Aoife Noonan is a multi-award winning pastry chef and TV chef from Dublin. She graduated with a Culinary Arts degree before moving on to work in some of the best restaurants in the country. She was Head Pastry Chef in 2 Michelin Star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud for nearly 4 years, before taking on Executive Pastry Chef positions in various restaurants in Dublin.
Aoife is currently undertaking a Master’s Degree in Nutrition, a subject which has always been a passion of hers. When creating dishes, she has a love of using classic patisserie techniques and flavours with a contemporary twist.
Aoife will be doing a Instagram IGTV recipe takeover on Sunday 5th July at 1pm. She will be making some delicious peach tarts. If you would like to cookalong get the full recipe below.
But first we want to find out more….
Why did you become a chef?
As cliché as it sounds, I kind of fell into cooking. I had always loved food but was unsure if cheffing was for me as a career. I always wanted to be a teacher growing up, but in the end I decided against it. I did a Culinary Arts degree in DIT and with that came lots of internships in professional kitchens. I specialised in Pastry in my final year and really, it began there.
I have been lucky enough to work in some incredible kitchens, which taught me discipline, how to respect ingredients, how to be meticulous, organised, and work hard. I have been incredibly lucky to work with some fantastic chefs who passed on their wealth of knowledge, experience, and skill. I do also teach pastry masterclasses now so I got the best of both!
What was one of the very first things you ever cooked?
One of the first things I ever cooked was Coconut Buns in Home Economics when I started secondary school. I had cooked alongside my mum as a child but to me this was very grown up! They came out like rocks and weren’t particularly pleasant to eat. I’d like to think it went up from there!
What is your ultimate comfort food recipe?
It’s a boiled egg and toast for me. So simple, but so delicious. Perfectly runny eggs, a sprinkle of rock salt, some toasty warm sourdough slathered in salted butter, and a cup of tea on the side. It can’t get much better.
What are your top 3 ingredients you couldn’t live without and why?
Eggs – they are probably the most versatile ingredient and can be used in so many ways, sweet or savoury! Use the yolks for custards, mayo, or to enrich pastries or dough; use the whites for meringues, mousses or macarons. They are a staple in desserts, cakes and batters, used as a binding agent in burgers or koftas, or perfect for breakfast, see above!
Irish Butter – it’s a given, butter anywhere else just doesn’t taste the same! It’s one of those staple ingredients that is difficult to substitute, texture wise and flavour wise.
Lemon – The zest and juice can absolutely transform a dish. The acidity the juice brings is amazing, and finishes off so many dishes perfectly. The zest is so fragrant, and is actually more lemony in flavour than the juice! If using, grate it over the bowl of ingredients you’re adding it to, so none of the natural oils are lost on your chopping board.
What are your top tips for people cooking at home?
A sharp chopping knife is a great investment, it allows you to prep with absolute ease and efficiency. A blunt knife is also more dangerous than a sharp one!
Taste and seasoning are so important. Salt and Pepper are absolute staples, and it’s essential to season as you go. Each layer of flavour needs seasoning, so when you’re frying onions, season, then when you add the next few ingredients, season them too. Your finished dish will be bland if you don’t take care and attention at every step.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try new recipes! Take note of new dishes you try, and you’ll eventually build up a repertoire of dishes that you love and will go back to time and time again. I have stacks of notebooks from over the years and it’s great to have all my recipes in one place to look to if I’m in need of some ideas or inspiration, or a reminder of an old favourite!
Name one dish everyone should know how to cook.
A good roast. Be it a slow roast leg of lamb, or a lovely roast chicken, there is something so satisfying about a roasted joint of meat with a few good sides. It’s comforting and impressive at the same time! And it’s actually so simple; not a lot of effort for maximum reward, the oven does all the work.
I love good crispy garlicky roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips roasted with honey and wholegrain mustard, and some charred tenderstem broccoli on the side.
Fancy cooking along with Aoife on Sunday 5th July at 1pm over on our Instagram IGTV? Here is the recipe for her delicious peach tarts
- 1 Sheet Ready Rolled All Butter Puff Pastry
- 2tbsp Raspberry Conserve
- 4 Ripe Peaches, halved and stones removed
- Icing Sugar, for dusting
- Crème Fraiche, to serve
- Cut the peach halves into 2mm slices using a sharp knife, and place in a bowl. Add 2tbsp of water to the peach slices, and cover with clingfilm. Place the bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes, giving a gentle toss after the first minute. This allows the peach slices to become soft and malleable to make the tart easier to roll. Allow the peach slices to cool completely in the fridge before assembling.
- Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and roll using a rolling pin to a thickness of about 2mm. Cut 12 strips of pastry 1.5inches by 8inches and place the strips on a piece of parchment paper in the fridge to keep cold until ready to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Remove one of the strips from the fridge, and working quickly, spread the strip with a thin layer of ½ tsp of jam.
- Arrange a few peach slices on the top layer of the pastry strip, working from left to right, with the skin side of the peach facing outwards, and the slices overlapping slightly. You want to have half of the peach slices inside the pastry, and the other half out.
- Working quickly, fold the bottom half of the pastry over the peaches, pressing slightly to seal. Starting from the left side, roll the pastry up until you have a peach rose!
- Place your tart in a non-stick muffin tray and place the tray in the fridge. Repeat with the remaining pastry strips and peach slices, removing the pastry strips from the fridge one at a time to keep the pastry cold.
- Bake the tarts for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden, crisp, and cooked the whole way through. Cool your tarts on a wire rack before dusting with icing sugar and serving with crème fraiche.
- The peach slices and puff pastry strips can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and kept well covered in the fridge until you are ready to assemble and bake.