Tag Archives: pastry

My Feta and Vegetable Filo Pastry Pie

In the Summer it’s nice to have a pastry dish that’s lighter than the traditional hot crust type dish.  Filo is the perfect answer to this. And I have never had the nerve to make my own filo pastry, I like the uniformity and flavour of the shop bought filo, and always have used it successfully.

Filo (or phyllo) is a very thin dough made without using yeast.  It is primarily used for making pastries such as baklava in Middle Eastern cuisine. Filo-based dishes are, like this one, made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with olive oil or butter after which the pastry is baked.

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White Chocolate- Raspberry Tarts

These elegant and velvety tarts are worth every minute of effort. When presented they will just ooze sophistication and give the impression that you spent HOURS in the kitchen. I’ts a kind of a blend of Crème brûlée and a tart, as I finish it with a blow torch.  You can vary the fruit content, however the tartness of the raspberries marry very well with the super sweet White Chocolate.

White Chocolate- Raspberry Tarts


100g strong white flour

25g caster sugar

30g Butter, cold from the fridge

1/2 teaspoon salt

approximately 1 tablespoon of cold water

1 tablespoon of raspberry jam

210ml double cream

3 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

2 tablespoons of icing sugar

210ml double cream

3 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

2 tablespoons of icing sugar


As with all pastry, the less handled the better, and I use my “magimix”, on pulse to combine the butter and flour til almost like sand.  Then stir in the sugar, followed by the cold water, which I add a tiny bit at a time until it comes together nicely but is not too wet.  The best thing to do at this stage is to split the dough into two and flatten each into a round.  Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least two hours.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Tarts

Tart pastry prep

Next roll out each round of pastry on a floured counter.  This recipe is for two 4 inch tart tins.  So roll out the pastry to about a 6 inch circle.  Carefully line each tin.  Trim any large excess from around the top of the tin, but fold over a tiny part to make a tuck at the top of the tin, and put into the freezer for 30 minutes.  (This helps prevent shrinkage). Turn on the oven to 180oC.  Fill each tart with baking beans, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool.


Add the raspberry jam/ puree to the bottom of each tart.  Then prepare the custard filling.


Bring the cream to a simmer.  Immediately remove from the heat and add the white chocolate.  Stirring from the inside out, very slowly bring the cream and chocolate together.  Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla in a separate bowl, and VERY slowly add a little of the white chocolate cream to this.  VERY SLOWLY, while whisking all the time.  Once the two are combined divide this custard between the two tarts. Turn the oven down to 160oC.

Bake for about 20 minutes until the centres are just set.  Remove from the oven to cool.  Then refrigerate overnight.


Next day you can “brûlée” the top.  Sprinkle the tops with lots of icing sugar then using a blow torch, caramelise the custard tops, or failing that, SECONDS under a piping hot grill.  And I mean SECONDS.

Finish off with some decorative raspberries.








My Foolish Custard Tart Recipe

Custard Tart is quintessentially English.  And delicious.  And not entirely the easiest thing to make.  Felicity Cloake- she who writes so well for the Guardian, analysed a myriad of recipes and came up with her “best of“.  And I agree with her on most of it. But I think for me it’s about balance.  I use a sweet pastry, and a very rich custard filling.  But without any additives of cinnamon or citrus.  Just the barest of gratings of nutmeg in the filling.

My Custard Tart Recipe


150g cold butter, diced

250g plain flour

100g caster sugar

1 large Egg, beaten

1 tablespoon whole milk


250ml double cream

250ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split

1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

4 egg yolks

100g caster sugar


To make the pastry, mix butter into the flour with a pinch of salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. I use my Kenwood for this. Add the sugar, egg and milk and bring together to form a dough.  Wrap in Greaseproof paper and refrigerate.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out and use it to line a 20cm tart tin, leave 2cm of pastry hanging over the edge. Chill for at least 30 mins, with the baking beans inserted.

Heat oven to 150oC fan.  Bake blind for 20 mins, then remove the beans and continue to cook for a further 10 mins until the base is golden with no hint of dampness.  Remove from oven and reduce the temperature to 120oC.

Bring the cream, milk, vanilla pod, and the small grating of nutmeg to the boil. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale using the whisk attachment then pour the hot milk and cream over, beating slowly as you go.  Leave to settle in a jug.

Carefully pour the custard into the tart case, grate some more nutmeg over the top and bake for about 35 mins or until just set in the middle.  A little like Brownies, you are looking for a wobble.  Remove from the oven, then leave to cool completely before serving in slices with a nice cup of tea.

Custard Tart

Yummy- but not quite right!

Of course, nothing ever goes entirely to plan.  I had got a little carried away with the whisking of the tart testing part 1.  And sure there were lovely ribbons in the bowl.  But of course you don’t WANT bubbles in it, as you loose the gorgeous silky texture.  So there had to be a round 2…..
This is the nicer custard but the “slightly” overcooked pastry… so the most successful of the two!

Custard Tart

Perfect consistency of custard, if I do say so myself!

2016- The Year of Pastry

I was catching up on some reading on food trends over Christmas.  One of the ones I decided was worth noting was that it was going to be a year of exciting pastry.  Well who am I to disagree? Especially as some of the other proposed “trends” were dubious to say the least- microwaves/ seaweed. Ahem.

I love pastry.  Tarts.  Mille Feuille. Eclairs.  You name it, I’ll eat it.

One of my very favourites is profiteroles.  But not filled with ice cream as they do in France.  Freshly whipped cream all the way.

So I decided to try my hand at a Chocolate Version.  Much to the delight of all who would ultimately be involved!

Profiteroles/ choux pastry balls are made using a different method to that of shortcrust or puff.  The ingredients are first heated on the hob, giving rise to one of the original French names- pâte à chaud.  The first mention of anything close to what we imagine today was in the 16th Century. An Italian chef named Popelini, who worked for Catherine de Medici, wife of the French king Henri II, was the first to think of putting a filling inside cream puffs.  Since then the idea has evolved with both savoury and sweet versions.

Tues 06 Jan 034

Dark, dark, choux pastry dough

I put a lot of cocoa powder in to give it the dark colour I wanted, this meant the pastry balls themselves were not very sweet.  But the filling more than made up for the dark intensity of the pastry.  I then whipped some cream with some caramel sauce (shop bought due to time constraints), and a small sprinkle of maldron sea salt.  The choux buns were filled with this delectable cream. I served the chocolate sauce on the side.  As the sauce was piping hot, I didn’t want the buns to go soggy, or the cream to melt.  Breaking my hard and fast rule of not enjoying hot and cold together in the same dessert.  


Choux Pastry

Dark, dark Chocolate Profiteroles



An Apple a Day

We have just harvested the last of the apples.  Phew.  Well when I say we, I mean, of course the royal “we”. And most of them are going to cider making and apple juice.  But it would be just unfair not to make some apple desserts.  There are probably more variations on apple pies then there are apples.  But I have a number of favourites, one of which involves making THE easiest crust ever, and doesn’t take cold hands, or indeed, any resting.  This means it can be made at the last minute, if you feel like a little something sweet.


Elstar Apple

Elstar Apples

Apple Varieties:

We use alot of Elstar apples. It’s an offspring of Golden Delicious, and was introduced in 1972 from the Netherlands. It produces great crops, year after year, the apples last for some months when they are harvested.  We use it alot, and although it doesn’t have the sharp green skin that many want their apples to have, the taste is fantastic.  There are 144 apples native to Ireland, the Armagh Bramley Apple was awarded a protected status from the EU last year (A little like protecting champagne, and the Waterford Blaa).  I think my favourite is the Blenheim Orange for a cooking apple variety.

The recipe I use is great with lots of fruits, but with something like an apple, I tend to sauté them first to start the cooking process.


Caramelising Apples in Butter and Sugar

The crust is a simple crumble crust, that is simply mixed and pressed into the serving dish.  This tart doesn’t like being removed from it’s cooking dish, so is best served straight from it. But it also doesn’t need resting or chilling.

Crumb Pastry

Crumb pastry

Then simply add the semi cooked apples, cover with some cinnamon infused sugar, and bake until the sugar covering melts.

Apple Custard Tart

Crust with the caramelised apples

Then the cream/ egg yolks mix is poured gently over the apples, if possible while the tart stays on the oven shelf.  this cooks until golden and set.

Apple Tart

Apple Tart, with a custard filling

It only needs to cool for about 20 minutes before ready to slice carefully, and of course it can be served with more cream!


Life’s too short not to eat dessert first

And if you can’t…. then may eat something wrapped in pastry.  But in moderation. Mostly.

729 layers of pastry

729 layers of pastry

Puff pastry making isn’t for the faint of heart, or strictly speaking even for those with a weak heart, as the amount of butter in it, well, I’d better not tell you.

Sausage rolls ready for chilling

Sausage rolls ready for chilling

Sausage rolls are a failing of mine.  Love them, but only now and then, as I fully realise how bad they are for me!  But as I was making a batch of puff pastry to hone my Ballymaloe skills, I felt it was a good idea to use some of the puff to make a few nibbles.  That, and Nigel had bought me some sausage meat.

Sausage Rolls ready for eating

Sausage Rolls ready for eating

The next puff pastry item on the agenda was a chicken and ham pie.  I had boiled a ham, and had cooked chicken left over, so I very gently cooked some diced shallots in butter, then made a roux and added milk and then cream to make a rich sauce, to which I added the chopped cooked meat.

Pre-topping Chicken and ham pie

Pre-topping Chicken and ham pie

This then simply went into a dish and was covered in pastry.  And it went down a treat!  and it was gone before the photo got taken.

So what to do with the scraps? Why palmiers of course.  We had made these in class with our left over pastry so I thought it was fitting at home too.  One important thing to note is that normally with scraps of pastry they can be simply worked together and then re-rolled, but with puff pastry, and flaky pastry you need to keep the layers, so the scraps need to be stacked and then rolled out carefully again, you can fold, and then re-fold if necessary.

Some were a little more "caramelised" than others!

Some were a little more “caramelised” than others!

Palmiers are also called palm leaf cookies, elephant ear cookies, french hearts, shoe-soles or glasses, Schweineohren (in German), Palmeritas (in Spanish).  Palmier is the French word for palm tree, and the pastry gets its name from its resemblance to a palm leaf. It is crispy and flaky with tastes of butter and caramelized sugar. It can also be savoury. Although it is not documented who first came up with the recipe of Palmier, but many believe it is invented in the beginning of the 20th century France, suggested by the French name and its recipe.

Comfort Food- Back to School

The start of the week is hard at the best of times, but harder still after two weeks off school.  So I decided to make a chicken and ham pie for dinner to cheer everyone up.  And as the weather is nice, serve it with a green salad, and home-made wild garlic pesto.

Chicken with carrots, onions, potatoes and thyme

Chicken with carrots, onions, potatoes and thyme

I skinned the chicken but left it on the bone for flavour.  The skin I cooked separately until extra crispy to add texture to the finished dish.

Chicken skin ready for roasting in a hot oven

Chicken skin ready for roasting in a hot oven

The pesto was simply a matter of blending, although it was not made to any specific recipe, and quite strong!

Pinenuts, freshly grated parmesan, and wild garlic

Pinenuts, freshly grated parmesan, and wild garlic

I used our new nutribullet, reasonably successfully, it needed quite a few scrapes and blends, and I will probably revert to the kenwood.

Ready for blitzing

Ready for blitzing

And the finished product…

The finished pesto

The finished pesto

Once the chicken had been poached with the vegetables in the stock, I took them out and reduced the cooking liquor, adding some roux to thicken and some milk.  This was all then poured over the chicken, cooked ham and vegetables, and covered with the pastry, and cooked until golden.

Chicken and Ham pie with salad and wild garlic pesto

Chicken and Ham pie with salad and wild garlic pesto, and a side of crispy chicken skin







Once on the lips….

Twice on the hips.  Or so they say. And never more true then with pastry I think.  But I really love pastry, in all it’s guises, be it a mince pie at Christmas, or the golden brown covering to a chicken pie.

This week we took a leap forward in pastry making to Flaky Pastry.

The multiple additions of the butter

The multiple additions of the butter

There are multiple stages to making flaky pastry (all of which involve lots of butter), but each stage involves only a few minutes actual hands on, then lots of fridge time for the pastry.  So we rolled and squared our sides, and rolled and squared our sides, and added butter… you get the gist.

Then a final overnight in the fridge.  That was yesterday.  Today was pie and stew day, so oxtail, beef and oyster, and my task, Italian Beef stew were all on the menu.

Italian Beef Stew

Italian Beef Stew

And apples tarts for desserts, so lots of opportunity to use the aforemade flaky.  And because I like being a little retro, and because it is truly YUM, I asked my incredibly patient teacher would it be possible to make mille feuille.  With only the slightest of eye rolls (I jest, she was as enthusiastic as I was!), we embarked on the road to pastry pinnacles.

Drum Roll please ….

My Mille feuille with homemade lemon curd

My Mille feuille with homemade lemon curd