Sunday, 10 May 2009

Puff pastry madness

I decided to try something sweet from the recipe book...I wanted to spend the day baking, but couldn't really be bothered with something skill intensive like a cake or hand made pastry. I selected Eccles cakes from the 'pastry' section as they used shop bought puff pastry but would be delicious. After making these little fruity beauties I realised I had a load of pastry left so I flipped slightly further on in this section and found the perfect recipe for using up the left over - Sausage roll - as I had a couple of sausages left in the fridge. When I'd done this there was STILL some left, and what with moneygedon going on I couldn't throw any away so made cheese straws with the last tiny pieces. Again my mum's writing is in black and my comments re in blue - I made some pretty big changes to the amounts so take note!

(One of your Dad's favourites)
4oz Puff Pastry - I'm not really sure how much pastry I used - about 3/4 of a pack of fresh pre-rolled pastry from Sainsbury's
1oz butter - this didn't look enough once I'd upped the fruit (see below so chucked another 2 oz in there)
4oz currents - couldn't get currents from the shop so had to get mixed fruit - and hence didn't put in the mixed peel but upped the amounts of fruit overall - 5 oz still didn't look enough so upped the amount to 6oz or maybe more
1oz mixed peel (optional)
Mixed spice - didn't have this so added some cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger myself
1oz sugar - I used some really dark muscavado sugar and upped the amount to about 3 oz - this was probably too much though as you will see from the pictures sugar bubbled out of them

1. Roll out pastry. Not necessary if you've cheated and got pre-rolled although actually I rolled it out a bit more to make it go further
2. Cut into large rings. If, like me, you have no biscuit cutters you can use anything circular of the right size and either run a knife round it or use something like a mug/glass/vase and push it into the pastry
3. Mix fruit, spices, sugar and butter together. Ok I have to admit here that earlier I had got out the bible - sorry I mean Delia's complete cookery course (a stone cold essential in any kitchen) - to check how much fruit she used and she said she melted the butter and added the fruit and this seemed like a good idea seeing as my butter was really hard
4. Put spoonful of fruit mixture into each pastry ring. Mum - I think it is, strictly speaking, a disc rather than a ring. I hate to be pedantic but...actually no I love being pedantic.
5. Wet edges of pastry. I had a mug of water on hand and I applied the water with my finger
6. Peel edges together and seal. This is the fun bit - so satisfying
7. Turn over, so seal is underneath
8. Roll gently on top.
9. Brush with beaten egg. I had another mug with a beaten egg and used our nice silicon pastry brush for this
10. Slit tops to allow steam (and massive amounts of caramelised sugar) to escape
11. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar. I didn't bother with this - don't think they would have been any better with it either
12 Bake in hot oven for 10-12 minutes

Sausage Rolls - MUST BE PUFF
1 pack puff pastry - well only 1/4 of a pack really needed
1/2 sausage meat (pork)
(or just squeeze filling out of sausages) - this is what I did my advice would be to get good sausages
I also added a spoonful of mustard, some dried sage and black pepper

1. Roll out pastry onto floured surface until thickness of a pound coin. Pre-rolled pastry is about this thick anyway
2. Cut into rectangle about 12" by 6"
3. Cut in half lengthways
4. Roll half the sausage meat in floured hands into a long 'sausage' (about 12"). Why the inverted commas?
5. Lay
this along one side of the pastry
6. Wet edges of pastry
7. lift bottom of pastry over sausage and seal edges together
8. Slit the top of the pastry to release the steam

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Ruths favourite Moussaka

We got some bargain aubergines from Lidl at the weekend (50p each and lovely and plump and shiny) and upon spotting some equally bargainous mince we decided to have a crack at my mum's famous Moussaka. We made a couple of changes along the way but I think it was pretty close to mamma Chapman's. Anything written in black is the original recipe and in blue are my comments and changes.

(For 4)

4 Aubergines
1 Large Onion
4-6 tbsp. Olive Oil
1lb Lean Lamb Mince (we used beef which was slightly less rich but was also less oily)
1 level tsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Tomato puree
1/4 pt. Stock or Water
1oz. Butter
1oz. Plain Flour
1/2 pt. Milk
1 Egg

  • Peel and finely chop the onion and fry in 1 tbsp. oil in large pan for about 5 mins.
  • 1 clove of garlic - it seemed wrong not to
  • Add Meat and fry until brown.
  • Stir in salt, tomato puree and stock.
  • Chopped in some cheap sun dried tomatoes from Lidl and splashed in some of the tasty oil and a chopped large tomato from, you guessed it, Lidl - really red and smelt great
  • Season to taste.
  • Simmer for about 30 mins until liquid is absorbed and meat tender.
  • Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the aubergines. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Leave for about 30 mins, till all the bitter juices have been drawn out. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry on kitchen paper.
  • Fry aubergine slices in olive oil until golden, then drain on kitchen paper. (This is what takes the time - I try and use 2 frying pans at once to quicken the procedure.)
  • This is such a pain in the bum - might try skipping this step but not sure what would happen. It also used a massive amount of kitchen roll.
  • Arrange a layer of aubergines in the bottom of the buttered ovenproof dish.
  • Cover with a layer of meat. Then add another layer of aubergines and so on, ending with a layer of aubergines.
  • Make a white sauce with butter, flour and milk. Cook for 2-3 mins and season to taste.
  • Take pan off heat and beat in egg. We didn't beat in an egg as we didn't have one, the white sauce was nice but less thick than Mum's. Paul added some mustard to it too - but I couldn't taste this in the final dish
  • Spoon this sauce over the aubergines and cook in a preheated oven (180 celcius) until bubbling and browned.
N.B You can use beef mince and substitute aubergines with potato slices - this is what you get at the Blue Lagoon, which is still good after all these years (Shame about the decor!). The blue lagoon is an old restuarant in Darlington that has been run by the same Greek family since the 60's - it probably hasn't been decorated since. They do a great Moussaka and chicken parmo - served with creamed cabbage which is fantastic but a little rough on the arteries. When I go there I am the youngest person by about 20 years.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The First Recipe

So here it, is my first post. I'll start by describing our great heritage - we are a traditional working class north eastern family who have clawed our way into the middle class over the past couple of decades. My grandma (who supplied many of these recipes) was a cook in a large house in Darlington for many years, she was the mother of five and amazing at quizzes. My mum is a radiographer and passionate family cook. We love eating and our inspiration comes not just from standard northern fare (of which there is plenty) but also family trips to Northern France. These recipes tell the story of our family.

So on with the first recipe, the first I've picked for you is a stone cold classic. Corned Beef Pie. Now I know that corned beef is deeply unfashionable (and unhealthy) but this pie so is worth overcoming any of these apprehensions. My boyfriend loves it. I've seen him try and eat a whole one.

Corned Beef Pie
1 Tin corned beef (you can get fresh stuff as well but a tin will do)
1 large onion
mashed potatoes
salt and pepper
short crust pastry - how much depends on the size of the pie dish - usually 12oz flour, 3 oz butter. 3oz lard (yeah lard - told you it was unhealthy)
N.B. Always remember with short crust pastry you need half weight of flour in fat (thanks mum - I often forget)

Make Filling
  1. in a large frying pan, fry chopped onion slowly until browned
  2. open tin of c/b and cut into large chunks or slices
  3. add onion and cook down mashing it up as you go
  4. remove from heat and add enough mashed potato to bind mixture together - the amount you use is up to you but if you use too much you can't taste the meat
  5. season well to taste (not sure that makes sense mum) the mixture should be soft
  6. make pastry while mixture cools
  7. as always with pastry, keep hands and implements cool and handle as little as possible. Make into a ball
  8. cut ball of pastry in half. Roll out one half into on floured surface until big enough to line the pie dish with some hanging over the edges
  9. add corned beef mixture and smooth
  10. roll out other half of pastry until large enough to cover dish
  11. wet edges of pastry around the edge of pie dish
  12. add pastry lid and seal edges together. Cut off excess and keep to one side
  13. make hole in the top of the pile for the steam to escape
  14. pinch off edges of pie with finger tips
  15. roll out left over pastry and make 'leaves' for the top of the pie. Roll out strips and cut into diamonds and mark with knife (see diagram)
  16. Put on baking tray and cook in mod oven (180 degrees) for about 30-40 mins
Brush top with beaten egg or milk so pastry goes nice and golden
(This is extremely nice with picked beetroot (my mum thinks everything is nice with picked beetroot though - she even uses the vinegar from this on chips!))