6 TOP PASTRY TIPS…

It really doesn’t matter what type of pastry you are planning to work with, it’s not easy. Filo, shortcrust, puff – you name it, we’ve probably eaten it, and that means you should know what goes into the perfect pastry options. Working with pastry of any kind requires careful handling, a cold kitchen and patience. Lots and lots of patience!

Pastry is delicate. If you’ve had any kind of pie, pasty or tart, you’ll know how easily breakable pastry really is. With the right handling, however, it can be a delicious, buttery accompaniment that holds some of the tastiest fillers.

Even the best Cornish pasty company can tell you that pastry is an art, and with the right working, you can ensure that you are eating the tastiest pastry for your next dish. So, with this in mind we’ve got some of the best pastry tips that are going to change your life. Well, they’ll at least change your next recipe!

1. Always keep an eye on the temperature. If the room is too hot, the pastry becomes sticky. If the room is too cold, it’ll be a pain to try to roll out. If your pastry has sat in the fridge for a while, you need to get it out around 30 minutes before you plan to use it and roll it out. It’ll be easier to work when it’s at room temperature.

2. Keep the room cool. Pastry should be worked with cool, quick hands and if possible, by an open window so that the air flow remains consistent. You don’t want the dough to become too soft or it won’t be nice to eat or cook.

3. Keep an eye on your flour usage. Too much flour on the work surface and you will end up with a dry pastry that breaks and cracks rather than cooks beautifully. It’s tempting to coat the entire surface with flour but try not to do that. You could use two pieces of cling film instead, and this will help you to avoid any flour at all.

4. Chill it. When you’re done with a particular dish but still want to use the remaining pastry for another day, chill it in the fridge and allow the fat to firm back up again. This will be perfect for you to reuse when you’re ready! While we’re talking about chilling the pastry, consider chilling the filling, too. If you pour hot fillings into pastry casings, the pastry will be soggy. Go with cold fillings being poured in to avoid it.

5. Add an egg wash. Glazing the pastry is so important if you want it to be shiny and crispy after you cook it. You can use different glazes to have different effects, and if you want to use filo pastry, you should consider melted butter instead of egg.

6. Always preheat your oven. One of the best tips that you could have with the pastry you’re cooking with is to preheat the oven. A hot oven means that the pastry will cook evenly. If it’s too cool, the butter will melt in the pastry and it’ll collapse.

THREE TIPS TO COOKING GREAT FOOD WITH LIMITED INGREDIENTS…

When you get home after a hard day at work, open the fridge and realise that there’s basically nothing in there, you’ve got two choices. You could go back out again and buy some ingredients or you can try to make do with what you’ve got. You can cook some pretty incredible meals with just a couple of ingredients but there is a certain art to it. Use these three simple tricks to master cooking with limited ingredients.

1. KNOW YOUR FLAVOUR PAIRINGS…

Strawberries and cream, cheese and tomato, lemon and garlic. Some flavours just go well together and they create such a delicious combination that you don’t need much else in your meal. Identifying the food pairings made in heaven is the key to cooking well with a small number of ingredients. You’re going to be experimenting with flavours a lot which is always a good thing, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you can end up with some disasters. If you just start throwing things together without some idea of whether they’ll taste good, you’re probably not going to end up with a nice meal. But if you find those flavour combinations, they’ll stand you in good stead.

2. MAKE USE OF SPICES…

Often, if you don’t have a lot of fresh ingredients to use, you need to rely on flavourings. If, for example, you’ve got a load of beans and pulses in the cupboard and not much else, you can still make a delicious meal out of them if you know how to use herbs and spices properly. The correct combination of a couple of spices can really elevate even the most boring of dishes. The staples that you need in your cupboard are cumin, chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder, oregano, parsley and paprika. You can create all sorts of different flavours using different combinations of those. You should also keep a tub of curry powder in the cupboard, it’s a great shortcut that you can use to make a delicious curry in no time at all. You’ll also need to learn when spices should be added to the pot because some need to go in right at the start while others only need to be cooked for a few minutes to release their flavour. Over or under cooking spices can completely ruin the flavour.

3. BUY VERSATILE INGREDIENTS…

When you’re only working with a couple of ingredients, you want things that you can create lots of different flavours and textures. Buying these versatile ingredients and keeping them in the cupboard will allow you to create a meal out of anything. Eggs are a great one; you can put a boiled or poached egg on top of a meal to add extra protein and nutrients, you can use them in baking or make a sauce with them. Chickpeas are another great ingredient; they make a good substitute for meat in a curry or chilli, you can make them into hummus or you can drizzle them in a bit of oil and bake them for half an hour for a delicious crispy snack. Knowing how to use versatile ingredients will make life so much easier for you.

Follow these 3 tips and you’ll be able to cook amazing food with just a few ingredients.