Homemade Shortcrust Pastry

12 01 2011

Shop bought pastry is a little bit of a Godsend, especially for the really time-consuming pastries such as filo or puff pastry.

There are some times though when shop bought pastry just wont cut it, shortcrust pastry is one of these exceptions. Not only is shortcrust pastry quick and easy to make but the difference in cost and quality is really quite noticeable.

I prefer to make my pastry well in advance, often the day before, and leave it in the fridge to set. It just ends up being so much better both in terms of taste and texture.

The trick to making great shortcrust pastry is to keep it cold and to try to handle it as little as possible. A marble board is great for working with pastry, you can help keep it cooler for longer and there is less chance of the dough sticking to the board.

Ingredients:

200g Plain flour

100g unsalted butter – cubed

1/2 tsp salt

1 mid-sized egg

 

Method:

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and rub the butter in with your fingertips until you have a crumb-like consistency.

Slowly add in half of the beaten egg and continue to mix by hand until it comes together, you can add more egg if need be.

Once the pastry has come together flatten it out into disc about an inch thick, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

 





Real men DO eat quiche

27 12 2010

 

 Real men don’t eat quiche….

 I must have heard that line about a thousand times at this point, somehow there is this strange view that quiche is some sort of effeminate food that no proper man would touch for fear of developing breasts on the spot.

Well I happen to think that any man who is worried that his choice of food makes him look “faggy” has some issues that only a few sessions with a psychiatrist will be able to sort out.

Quiche is great!

You only have to take a cursory look at the basic components of a quiche to work out that this is food that is packing some serious flavours yet can still be light and delicate.

Quiche is also incredibly versatile; you can add pretty much anything you like into them and a quiche can be a great quick meal to knock up out of store cupboard staples or leftovers.

The simplest quiche to make is the ever popular quiche lorraine, which incidentally should NOT include onions. However I have decided to go for something a little more fancy and have included my recipe for one of my all time favourites: Chorizo and red pepper quiche.

Ingredients:

250g of good quality chorizo sausage

2 red bell peppers

1 clove of garlic

5 eggs

1 medium red onion

250ml double cream

250ml milk

125g gruyerre – you can use manchego if you want an authentic spanish cheese

3/4 tsp paprika

sea salt

black pepper

shortcrust pastry – shop bought pastry is fine but it is even better if you make your own.

Method:

Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic and set aside for later

Roll out your pastry to the correct size for the pie dish you are using and line the dish making sure it is well pressed into all of the nooks and crannies. Place the pastry lined dish in the fridge so the pastry can chill.

Stir together the milk and double cream before mixing in the eggs.

Grate the cheese and stir into the cream, milk and egg mixture until it is well incorporated, season with the paprika, salt and pepper.

Soften the diced onion and garlic over a low heat and place to one side to cool

Dice the chorizo and colour in a pan until it is lightly browned

Deseed the red peppers and slice into strips before mixing in with the chorizo, onion and garlic.

Take the pie dish out of the fridge and spoon in the mixture of chorizo, peppers, onion and garlic ensuring that it is well spread out and that all of the base of the pastry is covered.

Pour over the egg, cream and cheese mix and fill to the top of the pastry.

Bake in a 180 c oven for between 45 minutes and 1 hour or until the eggs have set and the top is golden brown.





Potted shrimp

7 12 2010

Potted shrimp are one of my favourite indulgences; sweet brown shrimp set in spicy mace infused butter…. delicious, if not really the best thing for your waist line.

I guess you could make great big tureens of potted shrimp and dole it out to people but that just seems somehow uncivilised, half the fun is in having your own little individual pot to dip into as you wish.

The best thing to serve with these shrimp is either delicious fresh brown bread or hot crispy toast that the butter will just ooze into

Ingredients:

1lb brown shrimp

8 oz. unsalted butter

2 tsp mace

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

Shell and de-vein the shrimp, you might want to ask your fish monger to do this for you or buy them already prepared.

Chop half of the shrimp quite finely, mix in the whole shrimp and add the mace.

Melt 6 oz. of the butter in a pan, once all the butter has melted stir in the shrimp allowing it to absorb most of the butter.

Add in the cayenne pepper, stir and pour into ramekins.

Melt the remaining 2 oz of butter and pour over the top of the shrimp to seal.

Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before popping into the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably 12.





Easy Buttercream Icing

23 11 2010

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but I was recently discussing the merits of making your own icing over those of buying those awful tubs of Betty Crocker pre-made icing that you can buy in supermarkets.

The discussion ended with me setting out to prove not only that it is easy to make your own icing but that the end result tastes better to.

I know that a lot of people like to use margarine in or shortening when making buttercream but I flat-out refuse to, the taste is completely different and the heavy greasy taste that it leaves in the mouth is just vile.

Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter

600g icing sugar

2 tablespoons of milk

vanilla extract

Method:

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and approximately 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Once the vanilla extract is incorporated into the butter you can start to mix in the sugar adding roughly 1/4 at a time, ensure that the sugar is well beaten in before adding the next batch

Once you have incorporated all of the icing sugar into the butter you will need to add the milk and beat until you have a light and fluffy texture, keep beating until there are no lumps and the icing doesn’t feel gritty.  At this point you can add more vanilla essence if you wish

You can add more or less any flavour that you want to your icing in place of the vanilla and you can also colour it anyway you wish. If you decide to use liquid food colouring then remember that a little goes a long way!





My favourite sandwich ever…

9 11 2010

Sandwiches, most of us eat them every day and they can end up being pretty dull for the most part.

Bit of bread, bit of meat, maybe some cheese, so far so boring.

So I thought I would share with you my absolute favourite sandwich ever:

Bacon, Stilton and Pesto with rocket.

This is a full on sandwich  that is bursting with epic taste; the bacon is salty and crisp the Stilton is wonderfully sharp and gooey and the pesto just kicks everything up to another level whilst the fresh rocket leaves add some peppery freshness…. mmm I am salivating just thinking about it

To sate your own lunch time cravings you will need the following:

6″ crusty white baguette

2 or 3 rashers of good smokey bacon

about 50/60g of good quality stilton

a handful of fresh rocket leaves (mustard cress would also work well)

pesto to drizzle over the top (click here to see how to make your own delicious pesto)

a little unsalted butter

Split your baguette length-ways and spread a little of the unsalted butter on both halves of the roll.

Place your rocket leaves onto the roll

Cook your bacon until it is slightly crisp, pat off any excess fat and place onto the bed of rocket.

Crumble your stilton over the top of the bacon

Drizzle over a good amount of the pesto and enjoy.

If you want your stilton to be more melted then you can crumble some of it directly onto the bacon during the last 20/30 seconds or so of cooking.








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