Piping is a method of decorating by forcing a soft mixture, such as cream, icing, meringue, or creamed potatoes through a greaseproof paper or fabric bag fitted with a nozzle, into decorative shapes.

Whether you are using a sweet or savoury mixture, it is very important that it is the right consistency. It must be free of lumps and thin enough to be forced through the pipe, yet thick enough to hold its shape once it is piped.

There are many different sizes and types of piping nozzles. For example, when piping eclairs, a plain f-inch nozzle is most often used. Meringues require a plain

½ inch nozzle and duchess potatoes, savoury cream cheese or sweet cream for decorating desserts, can be piped with star nozzles of different sizes.

For cake decoration the variety is end-less, from writing nozzles, to shell nozzles and flat sided nozzles for making petals and flowers. Depending on the type of cake and how intricate the decoration, either royal or butter cream icing is generally used. r

I dry red wine

1 tablespoon beurre manie

1 tablespoons capers

In a large frying-pan, melt the butter with the oil over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the entrecote, sprinkle the pepper on top, and cook it for 7 minutes on each side, or until it is evenly browned.

Leave the beef fat side down, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook the meat for 15 minutes, if you wish the meat to be rare.

Meanwhile, in a cup or measuring jug combine the mustard, sugar, salt, vinegar and wine. Set aside.

When the beef is cooked, transfer it to a warmed plate, cover with aluminium foil and keep it hot while you finish the sauce.

Increase the heat to high and pour the wine mixture into the frying-pan.

Stirring frequently, bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the beurre manie, a little at a time, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth.

Stir in the capers and cook the sauce for 2 minutes. Pour the sauce into a warmed sauceboat. Transfer the beef to a carving board. Carve the beef into thick slices and serve, with the sauce.

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