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June 2015

Friday Food: Pesto Cheese Puffs

A pesto goat cheese puffWhen I am a tad poorly I still like to take something yummy along to Sewing. I saw quite a lot of little puff pastry variations in recent magazines: some with pesto, some with olives or sun-dried tomatoes, some with all three. I decided on a simple combination of pesto, goats' cheese and half a cherry tomato on top. Wow, look at all those pastry layers.

The cherry tomato sweetened even more after baking, and I think it is an important part of the taste as a whole. To try and stop the tomatoes sliding off, I cut a little slice of the bottom of each half to make a nice flat base.

I bought my pesto, and goats' cheese. I used frozen butter puff pastry sheets. One sheet makes 12 5cm (2 inch) squares with some edges left over, or 16 small rectangles. The secret to getting the puff is to score about 1/2 cm inside the pastry, with a nice sharp knife. Try not to cut all the way through, just score firmly. I try to keep the pesto and cheese inside the scoring lines.

I also like to preheat my oven tray so that as soon as the pastry hit it and is in the oven, it is cooking from the top and the bottom. I do not know if this actually works, or helps, but in my own happy little world of cooking I believe it does.

 

Pesto Goats' Cheese Puffs    makes 24-32

  • 2 sheets frozen butter puff pastry, almost defrosted
  • 200g pesto (approx)
  • 150-200g goats' cheese
  • 12-16 small cherry tomatoes, or Roma or whatever you can buy

Preheat the oven to 200*C, line a tray with baking paper and put it in the oven as it heats.

Cut puffs and score

Cut the pastry sheets into 5cm squares, or to use it more efficiently, 16 small quadrilaterals. Carefully score 1/2cm inside each square with a sharp knife.

Cut the cheese into thin slices. If it is crumbly, you can just creatively strew the cheese over the pesto. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and then slice a small piece off the bottom to make a nice flat surface.

Top the puffs

Remove the tray from the oven, carefully. I say this because I always burn myself. Arrange the pastry squares in rows, leaving room for puffing. Quickly dollop a little pesto inside the scored lines, smoothing out with the tip of the spoon. Then top with some cheese and half a tomato.

And bake

Bake for about 15 minutes. You want the pastry to be puffed up so you can see the layers and a nice golden brown. Tomatoes may still slide off, but just put them back where they belong.

More puffs

And there you go, hey pesto!!!! These are good eaten hot, but also very tasty warm and quite presentable later on when they are cold. And they have a great posh to preparation time ratio!!

Pesto Cheese Puffs

I am trying out some new free photo editing sites, so please bear with me and my lacy borders.


DownThere Abbey: Period Drama.

Reader, gird your loins as you read on.

What a lot has happened recently. Ireland voted for marriage equality. Do not fear, those of religious belief, churches can marry-or not marry- whomever they choose. I like the whole equality argument. As a woman I have been discriminated against. When I started work in the 1980s I was not allowed to wear trousers to work in my classroom unless they were part of a co-ordinated "pants suit". Nor could I have a loan from a bank without a male guarantor. I think more women than men are in favour of equal marriage rights because we know what it is to have rights denied. Yes, first worlds problems as they say, but one has to draw the line somewhere.

Marriage has a chequered history. When it was invented it was mainly to formalise the business union of wealthy families through their children. It was not a love match at all. Nor was it religious. Marriages were a civil affair, later blessed by the church. So churches should be free to hold a marriage service as they do now, which encompasses the civil requirements, but really I don't care who wants to be married. If two people love each other and want to be together, who am I to say they can't? Well done Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and England.

And maybe the Federal Government will at last remove the 10&% GST from tampons and pads. They are the only gendered health items that have the GST applied. Some of the other health items that are not taxed include sunscreen, condoms, incontinence pads, nicotine patches, viagra and so it goes. There's a petition. Maybe all the men in Cabinet, especially the Prime Minster who is a man and we are soooo lucky to have him as our Minister for Women (NOT) could say the actual words period and tampon. Pigs might fly I reckon. I know the money doesn't amount to a hill of beans, but it's the principle.

Labradors in the ice

Oh look, Labradors in the ice. I am not sure why Gilly is pulling a funny face. It was -3*C the other night. No wonder we were cold. We had to break out the extra quilt and turn on the heater in the bedroom. Can't have Peri getting cold in her old age. They are joyful because they met both Rafa and Sandy this week. They all love the cold weather, it must intensify the smells.

Running in the icy cold

I did a little unexpected dog sitting on Monday. Wee Bessie was not well and her mum had to go to school and her dad wasn't free till 11am. I walked The Labradors and fed them and went straight round to look after Wee Bessie and Wee Jock. Bessie sleeps with her head hanging off the couch and spent most of the morning going downstairs to see if there was any food in her dish. There wasn't. Wee Jock was guarding the house, and full of ennui.

Wee Bessie and Jock

I made a very nice peach topped cake. In America it seems that a cake "from scratch" can be a novelty. I didn't use the almond essence and I substituted toasted coconut for the almonds. It was very delicious, I used the natural peach juice in the peach topping. The next day the topping had soaked into the cake beneath it, so this is a cake to make the day before. I imagine this with berries, or maybe pineapple too. Yum.

Peach cake

The GardyGardeners are canny OpShoppers and this week they gave me an apron made from a tea towel. Let me say, it doesn't do a terribly efficient covering job on me, but I love it. Someone has cut the curves out of the sides and bound it with brown biased binding. Very cute. The tiles are wet with Labrador footprints. we've had such heavy rain and wild winds this afternoon.

Tea towel apron

I found some iron on vinyl at The BlackSpot of DoomLight(tm). Instead of my usual thicker art-table-covering plastic, I gave it a whirl on my cheesy snack zippy pouch. Hmm, not a success. It slightly shrivelled the Twistie packet even though I ironed carefully and it was not sturdy at all. It started coming apart in two places just from being turned right side out after sewing. Still, it might be good on material and I shall try that next. It is $15 per metre and about 50cm wide.

Twistie zippy pouch

Sewing was on, off, on and then off again. Instead of sewing we had supper, a glass of wine and chatted all evening. I did make a very easy and tasty treat. So easy and tasty I baked some more today and took pictures ready for Friday Food tomorrow.

So far this week I've lost my glasses, and when I found them I also found my lost mobile and one lost Library book, I left my iPad, torch and magazines at MrsDrWho's house last night and had to go back to fetch them today. And I misplaced my camera twice today. Surely I have had a year's worth of losing and misplacing this week already?? Have not lost The Labradors. Peri and Gilly are outside eating their dinner and getting wet. Again. Wild windy wet weather is their favourite kind, and we are using all the dog Dog towels. It is still Autumn, but Winter is but a few days away. Yay!!!


Friday Food: Little Orange Tea Cakes

One little cakeLittle Mandarin Tea Cakes, because the recipe said I could. KnightlyKnitter told me about these cakes, from Stephanie Alexander, and this is the fifth batch I've baked. It is meant to be a tea cake baked in a ring tin, but I don't have a ring tin. It can be made into little cup cakes and so that is what I did.

 

The beauty of this recipe is that you whip it all together in two minutes, use any citrus fruit, and then bake in about 20 minutes. I like to put my sugar and cubed butter into the oven for a few minutes as it pre-heats : the sugar warms through, the butter softens and it helps the mixture come together very quickly. Take care the butter doesn't totally melt!! I've done that far too many times.

Once you turn the oven on you can be done and dusted in half an hour. I only filled the cup cake papers 3/4 full, as that is what I prefer and my batch made 14 cakes. If you fill them a little fuller it will make a round dozen. The recipe's measurements are nicely old-fashioned, so it is easy to halve, or double.

MrsDrWho reliably informs me that they keep well for at least three days in an airtight container.

I made just half the recommended amount of icing and I think it is plenty for little cakes, but a cake baked in a ring tin would probably need the full amount.

 

Little Orange Tea Cakes    makes 12-14

  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter, cubed and softened
  • 165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest and juice of one large orange ( or two limes, lemons or mandarins)
  • 225g ( 1 1/2 cups) self raising flour, sifted

For the icing

  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • zest and juice of 1/2- 1 orange ( or whatever fruit you are using)
  • 1 tspn melted butter
  • a little extra hot water if necessary

 

Preheat the oven to 190*C and line one or two muffin trays with paper cases.

Start the cakes

Place the zest and juice, eggs, flour, butter and sugar into one bowl.

Add and beat

Beat on a slow speed at first to bring all the ingredients together and then on a high speed, for two minutes in total. The mixture will be lighter in colour, and it is a fairly stiff batter. You can add a little extra juice or some milk if you like it to be looser.

Fill and bake

Spoon into the paper cases. I used a 20ml, slightly heaped, tablespoon. Bake for about 20 minutes. The cakes will puff up and look baked, but they should be flatter on top and a much more caramel colour when they are actually ready.

Rising

I swap and turn the trays half way through and mine took the whole 20 minutes.

Inside the cakes

They will have come away from the side of the tin and a skewer poked into the centre will come out clean, no crumbs or wet batter.

Icing

Cool on a rack. They don't take long, so while the are cooling, put the icing ingredients into a bowl and beat until combined. If you like your icing runny, add a little more juice. If it is too runny, add a little more icing sugar. You can see I don't even bother melting the butter, I find it just beats into the icing and disappears as if by magic......

Ice the cakes and then eat them immediately, or a bit later on!!!

Little orange tea cakes


99 Hot Water Bottles Of Beer On The Wall

I solved part of my blogging problem: I usually don't allow myself to blog until I have read and commented on the posts of blogs on The Bloglovin'. Reader, I decided I would just comment on the most recent post and be damned. Well, the World didn't end, and what a stupid rule that was I made for myself!!

The Dutches were away on holiday and while they were away I finished their Very Late Christmas present: Santa's Laundry Live 2. I seem to have misplaced the mittens. Oh well, Santa will just have cold hands until I find them!!!

Santa's Laundry 2

I've also had to start knitting an emergency hot water bottle cover.  The one I have was knitted three years ago in mystery wool. It has not been very long lasting wool, and what started out as a little hole I darned last week turned into a mesh of holes held together with a few strands of wool. So the Lost Your Bottle? hot water bottle was begun last night. I am using a ball of Jo Sharp (and I keep saying Donna Hay) and some old Bendigo Classic 8 ply in Sequoia.

Need a new hot water bottle cover

Peri and Gilly have been out of sorts because of the three levels of scaffolding on the house next door. The painters were fine until they went up ladders, whereupon Lorelai Gilmore was sure they were burglars and woofed until reassured. Peri does take it more in her stride , but is happy she can have a biscuit treat at the fence again. Gilly is always unsettled without Peri and when we go up the hill to the hang-glider and Peri doesn't come, Gilly is so joyful when she sees her coming.

Gilly can't wait for Peri

Peri does come when she is called, usually, but often she is busy sniffing a vital smell.

Peri comes so well

I bought some new cushions for The Labradors. Can you tell that Gilly loves hers so much?? She is sound asleep, sleeping hard, and slightly snoring.

Gilly loves her new cushion

A while ago TinkingBell gave me a little Jamie Oliver greenhouse. A few weeks ago The GardyGardeners were treated to egg and watercress sandwiches for morning tea. Watercress I had grown. Yay!!! And very tasty the sandwiches were too. At first I wrote " and very tasty they were too", then realised it sounded as if I has eaten The GardyGardeners. I think this is the first time I have ever seen a crop through to fruition: Thanks!!

Watercress I grew

My friends and I have been, on and off, continuing our never-ending Block of the Month (fortnight) quilts and even though I have lost one of mine, here's a peek.

Boms

My cold seems to be slowly on its way out. My daily naps are down to about two hours. I have yet to get my act together again, and yesterday when I thought I was doing nothing, I was in fact going to the Exercise Physiologist, to pathology and then to the hospital pharmacy to order drugs. That took about three hours. So I really did need a nap.

MrsDrWho's mum has been away and she brought me back some Shakespeare tea and a marvellous mug from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Tea gift

The weather has been both warm and 19*C and chilly with fog and ice on the car and grass. It is dark very early, but I am still savouring the cool weather and still wearing my Summer dresses with a light cardigan. I think I am well enoughfor Friday Food again. Though don't hold your collective breaths!!


May The Seventh, No, The Eighth Be With You

Because I was thinking I might post on Monday and then May The Fourth Be With You would have made perfect sense: Star Wars Day- May the Force Be With You. Although saying that just reminds me of going to mass and doing all the proper responses in the liturgy. You know you really should blog when Internet Friends start asking "are you still there?". Yes thank you kindly, we're here, but not all there!!!

I sewed a Star Wars bag for MrsDrWho as a late Easter present.

Star Wars shopping bag

Well, it has been such a long time since I posted I am surprised my blog remembered me. I have been poorly since before Easter and I am still poorly now. I have a cold, but as I have no proper immune system I can't seem to shake it. I have been to the doctor and it is just a cold, but all I can really do is walk The Labradors,

  Peri's cuteness

Gilly's cuteness

and then go to bed again most days. I do have to do some things, like grocery shopping  and other bits and bobs, so I do that and then I go back to bed. I am amazed at my capacity for sleep: all day, all night, sleep I can!!

Peri and Gilly have had lots of adventures with their friends. Gilly hopped into Rafa's Dad's car!! Peri was not impressed.

Gilly in Rafa's car

There hasn't really been any knitting, apart from The Labradors' friend Sandy the Labrador's new baby nephew. I knitted a little green hat. I don't appear to even have a photo.

I haven't really been reading either. I have lain on the couch and watched an awful lot of TV sideways. And I played Candy Soda Crush and the Frozen game on my iPad. I am not very good at either game.

Today I went for my Health Care Plan check up and spent 2 1/2 hours in all at the surgery. There was an emergency broken arm and so after the nurse I had to wait more than an hour to see the doctor. I don't mind, because I have been The Emergency and other people waited because of me. And right about now, at just after 7-30pm we're all thinking bed looks pretty good: bed, and a hot water bottle. The weather has been wild and wet. We had gale force winds and there is snow down to 400m on the mountain and lots of closed roads. Winter is on her way. I am trying to enjoy all the marvellous cold weather.

Perhaps we shall do something unbelievably exciting at the weekend? Or not.......

I shall endeavour to blog about it next week regardless.

PS I haven't even read this again, so it really is a first draft. Feel free to edit!!