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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When in doubt, blame your friends.

parmesan shortbread

So… I have a slightly embarrassing confession to make today. What I actually wanted to do my next post on was home-made pizza dough. There’s nothing better than home-made pizza. Unless, of course, you have a terrible hangover, are hiding in your duvet fort and crying about your evidently misspent youth. Then, obviously, the convenience of a delivery is preferable. But ONLY then.

Think about it, what’s not to love about DIY pizza? You get to pick your own toppings (however ridiculous, and I am talking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here…) arrange them however you want, make a giant mess and generally indulge your inner child for the day. This was my plan. I had a couple of friends coming over for the evening and thought this might be a good opportunity. If only I had known how misguided I was…

It was all going well until the pizzas came out of the oven. My back must have been turned for about five minutes and then… the unimaginable happened, a complete and utter betrayal.

They ATE them.

No, seriously, they ate them INSTANTLY. There are no photographs, no evidence that these pizzas ever even existed in the first place other than a few crumbs, some lingering food babies and the distant memory of perfection.

At some point, I will have to do Dough 2 (The Rise of Dough) just to prove I am not going all Emperor’s New Clothes on you but for now I have decided to give you parmesan shortbread instead. Mostly because, on a gorgeous, sunny day like this, there is nothing better than wine and when there is wine there is nothing better than cheesy, melt-in-the-mouth yumminess to go with it.

RECIPE:

  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g parmesan, grated
  • 100g soft, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • fresh thyme (optional)

Word to the wise here – please do not use pre-grated parmesan. Why? It tastes of sawdust.

Mix all the ingredients together, either by hand or in a food processor, until they start to come together in a clumpy mass (technical term). Tip this on to a slightly floured work surface and knead it for about 30 seconds or until the dough is smoother and less crumbly.

Half the mixture and roll each half into a long, sausage-like cylinder. Wrap tightly in cling-film and pop in the fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180’C/160’C (fan assisted). The brief sojourn in the fridge should make the dough much easier to cut into little coin-shapes about 1/2 inch thick. Ladies might like to take this opportunity to relieve their innermost penis-envy. Freud eat your heart out.

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I like to press tiny thyme leaves onto them, more for prettiness than anything else, and then pop them in the oven on a baking sheet lined with baking paper for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes before eating them, if you can wait that long.

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There you have it! Tiny little morsels of yumminess and sophistication. The perfect wine-soaker-uppers. You could almost pretend you are a proper grown-up after making these. Almost.

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