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The Charms Of Puff Pastry : Baked Mozzarella With Chilli Puff-Pastry Dippers, Salted Banana Toffee Millefeuille

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The Charms Of Puff Pastry

You can’t blame girl for succumbing to the charms of puff pastry – rich, buttery layers of pure indulgence. And, with it available ready-made, it’s as easy to use as it is to eat

Baked Mozzarella With Chilli Puff-Pastry Dippers

It's really worth letting this tomato sauce simmer for two or three hours - the flavors develop beautifully. Enjoy this dish for lunch or bring it out when friends pop round for a beer.

Serves 4

Preparation: 20 minutes, plus thawing time

Cooking: 2 hours

Description: Baked Mozzarella With Chilli Puff-Pastry Dippers

Baked Mozzarella With Chilli Puff-Pastry Dippers

·         Onion 1, finely chopped

·         Olive oil 4 T

·         Garlic 4 cloves, crushed

·         Fresh chilli 1, chopped

·         Cherry tomatoes 2 x 400 g cans

·         Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

·         Sugar 2t

·         Fresh basil ½ cup

·         Red wine vinegar 2t

·         Frozen all-butter puff pastry 1 x 500 g packet, thawed

·         Free-range egg 1, beaten

·         Buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini 400 g, drained

·         Prosciutto 4 slices

·         Dried chilli flakes 2 T

·         Sea salt 3 T

 

1.    Preheat the oven to 180*C. Gently fry the onion in 3 T olive oil over a low heat until soft. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season to taste and stir. Simmer for 45 minutes.

2.    Add the sugar and 14 cup basil. Simmer for a further 45 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar and check the seasoning.

3.    Carefully slice the pastry into long rectangles and arrange on 2 or 3 baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving space between each slice of pastry. Brush with egg and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and puffed up.

4.    Crush the chilli flakes with the sea salt to combine. Lightly brush each pastry dipper with a little of the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with the chilli salt and cool. Divide the tomato sauce between four small bowls, top with equal amounts of mozzarella and bake until the mozzarella starts to bubble. Place the prosciutto on a separate baking tray and crisp in the oven. Place on top of the tomato sauce and mozzarella.

5.    Garnish with the remaining basil and serve with the pastry dippers.

Wine: Bon Courage White Muscadel 2011

Salted Banana Toffee Millefeuille

This is my take on banoffee pie. I can't fault the original recipe, but this is just so much more fun to bring out to a table of friends! It's a bit of a tricky one to eat and, after the first bite, everyone's lips are powdered with icing sugar, which adds to the laughs.

Serves 8

Preparation: 30 minutes, plus thawing time

Baking: 1½ hours

·         Frozen all-butter puff pastry 2 x 500 g packets, thawed

·         Free-range egg white 1, beaten

·         Sugar 200g

·         Bananas 3, sliced

·         Milk ½ cup

·         Sea salt, to taste

·         Cream 2 cups

·         Icing sugar, for dusting

·         White chocolate shavings, to decorate

Description: Salted Banana Toffee Millefeuille

Salted Banana Toffee Millefeuille

1.    Preheat the oven to 180*C. Working with 1 packet of pastry at a time (leave the other in the fridge until ready to use), carefully cut out a 20 cm circle. Repeat with the other packet of pastry. Reserve the offcuts from the pastry and return to the fridge. Place the pastry circles on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush the surface with egg white. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until flaky and golden, carefully remove and set aside to cool. Combine the pastry offcuts and roll out as thick as possible and cut out another circle. Bake until golden. Set aside all three pastry discs and allow to cool.

2.    Melt the sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once dissolved, blend the bananas with the milk and add to the sugar, a little at a time, stirring continuously to combine. Cook over a medium to low heat until the mixture turns pale toffee in color and is smooth. Add sea salt to taste.

3.    Remove the banana toffee from the heat and cool. To serve, whip the cream and sandwich the pastry with the banana-toffee mixture and whipped cream. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with chocolate shavings. WINE: Nederburg Winemaster's Reserve Special Late Harvest 2011

Tips For Working With Puff Pastry

Brushing pastry with beaten egg gives it a golden, shiny crust. Be careful not to get any egg on the sides of the pastry as the layers will stick together and prevent the pastry from puffing evenly.

Thaw frozen puff pastry before using - it should be cold but shouldn't crack when unrolled. Note that it’s important to work with cold pastry so that the layers rise instantly when they come into contact with the heat of the oven.

Take care not to overwork puff pastry as this will warm it and hinder rising.

Don't reuse puff pastry once you've rolled it - the layers will be damaged. Instead, use offcuts to make shapes with which to to decorate desserts or to dip in chocolate and dust with icing sugar.

 

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