Cheese & Bacon Pastries

Twists, turnovers, straws – all so deliciously naughty and yet devilishly simple to make at home.

Every now and again I have moments where I look at something familiar, and wonder why I’ve never thought of having a go at making it for myself. Often the ubiquitous is simpler than you think. Some things just aren’t worth the effort, however these pastries most certainly are.

I find it so satisfying to transform a block of puff pastry into delectable treats. Naturally, they’re not going to be a healthy option, but at least they’ll be homemade and you’ll know exactly what’s gone into them.puff pastry

Life’s too short to be making your own puff pastry, so don’t feel bad about using a shop-bought block or even splashing out a few extra pennies for the pre-rolled sheets for an even quicker turnaround.

Here’s a few options using similar ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Puff pastry (block, rolled or even your own homemade rough-puff)
  • Streaky bacon
  • Grated cheese (cheddar is nice and tangy but feel free to experiment)
  • Dijon or English mustard
  • Egg, beaten
  • Seeds – black/white sesame or poppy (optional)
  • Tomato, sliced (optional)
  • Dusting of flour

Method 1 – Twists:

  1. Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick on a dusting of flour, or simply unfold your pre-rolled sheets.
  2. Brush over a thin layer of mustard.
  3. Top with grated cheese.
  4. Lay down parallel strips of streaky bacon, leaving a little gap between.
  5. Carefully cut between the bacon using a large knife to make equally sized strips.
  6. Holding each end, confidently twist.
  7. Place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up and help them keep their shape when cooked.
  8. Brush the pastry with a little beaten egg.
  9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.

cheese bacon twists

Method 2 – Turnovers:

  1. Cut your rolled out pastry into even squares about 12cm x 12cm.
  2. Brush with a thin layer of mustard (optional).
  3. Add a couple of slices of tomato (optional).
  4. Lay a rasher of bacon diagonally across the pastry.
  5. Top with grated cheese.
  6. Fold one corner into the centre and brush the exposed pastry with a little beaten egg.
  7. Fold the opposite corner over to form the turnover shape.
  8. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle over a little extra cheese for good luck.
  9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the pastry is golden and crispy.

If you’re adding tomato then please do note that it gets remarkably hot – make sure you let them cool down before tucking in.

cheese and bacon turnovers

Method 3 – Straws:

This is perfect for any offcuts or leftover pastry.

  1. Simply cut your rolled out puff pastry into strips, brush with beaten egg and then top with grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of seeds.
  2. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
  3. Open a beer.
  4. Devour.

homemade cheese straws

 

Have a go at looking at the world differently. Question yourself and rise to the challenge.

For me, it’s going to be flatbreads next. I already know that they’re super-easy to make – easier than a normal loaf – yet somehow I’ve never had the confidence that my attempt would be as good as shop-bought.

Winter and the cheese bacon tomato turnovers

 

Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce

I’m hoping that I’m not the only person who struggles when deciding what to cook when friends come over to eat. I get a bit anxious when said friends have allergies or a particular intolerance. Thankfully there are thousands of recipes and ideas out there on the internet, but I still seem to have a bit of a mental block about it.

I thought I’d cracked it last time with ‘Char Sui Pork’ until I realised that Hoisin sauce (one of the key ingredients) isn’t gluten free..

Given that I aim to make everything from scratch, I thought I’d have a go at making the hoisin sauce as well – it turned out better than expected and made quite a nice little parting gift as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1tsp Five Spice powder
  • 125ml Red Miso paste
  • 125ml Honey
  • 2tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

Method:

  1. Blend it all together.
  2. Marvel at how clever you are.

You can use your GF hoisin sauce straight away or pop it into sterilised jars, refrigerate and use within a month.

homemade Hoisin

This blog post is part of December’s Food Revolution challenge to make your own condiment.

And for interest, here’s how the Char Sui Pork belly strips turned out:

GF char sui pork

Happy eating!

 

World Food Programme Falafel

This month’s Food Revolution Challenge comes to us from the World Food Programme (WFP).

The FamilyChef Project shares recipes from around the world – it helps people to explore the culinary treasures and cooking abilities of refugees benefiting from WFP’s cash and vouchers (an initiative that enables individuals to buy the food they need to cook their traditional dishes).

Wherever you are in the world, food is a symbol of dignity and freedom. We’ve opened out our cookery series so that even more of the people we serve across the globe can share their wonderful recipes with you. So check out some of their traditional dishes, get cooking and don’t forget to share your culinary efforts with us on social media!

Take a look at http://www.wfp.org/cash-and-vouchers/familychef-recipes-field for further info.

So our June challenge is to cook one of these traditional dishes and share it; I went for the falafel as it’s something I utterly adore, yet have never actually cooked before. Obviously I’d have tried the Caterpillar Surprise if they’d been in season…

split peas and chick peas

falafel mixture

falafel

Falafel combo

There’s no question that this is going to be a regular feature in our household – I just adore the combination of falafel, houmous and chilli sauce.

There’s a number of different methods for making falefal, but Nurfel’s Syrian version has got to be the easiest.

Give it a whirl!

Meat Free Week

Meat Free Week 2015 is upon us. Monday 23rd March marks the start of a global challenge to simply forgo meat for one week to get us all thinking about our dietary choices. As Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassadors, we’re fully supporting the movement.

This isn’t a drive to promote vegetarianism, it’s an awareness event to highlight the impact that eating too much meat has on the environment, animal welfare and your health.

Initially, I was hesitant – a week without any meat at all? This really might be a challenge, but the more I think about it, our family probably only really eats meat three times a week anyway.

If it were just Monday to Friday it’d be easy, but the thought of a weekend without some form of big special meal… Hang on, there are thousands of great meat-free dishes that would fit the bill.

The excitement is building. Who doesn’t like a challenge? We’ve bought a vast array of vegetables, herbs, fruits and cheeses to eat. I’m most excited about trying new things and broadening my repertoire.

How ironic that I’m using a Donald Russell styrofoam meat delivery box to store my plethora of ingredients for the week! (I only have a small fridge).

Meat Box as a mini fridge

Meat deliveries are a bit of a revolution for my family as we are making that concious choice to swap quantity for quality. It feels good, it certainly tastes good, and importantly, we’re spending the same amount of money each month.

As we want to make the most of what we have and avoid waste, I’m going to formulate a menu plan for the week.

So far it looks like this:

  • Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Italian Aubergine Bake)
  • Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
  • Chickpea Burgers
  • Beetroot and Goats Cheese Risotto
  • Pissaladière (without anchovies of course)
  • Portobello Mushroom and Halloumi burgers
  • Squash and Chickpea Chilli
  • Any combination of vegetable noodle dishes, Pad Thai, Nasi Goreng..
  • Something with Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Kerala Egg Curry… THE LIST GOES ON.

They’ll be plenty of blog posts, comment and updates on new dishes throughout the week via social media. I’m anticipating herby flourishes, experimentation and tips for packing-in bags of flavour to make vegetable dishes really sing.

One step at a time for some people – Meat Free Monday? Make it a weekly ritual and you’ll never look back.

For more information, tips and recipes, check out:

https://uk.meatfreeweek.org/home or https://meatfreeweek.org/home in Australia

http://www.jamieoliver.com/meat-free-week/

Give it a go, I’m confident you’ll surprise yourself.

Comforting Corn Chowder

From simple things comes greatness.  This is a wonderful example of how a few humble ingredients can be transformed into delicious comfort food with relative ease.  In the last of this month’s Food Revolution challenges, the Ambassadors were asked to make a hearty corn chowder (recipe provided).  The idea is to propagate the recipe, putting our own spin on it and showcasing the concept with friends, family and colleagues.

We had a perfect opportunity with a dinner party already scheduled in the calendar, and I’m glad to say it was easy to adapt the recipe to make it wheat, gluten and dairy free for our guests.  Using soya milk did effect the balance and warranted additional seasoning to counter the sweetness.

Ingredients for Jamie Oliver's Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen sweetcorn (approximately 4 ears)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • A few celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 750ml soya milk
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives and parsley

Method

Fry the diced onion, celery and thyme in butter until they soften and start to brown.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for a few minutes to cook it out.

Add the potato and milk and bring it to the boil, stirring all the time so that it doesn’t stick and burn.

Once the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes), stir in the corn, spring onions and celery leaves.

Bring it back to boil and serve.

Corn Chowder for the JOFR Ambassador challengep.s. I love the idea of smashing up a few crackers to sprinkle over the top.