yum Club Face book page for a pastry making master class.
Or you can cheat and buy ready made sweet pastry tartlets from good Deli's or supermarkets.... Naughty, but I won't tell!
Makes 12 (depending on size of tartlets)
170g (6 oz) plain flour
45g (1 ½ oz) caster sugar
90g (3 oz) unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 medium egg
1 large punnet of strawberries washed and stalk removed. Keep 12 whole and cut the rest in half
250 ml whipped cream
25g (1 oz) Pistachio nuts, peeled and chopped
Use a food processor for the best results.
Simply place the flour, caster, sugar, butter and salt into the processor and whiz for 2 minutes until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and then pulse for another minute until it starts to form a dough. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until you have clear dough (a bit like play dough). Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, try not to drench in flour; this is crucial to good pastry making.
Apply even pressure when rolling forward and back. Your aim is to roll the pastry into a square shape.
Cut rounds of pastry, just slightly bigger that your tartlet cases and gently press into the moulds, trim the edges, then allow the tartlets to rest for another 30 minutes. This will prevent them from shrinking.
Line each tartlet with small rounds of baking parchment and fill to the brim with dried lentils or rice (anything you have in the store cupboard) bake blind for 20 minutes until golden.
Remove the parchment, rice or lentils when the tarts are still warm and cool.
Fill the tartlet with a dollop of whipped cream. Use a whole strawberry for the centre, and then prop 5 or 6 half strawberries around it. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts and serve.