“What’s your signature dish?” A fairly ubiquitous question which I have to admit I loath hearing as a result of routinely struggling to think of a satisfactory answer. Why? I suspect it’s because I’m far more interested in exploring new and exciting dishes than honing one in particular, but if you were to ask me which recipe I’m most proud of, this would undoubtedly be it.
Crafted from disparate concepts I’d pilfered from a couple of intriguing recipes which irritatingly I can no longer recall, the feta cheese element perfectly compliments the riot of flavours in the topping to balance everything out with surprising harmony.
Soft, warm, creamy, salty cheese, finished with a cold, sweet, spicy, sticky, aromatic, acidic, zingy dressing. Pass me a spoon.
It may not be the most elegant dish, but give it a taste and I’m sure you’ll agree that looks can be remarkably deceiving.
- 20g fresh ginger, very finely diced
- ½ hot green chilli (10g), very finely diced
- Handful fresh coriander, chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
- 75g stoned dates, chopped (Medjool are best!)
- Feta cheese (200g block is enough for 2 people)
Do not underestimate how long it takes to finely chop all the ingredients.
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Place the feta in a heatproof dish and bake it for about 15 minutes or until it starts to brown very slightly on the edges. It wants to have a subtle sheen and a slight wobble to it like a panna cotta.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the topping.
Dress the hot cheese and serve with spoons.
Note that if you have any of the topping left over (this is probably enough for 2 blocks of feta – 4 people), it will keep for a few days if covered in the fridge…. You’ll just have to bake some more cheese or find another delicious use for it – please let me know if you do!
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.
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.
- Puff pastry (block, rolled or even your own 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:
- Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick on a dusting of pastry or simply unfold your pre-rolled sheets.
- Brush over a thin layer of mustard.
- Top with grated cheese.
- Lay down parallel strips of streaky bacon, leaving a little gap between.
- Carefully cut between the bacon using a large knife to make equally sized strips.
- Holding each end, confidently twist.
- 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.
- Brush the pastry with a little beaten egg.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.
Method 2 – Turnovers:
- Cut your rolled out pastry into even squares about 12cm x 12cm.
- Brush with a thin layer of mustard (optional).
- Add a couple of slices of tomato (optional).
- Lay a rasher of bacon diagonally across the pastry.
- Top with grated cheese.
- Fold one corner into the centre and brush the exposed pastry with a little beaten egg.
- Fold the opposite corner over to form the turnover shape.
- Sprinkle over a little extra cheese for good luck.
- Back in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.
Method 3 – Straws:
This is perfect for any offcuts or leftover pastry.
- Simply cut your rolled out puff pastry into strip, brush with beaten egg and top with grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of seeds.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
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.