The Overly Developed Imagination of the Only Child

bluemushSo, to herald my recent departure from unemployment, pajamas, self loathing and day time television is a recipe 100% guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart. If hearts have cockles, which I happen to highly doubt. For one thing, this recipe is a slight adaptation from one on the BBC good food website. For those who don’t know me very well BBC good food is to me what cute, captioned pictures of anthropomorphic cats are to most people. The internet equivalent of a sanctuary; a safe, unbreachable, harmonious haven.

RECIPE:

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 400g baby spinach
  • frozen puff pastry (block or sheets) defrosted
  • 140g stilton (or other blue cheese) sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 200’C.

Put the oil in a frying pan and let it heat. Sizzle the mushrooms for a few minutes each side, just until they begin to darken and soften up a little. Put them to the side.

Turn the heat low and using the same frying pan and oil, add the chopped garlic and let it cook for a few seconds. Toasty, golden garlic may be delicious but burnt garlic tastes like the innermost circles of hell. Add the spinach and stir it until it’s wilted to about a millionth of it’s former size. Season the spinach and garlic with salt and pepper and pop it in a sieve to drain. You can use the back of a spoon as a squishing device to speed the process along a little. You want to squeeze out as much liquid as possible or the pastry will be soggy. Which is, as we know, completely unacceptable.

MaryBerryRoll out your pastry (about a £1 thickness) on a lightly floured surface. Using a bowl or plate that is much bigger than the mushrooms as a template cut out 8 circles from the pastry for the tops and bottoms.

On 4 pastry discs, spoon a quarter of the spinach mix, a couple of slices of cheese and add the mushroom (smooth side up) and top with a little more cheese until it kind of looks like a little pixie house (I was an only child, alright? Drop it.) Repeat this for the other 3 mushrooms.

100_1154Brush some beaten egg around the edge of the mushrooms and drape the 4 remaining pastry discs over the top. Use your fingers to press the edges of the pastry together. The bottom disc will be much wider than the top so I like to fold it over in a pretty sort of star pattern. This also seems to seal the pastry better, making the cheese much less likely to leak out of the sides.

100_1165You can also use the left over pastry to make some highly unnecessary but pretty decorations. Glaze the tops with a generous amount of egg and pop them in the oven for around 40mins or until they are very puffed up and golden-brown.

100_1172How sweet are they? Little golden parcels of deliciousness. The blue-cheese tanginess is so good with the meatiness of the mushrooms. They have the added benefit of looking kind of posh as well, so dinner party it up! Impress your in-laws. Or just foil your friends into bringing round copious bottles of wine. It’s a win-win either way!

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Buxom Barmaids

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Shop-bought puff pastry is one of those miraculous inventions that turns the near impossible (or at the very least the thoroughly time consuming) into what can only be described as idiot-proof. As easy as pie. Or, as the case may be, as easy as a tart, which is pretty much just a pie lying on it’s back… which is kind of appropriate.

This is so easy that you don’t even need to actually like your guests in order to muster up the energy to make it for them. It is, however, so beautiful and dramatic when you turn it over that you’ll insure that your guests end up liking you. So don’t bother if you don’t want them coming back for seconds.

RECIPE:

  • 3 firm pears
  • 3 apples
  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 cardamom pods (or 1tsp ground)
  • 1 large cinnamon stick (or 1tsp ground)
  • 5 cloves
  • 2tbsp brandy
  • 500g block puff-pastry

Peel and halve the pears and carefully cut out the cores. Do the same for the apples but cut them into quarters. If the fruit seems to be very juicy, leave them in the fridge to dry out for a few hours (you can also leave them in overnight, slightly sprinkled in lemon juice to stop them going too brown).

Put the sugar, butter and spices in an oven-proof frying pan (about 20cm) and cook over a high heat constantly stirring and shaking the pan. The butter and sugar should melt together and then begin to separate and turn a dark toffee colour. Be careful with it, caramel is ridiculously hot. No Seriously.

UntitledPut the apples and pears in the pan and toss them into the sauce. Cook them for around 10-12mins. Don’t worry, they won’t burn. Splash in the brandy and let it flambe. Flambe is, in my opinion, a much camper way of saying please be careful, this could take off your eyebrows. Take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for a few minutes.

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Meanwhile, heat your oven to 200’C. Roll out the block of puff pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin. For people down under a pound is much the same thing as a dollar only thicker and it feels much more like real money (think 2 dollar coins stuck together). Using a plate for a template, cut a circle in the pastry, it should be slightly larger than the pan you are using. Press the edges with your fingers to thin it out a little.

When the pears have cooled you can pluck out the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods. Some people like to leave them in to be artsy but really, have you ever accidentally bitten into a cardamom pod? Not good my friends, not good. Arrange the fruit in the pan, cut side up. I went for a sort of flower arrangement with the apple slices around the edge.

moreblog 030Put the puff pastry disk on top of the fruit and tuck the edges around the sides nice and snugly. Pierce the pastry with a fork and then put the pan in the oven for 15mins. If there is a lot of juice bubbling around the edges then drain a little of it off at this stage and then put it back in the over for another 15mins, reducing the heat to 180’C. The pastry should be golden brown.

Take it out of the oven and leave the tart to stand for 10mins (this allows the caramel to set slightly). Then put your serving plate on top of the pan and carefully, carefully flip it over.

Voil-fucking-a!

moreblog 038It’s beautiful! Like a firstborn, or a sunset, or a unicorn! Glossy like the flaxen hair of a medieval wench! As plumptious as the bosom of a barmaid! More sexually enticing than warm apple pie! And other stuff…

moreblog 039This tart tastes sinfully and unforgivably good. Sweet and spicy and sticky and juicy and all things that are even remotely good. The only thing that makes it better is ice-cream. Eat it straight away. Not that you could manage not to…

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