Rarebit Puffs

I generally steer clear of processed foods, but I have two big weaknesses: pork pies and cheese puffs. If I’m travelling and find myself hungry it is one of these that I reach for from the cooler in the petrol station. I haven’t ever tackled making pork pies (yet) but I do make delicious cheese puffs. Now all I have to do is remember to make some before setting off on a long trip…

These are wonderful as they are, but you can add anything you like. Caramelised red onions, or some ham – or both – are my favourite additions, but these are so simple to make you can experiment to your heart’s content. The next time I make these I intend to try adding some dry, roughly mashed potato – no butter or milk added – to the cheese mixture.

You can also make these as individual slices, just cut the pastry into the appropriate number of smaller oblongs – not forgetting that for eight slices you will need sixteen oblongs. I did this to begin with, but I found that for me there wasn’t quite enough filling in each one to make them truly satisfying.

puffs.jpg

RECIPE serves 6

30g unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, crushed

100g mascarpone

50g Parmesan, finely grated

2 tsp English mustard

1 block of all-butter puff pastry

1 egg, beaten


METHOD

Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the garlic for a minute or so until it is just golden. Tip the butter and garlic into a mixing bowl and set aside for a little while, until it is cool enough to not melt the mascarpone.

Heat your oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas 7.

Mix the mascarpone, Parmesan, mustard and a little salt and pepper into the butter and garlic.

Roll out the pastry until it is about 4mm thick (if you are using a pre-rolled sheet it should already be at this thickness). Cut the rolled out pastry into two equal oblongs. When you cut the pastry, bring the knife directly down rather than pulling it through, to avoid the pastry being dragged and interfering with the way it rises.

Spread the cheese mixture equally over one of the pastry halves, leaving a good inch clear all around the edges. Brush the exposed edges of the pastry with some of the beaten egg, then lay the other half of the pastry carefully over the top and firmly crimp the top and bottom edges of the pastry together. Brush with the remainder of the beaten egg, then finely grate a little more Parmesan over the top. Pierce the top of the pastry case a couple of times with the point of a knife, to allow steam to escape, then bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes until puffed up and golden.

Leave to cool for a few minutes, then cut into portions and serve alongside a crisp salad.

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