Pastry power

It would seem that we are a nation of pastry lovers. As many businesses are struggling Greggs the bakers are flourishing and have seen an increase in sales of almost 4%, the BBC reported last week.

Indeed on a recent visit to the North-East I was astonished to see a branch on almost every corner and even rumours of a drive-thru Greggs!

Pastry-comfortPerhaps we all need a little comfort food to cheer us up in these recession-ridden days? Or maybe we as a nation enjoy cheap and convenient foods. Either way, I must admit, I love pastry as an occasional treat. It certainly does seem to be the perfect comfort food for these wet and windy November days (though maybe not so perfect for our waistlines – but everything in moderation, I say!)

One of my favourite pastry recipes comes from last year’s Clever Cooking for One or TwoTwo cheese and onion tart. It tastes truly delicious and is a great storecupboard standby. I cooked it quite recently after a post-holiday power cut where I had to use up the contents of my freezer. With only a pack of defrosted puff pastry, some ready-grated cheese, sweetcorn and a solitary onion, it was the perfect recipe. I simply swapped the cherry tomatoes for sweetcorn and it tasted great. Crisis and wasted food averted!

Two Cheese and Onion Tart

As an occasional treat it is the perfect comfort food for these wet and windy November days

Two Cheese and Onion Tart

Two Cheese and Onion Tart

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Calories per portion 614 Kcal
Fat per portion 41g
of which saturated 20.8g
Serves 2
Suitable for vegetarians + freezing

Ready-rolled puff pastry 1 sheet from a 425g pack
Tomato chutney or ketchup 2 tbsp
Onion 1 small, peeled and thinly sliced
Baby plum or cherry tomatoes 6, halved
Cheddar cheese, Double Gloucester or Red Leicester mixed with a blue cheese like Gorgonzola or Stilton 110g (4oz), cut into cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley to garnish

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Carefully unroll the whole pack of pastry and put one sheet (measuring 23 x 28cm/9 x 11in) on to a heavy baking sheet. Reroll and re-wrap the other sheet and chill or freeze for later use.

2 With a sharp knife, mark a border about 1.5cm (½in) in from the edge all round and lightly mark it for decoration. With a fork, prick inside the border, to keep the pastry flat while it cooks.

3 Spread the chutney or ketchup inside the border, then scatter the onion slices over the sauce, followed by the cheese cubes and tomato halves. Season with pepper.

4 Bake the tart in the bottom half of the oven for about 30 minutes until the pastry is browned and crispy. Cool for a few minutes and then sprinkle with a little parsley. Serve the tart warm or cold.

Cook’s tip
This is easy to assemble and can be left in the fridge, loosely covered with cling film, ready for baking when you want to.

Shopper’s tip
Ready-rolled pastry is a good stand-by as it thaws quickly for a speedy base for savoury and sweet tarts.

Recipe taken from Clever Cooking for One or Two, Dairy Cookbook.

Lamb and Apricot Cousous

Perfect comfort food for chilly autumn evenings.

This is a rare treat indeed – comfort food that tastes great, looks fabulous and is a good healthy meal too! What more could you wish for?

A Moroccan inspired dish, this recipe is packed with flavour and really is an all-in-one meal, providing you with protein, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is quick to prepare and then you can forget about it while it cooks to perfection.

Lamb and Apricot couscousPreparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes
Calories per portion 309 Kcal
Fat per portion 8g
of which saturated 3.5g
Serves 4
Suitable for freezing

Olive oil spray 2–3 bursts
Lean lamb 350g (12oz), diced
Onion 1, peeled and sliced
Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
Ground turmeric 1 tsp
Leek 1, washed and sliced
Red pepper 2, deseeded and roughly chopped
Ready-to-eat dried apricots 150g (5oz)
Lemon 1, grated zest and strained juice
Lamb stock 450ml (¾pint)
Couscous 110g (4oz)
Chopped flat leaf parsley 2 tbsp

1 Heat a saucepan or flameproof casserole dish and then spray with olive oil. Add the lamb and onion to the pan in a single layer. Cook over a high heat, turning occasionally until the lamb is browned on all sides. Add the cinnamon and turmeric and cook for a further minute, stirring well.

2 Add the leek, red pepper, apricots and lemon zest and juice to the casserole dish and mix with the meat. Pour the stock into the dish. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and leave to simmer gently for 1¼–1½hours, or until the lamb is tender.

3 Add the couscous, stir and re-cover the pan. Continue to cook for a further 3–5 minutes, over a very gentle heat until the couscous is just tender and has thickened the juices. Stir the parsley into the mixture. Serve with a green salad.

Cook’s tip
This recipe is versatile – it may also be cooked in a moderate oven rather than on the hob.

Recipe taken from Healthy & Healthy Dairy Cookbook

Autumn and Apples

Last night, we enjoyed some delicious home-made toffee apples at our local firework display.

Fresh, hand-picked apples coated in a crunch sweet toffee – delicious and every dentist’s nightmare!

Baked home-grown appleWhat a naughty but very nice way to use up a glut of home-grown apples. I always inherit bags full of garden-grown apples from my parents. They grow eating apples, which are perfect packed with raisins and cinnamon and microwaved for a couple of minutes until soft and steaming. Of course, all the family love stewed apple served with piping hot custard too.

My Grandad was always a big fan of cheese and apple sandwiches, an unusually tasty combination which has been seen in the Dairy Diary in years gone by. I personally, love it made with Camembert and slices of Cox apple on a seeded roll.

For a surfeit of home-grown cooking apples why not try Autumn chutney from next year’s Dairy Diary?

Autumn Chutney

A perfect way to make use of home-grown apples and pears. And very satisfying to make.

Makes approx. 1.5kg
Time 3–4 hours
43 calories per tablespoon
0G fat of which 0G is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians

Autumn Chutney

Autumn Chutney

Bramley cooking apples 500g (1lb 2oz), peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Conference pears 6 large, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Plums 8 large, stoned and quartered
Blackberries 600g (1lb 5oz)
Ginger 50g (2oz), peeled and finely chopped
Red and green chilli 1cm (½in) piece of each, deseeded and finely chopped
Onions 600g (1lb 5oz), peeled and roughly chopped
Granulated sugar 750g (1lb 11oz)
Distilled white wine vinegar, 5% acidity 450ml (16fl oz)

 

1 Put all ingredients into a large stainless steel preserving pan. Heat gently, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to the boil.

2 Reduce heat and cook for 3–4 hours (stirring often) until it is reduced by about two-thirds, or when a wooden spoon drawn across the centre leaves a path that is slow to close up.

3 Allow chutney to cool, then spoon into clean jars. Cover with acid resistant lids or waxed discs and cellophane covers.

4 Store in a cool, dark cupboard for at least 1 month before using. Serve with bread, cheese, spring onions and radishes or cherry tomatoes.

Cook’s tip
Cooking time varies according to size of pan – a wide shallow pan cooks quicker than a narrower, deep one.

Recipe taken from 2010 Dairy Diary.

Fat Rascals

There is lots of history behind these biscuits, and they may originally have been cooked on open turf or peat fires on Whitby Moor. Another suggestion is that they were made from trimmings of shortcrust pastry that were rolled out and had currants and sugar sprinkled over the top. They were then baked and eaten warm, with butter spread over them.
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 18 minutes
Calories per biscuit – 200 Kcal
Fat per biscuit – 9g
of which saturated – 5.8g
Makes – 10
Suitable for vegetarians
Plain flour 250g (9oz)
Salt pinch
Butter 110g (4oz)
Currants 50g (2oz)
Light muscovado sugar 2 tbsp
Milk 3–4 tbsp
Caster sugar for sprinkling
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Butter a baking sheet.
2 Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Rub in the butter, then stir in the currants and sugar. Add the milk and bind to form a dough. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and then roll it out to about 1cm (1⁄2in) thick.
3 Use a 5cm (2in) cutter to cut out rounds and place them on the baking sheet. Re-roll and cut trimmings as necessary. Sprinkle caster sugar over the tops. Cook in the centre of the oven for 15–18 minutes. These will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.
Cook’s tip
• Some people make these into faces by arranging currants for the eyes and nose and flaked almonds for the teeth.

There is lots of history behind these biscuits, and they may originally have been cooked on open turf or peat fires on Whitby Moor.

Fat Rascals

Fat Rascals

Another suggestion is that they were made from trimmings of shortcrust pastry that were rolled out and had currants and sugar sprinkled over the top. They were then baked and eaten warm, with butter spread over them.

Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 18 minutes
Calories per biscuit – 200 Kcal
Fat per biscuit – 9g
of which saturated – 5.8g
Makes – 10
Suitable for vegetarians

Plain flour 250g (9oz)
Salt pinch
Butter 110g (4oz)
Currants 50g (2oz)
Light muscovado sugar 2 tbsp
Milk 3–4 tbsp
Caster sugar for sprinkling

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Butter a baking sheet.

2 Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Rub in the butter, then stir in the currants and sugar. Add the milk and bind to form a dough. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and then roll it out to about 1cm (1⁄2in) thick.

3 Use a 5cm (2in) cutter to cut out rounds and place them on the baking sheet. Re-roll and cut trimmings as necessary. Sprinkle caster sugar over the tops. Cook in the centre of the oven for 15–18 minutes. These will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.

Cook’s tip
Some people make these into faces by arranging currants for the eyes and nose and flaked almonds for the teeth.

Recipe taken from Around Britain Dairy Cookbook

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