Posts Tagged ‘Pastry’

Roasted Red Pepper and Mozarella Tarts

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

These tarts are easy, fast and, of course, delicious. And, although I’ve admonished myself recently for over-use of the phrase ‘store-cupboard recipe’, this could be described as such, if you have the right stuff in your cupboard, obviously, and in the sense that it is mostly throwing things together from packets and jars. These are based on the recipe in Sainsbury’s May 2009 magazine, modified slightly to use what I had in the house. Maybe five minutes prep, then twenty in the oven, this is a quickie, so ideal for a busy weeknight lunch.

Roasted Red Pepper and Mozarella Tarts (serves 2)

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (about 200g or so), defrosted as per pack instructions
  • a little milk, for brushing
  • 4 tablespoons red pesto
  • 2 roasted red peppers, from a jar
  • 125g ball mozarella
  • balsamic vinegar and fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly oil a baking sheet.

Cut the pastry sheet in two, and carefully place the rectangles onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little milk.

Spread over the pesto, 2 tablespoons per tart, or as much as you need to get a good layer, leaving a 2cm border all the way around.

Roughly chop the peppers into smaller pieces, and scatter over the tarts. Slice the mozarella ball into rounds, and then arrange these over the peppers and pesto. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through.

Tear up a few fresh basil leaves and scatter over the tarts, and then drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. These are more filling than they look, so make a great supper on their own, or you could serve them with a green salad.

Categories: Mains, Recipe Tags: , ,

Lemon Meringue Pie

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Lemon Meringue Pie - Perfect Meringue

This has to be one of the best desserts of all time – tangy lemon curd topped with billowing sweet meringue, brown and crunchy on top, white, sticky and soft within. Best of all it’s easy – time consuming, a little, perhaps, but this isn’t the same as difficult – to make. Added to it’s appeal is nostalgia – lemon meringue pie is a classic Sunday lunch dessert from my childhood, although, I suspect they were more often than not packet-mixes, so somewhat naturally, maybe snobilly, this is, I think, superior.

So, with various sources of inspiration, this is my own recipe for perfect lemon meringue pie. Now, handily enough, this amount perfectly fills a standard supermarket sweet pastry case, say 20cm/250g or so, which is how I made this the first time. This takes away part of the work but, you could, of course, use ready made pastry and line a pie dish of your own, in which case I would blind-bake the pastry first. And, to describe your pie as truly homemade, you could make the pastry yourself. (To line a loose bottomed pie or flan tin of about 20cm, 75g butter rubbed into 175g plain flour, with 15g caster sugar then added and bound with around 3 tablespoons of water should suffice. Work this to a firm dough, wrap in cling film and give it a little rest, 30 minutes at least, in the fridge, before rolling out on a lightly floured surface until it’s large enough to line the tin. Blind bake, by which I mean line the pastry case with baking paper, fill with baking beans and cook in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes, or until golden, removing the beans and paper for the final five minutes, and remembering to turn the oven down to 150°C after you’ve removed your cooked pie case.)

Lemon Meringue Pie

  • 1 shop-bought sweet pastry case of about 20cm, or one you’ve made yourself as described above
  • 230g caster sugar (50g and 180g, if it helps)
  • 40g butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 egg yolks and 3 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

First, make the lemon curd filling. Put 50g of the caster sugar in a bowl, and add the cornflour. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water, and mix to a paste.

Place the lemon zest into a saucepan and pour over 200ml water from a recently boiled kettle. Place over heat and return to the boil, then stir it in to the cornflour paste. Pour the whole lot back into the pan and bring it to the boil again, stirring constantly. Simmer for 1 minute, while carrying on stirring. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. When you have a smooth, yellow mixture, pour this into the pastry shell.

Next, in a ridiculously clean bowl, whisk (by powered means if at all possible) the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then, continuing to whisk, add the remaining sugar, 180g of it, a spoon at a time, until all is combined and glossy.

Spoon the meringue over the lemon filling, using a silicone spatula to get it right to the edges and completely sealing in the yellow filling within. If you’re both inclined and able, swirl the meringue into peaks, and then bake for 45 minutes, by which time the meringue should be lightly browned and crips on top, but still gorgeously soft, stick and white within.

Serve warm or cold, with or without adornment, either cream, or better still (especially if warm) good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream.

Categories: Pudding, Recipe Tags: , , , , ,

Jam Tarts

August 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes you just need a good, old fashioned, home made treat. And these are the best kind of treat – they’re easy (ish, depending on how you feel about making pastry), and also shop-free (although this may or may not add to the ‘treat-factor’), in so far as I generally have the wherewithal for these in the house.

So, late night craving for something sweet fulfilled, this is what I did. The pastry recipe is borrowed from (where else?) Nigella’s How To Eat, although I did make it by hand rather than in the processor, as suggested, as the machine in question is still on my Christmas list.

Jam Tarts (makes 12)

  • 120g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 80g butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg yolk (freeze the white!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 12 generous teaspoons of your favourite jam

Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl and add the cubed butter. Rub together until the contents of the bowl resembles breadcrumbs, and there are no big lumps of fat left.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk, vanilla and cold water together. Add to the flour and butter mixture and stir together. You’re aiming for everything to come together into a doughy ball, and you may need to add a little more cold water, a drop at a time, to achieve this. A little kneading might be necessary to bring everything together, but don’t bash it around too much. When you have a ball of pastry, flatten it a little to make a disc (it will chill quicker), wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and very lightly brush the holes of a 12-hole jam tart tin (I’m sure this isn’t its primary purpose but not sure what it’s called. Yorkshire pudding tray? You know the one.) with a little vegetable oil to stop the tarts from sticking.

Remove the pastry from the fridge. Lightly flour the surface and your rolling pin, and then roll out the pastry until it’s about 1/2 a centimetre thick. (Or thereabouts – no need to get your ruler out.) Cut out circles to fit the holes in your baking tray – I used a 6cm circle cutter. You should be able to get 12 if you’re making them a similar size to mine, although you may need to squeeze all of the dough back into a ball and re-roll.

Gently place each circle of pastry onto the tray and push down in the middle to create your little tart cases. Add a generous teaspoon or so of jam to each, trying not to spill over the edges of the pastry or you may end up with sticky, burnt bits of jam.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, checking after 10, until the edges of the pastry begin to turn golden. Leave to cool in the tray for five minutes, then carefully remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack. These are delicious a little warm, but you don’t need me to tell you that the jam will be extremely hot when they come out of the oven, so try and resist the temptation to eat them right away.

Categories: Recipe, Sweet Treats Tags: , ,