Yelly Eats

Pork puff pastry

Recipe in development!

Char siu in puff pastry…in my head it was going to work.  But I think I need to read up on how people do this so that I can see where I went wrong and adapt my recipe.

The filling works though so that’s one thing that went right!

Pork puff pastry trial

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Yelly Eats

Pastry fear conquered

I love baking (I thought I’d put it out there, just in case you missed it!).  But there are still large gaps in my baking repertoire and there are projects which I’ve put off because of the fear that I won’t be able to produce the (baked) goods, so to speak.  My closet perfectionist comes out and becomes more critical than a certain Paul Hollywood could be.  I am always worried that what I bake isn’t good enough.

One of my stumbling blocks is puff pastry and rough puff pastry.  I’ve always relied on store-bought pastry for the pastry because I’ve tried to make rough puff and puff pastry but they never really “puff” up.  So instead of disappointing myself, I usually just go and buy puff pastry and use that instead in all the baking projects involving puff pastry.  It’s the coward’s way out, but I’m less disappointed in myself.  I usually say to myself that even Mary Berry and Jamie Oliver suggest using store bought pastry!

But last weekend, I was, very strangely, prepared to try again.  I was surprised to find myself only too willing to face my fears and try to make puff pastry again.  I knew that I had to at least try again because my short crust pastry was already good.  I needed to at least try to learn to make acceptable puff pastry!  It took me several weeks to work up the courage to make pastry.  In the end, I found a relatively straightforward recipe from the Pieminster cookbook (see Page 10 of the book).

pieminister-a-pie-for-all-seasons-coverSo I bought the ingredients, determined to make lovely, flaky cheese straws and bacon twists!

After reading and rereading the recipe, with a lot trepidation, I set out to follow the recipe properly.  Et voila!  I managed to make (really pretty, if I do say so myself) pastry that looked the part!

wp-1454857681421.jpegThere is something to be said about facing your fears…and doing a lot of research to prepare!  Thank you Pieminster for your glorious book and the recipes within it!

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Yelly Eats

Chinese coconut tarts

I’ve loved coconut tarts since the first day I tasted them.  Alan properly introduced me to them in Chinatown in London.  We had a favourite Chinese bakery where we bought our char siu buns, cocktail buns and egg and coconut tarts.  We called this bakery, the one with the pushy aunts because they were very…authoritative.  To be honest, these Chinese aunties scared me!  We’ve since then changed loyalties and we’ve found the perfect char siu buns from somewhere else, but after looking through at least 4 Chinese bakeries, one of my favourite things to order is the coconut tart.  I love the flakiness of the pastry that they use on the tarts.

It is widely known that necessity is the mother of all invention.  The trains to London are (to put it indelicately) buggered on the weekends until 22 March.  So I can’t just zip into Chinatown and get some coconut tarts.  Plus, Alan has been asking me to bake coconut tarts for a few weeks now.  At first, they were very gentle, subtle hints.  A couple of weeks ago, he asked me to bake them because he said my tarts were better than the store bought ones because I put more coconut in them!  So, of course, I had to bake them!

Sliced coconut tart

I’ve almost always used store-bought puff pastry because it was more convenient.  But as I am challenging my baking fears, I’ve been practicing my puff and rough-puff pastry making capabilities and flexing my muscles.  I can bake shortcrust and sweet shortcrust pastry fairly well now, so this was a new challenge.

I think I’ve found a puff pastry recipe that I can manipulate and work to fit my needs.  I’ve done a few tweaks to it so that it’s simple and relatively fool proof.

Shortcrust pastry:

  • 250g butter, VERY COLD and cut into cubes
  • 250g all purpose flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 150ml cold water

Directions:

  1. Because my hands are a still a bit buggered, I’m using a mixer.  In a mixing bowl, combine flour and icing sugar. With the paddle attachment, add all the butter and mix.  You should still see pieces of butter but they should be covered in flour.
  2. Add 2/3 of the water and mix until the mixture comes together and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the mixture is relatively smooth and then form a rectangle.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll into a longer rectangle.  Fold the top third down towards you and the bottom third up (you should have a square-ish rectangle).  Flour the surface some more so that the pastry doesn’t stick.  Hold one of the corners and turn the dough 90º and roll into a rectangle and fold into thirds again.  Do this another 2 times.  Then wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll and fold the pastry into thirds about 3 more times chilling 30 minute in between roll and fold sessions, wrapping the pastry after each time.  This will create the pastry layers.  Keep the pastry in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.  This will line at least 2 12-hole muffin pans (24 tarts), depending on how thick you want your pastry to be.

TIP:  To use this pastry in a savoury recipe, replace the sugar with 1 tsp fine sea salt.

When you’re ready to fill your tarts, roll out the pastry to desired thickness and cut rounds to line muffin tins.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Coconut tart filling:

  • 225g dessicated coconutCoconut tarts before baking
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 175g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml evaporated milk
  • 24 glacé cherry halves (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine coconut, flour and baking powder.  Set aside.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg to the butter-sugar mixture until well combined.
  2. Add the coconut-flour mixture and evaporated milk until the mixture is thick.  It will be slightly heavy.
  3. Fill the tarts until almost to the top of the pastry (which is about one tablespoon of mixture) and top with half a glacé cherry (if you wish, this is optional of course, but it makes it so pretty!) and bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on how hot your oven is) or until risen over the pastry and golden brown.
  4. Take the tarts out of the oven and cool for 5 minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

Coconut tarts

 

 

Yelly Eats

Spinach and bacon quiche

It’s quite the wintry day today and I couldn’t really be bothered to cook anything too complicated for lunch.  Hence the quiche.  I could, in theory, make my own puff pastry.  But the whole point of making a quiche this afternoon was that it was going to be quick and comforting.

This has been quite successful so I’m quite happy to share it.

Spinach and bacon

Ingredients:

  • 320g shop bought puff pastry sheet
  • 260g spinach
  • 250g bacon (about 6-8 rashers)
  • 1 medium sized onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed and minced finely
  • 150ml single cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 10g butter)
  • 100g grated mature cheddar (or Monterey Jack)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Unroll pastry and lay over a 25cm loosed based round flan tin.  Once the flan tin is lined, put back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a sautee pan, heat up olive oil and add minced onions and sautee.  Once onions turn transluscent, add garlic.  Stirfry the garlic and add the bacon. Once bacon is golden brown, add the spinach and cover to wilt the spinach.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Once spinach is wilted, give the mixture a gentle stir.  Put the lid back, take of the hob and set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl beat eggs well and add single cream. Spoon 1/3 of the spinach and bacon mixture into the cream and egg mixture to temper the eggs.  Mix well and then add the rest of the spinach mixture.
  5. Bring out the pastry-lined flan tin and fill the pastry with the spinach-milk and egg mixture.  Top with the grated cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
  7. TIP:  To avoid the now infamous “soggy bottom” and because you are putting in quite a liquid mixture and a soggy bottom is almost inevitable, I find that putting in a baking sheet in the oven while it’s preheating will help the soggy bottom from not being too soggy.  Once you’re ready to bake the quiche, just slight the flan tin onto the baking sheet.
Yelly Eats

Cheese and bacon twisties

I’m being very lazy and am simply posting food pictures.  I think this might be a theme for the next few days!

This was my take on Lorraine Pascale’s recipe for the twisties.  I love her shows and her books!  I love how to recipes are simple, quick to make and they turn out well.  The recipes are very easy to follow.

Now these twisties were very easy to make and were very easy to eat!

Cheese and Bacon Twisties

Yelly Eats

Fast food: Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

All throughout the day I was dreading going home and making supper.  I wasn’t really in the mindset to make anything.  But I was encouraged (quite gently but very effectively) to make something out of the puff pastry that was languishing in the fridge.  And so, the tomato and mozzarella tart was born.

I will be the first to admit that even though cheese isn’t my best friend, I would very gladly devour mozzarella di bufala and suffer the consequences later and I LOVE TOMATOES.  So a caprese salad would be my best friend.  But since I did have puff pastry (and inspired by the continuous sightings of the Jus-Rol Janet advert on telly), I thought a caprese salad in a tart would be a good thing!

It was quick, easy, and relatively painless!

250g puff pastry (the best you can buy)
2 medium salad onions cut into half moons
150g fresh mozzarella, cut into half moons
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon pesto
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Unwrap the pastry and roll it out.  You need only 250 grams of it, so you’ll have to cut out, roughly a 10″x10″ square.  On the pastry sheet, trace a 9″x9″ frame in it  with a knife or a spatula so that there is a border (for lack of a better way to describe it!)and in pierce the pastry with a fork.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste, pest, salt, sugar, garlic, and pepper until well-combined.
  4. Spread the tomato mixture inside the 9″x9″ frame you traced as evenly as possible.  Then arrange the mozzarella and tomato slices as desired within the frame.  Sprinkle the dried oregano on the tomato and mozzarella slices.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.
  6. This will serve 4 or a greedy 2.