250g Soft Butter 50g Icing sugar
250g Plain Flour 50g Corn Flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
These are amazingly easy to make. The only hard bit is the piping, but the beauty of the piping bag is that if you make a mistake you can scoop it up and throw the mixture into the piping bag and have another go.
The rosettes spread out a bit when they are baking so don't forget to leave some space for this. Instructions are below...
Heat the Oven to 190 C
Put the butter, flour, sugar, cornflour and vanilla into a food processor and mix until smooth.
Empty the mix into a piping bag (I managed to find a fab one that came with a stand to make this a little easier)
Pipe into rosettes or long fingers onto backing paper.
Bake for 13-15 mins in the oven until golden.
Wait until they are cooled before removing them from the baking paper.
These biscuits are incredibly crumbly, really buttery and very moorish..... You have been warned.
The planning stage was the most important stage as this meant I could cook extra things in the weeks running up to the party and freeze them, and that meant that the day of the party everything was pretty relaxed and there was no rushing around....
The Menu was purely canapé sized so that there was little need for knives and forks eliminating all the washing up afterwards....
Beef Ragu in filo pastry baskets
Mini Quiche Lorraine in filo pastry baskets
Chicken Curry on popadoms
Chicken Caesar on endive leaves
Salami, dried German Ham and fresh bread
Mini Mille Feuille
Selection of French and Swiss Cheeses
nuts, mini pretzels and kettle chips.
This was a small party, only around 20 people, so there wasn't too much food to make.
I wanted the evening to be stress free so I could enjoy time with everyone but I didn't want to serve up frozen shop bought things.
Almost everything was made in advance. The Beef Ragu is something I make regularly and we have for dinner with fresh pasta. I made this a couple of weeks earlier but just made double the portion and froze a large Tupperware container. I did the same with the chicken curry.
The day before the party I brought the ragu, curry and macarons out of the freezer.
I made the Salmon Terrine which was easy. It is roasted salmon, creme cheese, butter and chives blended and then wrapped in smoked salmon. Here is a great Mary Berry recipe. I just didn't use the asparagus.
The Chicken Caesar was made the day before and a few hours before people arrived I simply spooned it onto endive leaves, grated parmesan over the top covered in them in cling film and left in them in the fridge.
Macarons had been made over the course of the last few weeks. I simply made double the mixture everytime and froze the shells and filling separately. When they came out of the freezer they just needed to be assembled.
The Mille Feuille were also made the day before as I only used Creme Patisserie and not fresh cream. They were the most time consuming of everything to make but they were a real hit and as I was going to be home preparing everything anyway, it didn't matter too much.
On the morning of the party all I had to do was to make some filo pastry baskets and deep fry the popadoms. The baskets were simply 3 small squares of filo layered with butter and shaped into mini muffin times with pie weights to weigh them down. Once cooked they could cool down and be put aside until needed.
I made the quiche filling and filled half of the baskets and left them until 15 mins before people were due to arrive. The house smelt delicious and the quiches were still warm when I served them.
I served the beef argue and chicken curry an hour apart at around 9pm and 10pm.
I heated the beef and chicken up spooned the ragu out into the baskets and chicken onto the popadoms and walked around the room a few times. They were eaten up very quickly, certainly way before they had time to cool down. It was nice to be able to serve some more food later on that was warm. Also, as people were drinking and started to get a little hungry I had something nice to tempt them with. The smell of the ragu and the curry heating up made everyone more hungry.
There was very little waste, and little food that was left over, mostly cheese and salami, we had for breakfast the next day. People stayed until 3am (unusual by Swiss standards) so I'm certain everyone enjoyed themselves. I'm already looking forward to the next time.....
I LOVE these pastries. Its hard to find a good one as I am a bit fussy about the filling and also the pastry has to be fresh enough that it crumbles and doesn't just flatten the filing when you try to break it.
I'd eaten a few recently and been disappointed and decided to give them a try. I was VERY pleased with he flavour and the flakiness of the pastry. The icing needs a bit of work, but hey, its a learning curve and I can't imagine there will be many complaints as family and friends are taste testing the 'experiments'. The first step is to make the pastry. You can buy the pastry, but I really don't like the strange 'lardy' after-taste that the pre-made pastries have, I guess they must use a cheap butter or butter alternative. Either way, it has an unpleasant taste so I made a Rough Puff Pastry. This is slightly quicker than a traditional Puff Pastry as it doesn't need to chill overnight.
In between the chilling and folding of the pastry I made the creme patisserie and kept it in a piping bag in the fridge until I needed it.
I whipped fresh cream and put this into a piping bag too.
When the pastry was chilled sufficiently I matched up the rectangles so they would make even sized pastries and lay them out in rows of threes.
I made my Mille Feuille with three layers of pastry, one layer of creme and one layer of Creme Patisserie. When I made mini versions of these for a party I just did 2 layers of pastry and a filling of Creme Patisserie. The choice is yours
Before assembling the Mille Feuille you need to ice the pastry that will be the top layer. This is simply a mixture of icing sugar mixed into a paste with a TINY bit of water.
This got a little messy as it was my first attempt, but once you lift the pastries from the baking tray they don't look too bad. When the icing sugar mix is thick enough that you can paint in on and it doesn't run you literally paint it over the pastry.
I dipped a cocktail stick into gel food colouring and dribbled its over the icing and swirled it a little to give the pink chaotic pattern I have here. I definitely need to work on this technique but it wasn't a bad first attempt.
The final stage is to pipe the creme patisserie onto one layer of pastry. Not too thick but it needs to be thick enough to give the pastries some height. Lay the second pastry on top and then repeat with the fresh creme.
I put the fresh cream as the top layer because it isn't as dense as the creme patisserie and I wasn't sure it would hold the weight of the other layers. Lastly, the pastry layer with the icing goes on top.
And there you go.
Now I admit, its not the quickest or easiest recipe to do, but its not a bad one if you are at home all day and are cooking other things at the same time. I made them on the same day as a batch of Macarons, using the left over egg yolks for the Creme Patisserie.
Even with my messy icing they were a HUGE hit. My father-in-law said they were better than Sprungli, and as compliments go - they don't come any bigger than that.
225g plain flour
half a tsp salt
200g chilled grated butter
180ml chilled water
juice from half a lemon.
Mix the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the butter. Mix the butter around with a large metal spoon to coat it in flour. Be careful to keep the butter in lumps. Most recipes just say to keep the butter in lumps or shreds when you add it as this helps to give the nice raise and flaky layers. I grated the butter because I wanted to control the amount of raise.
Mix the water and lemon juice together and slowly pour into the flour mixture.
Mix everything together using a metal knife. Use a chopping action to kind of chop the butter into the flour until it looks like a dough.
It will still be quite wet.
Tip it out onto a floured surface and work it into a rectangle shape. I rolled it out slightly and then folded the bottom third into the middle and the top third down over that so it is three layers.
Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 10-15mins.
When chilled, remove from the fridge and with the folded edges to the sides roll the pastry out into a rectangle again. The same size as before. Again fold the bottom third into the middle and the top third over. Wrap it again and chill for 30mins. Repeat this step twice more. After the last rolling leave the pastry to chill for 2 hours.
When chilled remove and quickly roll out into a long rectangle shape about half a cm in thickness, try not to handle the pastry too much as this will make it warm and the butter will melt.
Lay the pastry on a tray and chill again for maybe 10-15 mins.
I made a stencil for the size of the Mile Feuille using baking paper. I lay this over the chilled pastry and used a pizza cutter to cut out the rectangle shapes I needed.
Carefully place the rectangles on a baking sheet lined with paper with a few cm between them.
Lie a piece of making paper over them and lie another baking tray on top to weigh them down.
You want to get a little rise but no too much. I have seen recipes where they suggest to prick the surface for the pastry all over with a fork.... laying a baking tray over the top worked for me, so I'm sticking with it !!
Bake these in the oven for about 10 mins at 200 degrees. remove the baking tray and paper from the top and put them back in the oven for another 5-10 mins until golden brown. Bring them out and let them cool on a wire rack.
This is a recipe I use regularly for fruit scones as it never fails for me.
150 g dried fruit soaked in tea/orange juice/booze
450g self raising flour
(2tsp baking powder per 150g plain flour)
150 g cold butter
2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
4 tsp milk
2 tsp sugar Pre heat the oven to 200 C
Mix together flour, butter, baking powder and salt in the food processor until it resembles crumbles.
Beat the eggs and milk together and add to a well in the middle of the flour.
Mix well until it resembles a dough adding a little flour if its too sticky.
Then roll out thick and using a cutter (or an upside down glass as I have done in the past) cut out your scones and place on a baking sheet.
Bruch the top with a little milk and sprinkle the sugar on the top, this gives a nice golden crispness to the top that I quite lie. You can drop this last bit - Its entirely up to you !!.
Bake for about 12-15 mins depending on your oven
This is a nice, quick easy to make tray-bake.
My chocolate drizzle needs a bit of work.... but these little bite-sized treats taste amazing.
Heat the oven to 200 C
Stir together the biscuit crumbs and coconut then add the condensed milk and melted butter.
Press into a greased square cake tin
bake for 10-12 mins.
Remove and let cool.
Turn out the 'cake' onto a board and divide with a sharp knife into small bite sized squares.
Separate them all slightly and drizzle the melted choc over them using small spoon.
Chill and serve ideally from the fridge (or the choc may melt)
These are quick to make.
170g digestive biscuits - crumbled
150g desiccated coconut
395g tin / tube condensed milk
175g chocolate - melted in a bain marie
This tart has a wonderful sweet shortcrust base. It can be made with whatever fruits are in season, but the cooking times for bigger fruit such at plums or apricots will be longer.
Its REALLY easy - apart from the pastry bit. I personally make my own as it has a much lighter finish and taste, but you can also buy it and roll it out !!
Ingredients for the filling
half a cup creme fraiche
1 large egg beaten
half a tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey (pref gritty)
1 tablespoon flour.
Once you have the pastry case blind baked then you literally just throw the filling in and arrange the fruit on top. In a bowl mix the honey, creme fraiche, egg and vanilla. Mix it well with a whisk until smooth, then whisk in the flour. That is literally it !! How easy is that one !!??
I would suggest putting the fruit in the base and pouring the mixture on while the pie is on the oven shelf. That way you won't get any spillage.
Your choice of fruit will dictate how long the tart needs to bake. I baked the apricot one for about 50-60 mins at 175 C. The smaller raspberry one above they only took about 20mins. This will be a bit trial and error, and also depend on your oven. The bigger and more dense the fruit the longer it will take to cook. You may also want to put a crust protector on the sides to stop the edges burning.
I've been a big fan of The Great British Bake Off since day one. I think Mel and Sue are hysterical, and I'd love to adopt Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood...... I've got some of the cookbooks, tried some of the recipes and have printed out loads more from the BBC site to try...... what I also did was to make a list of all the 'tips' from the show.... and here they are..
I made this for the In-laws as a dessert after Sunday Lunch. They loved it. Its not too heavy and its relatively quick to make. You can use raspberries or blueberries alongside the apples if you fancy it too !!
I was going to serve it with custard but opted for fresh whipped cream instead. Ingredients
5 sheets filo pastry
60g butter melted
3 tbsp almonds
I tbsp brown sugar.
750 g apples cored and peeled
zest and juice of one lemon
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
half tsp cinnamon
half tsp mixed spice
125g sultanas soaked in brandy / orange juice Mix the filling together - apples (sliced), sultanas, lemon zest and juice, muscovado sugar, spices and cinnamon.
Lightly brush one sheet of fill with melted butter. Cover with another sheet and repeat until all five sheets are layered. This can be a bit diddly if the sheets break. You really should use whole sheets to stop the filling leaking out.
Sprinkle the almonds over the middle of the fill pastry and add the filling.
Fold the pastry over the at the top, brushing the join with butter will help to seal it.
Brush butter over the top of the strudel and sprinkle with the tbsp brown sugar.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 C for about 40-45 minutes until crisp and golden.
Mine leaked a little so I rolled it over and baked the bottom for 5 mins too and this dried it up a bit !!
You can dust with icing sugar just before serving. Serve hot of cold, with custard or fresh cream - such tough decisions !!
I really enjoy making these. They are incredibly tasty and great for taking on picnics or car/train journeys.
The hot water pastry really makes the difference with this pie.
I guess you could use different fillings but the pork filling reminds me of my childhood and when my Dad used to eat these with lashings of Coleman's Mustard.
This recipe is from the Paul Hollywood 'How to Bake' Book. The only thing I changed is that I added an egg to the pastry before mixing as I think it gives a richer pastry, and I also added ground juniper berries to the pork mix.
In the images below I baked the pies in a silicon tray. I think a metal tray works better as it gives the pies a better bake around the edges and bottom... Ingredients for the filling.
350g minced pork 1 large onion chopped finely
100g unsmoked back bacon sea salt and fresh pepper
small bunch parsley 5 or 6 juniper berries - ground.
half a chicken stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water.
2 small sheets gelatine
Put the pork, onion, chopped parsley, juniper berries and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Cover and set aside.
I usually put a tiny bit of this mix in a pan and fry to check it is seasoned OK.
Ingredients for hot water pastry.
300g plain flour 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg 55g unsalted butter
65g lard 85ml water
1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1tbsp water to glaze.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Make a well in the middle and crack the egg into to. Cover with flour.
In a pan heat the water, lard and butter together - but don't boil. Immediately pour around the edge of the flour and stir in quickly using a large butter knife or spatula.
Knead the dough until smooth and wrap in cling film and hill in the fridge until firm.
Grease the inside of the baking tins.
When the pastry is cooled you need to work quickly, roll out the dough to about 3cm thickness.
Cut the pastry for the insides and also slightly smaller discs for the tops.
Put a heaped tablespoon of the filling into each case and put the lid on. You can join the sides with just fingers or you can use a fork/end of a spoon to give a nice design.
Make a hole in the top of each pie. Brush the pies with the beaten egg and bake until golden ( for about 50 mins at 190 C)
Soften the gelatine in cold water for 5 mins, squeeze out to remove excess liquid and then dissolve it in the water and chicken stock.
When the pies come out of the oven carefully pour a little of the gelatine mix into each pie.
Allow too cool overnight.
This is another Big G recipe that I love.... it tastes AMAZING. Below is a video of Big G and his son showing how to cook this fabulous dish. I start it around lunchtime and whack it in the oven for about 6 hours. I've cooked it three times now with complete success. I serve it with fresh tagliatelle pasta that has a drizzle of olive oil on it to stop it sticking.
1kg beef cheeks. 1 onion chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves roughly crushed. 1 bay leaf
400ml red wine 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
500ml beef stock handful fresh parsley. salt and pepper.
Season the beef cheeks and quickly sear them in a large ovenproof pot.
Pre-heat oven to 140 C.
Take them out of the pan and throw the onion, garlic in and fry quickly until they are coloured. Use more oil if needed.
Pour the red wine in to de-glaze the pan.
Put beef cheeks back in the pan and add the tomatoes and stock.
Put the lid on leaving a small gap for air/moisture to escape and place in the oven for 3.5 - 6 hours. The longer the better.
When its ready I fish out the cheeks and place aside. I then strain the rest of the liquid and if necessary thicken it with a little corn starch. I shred the beef cheeks so it resembles a ragu and add it back to the sauce. Check the seasoning.
Serve over hot pasta.
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