Thursday, August 14, 2008


Here are a couple of easy recipes, first is a fairly simple way to use up filo pastry (there always seems to be too much in the pack, and although it does keep well wrapped, this 'recipe' makes good use of filo). These 'cocktail munchies' contain less fat than if made with puff pastry, and when assembled, can also be frozen to be baked later. Other dried herbs, or even spices could be used instead of the dill. No need to use the amount of filo in the recipe, use only the number of sheets you want as it is more a method than one to follow exactly.
Herb Sticks: makes 24 sticks (F)
12 sheets filo pastry
4 tblsp melted butter
2 tsp dried dill weed
Unroll the pack of filo and remove 12 sheets, keep these between two sheets of clingfilm to stay moist, then re-wrap and return the rest of the pack to the fridge/freezer.
Covering work surface with parchment or greaseproof paper, take one sheet of filo and brush surface with butter and sprinkle a little of the dill over the surface (about eighth of a teaspoonful). Fold filo crosswise in half, then roll up tightly from the long open side towards the folded side. Cut in half to make 2 sticks.
Repeat with remaining sheets of pastry and place sticks, seam side down onto a large greased baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. If not intending to bake immediately, cover tray with clingfilm and keep chilled. Can be frozen at this point: cover sticks on baking sheet with foil and freeze until firm. Using a fish slice, carefully remove and store in a plastic container, with waxed paper between each layer, seal and freeze. Will keep up to a month. Bake for 15-20 minutes from frozen.
When freshly made bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 6 - 9 minutes until golden brown, serve hot or cold.

Often fudge can be difficult to make as it required using a sugar thermometer, but not this recipe. Easy enough for the children to have a go, and although laden with calories, could make ' that little something extra' to pop into a Christmas Hamper . As the chocolate is melted, the dark (with 70% plus cocoa solids) chocolate is a healthier option to the standard chocolate drops.
Festive Foolproof Fudge:
1 lb 2 oz (500g) semi-sweet chocolate drops
1 x 14oz (400g) can condensed milk
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 - 3 tblsp chopped nuts, optional
In a bowl standing over simmering water, melt the chocolate then stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour and spread evenly into a lined 8" (20cm) square baking tin. Chill for 3 hours or until firm. Turn out onto paper on a cutting board, peel away the paper and cut into squares. Store loosely covered (this helps it to dry out slightly) at room temperature.
variation: chopped glace cherries could be included instead of the nuts, or use both - keeping total amount the same.

This next dish is fairly ordinary (but not to those who love sweetcorn as I do), but can be 'lifted' by adding a little diced red bell pepper and fried chopped onion and/or mushrooms. As it uses only one egg, that saves a bit of money, and those who make their own yogurt will be on cloud nine.
Sweet Corn Quiche: serves 4 (V)
1 x 8" (20cm) pastry case, baked blind for 15 minutes
approx 14 oz (400g) sweet corn, fresh or frozen
3 oz (75g) white or wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
10 fl.oz (300ml) plain yogurt
1 tsp chopped basil (0r other preferred herb)
salt and pepper
Cook and drain the sweet corn and allow to cool. Into a bowl put the egg and yogurt and mix together, then stir in the breadcrumbs, herbs and sweetcorn (and anything else you wish to add). Season to taste. Pour the mixture into the flan case, levelling the top and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour. Serve hot.

This next recipe is really how to make a pastry for vegans. But as with vegetarians, foods that they prefer to eat should not be dismissed lightly by us carnivores. We get so used to making pastry the traditional way, that it does not even cross our mind to try another way. What we do need to remember is that most oils and fats are used for the same reason, fats just being solidified oil, so one could be substituted for another, taking care that the flavour does not intrude. No way would I suggest using beef dripping to make a cake instead of butter. Horses for courses. If preferring to use a white flour, use a little less water, more can always be added.
Vegan Pastry: to line an 8" (20cm) flan dish
8 oz (225g) plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tblsp vegetable oil
3 tblsp water
pinch rock or sea salt
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, adding any coarse flakes back into the mixture. Mix together the oil and water and stir into the flour, mixing thoroughly and as quickly as possible.
Wrap in foil or clingfilm and chill for at least half an hour. Roll out on a lightly floured board and use as needed.