Portuguese egg custard tarts

Portuguese egg custard tarts
I have a huge list of things I would quite like to bake that has been in the making for a few years (see my Pinterest board!). I’ll probably never get round to making even half of them. However, sometimes I spot a recipe that grabs me enough to make me want to get baking straight away – and these Portuguese egg custard tarts are one such recipe.

Portuguese egg custard tarts
I saw this recipe in BBC Good Food magazine and immediately started thinking about when I could make them. It’s odd, because while I love a custard tart, I’ve never really thought that much about making them – especially as I’m still a bit nervous with pastry.

Portuguese egg custard tarts
However, the recipe seemed fairly straightforward and Portuguese egg custard tarts have such a good reputation that I just knew I had to make these. The pastry is a quick version of proper puff pastry and is more flaky than anything else, as it doesn’t have as many layers as standard puff pastry.

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts
It involves making a basic pastry and then layering it with grated butter, folding, turning and layering again, before chilling in the fridge. It wasn’t too fiddly; the most difficult part for me was rolling out the pastry sheet to the right size each time.

Then it was a matter of rolling up the pastry sheet, cutting it into 12 and rolling out each bit into circles to line a muffin tin.

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Pastry for Portuguese egg custard tarts
The custard was also easy enough to make. I’ve never made it before, but I know it can quickly go wrong, so I kept a close eye on it all the way through and followed the recipe to the letter. And it worked!

Making custard for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Custard for Portuguese egg custard tarts

Custard!

I think my muffin tin must be on the small side, because I only used up about two-thirds of the custard when filling the pastry cases. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, though, so I had some of the rest with a quick microwaved syrup sponge a few days later.

The custard puffs up in the oven, and you need to make sure it doesn’t rise and sink while the tarts are still baking. They should puff up before you take them out, and then sink while they’re cooling.

Portuguese egg custard tarts
And that’s it! The tarts were so delicious. I’ve never had the ‘proper’ Portuguese variety before, but if the ones I made are anything like the real thing, they must be bloody good.

Why not give these a go for Easter?

Portuguese egg custard tarts

Portuguese egg custard tarts
Portuguese egg custard tarts recipe

Can be found on the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/portuguese-egg-custard-tarts

Spinach and feta pizza pie

Spinach and feta pizza pie
This is a bit of an impromptu post; I wasn’t intending to blog about this spinach and feta pizza pie I made a couple of days ago, but I was asked for the recipe after posting a photo on Instagram and I thought I might as well get a blog post out of it!

In case you don’t know what a pizza pie (or deep dish pizza) is, it’s basically a pie made out of pizza dough with a filling in the middle and a conventional cheese and tomato topping (with whatever else you want to throw on top). It’s just the BEST invention if you love pizza!

I’ve made this with my boyfriend a couple of times before; the first time went well, but the pizza dough was a bit of a disaster the second time. However, I’m pleased to report that it went swimmingly this time round.

There’s a bit of effort involved with this wondrous creation, but it’s well worth it. The filling isn’t too difficult to knock up, but you need to prepare the spinach properly so it doesn’t go watery during baking.

Unfortunately, we haven’t managed to quite get the knack of it, but it’s still delicious regardless of how watery the filling is.

It’s worth either following the original recipe exactly (so use both Swiss chard and spinach, instead of just spinach as we’ve always done due to not being able to find Swiss chard in the shops) or using an alternative filling – I reckon roasted vegetables and mozzarella would work really well, or even a bolognese sauce.

Spinach and feta pizza pie
Apologies for the lack of photos, but I would have taken more if I’d known I was going to write a blog! The recipe below is based on this one. I originally found it in Vegetarian Living magazine, but it looks like the online version is a bit different, so the below is the version I’ve got with some extra changes/suggestions based on my experience of making this.

Spinach and feta pizza pie recipe

Serves 6

For the pizza crust dough:

  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 185ml lukewarm water
  • 0.75 tsp sugar
  • 225g strong flour, plus extra for rolling/dusting
  • 50g polenta
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

For the tomato sauce (or use 200-250ml ready-made pizza sauce):

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g butter
  • 0.5 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 sundried tomatoes, drained of oil
  • 0.5 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

For the filling:

  • 850g Swiss chard (or spinach, but beware of the wateriness!)
  • 250g spinach (frozen is – bizarrely – less watery than fresh. Defrost it first.)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped chives or spring onions
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 265g cottage cheese (drain off any excess water)
  • 250g feta, crumbled
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano (or use dried oregano)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 35g pecorino cheese, grated + 1 tbsp extra (or use parmesan)

To make the pizza pie crust:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1.5 tbsp of the lukewarm water.
  2. Add the sugar and 1.5 tbsp of the flour, and mix well.
  3. Cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  4. Add about half of the remaining water, all of the remaining flour, and the polenta, salt and olive oil, and mix well, adding more water if needed to create a soft dough that’s not too wet. Use the heel of your hands to work the dough for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
  5. Lightly grease the inside of another large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to it. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for 45-60 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. While it’s proving, make the tomato sauce (see below).
  6. Dust a work surface with flour and tip out the dough. Knock it back with one good punch to let any air out. Cup your hands over the dough and roll it around on the surface to create a smooth ball.
  7. Place the dough on a lightly greased baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove again for 15 minutes.

To make the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan until the butter has melted.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until well softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and oregano, and simmer until the sauce has reduced to a rich, thick consistency – about 15 mins.
  4. Season to taste. Set aside and leave to cool.

To make the filling and assemble the pizza pie:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  2. Remove the woody stalks from the Swiss chard and spinach (if using fresh). Blanch the leaves for 2 minutes in salted boiling water then drain well, squeezing out the excess moisture with your hands and then wringing out any remaining moisture with a clean tea towel. At this point you can try to dry out the leaves further in the oven, on a low heat setting.
  3. Chop the leaves very finely and combine with the chives/spring onions, dill, cottage cheese, feta, eggs, oregano and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin with olive oil and lightly dust a work surface.
  5. Separate the pizza crust dough into two balls, one weighing around 330g and the other around 170g.
  6. Roll out the larger ball of dough into a 35cm circle that’s about 3mm thick.
  7. Gently fit the dough to the cake tin, pressing firmly into the corners and up the sides so that there’s a 2.5cm overhang. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Spoon the filling into the dough-lined tin and spread evenly.
  9. Roll out the remaining dough into a 20cm wide, 3mm thick circle. Prick it all over with a fork.
  10. Place the circle of dough on top of the filling in the tin. Fold the overhang of the other piece of dough over the top to form a thick edge.
  11. Spoon the tomato sauce on top and spread evenly.
  12. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and bake the pizza pie for 15 mins, before rotating it and baking for another 15 minutes.
  13. Sprinkle the pecorino or parmesan on top and bake for a final 15 minutes or until the pizza is golden and crisp.
  14. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of pecorino/parmesan on top.
  15. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before releasing the pie from the tin. Serve and enjoy your pizza pie!

Review: William Curley Chocolate Club – February 2015

William Curley Chocolate Club subscription box
Today’s post is a bit of a departure from my usual baking-related accounts. I haven’t baked anything new/worth blogging about in a few weeks, but I have been enjoying a rather wonderful subscription box courtesy of the Curley Chocolate Club, run by chocolatier extraordinaire William Curley.

I received a 3-month subscription as a leaving gift some time ago and activated it to begin in February. I’ve now consumed the lot (and received my March box!), so I thought I’d review it.

William Curley Chocolate Club subscription box
First, just look at that beautiful box! It screams luxury before you even see the contents, doesn’t it?

And then you open it and go ‘ooooh!’. Or I did, anyway.

William Curley Chocolate Club subscription box
So, what did I get? The contents of the February box were:

  • A selection of 4 flavoured chocolates
  • Orangette (orange confit and dark chocolate batons)
  • Millionaire (a chunky biscuit, caramel and chocolate bar)
  • Suisse Rocher Dark Chocolate (caramelised almond batons covered in dark chocolate)
  • White chocolate and raspberry bar

I was determined to make my goodies last for as long as possible (or at least until the next box arrived)! I started off with the flavoured chocolates, as their best before date was coming up soon.

William Curley chocolate assortment

Top row: Amedei Chuao and apricot & wasabi Bottom row: Piedmont hazelnut and coconut

The leaflet that came with these informed me that I had a rather varied selection of flavours: Amedei Chuao truffle, apricot and wasabi, Piedmont hazelnut and coconut. I immediately went for the coconut and thoroughly enjoyed it (of course).

The next one I tried was my favourite – the Amedei Chuao truffle made from 70% dark chocolate. It was super smooth, rich and oh so flavoursome. I usually prefer milk chocolate to dark when eating chocolate on its own, but this truffle was so enjoyable I could have had 10 more!

The Piedmont hazelnut chocolate was lovely, while the apricot and wasabi chocolate was a little odd but delicious. The wasabi flavour is really delicate (thankfully) and unusual in a fruit chocolate like this, but so nice!

William Curley Suisse Rocher almond batons
Next up: the dark chocolate-covered caramelised almond batons. I already knew I was going to love these before my first taste, as I’m a huge fan of almonds and have fond memories of the toscakaka I made a while ago, which introduced me to the joy of combining almonds and caramel.

They were SO delicious and really hard to put down. The caramelised almond centres were just beautiful, and the chocolate added an extra layer of flavour that made the batons amazingly addictive. I would buy these on their own!

William Curley Millionaire
I shared the Millionaire bar with my boyfriend, as he absolutely loves millionaire’s shortbread. It was very similar to your standard piece of millionaire’s shortbread, albeit with nicer (and more) chocolate and a particularly generous helping of gooey caramel. The biscuit wasn’t a standard shortbread – it was a bit crunchier – but it was still lovely.

William Curley Orangette

William Curley Orangette

The next treat to try was the Orangette batons. They were scrumptious – the centre of these was a chewy, tangy and slightly bitter orange confit (like a really thick and luxurious marmalade), with dark chocolate on the outside. Orange and chocolate is such a great combination, and the batons were definitely a cut above your average Jaffa cake!

William Curley white chocolate and raspberry bar
Finally, it was time for the last treat in the box: a delectable white chocolate bar with tangy raspberry bits. White chocolate and raspberry is a classic combination and I couldn’t fault this bar at all – the chocolate was beautifully sweet and creamy, and the raspberry wasn’t at all overpowering. Perfect!

Overall, I was blown away by the quality of the contents of this box. I’d never tried William Curley’s chocolate before (the poshest chocolates I’d previously had were Hotel Chocolat’s), but I’m a firm fan now! Every type of chocolate was just so tasty, and the flavour combinations were fantastic.

If you’re looking for a fancy present for the chocolate lover in your life, you really can’t go wrong with the Curley Chocolate Club. I can’t wait to try my March box now!

Melopita AKA Greek honey pie

Melopita Greek honey pie
I’ve never had much luck with cheesecake. In fact, the last time I made it was such a disaster that I decided I wasn’t going to attempt it again for a long time. Well, I think I finally struck it lucky with this honey pie AKA melopita AKA Greek cheesecake.

I spotted the recipe on Pinterest a while ago and was struck by how simple yet delicious it looked. There’s no (buttery) biscuit base here; it’s all about the honey and cheese, which in this case is a hell of a lot of ricotta (as I had no idea where to find myzithra in Manchester).

Melopita Greek honey pie
I can’t stress how easy this is to make. All you do is mix the ingredients together, transfer the mix to a tin and bake. Even I couldn’t get that wrong with my cheesecake-destroying ways!

Melopita Greek honey pie
I left the pie in the oven for longer than the recipe said, as it looked very wobbly and pale at the end of 40 minutes. I took it out when the top looked more set and golden. For reference, I didn’t make the whole recipe; I used 500g of ricotta instead of 600g and reduced the weight of the other ingredients accordingly. As you can see, the top cracked as the pie cooled!

Melopita Greek honey pie
We had the pie as a dessert after a Greek-themed meal and served it as suggested, with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. It was absolutely delicious – rich, fragrant and just the right sort of sweet.

Unlike the last time I made cheesecake, I will definitely make melopita again – and soon!

The recipe

Can be found on the Cook Me Greek blog here.