Puff Pastry Baskets with Fruits, Homemade Chocolates and Bacon and Leek Pie

Today I have got very simple recipes based on puff pastry. But before that, let me post one more poem of mine, as I promised to share them before recipes.

Farewell
The arrow disappeared in the sky and my sword is broken,
The war between light and darkness in my heart has awoken,
You are setting off for the East and you’ll say “Farewell” soon,
Clouds are riding high above us to their land beyond the moon.

What is happening? I am laughing and crying,
So you would not guess I am slowly dying,
You are choosing the road of your hope, well, go ahead…
What should I tell you here at sunset…?

The wind is taking away words that were not said by us,
Everything – the battle and ashes of burnt ships – has passed,
The shield hasn’t protected me and I lost,
I couldn’t withstand that terrible Host.

I know one day I will make for the East following you,
That promise was given by me under the sacred yew,
Where once you said “Don’t cry” but it’s impossible when you are in hell,
You said “Don’t cry” and it meant “Farewell”.

Puff Pastry Baskets with Fruits

puff pastry sheets

30g butter

200g canned apricots

150g seedless grapes

100g apricot jam

For the frangipane

1 tbsp butter

75g icing sugar

1 egg yolk

1 cup almond flour

Preheat the oven to 210C

1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut into squares.

2. Prepare the almond frangipane: combine the butter with icing sugar, add the yolk and almond flour. Stir until it is light and fluffy.

3. Grease the muffin cases with butter and put puff pastry squares into them. Pour the frangipane mixture into the pastry cases.

4. Slice apricots and neatly arrange them with some grapes onto the almond frangipane.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.

6. Brush some apricot jam onto cooked “baskets”.

I also made homemade chocolates last weekend. Nothing difficult. I just melted some chocolate, put hazel nuts into cases and poured melted chocolate over it. Simple and yummy!

The next recipe is again with puff pastry. But savoury this time.

Bacon and Leek Pie

puff pastry sheets

100g diced bacon

3 medium sized leeks

salt and paper to taste

150 ml double cream

some vegetable or olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C

1. Prepare the crust: roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and then cut into two halves. Place one half in a pie dish. Cut the other half into strips – this will be the cover for our pie.

2. In a deep pot, using some oil,  fry bacon till light brown. Then add the leeks and fry for 5 minutes more.  Salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cream in and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

3. Pour the mixture onto the crust, arrange strips of pastry on top and bake for about 45 minutes in a medium heat oven.

And as usual, at the end of the post, let me show new products from my shop Hooked House. Granny squares are very fashionable this season, so inspired by this motif, I decided to make a “Granny”pot holder, cushion and a make-up bag.

I came across this cotton fabric with lovely petal print while walking in Halifax and straight away made up my mind to make a couple of cushions with crochet edging from this fabric.

And this is a pincushion in a vintage trinket box with a white crochet motif made from 100% cotton. The trinket box is vintage. White color, fine bone china. There is a beautiful flower on the lid and it says “Mother”.
This pincushion will be a perfect gift for any mommy on Mother’s Day or for her Birthday.

Italian Bread Sticks and some more…

I am a very creative person. And what is the most peculiar feature of that kind of a person? Yes, that’s right, such people have lots of interests, never get bored and always find something to do. You already know that besides cooking and photography, I like crocheting and painting, but there was time when I even tried to write poems. Later, some of them turned into the songs of a wonderful heavy-metal band NimphaioN. Here is one of them. My favourite.

Lonely River

Looking at you with wide opened eyes

She wants but she can’t some secrets impart

All the world came down, beginning to fade

Leaving her to the mercy of fate

Once you were like all and knew no ill

Walking alone in a mysterious hill

The mist of the forest hid you away

You couldn’t cry but just moan because of pain.

The sisters of woodland took you away

Forcing to live in a different way

Nymphes embraced you and fondled and kissed,

You turned into river, the world is dismissed.

Wild lonely river is running along

Singing a sad, grievous song

About her life – awful and hard,

For those, who’s walking alone in the dark.

I think I’ll post my poems here before recipes from now on (don’t be afraid, I don’t have many hahaha) as I would like to share them with you. But let’s return to our muttons, I mean recipes as this is a food blog at the end of the day. This time I am going to tell you how to cook Italian bread sticks and show you my variant of a famous appetizer  Cantaloupe and Prosciutto.

Alright, off we go!

I’ll start with the appetizer. This is a lovely dish! Simple to make, yet it is so delicious, juicy and bright that can be served even for a festive meal. Usually you just slice the cantaloupe and wrap prosciutto around its wedges. But I decided to do something different. I cut the cantaloupe into halves and removed the fruit with the help of a spoon (you can use a melon baller for that, it will be even better).  Then I cut the fruit into cubes and put back into the cantaloupe bowls along with prosciutto. Garnish with some parsley.

Last weekend the weather was nice and sunny, so in spite of the fact that it’s winter, we decided to go on a picnic. And again I made my favourite Italian bread sticks to take. The recipe of which was given to me by one of my friends from St Petersburg.

We went to Cannon Hall. Love this place! We laughed, talked, had some red wine with cheese and bread and I painted my husband’s trainers.

Italian Bread Sticks

350 g warm water

500 g all purpose flour

15 g fast action dried yeast

10g salt

some dried oregano

some olive oil

100 g parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 220C

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the yeast and salt. Drizzle over the oil, make a well in the centre and gradually add the warm water, mixing to a soft dough.

2. Put the dough onto a board lightly dusted with flour and knead for at least 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

3. Put the dough into a bowl again, sprinkle with olive oil and leave it to rise in a warm place for one hour. Don’t leave your dough somewhere too hot or you’ll kill the yeast and your bread won’t rise at all.

4. Once the dough has risen, knead it some more and then tip it out onto a board dusted with flour.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough ball into a disk using the palms of your hands or a rolling pin. Sprinkle one disk of the dough with oregano  and put the other one on top.

6. Press it a little and then cut into strips, about 1 cm wide. Twist each strip, coat with some olive oil and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

7. Carefully put the sticks onto an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden

I crocheted two new pairs of fingerless mittens for my shop Hooked House and at the moment I am doing two new projects at once: a cushion and some pot holders. I guess I will be able to show them next week. And I think next week I will organise a Giveaway. Well, at least I’ll try. Never done it before :-) So don’t forget to check out my blog next week as you will have a chance to win something nice.


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Pasta with Pesto and Mussels

Do you like pasta as much as I do? I think I could eat it every day. Bechamel, pesto, bolognese, garlic, tomatoes, seafood, minced meet… there are so many different things you can have pasta with and it’s going to be absolutely gorgeous! This time I didn’t plan to spend much time in the kitchen, as I was going to finish some other projects: to crochet a couple of baskets for my shop Hooked House and to take a number of pictures for on-line magazine Refine where I am a regular contributor.  We are about to launch Issue 4 next week. I promise, I’ll share the link when it’s ready.

So, I decided to cook something quick and simple for my family, that’s why I made up my mind to make pasta. Some seafood looked at me every time I opened the fridge, so I said: “alright, alright, it’s your turn this time, we are going to eat you!” I took out the mussels, mushrooms, pesto, pappardelle and got started.

50 g per person pappardelle or any other pasta

200 g seafood (I had mussels)

150 g mushrooms (I had champignons)

100 g cheddar cheese

3 tbsp butter

some pesto

some oil (vegetable or olive)

1 cup milk

2 tbsp flour

salt, pepper

parsley

1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the pack instructions. Drain the pasta, return it to the pan and toss with some pesto.

2. Make sure the mushrooms are clean by gently brushing any dirt off with a clean, damp cloth or soft brush. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan and gently saute the mushrooms over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add some salt.

3. Now let us get started to make our sauce: put the butter into a saucepan, on a gentle heat, and melt it. Once the butter has melted, add the flour whisking constantly. Whisk until all the flour is coated with the butter. Now gradually pour the milk and whisk until smooth, white liquid has formed with no lumps. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth and thick. Season with the salt and pepper.

4. Put the mushrooms and seafood into the sauce. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes more.

5. Divide the pasta between the serving dishes and top with the sauce. Sprinke with some parsley.

And for the dessert I again chose a very simple dish, the recipe of which I am glad to share with you.

Fried Pineapple With Ice-cream

1 pineapple

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp icing sugar

400 g ice-cream

mint leaves for decoration

1. Peel and cut the pineaaple into rings. Discard the core.

2. Sprinkle with icing sugar and fry in a pan with some butter. Fry the pineapple until nicely coloured on both sides.

3. Pile the fried pineapple rings on serving plates and top with some scooped ice-cream. Decorate with mint leaves.

Well, as long as I have mentioned about the crocheted baskets that I was making, I would like to show them to you. These ones and more are available in my shop Hooked House on Etsy.

And a couple of brooches

Quiche with Bacon and Mushrooms and a photo walk in the Bronte Parsonage

Today, I am going to “feed” you with a very tasty quiche with bacon and mushrooms but before that I would like to show you some photos of the place where one of my favourite writers was born. Charlotte Bronte. We go to that parsonage,  which is located in Haworth, quite often as it is a very lovely village and it is so wonderful to wander along those beautiful old streets soaked with history and to delve into the memories of my childhood, the time when I was reading Jane Eyre with rapture. I remember when I came there for the first time I was very surprised to see that the house of the Brontes family was right in a graveyard. Before entering the museum we were walking among graves counting and according to the writings on tombstones life expectancy was very low at that time, less than 25 years. There is a book in the museum explaining why it had happened. The reason was the absence of a sewage system, so the well water was contaminated. But stop! my photos are not about it, but about those amazing cobble streets with lots of cosy cafes and restaurants along which Charlotte was walking, shops selling shabby chic items, and bakeries like they used to be.

Look at these cafes, if I had a chance I would try food in each of them!

I like the idea of using old shoes as a garden decoration and just look at those rag rugs, they are so cute!

Lots of shops with vintage and craft stuff.

There is an old train station in Haworth and you can have a journey on a real steam train.

This is what a carriage looks inside.

Even ladies and gents at that train station remember OLD days.

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted if frozen

100 g sweet peas

150 g baby corn

100 g broccoli

100 g cauliflower

150 g any mushrooms

100 g bacon

5 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

salt and pepper

100 g cheddar cheese, grated

1 clove garlic, chopped

some oil

some parsley

Pre-heat oven to 220C

1. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Layer it over on oiled baking tin or dish, then trim off the edges all around. Prick the base lightly with a fork.

2. In a skillet heat some oil and fry bacon from both sides till it’s brown. Remove it and then fry the mushrooms in the same oil for about 5 minutes.

3. Blanch all vegetables in salty water for 5-7 minutes and then chop.

4. Whisk together sour cream and eggs and pour over vegetables, mushrooms, chopped bacon and arrange it on the pastry. Scatter the parsley, chopped garlic and cheese over and bake for 35-40 minutes in the oven

Bilberry-Raspberry Muffins

Almost every weekend my husband and I go to the country to take pictures of lovely West Yorkshire landscapes. I love it and always look forward to these days! Last week we decided to go to the countryside on Friday as the weather was fine and on Saturday my friends were going to stop by and I would be very busy. So while we were walking shooting pictures and enjoying nature, I noticed some berries on the ground. They were bilberries! We looked around and realized that we were standing right in the middle of numerous bilberry bushes. Having eaten some berries, with hands and mouths full of it, we decided to return to that place on Sunday, with baskets. Of course it was raining on Sunday. From the early morning. But one should keep their promise, so when it was just drizzling, we set off. Yeah, drizzling, it even drizzles differently here, in England – after 10 minutes in such tiny-drop-rain you feel that you are soaked to the skin. Never mind, all we cared about were bilberry, bilberry pie and bilberry jam. Like Stoics we were picking up that berry, but even the Stoics inside us said “ENOUGH” 30 minutes later. By that time it was heavy rain already. We took our half-empty baskets, got into the car and headed for home-dry-home. We hardly drove 15 metres when I cried “Wait! There are raspberry bushes over there!” . My husband burst out laughing and with the words “You are so Russian” stopped the car. I just couldn’t pass by all those ripe, sweet, tasty, red raspberries. I love them so much that to ignore them would be “crime and punishment”. Thankfully it was only drizzling again and we managed to pick up lots of berries, enough for a jar of home-made jam.

These are the pics of the berries that we picked up. Some of them. Beautiful, isn’t it? And very tasty, believe me. We had some raspberries in the fridge from a supermarket. We compared their flavours. Wild raspberries turned out to be more tasty than “tamed” ones, though the latter are more beautiful and bigger.

This is where we were walking.

Using the berries that we picked up, I made very delicious muffins, the recipe of which I am going to share with you. In fact, for this recipe it isn’t necessary to use the mixture of raspberries and bilberries like I did, you can use any favourite berries of yours.

100 g unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup berries

Pre-heat oven to 220C

1. Whisk eggs and sugar together.

2. Mix salt, soda and flour. Add dry ingredients into egg-sugar mixture and stir to combine.

3. Pour buttermilk and stir once again.

4. Fold in the berries and spoon into muffin cases.

5. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.


Sea-food Pizza

I have had a food blog in Russian only for a long time and tried to start blogging in English twice, but failed. So, this is my third attempt to set up a blog in English. I hope this time it will work out. Third time lucky, like we say.

I am going to post one of my favourite recipes for a start. It is very tasty, quite simple to make but it does require some time.

Sea-food Pizza

1 tsp instant yeast

1  1/2 – 2 cups flour

3/4 cup warm water

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2-3 tbsps olive oil

250 g sea-food (squid, mussels, prawns)

3-4 tbsps pesto

150 g mozzarella

 

Pre-heat oven to 220C

 

1. In a large bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast and sugar. Let it stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 10-15 minutes.

2. Add salt, 1 cup of flour and stir to combine. Add olive oil, the rest of the flour and stir once again.

3. Tip the dough out onto a board lightly dusted with flour and knead for at least 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Kneading thoroughly will give the crust even texture.

5. Put the dough into a bowl again, sprinkle with olive oil and leave it to rise in a warm place for one hour.

6. After that, knead the dough again to revive the yeast and leave for 30 minutes more.

7. Divide the dough into two pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough ball into a disk using the palms of your hands or a rolling pin.

8. Spread the pesto over the pizza dough. Put the sea-food onto it and then top with the mozzarella cut into small pieces.

9. Bake until the crust’s edge is brown, about 15 minutes.

 

 

 

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