Hello everyone! I'll answer the questions from yesterday's post tomorrow, when I'm not so busy. I'm working Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the moment and today will be a big day for me.
Short Crust Pastry
I always feel very satisfied and pleased when I produce a good meal by combining our garden produce with the pantry stock. Monday night's meal was a quiche, made with eggs from our hens, and a pastry made with ingredients I always have on hand in the pantry. We had it for dinner again last night and I'm taking the last slice to work for my lunch today. It's delicious.
Many people are put off quiches and pies because they're not sure how to make pastry. But pastry making is another one of those things that if you master it - and it IS easy - you'll have a skill that can be used for a number of things. You'll be able to make sweet fruit pies, as well as savoury ones like this quiche, or even meat pies, an Australian staple. So here is my tutorial on pastry making.
When you make pastry you need to keep the ingredients cold. In the old days, cooks always had a marble slab or bench on which to roll out their pastry, some also had marble rolling pins. Make sure your butter and water are very cold. It's easier to make pastry on a cold day, naturally, when I made this on Monday, it was the first hot day of the season.
1½ cups plain flour (all purpose)
120g (4½ oz) cold butter straight from the fridge
1 tablespoon cold water from the fridge - you may need to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water - it will depend on the weather (if it's humid you'll use less water) and the flour you use. Start off with one tablespoon, and add the others in small portions if needed.
1 egg yolk
Spray a quiche form or baking tray with cooking oil and leave to one side.
Put the flour and butter in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds - until you have what looks like breadcrumbs.
Click on the photos to enlarge.
Mix the egg yolk with the water and add to the mix. Process again. If you need more water, add it now and process again. The pastry will start to form a clump, and then collect around the blade. When it does that, it's ready.
The pastry will look dry but if you take some and squeeze it between your finger tips, it will stick together and not fall apart.
Take the pastry out of the processor and place it onto a lightly flour bench. Work fast now, you don't want the cold butter to melt in the pastry.
To roll out the pastry, roll up and down a couple of times, applying light pressure. Turn the pastry a quarter of a turn and roll again - up and down a few times. Turn a quarter of a turn again. Repeat this until you have a round disc large enough for the cooking pan you're using.
You might need a palette knife to lift it, I did, the warmer the temperature in your kitchen, the more it's likely to stick. Place your rolling pin at the edge of the pastry and roll the pastry around the pin, lift it up and place it on top of the baking tin. Gentry ease it over the tray and press it in place.
Make sure the pastry comes up to the top of the tray and then, with a sharp knife, cut the top of the pastry off to make a neat edge. If you have any holes in the pastry, and you often do, patch them with bit of the cut off pastry. Just place the patch over the hole and press it to connect with the pastry surrounding it.
When everything looks right, take a knife or fork and make holes in the bottom of the pastry. That stops it from rising when it's in the oven.
Now put the uncooked pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes. This allows the gluten in the flour to relax and it hardens the butter again. If you don't do this, your pastry will be a bit tough and it will shrink.
After 30 minutes, blind bake the pastry until it's a light golden brown. Blind baking is when you bake the pie crust without the filling. Take a piece of baking paper and place it on top of the pastry, then cover the paper with some rice, chic peas or dry beans. Then place in the oven and bake on 180C (350F). I keep chic peas for the purpose in a small jar in the cupboard - they can be used over and over again.
When the pastry is cooked, you can add whatever filling you like. We had eggs, sour cream, cheese, onions, garlic, mushrooms and bacon. Make the filling earlier so it has a chance to cool down before adding it to the pastry shell. When the filling is in, return to the oven and bake until the top if a golden yellow and a knife inserted in the filling, comes out fairly dry.
Other fillings to use include:
* spinach, onions, cheese and eggs
* zucchini, onions, garlic, eggs, cream and cheese
With the addition of a little sugar to the pastry recipe, you could make a delicious fruit pie. Nothing in this whole world is better than a peach pie or (maybe) a cherry pie. When the next meeting of world leaders takes place, I propose one of us make a peach pie and take it along to the meeting. We should serve the pie up to the leaders and before leaving, remind them that the people whose lives are in their hands are real people who eat things like peach pie. We'll make sure everyone has a cup of good coffee or tea before we leave. I bet that meeting would produce a better outcome than most of those we hear about. Sometimes good food reminds us of things that are otherwise forgotten.