All huff, no puff: Bill Granger cooks with pre-made pastry
Making your own pastry is such a palaver – and there's no need when you can get instant satisfaction out of using the supermarket pre-made stuff.
I once gave a cookery class where I joked that if you have time to make puff pastry, there's something wrong with your life. I should have known better: as soon as the class was over, this distressed-looking young cook came up to me – apparently she had a full and fulfilling life and still loved making puff pastry. Oops…
Look, the last thing I want is to put anyone off spending as long as they like in the kitchen! What I meant to say is that reaching for a packet of good-quality all-butter puff pastry in the supermarket isn't taking the lazy option. It's the same stuff used by top chefs up and down the nation, and if it's good enough for the Gordon Ramsays of this world…
I always have some ready-rolled puff pastry in the freezer. It's an easy way to throw together a quick tart for lunch, or an impressive tea-time treat. For me, the great thing about using the bought stuff is that I still get that great sense of satisfaction from baking, but without having to wait long for it. It's baking for the instant-gratification generation.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Passion-fruit custard tarts
I can never resist a custard tart when I go to Lisboa in London's Golborne Road. This is my Aussie-inspired version. Make sure you eat them slightly warm, when the custard is still creamy.
320g/11oz ready-rolled puff pastry
4 egg yolks, plus 1 egg
80g/3oz caster sugar
125ml/4fl oz double cream
125ml/4fl oz milk
3 passion fruits, flesh scooped
2 tsp cornflour
Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin.
Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways, put one half on top of the other. Roll up the pastry tightly from the narrow end and cut the pastry into 12 thin rounds. Lay each pastry round on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to a 10cm disk. Press the pastry round into the muffin tin. Chill for 10 minutes.
Put the 4 egg yolks, whole egg, caster sugar, cream, milk and the passion-fruit flesh into a jug with the cornflour, and beat until combined. k
Carefully pour the custard mixture into the pastry cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the custard set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, transfer to a wire rack to cool down a bit. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
Goat's cheese, leek and black-olive tart
This is a great recipe for a relaxed Saturday lunch, served with a big mixed-leaf salad – the secret lies in making sure the leeks get nice and soft.
375g/12oz packet ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g/2oz pitted black olives, torn
180g/6oz goat's cheese with rind, sliced
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Unroll the pastry on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to mark a 1cm border around the pastry, being careful not to go all the way through to the base. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Cut the leeks in half lengthways then cut each length into 4cm pieces. Heat the butter and oil in a large non- stick frying pan over a medium to low heat. When the butter is foaming, add the leeks and thyme, and turn to coat in the butter. Cook for 15 minutes, turning frequently until the leeks are soft and beginning to take on some colour. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Pile the leeks on to the pastry base, scatter with olives and roughly dot goat's cheese over the top. Return to the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden-brown.
Lamb and harissa sausage rolls
These spicy little rolls have quite a kick to them. I like to use merguez sausages bought from a Moroccan shop down the road from me, but any lamb sausage will do.
600g/1¼lb spicy lamb sausages, squeezed from their skins
1 small apple, grated
Zest 1 lemon
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Handful oregano leaves, chopped
375g/12oz packet ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
Plain flour, to dust
2 tbsp harissa
1 egg, lightly beaten
Mix the sausage meat, apple, lemon zest and herbs. Set aside. Unroll the puff pastry on to a lightly floured surface. Divide in half lengthways, brush each half with harissa. Form 2 long sausage shapes with the meat and lay them down the centre of the pastry.
Fold one side over the sausage meat, brush with a little egg and fold over the other edge. Lay seam-side down and cut each pastry length into 4 sausage rolls.
Place the sausage rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with egg and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Bake the sausage rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, puffy and piping-hot.
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