Bacon Roly Polies

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bacon (2) 22/04/2017

Yes, you read that correctly – wheels of cheesy bacon! Simple to make, yet deliciously moreish to eat, these bacon rolls make a great savoury snack, picnic staple, or side for soups and stews. A tasty filling of bacon, cheddar and cream cheese is rolled in an easy pastry, and then these little rolls only take 15 minutes to bake.

Ingredients:

Bacon filling:

  • 8 bacon rashers
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100g of soft cheese
  • 100g of cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Pastry:

  • 250g of plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 75g of unsalted butter, diced and cold
  • 225ml of milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20g of butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Crumb the butter into the flour using your thumbs and forefingers. Mix in the milk until just combined.
  3. Place onto a floured work surface and roll into a 1cm thick rectangle, trimming the edges of the dough if desired.
  4. Brush the dough with some of the melted butter then layer the bacon on top to cover the pastry, making sure to leave a 2cm edge free on one of the long sides of the dough,
  5. Mix the onion, cheeses, parsley and garlic together and spread over the bacon.
  6. Brush the gap at the edge of the dough with water then roll into a spiral, sealing the edge brushed with water to the body of the roll.
  7. Wrap the roll in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes
  8. Slice the roll into 1.5cm slices and place, spiral side up, onto the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Classic Mince Pies

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min 30/12/2016

Now I couldn’t let Christmas pass without posting mice pies!

There are countless recipes for mince pies; countless recipes for pastry; countless recipes for mincemeat; countless recipes for toppings. I have posted a few variations myself.

As with most of my recipes, you can of course alter, add, swap whatever you like but this is a no frills, classic, old school recipe with the bare essentials that focuses on technique rather than fancy ingredients to give you the perfect festive treat with no faff.

Ingredients:

  • 12oz plain flour
  • 3oz butter – for richness
  • 3oz vegetable shortening (I used Trex) – for crispness
  • A pinch of salt
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Ice cold water
  • A jar of homemade or good quality mincemeat
  • Milk for brushing

Method:

  1. Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt.
  2. Add the butter and shortening to the flour. Cut it into the flour using a metal knife then work into fine crumbs with your fingertips. The trick is to handle it as little as possible.
  3. Squeeze a little lemon juice in and add just enough water to incorporate the mix into a ball of pastry dough. Again, try to handle the pastry as little as possible.
  4. Wrap the ball in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C.
  6. Once chilled, roll the pastry out on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut out as many circles as you can using a 76mm cutter. This amount of pastry should make approx. 18 mince pies with lids.
  7. Place the circles in mince pie tins and fill each with a teaspoon of mincemeat. If the mincemeat is a little dry or crystalised, loosen it up with a splash of brandy or rum.
  8. Reroll the offcuts and cut out lids. I like using a star cutter for this. Each time you roll the pastry out, it will become tougher so try and get as many shapes cut as you can without having to roll again.
  9. Brush the edges of the mince pies with a bit of milk then place the lids on and brush those with milk too. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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10. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, sprinkle with icing sugar. Fantastic with brandy cream/butter.

Cheese & Onion Pasties

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screenshot_2016-09-23-21-24-02-11 26/09/2016

Pasties! As the weather begins to turn, nothing hits the spot more than a comforting pasty with crisp, golden pastry with an oozing cheesy filling. Mmmmm

Different fats produce different characteristics in baked or fried foods and hard fat will produce a crisper texture than any other. I have tried using beef dripping with this pastry and lard. Both have given extremely crisp results with their own savoury character.

The use of some strong flour in the pastry also makes the dough a little more resilient to make shaping easier without sacrificing tenderness.

The mix of different mustards is purely my preference so if you have any favourites then feel free to experiment.

Either way, the mix of fresh spring onions with hearty potato, autumnal swede and melting strong cheddar is an absolute winner encased in a crisp, buttery house of loveliness.

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Makes 6

Ingredients:

For the rough puff dripping crust:

  • 300g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 100g strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g beef dripping or lard, at room temperature
  • 150ml lukewarm water

For the filling:

  • 150g Extra mature cheddar (I used Barber’s Cruncher)
  • 100g peeled and diced swede
  • 100g peeled and diced potato
  • 3-4 large spring onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon each of wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard and English mustard powder
  • A few sprigs of thyme – optional
  • 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Method:

  1. For the rough puff dripping crust:
  2. Place the flours and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into little pieces and rub into the flour then cut the dripping or lard into 1cm pieces and toss it through. Do not rub it in. Stir the water in without kneading until the dough just combines then leave for 10 minutes.
  3. Generously flour the work surface to stop the dough sticking then roll out the dough to 50cm x 20cm. Fold the dough in by thirds then roll out again towards the unfolded ends and fold in by thirds once more. Cover the dough or place in a bag and let it rest somewhere cool (but not as cold as the fridge) for 30 minutes.
  4. Repeat the rolling, folding and resting twice more. The pastry is then ready to be used. You can also freeze it at this point in a sealed ziplock bag then just allow to thaw completely before using.

For the filling:

  1. Place the grated cheese and spring onions in a bowl with the swede and potato, add the salt, pepper, flour and thyme, if using, and toss this together and chill.
  2. Roll the pastry out to about ½cm thick and cut out circles using a side plate as a guide.
  3. Mix the mustards and mustard powder together in a small bowl. Lightly coat the centre of each pastry circle with the mustard and brush the edges with water. Place a generous spoonful of filling on one half of the pastry leaving a clean ½cm border.
  4. Fold the pastry over the filling and press the edges together gently to seal. Crimp as you like. Repeat with the remaining pasties then place on a greaseproof lined baking tray.
  5. Chill the pasties in the fridge while you heat the oven to 200C then brush them with egg wash and bake them for 45 minutes until the pastry is rich and golden and the filling is piping hot.

Bacon, feta & leek filo pie

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IMG_20160216_000625[1] 19/02/2016

This Balkan classic makes an impressive centrepiece for any table – a golden spiral of crisp filo pastry, holding a rich filling of vegetables, feta and bacon. This pie recipe includes a guide on how to make filo pastry from scratch, but if short on time you can also use ready-made, rather than homemade filo pastry. One thing I would say is USE REAL BUTTER! It provides a rich crisp pastry with a beautiful taste.

All pie is good in my book, but this pie is extra special. Not only is it the shape of a Cumberland sausage, but it also boasts numerous layers of homemade filo pastry. Yes, that’s right, HOMEMADE filo pastry.

You would be forgiven for thinking life’s too short for such painstaking tasks, but bear with me. I’ll admit, it would probably be fair to say you have too much time on your hands if you can afford to make homemade filo a weekly staple, but it’s sometimes nice to spend longer than 20 minutes knocking up something quickly in the kitchen. It can be therapeutic to take your time. In fact, it’s the perfect activity to take on while indulging in guilty pleasures like watching telly or singing along to your favourite LP in the daytime. And the flavour really is worth the effort. Homemade filo is never going to be quite as thin as shop bought, but the difference in texture from a more rustic roll feels right for this roly-poly pie.

You can, of course, buy ready-made filo, if you must, but I think you ought to try making it yourself at least once first. As for the filling, you can sing your own tune. It’s delicious with a simple concoction of sautéed onion, garlic and spinach with a few lumps of feta crumbled in for good measure. Minced lamb or pork with cabbage makes for a filling and robust pie and you can even add potatoes or rice for extra and economical bulk. As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with bacon and leeks as a base and I love to serve it with a simple salad. It’s best to leave the pie for 15–20 minutes after it’s come out of the oven, as the flavours are best when it’s not piping hot.

Filo pastry:

  • 1kg flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml of water
  • 200ml of butter, melted

Pie filling:

  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 bacon rashers, smoked, chopped
  • 200g of feta, crumbled
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 small handful of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 dash of oil, for frying
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:

  1. To begin, sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the vinegar, salt, oil and half of the water and mix together with a fork until it starts to come together. Add as much of the remaining water as you need to make a dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface
  2. Knead for a few minutes until you have a soft, but not sticky dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, make the filling. In a pan over a medium heat, sweat the onion, leeks, garlic and bacon in a little oil (or butter) until soft and slightly golden. Stir in the feta and parsley and season generously with pepper. There is already plenty of salt from the feta and bacon. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Use your hands to roll the dough into a sausage and cut into 10 pieces. Take a piece of dough and cover the remaining 9 pieces with cling film to prevent them from drying out.
  5. Roll the dough as thinly as you possibly can into a large rectangular shape, then gently stretch it further using your hands. Ideally the dough should be thin enough to be able to see your hand through it.
  6. Once the dough is as thin as you can make it, brush the filo sheet with melted butter/oil and cover with cling film. Roll out the next piece in the same way, remove the cling film from the first sheet and place the second over the top.
  7. Brush liberally with more melted butter and place the sheet of cling film back on. Continue until all the dough has been rolled and brushed with melted butter, giving you 10 layers.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Place the layered filo in front of you, horizontally, and trim off the edges of the pastry to make a neat rectangle. Spoon the filling into a line a few inches in from the edge of the filo closest to you. Now for the fun bit!
  10. Roll the whole thing up tightly into a long sausage and, with the seam underneath, coil the sausage into a tight ring. Butter a round ovenproof dish, big enough for the pie to snugly fit into the dish. Use a couple of fish slices, or any other long flat implement to hand, to carefully transfer the pie to the dish.
  11. Brush the top of the pie with more melted butter and sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes before carefully transferring the pie to a serving plate. Slice into wedges to serve.

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Lemon Marzipan Cheesecake Slices

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IMG_20151228_230803[1] 28/12/2015

Oh wow! What a surprise these were. I made these for a festive alternative to Christmas pudding for the pud haters that unfortunately walk among us but unlike many alternatives, these slices turned out to be ridiculously tasty, zingy and rich with soft marzipan layers running through the creamy lemon filling for a Christmas vibe. You could make these at any time of year and I plan to… many times a year!

Ingredients:

  • 125g (4oz) shortcrust pastry (your favourite recipe)
  • 250g (8oz) readymade golden marzipan
  • 90g (3oz) full fat cream cheese
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 60g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Set the oven to 160°C. Roll out the pastry thinly to a square and use to line a 19cm (7½in) square shallow tin base and up the sides. Divide the marzipan in half and roll out each piece to an 18cm (7in) square.
  2. Put one piece of marzipan on the pastry in the tin. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl, beat in the egg yolks, lemon rind and juice, sugar, flour and milk.
  3. Whisk egg whites until stiff then carefully fold them into cheese mixture. Spoon half mixture over marzipan base, put other piece of marzipan on top then spoon rest of cake mixture on top. Bake for 1 hour.
  4. Cool then dust with icing sugar before cutting into slices to serve.

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These keep really well in an airtight container. You can even freeze them… or just eat them!

Sausage Plait

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IMG_20150814_095445[1] 14/08/2015

Here is a really good recipe to prepare ahead. It can be served hot, warm or cold and packed as a picnic item or plated up with salad or vegetables, potatoes and gravy as a winter warmer.

Play around with the flavourings you like in the sausage mix. Add different sausage meat such as Toulouse, Cumberland or Linconshire. Add fresh herbs, spices, berries, dried fruits, apple, nuts, chestnuts, mustard, bacon… anything!

The addition of lean pork with the sausage makes the plait a little less greasy than a standard sausage roll and takes on the added flavours well.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 pork sausages of your choice, skinned
  • 200g lean pork mince
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 block frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Beat 1 of the eggs and water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Mix remaining egg, sausage, pork mince, bread crumbs, onion, rosemary, fennel and cinnamon with seasoning in a large bowl until well blended.
  3. Carefully roll the puff pastry out and place on lightly floured work surface. Cut lengthwise into 2 rectangles. Create strips by making 1½-inch long cuts 1 inch apart down both long sides of each pastry rectangle.
  4. Spoon ½ of the sausage mixture down the centre of each pastry rectangle.
  5. Dampen the edges of the pastry strips then fold 1 pastry strip at a time over the sausage mixture, alternating sides, overlapping the prior strip to enclose the sausage mixture. Place on the prepared baking tray.
  6. Lightly brush the braided pastry with the beaten egg and water mixture.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the sausage meat is cooked through. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Cut each pastry into 3 pieces to serve.

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  1. the sausage meat is cooked through. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Cut each pastry into 3 pieces to serve.

Egg Custard Tart

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IMG_20150806_124412[1] 07/08/2015

A good egg custard tart is so simple but so many times, done wrong. The tart should have a buttery, rich and crisp pastry with a smooth, velvetty custard filling that has just set and is lightly spiced with nutmeg.

Follow my tips below for a wonderful treat!

Ingredients:

For the sweet shortcrust pastry:

  • 175g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp caster sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 400ml single cream
  • 200ml milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 75g caster sugar

Method:

  1. To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and run in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Using a round bladed knife, mix in the egg yolk and water to make a firm dough. If the mixture seems a bit dry and crumbly, stir in a little more water a teaspoon at a time.
  2. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 20-30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface to a circle about 28cm across then use it to line a 23cm loose-based deep flan tin. Prick the base with a fork then chill for 15 minutes. Do not make the holes go all the way through the pastry. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190C. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, weigh down with baking beans, rice, flour etc and bake ‘blind’ for 15 minutes until lightly golden and just firm. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 to 7 minutes until the base is thoroughly cooked, firm and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while making the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C and put a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

IMG_20150806_124037[1]3. Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a small grating of nutmeg and slowly bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

4. In a heatproof bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs and yolks with the sugar with a whisk until lighter in colour and very smooth. Stand the bowl on a damp cloth so it does not wobble then gradually pour the hot cream into the bowl in a steady stream, stirring constantly.

5. Set the flan tin on the hot baking tray and strain the mixture through a sieve into the pastry case. Grate nutmeg over the surface – you can be quite generous – then carefully transfer the tray to the oven and bake the tart for about 30 minutes until lightly coloured and just firm – it will continue to cook for a while after it is removed from the oven (if overcooked, the mixture will curdle). Leave to cool then carefully unmould. Serve at room temperature the same day for best results. Can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days loosely wrapped in foil.

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