Chinese Brisket Pastry Puffs

Chinese Sticky Brisket Pastry Puffs

Chinese Sticky Brisket Pastry Puffs

It’s nearly the time of year for the big Picnic Event, it’s not really a picnic more like scoffing in the car.  Every March The Glam Twenty Somethings take off in two cars, stuffed with ski boots and gear, for the French Alps.  This is a twenty four hour trip of pretty solid driving and snacks are needed.  Usually spicy sausage rolls are requested and however many I make it’s never enough.

Chinese Sticky Brisket In Puff Pastry

Chinese Sticky Brisket In Puff Pastry

This year I thought I’d add these Chinese Brisket pastry puffs inspired by something I bought from the Ginger Pig last week in London.  Imagine just turning a corner on and there it is.  I had a bit of a shopping frenzy at the fabulous butcher’s counter, tiny lamb cutlets, perfect for fast cooking  and beef short ribs rich and delicious after a long slow cook.  There’s really nothing to match wonderful corn fed French chickens, juicy and full of flavour.  Then I moved to the cooked food and bought Massaman curry, spicy and aromatic, tiny quail egg scotch eggs and a flaky spicy little puff filled with Chinese flavoured pork, rich and sweet.  It was this that inspired the five spice and ketchup manis flavours of these beef puffs.

Chinese Brisket Pastry Puffs Straight From The Oven

Chinese Brisket Pastry Puffs Straight From The Oven

Tomorrow will be filled with the aroma of sausage rolls and these savoury brisket puffs will be packed up, in two parcels – one for each car, for the extended winter picnic.

RECIPE

Chinese Brisket Pastry Puffs

Makes 18

Sticky Brisket Pastry Puffs

Chinese Sticky Brisket Pastry Puffs

Chinese Brisket Pastry Puffs

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 Large Onion (finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Five spice powder
  • 3 Star anise
  • 40g Fresh ginger (thinly sliced lengthways)
  • 150ml Ketchup Manis
  • 2 tablespoons Light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dark soy sauce
  • 300ml warm water (from the kettle)
  • 750g Beef brisket (cut in to large chunks)
  • 2 sheets Bought Puff pastry 320g
  • 1 Egg (Lightly beaten)
  • Sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven 160c, 140c fan, gas mark 2, 300f
In a large pot that has a lid, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, without colouring until softened then add the garlic. Cook for a further 3 minutes then add the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the ginger slices and then the remainder of the ingredients except the beef. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add the beef and cover with a piece of grease proof or baking parchment directly onto the food and place the lid on top. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until it pulls apart easily.
Step 2
Once cooked remove from the oven and shred the beef, using two forks to pull it apart. Set aside. Remove the whole spices and ginger from the remaining sauce and put the shredded beef back into the pot with the sauce. Mix well and leave to go cold.
Step 3
Making Chinese Brisket Pastry Puffs
Once cold, preheat the oven to 200c, 180c fan, Gas mark 4, 350f. Unroll the pastry and cut into thirds horizontally and vertically giving you 9 rectangles from each sheet, giving you a total of 18. Using a dessert spoon put a small scoop of the beef on one side of each rectangle, fold the pastry in half and using a little water seal closed and press the edges with a fork. Brush with egg and place on baking paper on a baking sheet. and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven brush with egg again and sprinkle with the sesame seeds place back in the oven and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and eat either hot or cold.

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Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Squares Of Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Squares Of Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Birthdays, when I was a child, always involved elaborately iced cakes that took my mother days of messing about with with royal icing and more than a few expletives.  There would be brightly coloured little waxed paper bowls of strawberry flavoured jelly and homemade vanilla biscuits, crispy and cracked across the top.  The rest of the year there wasn’t a cake or biscuit to be seen, apart from the occasional Fig Roll.  Consequently most of my baking was done with my grandmother.  It was always exciting to watch as she made light springy butterfly cakes, with sweet vanilla buttercream or rich dark chocolate cake, cut into thin slices and eaten with ice cream.

Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

When I was about eight my uncle and aunt came back from France and moved into their new house.  Most of their belongings had been in storage for the best part of nine months.  With the boxes unpacked and the brand new 1960s kitchen fitted, my aunt made some shortbread.  It was the first time I’d had homemade shortbread and it was a really big deal.

The fan shaped slices sparkled with sugar and were crisp and soapy when I bit into it.  The overwhelming taste of soap almost made me spit it out, but politeness made me force it down.  Several soapy mouthfuls later, I declined another slice and made an excuse to go home.  I wasn’t sure if shortbread just did taste like that, after all I hadn’t had it before.

Bars Of Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Bars Of Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

It wasn’t until much later in the day that the soapy slices were thrown in the bin and my aunt offered to make me some more, explaining that the flour had been in the same box as the washing powder whilst in storage.  I wasn’t keen on trying it again and avoided all things shortbread until I went away to school some years later and Thames Mud And Barges became a favourite pudding.

Chunky Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Chunky Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Since then I’ve made a lot of shortbread, chocolate versions, classic versions and my latest- pistachio and cardamom, all soap free. I like my shortbread chunky and chewy in the centre, if you like crisper shortbread, half the recipe and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

RECIPE

Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Makes 20 squares

Squares Of Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Squares Of Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread

Serves 20
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts, Wheat
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
By author Glamorous Glutton

Ingredients

  • 120g Pistachios
  • 375g Plain flour
  • 5 Cardamoms (crushed and papery skin removed)
  • 150g Caster suger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 300g Cold unsalted butter

Note

This makes a chunky bar or square of shortbread.  If you like your shortbread thinner and crispy, half the recipe and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven 180c, 160c fan, gas mark 4, 350f
Place 90g of the pistachios in a blender and whizz until just chopped fine. Do not over blend or they will become too oily. Place in a large bowl with the ground cardamoms, flour, sugar and salt and stir well to combine.
Step 2
Pistachio And Cardamom Shortbread Ready For The Oven, Topped With Crushed Pistachios
Chop the butter into cubes and add to the mixture, rubbing the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until a dough is formed. It will be quite crumbly and will need pressing together. Place in a 23cm/9inch square baking tin and lightly press down. Roughly chop the remainder of the pistachios and scatter over the shortbread and press down firmly ensuring that the mixture is even in the tin. There is no need to grease the tin because of the amount of butter in the mixture.
Step 3
Place in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until just turning golden brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin. Then cut into bars or squares and leave to cool completely.

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San Benedetto Fish Market In Cagliari Sardinia

Red Mullet

Red Mullet

“Sei qui! Sei qui”. the cab driver called over his shoulder, pointing with a bent nicotine stained finger, “Mercado San Benedetto.”  We’d arrived at the largest covered fish market in Europe, tucked away in the back streets of Caglairi in Sardinia.

The massive almost windowless 1950s brick building stretched across the street for a full block in both directions.  Small market stalls selling leathers in unlikely colours dotted the pavement outside.  Groups of Italian men, cigarettes bouncing on their lips as they talked, gathered in groups, chatting and gesticulating.  Ladies laden with wicker baskets stuffed with bread, cheese and bright coloured vegetables hurried across the street, disappearing down the cobbled alleys of the Old Town.

Pizette spoglia

Pizette sfoglia

We stepped through the narrow doorway momentarily fazed by the size of the place, only to be urged on by the nudges and tutting from behind us.  There was serious shopping to be done and we were, after all, only sight seeing.  Urged forward we headed in the direction of the waft of fresh baking and decided to leave the basement for later.  Large, dark baked, crispy crusted loaves dusted with flour were stacked beside cellophane bags of Amaretto, soft almond discs with cracked domed tops, all the sweeter for being freshly made.  The convoluted shapes of the Ziriccasa with the zig zagged fine dough filled with bright coloured honey based filling or Sapa a darker wine must filling, crammed one tray. Whilst the traditional Sardinian Pizzette Sfoglia  a circular crisp puff pastry pie, stuffed with tomato and mozzarella filled another.

Left to right: Casizoludi Di Bidui, Gran Pandana, Fiori Sardo

Left to right: Casizoludi Di Bidui, Gran Pandano, Fiore Sardo

Shelves of local cheeses, pungent and musty, filled another stand.  Large rounds of Fiore Sardo with a golden rind and a sour damp smell but creamy and delicious. Casizoludi Bidui, pouches of wax covered cheese made form the milk of Sardinian Modicane cows. Pecarino Nuovo used for desserts like the Seadas, parmesan and mozzarella all packed onto counters vying for space and proffered for tasting.

Butcher's Counter With Pigs heads For sale

Butcher’s Counter With Pigs heads For sale

The fluorescent lights of the butchers counter’s on the far side of the market cast a hard glare over everything and an exaggerated glow over the meat.  Bright red beef steaks and dappled Italian fennel sausages shared space with suckling pigs, intestines, trotters and pigs heads.  This is true nose to tail eating and when traditionally prepared, very tasty.

Tiny Crabs Stuffed With Roe

Tiny Crabs Stuffed With Roe

Finally we ventured to the lower floor, the waft of fish creeping up the stairs to greet us.  It wasn’t unpleasant but there was no mistaking this was a permanent fish market.   Shiny eyed with some fish still flapping, the myriad of choice was amazing. Eels swirling around each other with gentle bubbles breaking the surface of the water.  Teeny crabs in constantly moving mounds celebrating their last moments of freedom before being plucked from the box and served in the shell with bright orange roe, like a dolls house sized delicacy.

Octapus Draped Over The Fish Counter

Octopus Draped Over The Fish Counter

Slow moving octopus draped themselves over the edge of the stone and stainless steel counters.  Small sharks lay belly up ready for gutting and mounds of mussels and mullet raised the question of just how much fish do the Cagliari eat?  Ten kilometres out of town we were told it was too far from the sea to be served fish, much of this produce must be going to restaurants and hotels.

Fish Counter In San Benedetto Market

Fish Counter In San Benedetto Market

Finally we stepped out into the sunshine and the noisy street.  We contemplated a taxi but decided, like the laden ladies before us, to take the cobbled alley ways down to the harbour and our hotel.

From Left to right: Herbs And Vegetables, Globe Artichokes, Courgette Flowers, Large Black Funghi

From Left to right: Herbs And Vegetables, Globe Artichokes, Courgette Flowers, Large Black Funghi

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