Tasty Pastry!

>> Wednesday, 12 May 2010

I should drop a bombshell now...

I'm not really a great cook. I know I have a food blog and that I spend an awful lot of time thinking about food, cooking food and now writing about it, but I have as many failures as I do successes! My biggest issue is pastry.

Pastry is a bit of a sore point.

I don't understand how something so simple can be so complicated! It's either too dry, or too short, too warm to handle or too wet to roll! Argggh! However, given that I have books dedicated to pastry and you can have a career in just being a pastry chef, maybe it's not so surprising after all!

So, I'm facing my fear and my pastry issues. Pie by pie and tart by tart! Starting now with the humble quiche...

I'm starting with a pretty basic pastry recipe, taken from the tomb of all things good and foody, Nigella's "How to Eat" (I love, love, love this food bible!). Following Nigella, I combined the ingredients below in my blender - I'm quite sure a purist would combine everything on the kitchen surface with their fingertips, but it's a work night and speed and tidiness are more important than pastry rules (such rebellion is, quite clearly, the root of my pastry rubbishness!).

Shortcrust Pastry (according to Nigella)
  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g butter (cold)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon yoghurt (or lemon juice or creme fraiche)
When it's all combined, you need to chill it for about 30 minutes. Whilst this was happening I prepared a few fillings and the basic eggy-mixture for the quiche:
  • 150ml cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 3 eggs
Pastry cooled, I split it in half and added grated Parmesan to one half and chopped rosemary leaves to the other (this is because I forgot to do it pre-fridge!). This addition was a little experiment on my part to make the pastry a bit more exciting. After which, I rolled it out to fit my little tart tins. Big tip here... To save putting flour all over your surfaces, roll your pastry between two large pieces of cling film. It also makes it easier to lift and keeps it cool.

I added it to my greased tins, pierced with a fork and chilled again for 10 minutes. Then, they were covered with baking paper, filled with baking beans and popped into the oven (160c) from 10 minutes. Another tip.. if you've not got baking beans, you can use uncooked rice or pulses to weigh down the pastry. I've read that you can use old holiday money too as this is a good conductor of heat (obviously the coins and not the notes!).

I then took them out and added my different fillings. To the Parmesan pastry I added a medley of blanched spring vegetables (courgette, pea and broad bean)....

 To the rosemary pastry I added sweet potato and goats cheese......

 and caramelised onions and grated mature cheddar to the other.....

They were topped-up with the eggy mixture and popped into the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Another tip...if you're making a larger quiche it might need a little longer, so pop tin foil around the pastry edge after 20 minutes to stop it browning. Then, they were prised from their little tins and served!

All this took about 90 minutes, which admittedly is quite a lot of effort on a school night! So, whilst I will continue with my adventures in pastry, next week I'll be changing tack and featuring a blog entry called 'Hasty Pastry' where I'll sin and use the ready made version and see what the result is (time gained over taste lost maybe?!).

Next entry will be posted at the weekend and focus on my Friday night dinner with friends featuring a vegetarian food, fit for non-vegetarians too!

Thank you for reading.
Helen x

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