There’s something you need to know about these turnovers. Although they are most excellent for using up leftovers they are more than worth baking up in their own right. Am I the only one who couldn’t say no if offered Smoked Cheddar and Pickled Onion Turnovers? Didn’t think so. Perfect for using up roast or mashed potatoes, pickled onions or chutneys and whatever hunk of cheese you have lying around. Completely versatile and a little bit too tasty to believe you can knock them up out of some odds and ends.
Hang on, a sausage roll that doesn’t have any sausage in it? Correct. I absolutely love a proper sausage roll; when the juices run out of it and caramelise under the flaky pastry. To pack a picnic with a couple of sausage rolls and a flask of tea is to pack a fine picnic as far as I’m concerned. So what’s with this vegetarian creation? My reasons are threefold: firstly, at this time of year I need pastry; secondly, I love spinach and particularly spanakopita and thirdly I wondered what a vegetable ‘sausage’ roll would be like.
I have wanted to attempt this classic French ‘King of Tarts’ for so long; the rhubarb seemed like a perfect addition. I have made many frangipanes in the past so just halved what I would normally put in my large fluted tart tin for this recipe.
You will need (for one finished galette des rois):
- 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
- 3 large sticks of rhubarb cut into inch sized pieces
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
- 75g unsalted butter, very soft
- 75g caster sugar
- 75g ground almonds
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp milk and 1 egg beaten together (for glazing)
Preheat the oven to 180C and put the rhubarb onto a baking tray in a single layer. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and then toss the rhubarb in the sugar so it all gets nicely coated. Put this in the oven for 15 minutes to roast. When it’s done the rhubarb should have softened but retained its shape and be gently caramelised. Put the rhubarb to one side to cool. Leave the oven on after you remove the rhubarb as you’ll need it at 180C to bake the tart.
It wasn’t quite as smooth as I envisaged, it wasn’t like I could grab the berries as I cycled past; that would have been a bit too suave. Elderberries seem to grow just beyond my reach and there is always a little danger involved when picking; will you fall in the ditch, slip in the mud or even lose a welly. This most recent expedition resulted in me being attacked by some stinging nettles, swearing rather loudly and then just a few moments later kicking my bicycle stand into my own foot.
I had to ask my butcher to save me a pork fillet as they sell out like there’s no tomorrow. Possibly because the pigs are fed mostly on apples for the latter part of their life meaning the meat has an unrivalled flavour. So with marvellous meat and flavourful fillings I set about making my pork wellington. If anyone knows why it’s called wellington I’d be pleased to find out; let’s hope it’s not an unflattering term for the shape of the finished meal.
You will need (for four):
500g pork fillet
1 pack puff pastry
Knob of butter
A small glass of white wine
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
My cherry eating strategy has changed now. They are one of my favourite fruits but these days the stones end up in my garden; again, still waiting. My fascination with cherries hasn’t diminished either; a flavour like no other, thin skins and awkward to cook with, when they are in season I can’t get enough of them.
You will need (for one tart):
- 450g cherries
- Sweet shortcrust pastry (100g cold butter, 200g plain flour, 30g caster sugar, 1 egg beaten)
- Cream filling (150ml double cream, 2 egg yolks, 50g sugar)
- 1 egg, beaten
First of all make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour until you have a breadcrumb texture. Add the sugar, lightly mix it in and then bring the pastry together with the egg. If you find the pastry is a little dry you can add drops of cold water until it comes together. Chill the pastry in the fridge for half an hour. If you find pastry intimidating, see my pastry guide for do’s and don’ts.
Before the pasty police come out in force and criticise my ingredients or method, I think it’s important to point out that I am not Cornish. However, my better half is half Cornish and his Grandmother a full on Kernow woman and she has passed on some of her pasty knowledge.
Making pasties is quite personal; only you know what proportions of vegetables and meat you like, how full you want your pasty to be and how big. Because of this I can provide a guide but you can change proportions at will. To make four large pasties I used: one large and one medium potato, half a swede, three small onions and 500g of skirt steak. For the pastry I used 400g of plain flour, 200g butter and enough cold water to make a dough.
Pastry has to be, without doubt, the best cradle, blanket or hat for any rich, sumptuous bed of fruit, meat or vegetables. It is that crunch, that warmth and that way it crumbles which makes it just so. I thought of pastry as my nemesis. Stupid stuff that was invariably delicious when prepared by anyone but myself. All this was to change when I met Jane.
Jane makes an awful lot of pastry. She is Jane of Jane’s Kitchen and prepares a marvellous amount of amazing pastry each week for different farmers’ markets around the area. There are trout and caper parcels, Moroccan mountains, seasonal fruit tarts and some classic pies. Best of all Jane uses as many ingredients as possible from the farmers’ market.
A few weeks ago I asked Jane if she would be kind enough to share some of her pastry knowledge with a complete and utter pastry dunce – me. She was more than happy to share her wisdom and I can now pass on this wisdom to anyone else who counts themselves as a pastry novice.
This is a perfect recipe for the long Easter weekend break. It’s a celebration of Spring vegetables in the best wrapping of all…pastry. This chicken and vegetable pie is extremely versatile as you can change the vegetables depending on what is in season. It is also great for using up leftovers.
You will need (for one large pie to serve 4-6):
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 leek, sliced
- Knob of butter
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- Handful kale, stalks removed and leaves sliced
- 1 small glass white wine
- 300ml double cream
- 1/2 chicken stock cube
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Readymade shortcrust pastry
- 1 egg, for brushing
Start by frying the onion and leek in some butter until softened in a large pan. Add the chicken and fry for a few more minutes. Add the glass of wine and cook until almost completely gone and then add the cream and the chicken stock cube. Add the carrots, kale and bay leaves and season. If it is looking a little dry add some water. Leave the mixture simmering for 10 minutes or until it is as thin or thick as you like it.
Where a few months ago a slice of lemon drizzle cake or a blueberry muffin would have cheered up my lunchbox I needed something more substantial, more buttery and more comforting. All this snow has meant I’ve been raiding the cupboards and I found jars and bottles full of stuff that really I’m never going to use. I also figured if any of my nearest and dearest know me, I’ll be getting many more jars of treats on the 25th.
I managed to find some raspberry jam, golden syrup, lime curd, greengage jam, pecans in honey and some quince jelly. All lovely on toast or scones or crumpets but also all nearing their ends. I needed to use them up and make the most of them.