Friday, 30 September 2011

Twice as Nice...1 ingredient, 2 ways. Edition 1: Pastry

Another new feature I've dragged out for the depths of my imagination (which, judging by my groundbreaking titles is more like a puddle than a never ending abyss of creativeness).
As you probably gathered from the highly innovative concept, each edition will feature one ingredient used two different ways. The two recipes featured here came about after I was sent the Dietary Specials new recipe Shortcrust Pastry.
I must preface this now by saying this is NOT a sponsored post, I just really love this product. In fact I'd go so far as to say its probably in my top three of favourite gluten-free products ever. Not only because it tastes great, but because it saves me from the colossal ball-ache of making pastry from scratch. Plus you can freeze it until you need it. AND you can roll it out without the whole lot falling apart and sticking to the rolling pin, making you want to throw yourself on the floor in a grown woman tantrum. In short, I am a slut for this pastry.
The first recipe is one that I created when trying desperately to think of something with strawberries in as my recipe that could be made for a Breast Cancer Care Strawberry Tea Party. I wanted something (other than the run of the mill cupcakes) that anyone hosting a party might fancy rustling up.
I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but this recipe is one of my most genius ideas to date. Not genius in a MENSA kind of way, but ye gads its ruddy bloomin' scrummy.
I'll be honest and say the strawberry curd is a wee bit of arsing around, but I promise its so very worth it that it could be sponsered by Loreal.
The second recipe is for a sweet onion tart adapted from an ancient recipe I picked up in Waitrose when I was at uni in Sheffield.
Tarts and quiches with a bit of salad are so nice this time of year around the end of summer and unless your Mrs or Mr Cast Iron Guts you'll never eat a whole tart all at once, so you can pop it in your lunchbox or have it warm for your tea the next day. Economic, no? George Osbourne could learn a thing or two from me.Fact.

  • Nice big wedge of butter (around 25g)
  • 2 Large red onions
  • 1 Large white onion
  • 200g Dietary Specials Shortcrust Pastry (take out a few hours in advance to defrost)
  • 330ml Creme fraiche (go lite if your counting the cals)
  • 3 Eggs (I use free-range)
  • Generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 15-20g Chives
  • 150 Cheese (Emmental is ideal, but a mild Cheddar works just as well)
  • Quiche or flan tin
  • Rolling pin
  • Small sprinkle of plain flour for dusting
  • Baking beans or something to weigh down the parchment during blind baking
  • Throw the butter to melt in a nice big frying pan. Get a sharp knife (mind fingers!) and chop the white onion up finely, then slice the red onions up thinly. Pop the lot in the pan and cook gently over a low heat for around 30-40mins. Give them a stir every now and then. 
  • When the onions are soft and starting to go all lovely and caramelised take the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool.
  • Whack your oven up to gas 5. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out your pastry and use to line your tart tin. Use a bit of parchment to line the pastry and pop in a few baking beans or some rice and blind bake for 10mins.
  • Take the tin from the oven and take out the parchment and baking beans and pop the back in the oven for 5minutes, it should colour slightly.
  • Get yourself a big ol' bowl and pop in the creme fraiche, eggs and the pinch of nutmeg. Use a pair of scissors snip the chives into the bowl, season everything with salt and pepper and spoon in the cooked onions and around half of the cheese. Make sure everything is mixed thoroughly and pour the lot into the pastry case and scatter over the rest of the cheese.
  • Return the filled pastry case to the oven and bake until golden and set and the mixture no longer has a wobble. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5minutes before you eat it or tuck in when its cold. Grab a fork, a glass of Chablis and tuck in.Yummers.

  • 250g Strawberries
  • 150g Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs and 2 egg whites (I use free-range)
  • 60g Butter
  • 200g Dietary Specials Shortcrust Pastry (take out of the freezer in time to defrost)
  • Electric whisk
  • Tart/flan tin
  • Baking parchment
  • Baking beans or rice/lentils
  • Rolling pin
  • Crank your oven up to gas 5. Lightly flour your worktop and get to work kneading the pastry for a few minutes and then roll out using a floured rolling pin. Line a tart/flan tin with the pastry and then line the pastry with some baking parchment and throw in the baking beans or rice.
  • Pop the pastry in the oven. After around 10mins take it out and remove the parchment and beans and return it to the oven for another 5-7mins. It should be slightly browned but not drastically different in colour. Leave somewhere to cool while you get on with the curd.
  • Lop your strawberries tops off and halve them, popping them in a decent sized pan with a few tbsp's of cold water over a medium heat.
  • Keep the pan at a simmer for 5minutes or until your strawb's are soft. Transfer the strawb's from the pan into a sieve over a clean bowl (must be heatproof) using a slotted spoon. 
  • Get yourself a metal spoon and push your strawb's through the sieve. Add the pulp to the strained strawb syrup left in the pan. 
  • Next you need to make yourself a Bain-Marie which is a beyond preposterous way of saying 'bowl over pan of water'. You will need a bowl that fits into your pan without touching the cm or two of water that's in the bottom. 
  • Bring the water to a simmer over a medium heat and add 50g of sugar, the eggs (beaten before hand) and butter to the bowl and give it all a proper good stir and keep stirring gently and continuously for about 10minutes.
  • Crank the heat up and keeping stirring for another 8-10minutes.Stirring, I know, can get beyond boring...don't be tempted to stop because it will curdle and then you'll be so vexed you'll throw the lot at the wall.
  • When the mixture starts to thicken, take off the heat and pour immediately into the pastry case and set aside while you make the meringue.
  • Get yourself an OCD clean bowl and make sure your whisk is spanking clean too (any grease etc will stop the meringue from rising, and if you stopped stirring when I told you not to with the curd, your already going to be cross without flat meringues).
  • Separate your remaining eggs and plop the whites into the bowl. Using an electric whisk (or a hand whisk if your a martyr to the cause) beat the eggs whites on a medium speed until stiff and foamy. 
  • Add a tbsp at a time of the remaining 100g of sugar and continue to whisk it all until the meringue is very stiff, white and glossy. You can  risk it for a biscuit and try the old 'bowl over the head' trick if you want, but if its forming peaks I'd pass on the biscuit risking!
  • Spoon the meringue over the curd in the pastry case, make sure you can't see any of the curd.
  • Pop back in the oven for 8-10minutes, the meringue should be slightly golden on top. Leave for a few minutes to cool before eating, or gobble it down directly from the oven and burn your entire digestive tract. Claim ownership over this recipe when people tell you how tummy gurgling awesome it is...I'll let you just this one time.


  1. love the way you write.
    Do you know how I get that pastry. is there a list of stockists somewhere please.

  2. Very nice recipes you've got there!
    I use the same pastry for jam tarts.

    Have a good week!
    Barri xx

  3. @shirley Thank-you so much for that lovely compliment :) Where abouts do you live? You can find a list of stockists here

    theres also links on the page to places where you can buy the products online. If your have any problems sourcing the pastry email dietary specials,they are always helpful with inquiries and are prompt to reply to emails etc. Hope thats helpful.
    Genius also do a pastry,which is only avaliable in Tesco's at the moment9and online I think) heres the link for the site

    Hope thats of some help to your Shirley, if you need any help or advice with anything else just leave a comment or email me at

    @Barri hello you! :) Thank-you for your lovely comment,as always :) I love jam tarts,do you use a gelatin or something to make the jam set?
    You too lovely :) x

  4. I use my mum's homemade plum jam, she just follows a basic recipe from 'back in the day', just fruit, ordinary sugar (maybe water too) and nothing else. It's way better than shop jams, thick and delicious and the tarts are rather tasty too.

    Barri xx

  5. oh thanx for the recipe!looks delicious


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