Tag Archives: pastry

Playing with Strawberry Jam

I didn’t want to title this post just “Strawberry Jam” because someone might assume I was posting about MAKING strawberry jam … and that’s not happening. Ever.

When buying jam, raspberry and apricot are neck and neck for first choice for me. A couple of weeks ago, I visited Freshco and saw that the Smucker’s brand was on sale. I decided to switch things up a bit and picked up a jar of strawberry jam instead. It was a nice treat and besides spreading it on my toasted sourdough bread and using it to fill crepes, I used it in the desserts below.

Strawberry Pop-Tarts – I used my friend Ann’s pie crust recipe for the tarts and read a number of blogs for assembly and baking instructions. The ‘recipe’ posted below is a combination of the best elements gleaned from my readings.

The results were very tasty, though I had some leftover pastry so I know I could have rolled the pastry a bit thinner and made three pop-tarts, not just two, with the pastry I had.

Glazed pop-tarts – I wasn’t sure how much icing I wanted to use so I played

Strawberry Pop-Tarts – makes 3

pie crust pastry, enough to make one 9 inch pie base
3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
1 egg white, beaten with a bit of water (use the egg yolk for the Jammie Dodgers recipe below)
1/4 cup icing sugar
enough milk to make a glaze
red or pink food colouring, if desired

Cut out a 3 1/2 inch by 5 1/2 inch piece of stiff cardboard to use as a template.

Roll out the pie crust pastry into an 11 by 12 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut SIX rectangles out of the pastry using the template above.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.

Place THREE of the pastry rectangles cut above onto the baking sheet. Brush a 1/2 inch strip of beaten egg white around all four edges of each rectangle. Place a heaping tablespoon of jam in the middle of the pastry rectangles and gently spread out, to where the egg white strip begins, with a small off-set spatula or the back of a small teaspoon. Place the tops onto each pastry and press down gently on the edges to seal. Use the tines of a fork to press down and seal the edges fully. With the prongs of the fork or a sharp skewer or toothpick, make vent holes across the top of the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops of the pastries are golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then use a spatula to transfer each pastry to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Make a glaze for the pastry tops by adding milk, a teaspoon at a time, to the icing sugar in a small bowl. You may add a drop or two of food colouring to the icing sugar before adding the milk.

Jammie Dodgers -This is the third most popular biscuit in the UK, according to a survey taken last December. By the way, I’ve made the number one pick, chocolate digestive biscuits, and it IS a winner. The recipe I included below is a rewritten version of the one I used, and includes vanilla extract, which that one did not. I had to extend the baking time to accommodate my oven’s idiosyncrasies.

PS: I’m not pointing fingers but the Jammie Dodgers look very similar to Linzer cookies, an Austrian rolled Christmas cookie.

Jammie Dodgers – makes about a dozen 3 inch/8 cm cookies

250 g plain/ all purpose flour*
200 g salted butter**
100 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk, from the pop-tarts recipe above
1 tsp vanilla extract
strawberry jam, to fill the cookies
additional icing sugar, for dusting

* The pastry was so soft I couldn’t pick it up without it ripping, even when I heavily dusted more flour on my work surface and over the pastry. I tried working more flour in … still too soft. I even tried freezing the pastry for half an hour with minimal benefit. Still, I persisted, and managed to get almost a dozen Jammie Dodgers baked.

** I was short on butter so I used margarine. This may have contributed to the soft pastry above but further reading suggested that a short bread type pastry dough, like this one, should have 3 pts flour: 2 pts butter: 1 pt sugar. This means that I should have used 300 g of flour. So that’s what I’ll do next time.

Preheat the to 350 deg F/170 deg C and line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and icing sugar.

Add the butter (or margarine) to the bowl and, with a pastry blender, cut it in until your mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the egg yolk and the vanilla extract. With a fork, incorporate the dry mixture into the wet. Gather the pastry into a ball and wrap it with plastic food wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the pastry out onto a floured surface and roll out to around 1/4 of an inch/6 mm thickness. Cut your biscuits out into 3 inch/8 cm circles and, from half the biscuits, cut out an additional shape from the middle.

Place your cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden colour around the edges.

Once the cookies are cool enough to handle, dust the tops with a little icing sugar. Spread about a teaspoon of jam over the bases and sandwich the tops and bases together.

NOTE: For an even prettier presentation, using a tiny spoon, fill the cut out in the middle with a bit more jam so that it comes to the same level as the top cookie.

“Jammie Hearts” – the cutouts make bite sized cookies

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Baked Meatballs … and Stuff

I’m so bored that the dozens of pictures that I took over the last month or so are languishing on my hard drive, unlikely to ever see the light of day. And the July clear-out post of pictures, scheduled to drop, eventually, is probably going to be deleted, as there’s nothing really new in them.

The most exciting thing I’ve made since my last post (NOT yesterday’s Italian bread post) is a batch of baked beef meatballs which I combined with jarred mushroom spaghetti sauce and rotini pasta for today’s supper. I toasted a couple of slices of the bread for garlic bread.

A few days ago I thawed the last of the hamantaschen pastry from Christmas. Today, I rolled out the pastry, cut out 2 inch circles and shaped them into a sort of ‘bow-tie’ cookie filled with mincemeat, also leftover from Christmas. Tasty but otherwise … meh.

In a recent ‘conversation through blog comments’ with a blogging friend I mentioned my last culinary shopping splurge, at the local LCBO … a bottle of Niagara Pinot Grigio and a bottle of sake. The Pinot was slated for risotto and/or mussels in a white wine and tomato sauce, and the sake was supposed to be paired with something sushi related. It didn’t happen. In the middle is a bottle of Polish made mead in a ceramic bottle gifted to me by my nephew. I’ll have to do something creative with it, one of these days.

And that’s about it, folks.

January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream