Tag Archives: puff pastry

Wellingtons. Or wellies as I like to call them

One of my favourite dishes to make for a small dinner party is beef wellington.  I have made it very successfully in the past using our farm venison, but this time I had been given a gift of a magnificent beef fillet, so the decision was made for me.

I am also VERY fond of wellington squares.  One of my fellow Ballymaloe teachers makes superb ones that, quite frankly she doesn’t make enough… They remind me of my childhood favourite chocolate bar, the Twix. So I decided to recreate a home baked Twix as a dessert for the beef wellington. But that’s for another post.

Continue reading

Cheat’s Mushroom & Ricotta Tart Recipe

I love mushrooms, and pastry, and this little dinger of a recipe combines both.  Mushrooms are technically in season at the moment, but it is easy to get mushrooms all year round now. You can, absolutely make your own puff pastry, be my guest.  But for a weeknight dinner, I wouldn’t have the time, nor the energy.  And although I make all other types of pastry, puff and filo I tend to leave to the experts, except on a rare occasion.

Cheat’s Mushroom & Ricotta Tart


1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry

2 tablespoons of olive oil

500g of mushrooms, preferably mixed type

2 garlic cloves, 1 finely sliced, 1 crushed

250g tub of ricotta

good grating of nutmeg

Fresh Herbs

50g of Rocket


Heat oven to 200oC and place a baking sheet inside.  Unroll the pastry onto a piece of baking parchment and score a border around the pastry about 1.5cm in from the edge.  Place the pastry (still on the parchment) on the baking sheet and cook for 10-15 mins.

Easy Mushroom Tart

Scoring the Pastry

While the pastry bakes, heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the mushrooms for 2-3 mins, in batches, stirring occasionally.  Add the sliced garlic, then cook for 1 min more to get rid of excess liquid.

Easy Mushroom Tart

Mixing the ricotta, garlic and nutmeg

Mix the crushed garlic with the ricotta and nutmeg, then season well. Remove the pastry from the oven and carefully push down the risen centre. Spread over the ricotta mixture, then spoon on the mushrooms and garlic. Bake for 15 mins.
Easy Mushroom Tart

Served with rocket for that little bit of colour. And a drizzle of olive oil to make it look great.

Easy Mushroom Tart

Looks good enough to eat


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.

Losing my French Connection

This week is wine exam week so everyone is a little tense.  Including me, as for some reason, yesterday when my better half was testing me on wine regions, villages etc, I just COULDN’T get it right.  And I wouldn’t mind I’ve BEEN to some of them.  So due to that “little” issue ,the posts this week will be short, but sweet 🙂

Speaking of sweet, I made brioche dough tonight.  Yuminess in the fridge for tomorrow

Brioche dough ready for the fridge overnight

Brioche dough ready for the fridge overnight

We also made our puff pastry (“pâte feuilletée”) today, and with it I will make Gateau Pithivier tomorrow.  This use of puff pastry starts with a very French sounding “detrempe”, and now for the maths!! (Cause you know I LOVE MATHS!)

The number of layers in puff pastry is calculated with the equation:

l=(f + 1)^n

where l is the number of finished layers, f the number of folds, and n the number of times the dough has been folded. For example, folding twice (i.e. in three) for four times gives (2 + 1)^4 = 81 layers. Simples.  The great food writer Julia Child recommends 73 layers for regular pâte feuilletée and 729  layers for pâte feuilletée fine (in Volume II of her Mastering the Art of French Cooking textbook)

And to be fair this now sounds more complicated than it is.

Back to the gateau, which, is called gateau pithivier every day in France, except, as Darina told us, on January 6th, when it is known as the Galette des Rois (The Kings Cake).  This tradition is pre Christian, when a  man was chosen to be the “sacred king” for a year and then sacrificed to ensure a good harvest.  Thankfully the Christian interpretation isn’t quite so macabre for the consumer.

And unfortunately I have been unable to track down why there is a spiral decoration on the gateau.  More detective work is required I think.  I would appreciate any help!