Parmesan cheese Pastry

This is a beautifully flavoured pastry to make as the base for a quiche or for a pasty. With a twist of Parmesan to flavour and enrich your food, just add your imagination and see what you can tantalise your palate with. Enjoy!

200g Plain flour
100g Salted Butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 medium Egg yolk, beaten
35-45ml Cold water, straight from the fridge

The secret to a good pastry is to have your ingredients cold and to work quickly.  Ensure you make it early enough to be able to leave your pastry to rest in the fridge.  This prevents shrinkage in the oven when you cook it.
1. Tip your flour into a large bowl.  Don’t worry about sifting it, you can give it a quick whisk to add some air and lighten it up as well as remove any lumps.
2. Add the cubed butter and, using your finger tips and thumbs, rub the butter into your flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add the Parmesan cheese, and quickly work it through your flour & butter mixture until thoroughly combined.
4. Add the beaten egg yolk and about 35ml of your cold water and mix with a flat bladed knife until the pastry comes together. If required, you can add some more of your water, a bit at a time until the dough starts to stick and form a clump.
5. Tip your dough out on to a lightly floured surface and bring together completely with your hands, then quickly and lightly knead into a ball.
6. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
7. When chilled, remove from the fridge, roll and use as required.
As a variation, when you add your cheese, why not also add:
* 10ml dried herbs such as parsley, sage or thyme for a cheese & herb pastry.
* 10ml caraway, poppy or sesame seeds.  This’ll give it an extra crunch when cooked.
* pinch chilli powder for a little ‘kick’
What will you make?  With ours, my daughter made a salmon and smoked cod flan.  I will share the recipe for that soon.  Until then…. X

Apple and Sultana Chutney

Perfect for that autumnal glut of homegrown apples. What better way to preserve and enjoy them than to make a chutney.  Whether it be with cheese, pâté or cold meats, make some to keep and enjoy over the next few months. You could also make some & decorate the jars as presents for friends and family at Christmas. You choose; it’s up to you.

1.5-2kg Cooking Apples, peeled and diced
750g Light muscovado sugar
500g Sultanas
2 Medium onions, finely chopped
10ml Mustard seeds
10ml Ground Ginger
5ml Salt
700ml Cider vinegar

1. In a large, heavy based pan, combine all the ingredients.
2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently until thick & pulpy,
3. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a while.
4. Decant into clean, sterilised jars and seal.
5. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks for the flavours to develop fully before enjoying.


Salmon en Croute

Quick and relatively simple to make when using bought puff pastry.  Light and fresh in taste.  Good for you too!

500g pack of fresh Puff Pastry
4 Salmon Steaks/a side of salmon, boned and skinned
350g Philadelphia cream cheese
Fresh Dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
Fresh spinach
1 egg, beaten to seal & glaze

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C.
2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to come up to room temp for about 10 minutes.
3. Mix together the Philadelphia cheese, chopped dill, lemon zest and juice.
4. Cut the pastry into half.
5. Roll out one half to a rectangle about 5cm larger both ways than the salmon steaks/side of salmon.
6. Spread a layer of the fresh spinach over the base of the pastry, leaving a 2cm border all round the edge.
7. Place the salmon on top of the spinach.
8. Spread the cheese/dill/lemon juice paste over the top of the salmon.
9. Top with a thin layer of spinach.
10. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg.
11. Roll out the other half of the pastry and cover the salmon and spinach.
12. Seal the edges of the pastry together.
13. Brush the top with beaten egg and pierce a couple of holes in the top layer of pastry to allow the steam to escape.
14. Place onto a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked.

Serve with carrots and boiled potatoes.

Salon Du Chocolate 2013

Every girl loves good chocolate…. right?  Excellent! I’m so glad you agree with me, because I certainly love it!
I was privileged to be on the guest list for the first ever evening VIP / Press event of Salon Du Chocolate 2013 at Olympia in London on Friday 18th October.  This event is the culmination of Chocolate Week and was, to say the least, decadent in chocolate goodness!!!  It’s held over 3 days from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th October 2013.  It’s open to the public each day and tickets can be purchased on the door.

Some of the largest and most prestigious names in chocolate were there with some of the most INCREDIBLE flavoured chocolates that I’ve ever tasted.  From fruit purees to goats cheese, green tea, chilli, salt through to carrots and Foie Grois.  A veritable feast of the taste palate!

Chantal Coady and her team from Rococo Chocolates were there with their beautifully designed and packaged selection of chocolates.  I have to say a HUGE congratulations to their Principal Chocolatier, Barry Johnson, for winning the UK Pastry Open 2013.  A local boy to me who studied in my home town, not to mention an all round nice guy!

From ChocoMe, we were treated to this gorgeous looking slab of fruitiness.

These were made by Lauden using the most incredible fruit purees – the flavour was intense and mouthwateringly good!

This nougat from La Maison du Nougat in Moltifao, France was my favourite of all the nougats I tasted as it was made, not with sugar, but with honey.  Not only did it look incredibly good, but the texture, flavour and ‘mouth feel’ as you let it warm up on your tongue to gently melt was sublime!

Beautifully, but plainly packaged bars of single source chocolate from Chocolate Pralus

Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier kindly provided a sample of 4 of his chocolates in a beautifully decadent red magnetic box for the ‘goodie bag’.
I did buy some amazing salted caramel sauce from Bellanger, which (hopefully) the rest of my family won’t like so I can enjoy it myself!
I even bumped into a couple of lovely people who were watching the chocolate catwalk.  John Whaite and Cathryn Dresser from Series 3 of the Great British Bake Off.  They were both under strict instructions not to make me look short between them – they failed miserably!
Thank you to Nudge PR for allowing me to attend the event.  Can’t wait until next year!