Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sardine tarts

Given that we usually pig out on the weekends with friends, weeknight meals are light and simple affairs for us (at least we try to keep it that way). After a long day at work, I don't fancy labouring over dinner as well. As such, our kitchen is well-stocked with items that are quick to put together - a hefty assortment of fresh veggies and fruit, eggs, canned items such as olives, fishes, chickpeas & black beans, pasta, frozen puff pastry sheets and a lovely mix of leftover cheeses. These have become pantry staples from which I know I can whip something tasty up in less than 30 minutes.

I am especially partial to puffed pastry - it is so versatile and makes everything taste better (as all things with butter do..naturellement). Even with these delightfully slick canned sardines. I adore the oily fishiness of sardines, but for people who don't, the soft onion base does help to cut it a bit. You can make a big tart for sharing, but I am smitten with these pretty miniature versions - they fit so neatly on to a plate!

These golden crusty tarts only take 10 minutes of prep time and another 20 minutes in the oven. Bon appetit!

Sardine tarts for two (or perhaps one)

You will need:

1 frozen puff pastry sheet
1 can of sardines in olive oil
Half of a large onion, diced / sliced (however you want it)
A tbsp or two of cream
Thyme (a sprig or two)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Butter & olive oil for frying the onions
1 beaten egg for glazing puff pastry sheet

Preheat the oven to 220degC (as per the instructions for the puff pastry sheets). Take out puff pastry sheets from freezer and let thaw.
Onion Base:

Drizzle olive oil and melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Sautee the onions until soft and translucent. Add in thyme and fry for a couple more minutes; season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat (if throwing in sprigs, remember to take out sprigs before laying on puff pastry). Let cool completely before adding cream. Mix well.
Assembling the tarts

Cut thawed puff pastry sheets into desired size - I cut mine into 4 squares exactly. Using a knife, lightly trace a 1cm border around each section to allow the edges to puff up. Lay the sautéed onions in the centre square you just traced out. Cut each sardine into half lengthwise and layer on top of the onions. Sprinkle a bit more salt and pepper to taste.
Glaze the borders of the puff pastry sections with the beaten egg. Place tarts in the oven and bake until the edges are puffed and golden, ~ 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homemade Yogurt - Attempt #1

Alright, almost all blogs that I have come across on homemade yogurt begin something like this:

"I don't know why it took me this long to try making my own yogurt...blah blah blah"

What can I say... *smacks forehead* I can't find a phrase more apt than this.

Between the both of us, we consume almost a kilo of Greek yogurt fortnightly, sometimes even weekly. Considering how a 2L bottle of milk costs half of that, that is quite a tidy little sum that we can save on yogurt!

For my first attempt, I used UHT full cream milk simply because we had some on hand and because some blogs seem to say it is perfectly okay to do so. I mixed in a bit of cream as well since most recipes seem to call for the addition of milk powder as a thickening agent and it's something I'd rather not use.

The recipe I've adapted is from Not Quite Nigella, whose blog I love and have been following since I was living in Sydney. What I've got from the UHT stuff is a thinner yogurt - which actually worked out a treat as it made for a refreshing icy salted drink on what seems like a bout hot, dry weather in Singapore. If this isn't your cuppa tea, apparently you can try taking it a step further by converting it to ricotta cheese. As for me, I'm happy just turning this lot into a pitcher of cold, cold concoction, perhaps jazzed up with a bit of fresh mint.

Can't wait to experiment with different types of milk. Watch this space!