Does anyone remember that little, imaginary dragon, who frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Honalee?
The song is from the 60s, based on a poem written by a 19 year old student at Cornell, about a dragon who gets forgotten about after his best friend, Jackie, grows up. 😦
I remember the song being sung to me as a child and it’s quite likely this is where my fascination with dragons began. However, dragons have nothing to do with cooking (unless, perhaps it’s a BBQ post!) No, today’s Monday Muchies is about another kind of magical puff – the pastry variety!
You all know I like easy bakes and recipe ideas, so when I first start playing around with puff pastry (the ready-made, chilled kind because making it from scratch is so much harder!), I loved how versatile it was.
I always have a pack in as I regularly use it as a base for a quick, pizza like tart or for the lid on a creamy, garlic chicken and mushroom pie. Then one Saturday, I watched the baking legend that is Mary Berry, whip out a packet and use it for the easiest recipe yet.
I’ll be honest, I thought she’d sneer at using such ‘convenient’ pastry but she sang its praises and suddenly, I didn’t feel quite so inadequate as a baker!
What did she make? Cheese and ham twists. Perhaps not the culinary marvel you were hoping for but don’t knock them until you’ve tried them. They are nothing like the greasy, limp ones you can get in some high street bakeries. Instead, they are a crisp, cheesy wonder that go perfectly with soup for a warming snack.
Simply roll out your pastry, quite thinly, then brush on a decent layer of Dijon mustard. Sprinkle generously with a strong, grated cheese (I used mature cheddar), fold the pastry in half and roll out again to the original size.
Repeat the process twice more. If you want to, on the second ‘roll out’, add a layer of prosciutto / Parma ham or similar (my pastry took six slices, laid across the shortest side).
Cut the pastry into six pieces, then cut each piece in half again. Twist the strips top, middle and bottom and lay on a lined baking sheet. Brush over a little egg / melted butter.
Cook at Gas Mark 6 for around 20 minutes, turning down to Gas Mark 5 for the last 5 minutes.
These got so many compliments, yet were so simple! So I decided I wanted to try a sweet version. I attempted the same process using strawberry jam in one variant and peanut butter in another (I thought chocolate chips and Nutella would work quite well too but had none to hand).
Unfortunately, the peanut butter ones were a little tasteless – I’m not complaining as I love plain pastry anyway but they need more work. The jam ones looked and tasted good but were difficult to roll without squishing out the jam, so again, a little more thought needed. (I warmed the jam to make spreading easier first, only achieved two folds and sprinkled with sugar before baking.)
The cheese ones though, definitely a new staple quick bake. Give them a try and let me know how they turn out. Perhaps you’ll have some better ideas and tips for me to perfect the sweet version too!
Image Credits: Mine plus digitalspy.com and Youtube.