Pissaladière is often described as a kind of pizza from Nice in Provence. It is traditionally made with bread dough. Continue reading


Mexican-flavoured turkey mince pie

A.K.A “What on earth do you do with turkey mince?”

I occasionally buy turkey mince, but generally use it as a filler with a more interesting meat like pork.

You can make meatballs with it, but it is pretty bland and tasteless, tends to dryness and doesn’t have a great texture, unless you add a lot of other ingredients to make it interesting.

To be honest, turkey mince is pretty dull, which is why I decided to jazz it up with a lot of Mexican flavours.

I soaked some dried ancho, guajillo and chipotle chillies in boiling water for about half and hour and then whizzed them up with garlic, onion, fresh Scotch bonnet chilli, salt and pepper to make a paste.

In a pan, I heated some olive oil and fried some chopped chorizo slices until they were beginning to crisp up and then added the mince, stirring it until it lost the pinkness and then added in the paste, with a squeeze of tomato purée and continued to cook it for a few more minutes. Then I added a squeeze of honey and a glug of wine vinegar and allowed it all to cook until thick. Then I added in a handful of chopped coriander and let it cool.

I rolled out some bought puff pastry and added the meat mixture, rolling it up to make a kind of turkey mince Wellington.

Then I glazed the pastry and sprinkled sesame seeds over it and baked it for about 45 minutes in a hot oven.

As you can see, I served it with a salad and some pickled jalapeños.

It wasn’t bad, there was definitely flavour there, but the flavour wasn’t coming from the mince, which is still just something that needs a lot of seasoning and lubrication to make it interesting.

Tarte aux pommes

Classic French apple tarts are a different thing to the British apple pie. Both are good in their own ways but I like the pastry underneath the fruit most of the time and there is something about a tarte aux pommes that just appeals to me.

You really need to use puff pastry to get the right effect, although a buttery shortcrust pastry is nice too and your apples need to be thinly sliced, a mandoline helps with getting all the slices cut neatly and to a uniform thickness.

Shop-bought puff pasty is fine, I think.

I rolled out the pastry and lined a buttered flat baking sheet with a lip at the edge. You can use a fluted tart pan with a removable base if you want a round tart.

The pastry was sprinkled with caster sugar and the apples layered on top in a kind of fish scale pattern. Then I sprinkled icing sugar on top and baked the tart at about Gas Mark 6/180 C until the pastry was golden.

Then, I used a blowtorch to sear the top, it caramelised the sugar and apple juices and gave the fruit a nice cooked look.

You can glaze the finished tart with some apricot jam diluted in hot water and sieved to make a smooth syrup or you can leave it as it is and maybe flambé the tart with Calvados before serving it with crème fraiche.

I had some blackberries, which I cooked down with sugar and some Crème de Cassis and then sieved to make a smooth blackberry coulis to serve with the tart.

Apple and blackberry is a classic combination and this was a twist on the usual way of cooking the two fruits together.

Chicken and mushroom pie

I’ve written about chicken pies before, but mainly ones using leftover chicken.

This one uses chicken breast meat, some shredded ham hock and mushrooms and is cooked from scratch.

You need;

1 pack of shop-bought puff pastry
2 skinned and diced chicken breasts
A few sliced chestnut mushrooms
Shredded ham hock or diced ham
2 diced shallots
1 tub of crème fraiche
Concentrated chicken stock
1 small glass of Amontillado sherry
Salt and pepper
Dried fines herbes
Oil and butter
Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk

You soften the shallots in the melted butter and oil and add in the mushrooms, chicken and ham and cook until the chicken begins to turn white.

Then sprinkle it with flour and cook until the flour has been absorbed and add the sherry and cook until it forms a smooth paste. Then add in the concentrated stock and some hot water and continue cooking, making sure nothing sticks and burns.

Season with the dried herbs, salt and pepper and stir in the crème fraiche and continue cooking until the sauce thickens up. Then stir in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and set aside to cool.

To assemble the pie, cut the pastry into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece of pastry and line a greased oven-proof dish with it. Add the filling and roll out the rest of the pastry to form a lid.

Seal the pastry all round the edges, glaze with beaten egg yolk, cut a hole to let out the steam and bake in a Mark 6/180 C oven until the top is golden and risen.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

Chocolate tart

This was an experimental dessert.

The ingredients;

1 pack of frozen puff pastry
1 tub of curd cheese
1 bar of plain chocolate (I used Green & Black’s Maya Gold)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
4 heaped tablespoons of ground almonds
1 glass of Bailey’s Cream liqueur

I melted the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water and amalgamated it with the Bailey’s. In a separate bowl I beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract and then added in the ground almonds and mixed everything together.

Then I folded in the chocolate and Bailey’s and mixed it all until everything was smooth.

I rolled out the pastry and lined a buttered flan dish and then filled the pastry case with the filling. This was then baked in a Mark 6 oven for 45 minutes on the middle shelf.

The filling rose and cracked a bit, but I think that is OK really, because I served it dusted with icing sugar and with some cream poured over, so the cracks didn’t really show.

We had some raspberries on the side as well and I think that it turned out pretty well. The filling was thick, rich and fudge-textured in the centre, but more crumbly on the edges where the pastry was crisp and flaky.

Maids of honour tarts

I really fancied making these, I haven’t eaten one in years but I just had the urge to do some baking and these seemed like a good idea. They are a kind of baked cheesecake really, I suppose. They are supposed to date back to the Tudor period.

The recipe is derived from a Delia Smith one.


Frozen puff pastry
Flour for dusting
8 oz (225 g) curd cheese
1½ oz (40 g) candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1½ oz (40 g) golden caster sugar
The juice of one lemon
1 oz (25 g) of plain flour (or ground almonds which makes a heavier tart)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
About 2 tablespoons of lemon curd
Icing sugar for dusting

You will need a fairy cake tin with 12 holes, which you should grease.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

Roll out the puff pastry thinly. Then, using a pastry cutter, cut out 12 circles and line the tin with the pastry rounds.

Then, in a bowl combine the curd cheese, sugar, lemon juice, flour (or almonds) and chopped peel. Beat the egg and egg yolk together in a separate bowl and add this to the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until everything is evenly blended and there are no lumps.

Spoon half a teaspoon of lemon curd into the base of each pastry case Don’t use too much because it will bubble up during the cooking and may burn. Fill the pastry cases with the curd cheese mixture.

Bake the tarts in two batches on the centre shelf of the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until they are lovely golden brown colour. Remove them out of the oven, take them out of the baking tin and put them them to a wire rack to cool.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Chicken pie with chips and peas

More retro comfort food again!

The pie was made with chicken left over from Sunday, plus the addition of some sautéed leeks and mushrooms in a sauce that used the rest of the gravy with some crème fraiche and chopped parsley.

The pastry I used was shop-bought puff pastry. This was rolled out and left quite thick and glazed with an egg yolk.

The accompaniments were lazy stuff – oven chips and frozen peas.

Hardly any prep work and cooking, but a great week night dinner all the same.