Friday, 23 November 2012

Foodie Treats For Friends: Rocky Road and Savoury Palmiers

It has already been one whole month since Chris and I first visited our friends Lyd and Rob in Shropshire, and today we are off there again for a weekend of  frivolity at Ludlow's Medieval Festival. Instead of taking the regular bunch of flowers and wine as a thank you for having us, I thought it would be nice to get into the kitchen and cook up some foodie treats instead. After all, I have lots of time on my hands at the moment! Having scoured the Internet for good festive gift ideas, I finally settled on a savoury and a sweet option; savoury palmiers and rocky road bites.

I started with the rocky road bites as they were quick and easy and needed some time to set in the fridge anyway. The recipe is not only uber simple but also delightfully childlike. With an ingredients list of chocolate, marshmallows, raisins, biscuits and rice krispies, it took me back to those playful days of cooking as a little girl; gooey chocolatyness everywhere! It's a great one to do with the kids as there is basically no chopping involved and very little heat either. I adapted a Nigella recipe for this one and it is rich and scrummy!

For a large serving (about 28 good size bites) you will need:

  • 300g of dark or milk chocolate (I used a mixture of both)
  • 125g of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 150g of rich tea biscuits (could use other types for different flavours)
  • 100g of marshmallows
  • 50g of raisins
  • 100g of rice krispies
  • A little icing sugar for dusting
  • A foil tray. Nigella suggests a 24cm square but I just got what I could find and made it up from there. The foil makes it incredibly easy to pop out and cut up once it's cooled.
  • Lots of friends to help you eat it all!

Firstly, melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup together in a bowl. Once that is done, add the crushed up rich tea biscuits, marshmallows, raisins and  rice krispies to the chocolate mix and fold them in . I was worried at first that there wouldn't be enough chocolate to coat all of the ingredients but it mixes together beautifully and felt fluffy and light under my spatula.

Once everything is thoroughly mixed together, simply place the crunchy, gooey, chewy mixture into the foil tray, smooth it down and pop it in the fridge to set. Simples!

After a couple of hours (or even overnight if you like), the rocky road will have set and you will be able to easily pop it out of its foil tray. Place on a flat surface and slice into bite-size chunks, dust with icing sugar and you are good to go. Perfect with a cup of tea on a wintry afternoon...or as a post-dinner bite of sweetness...or really at any time of day!

Once the rocky roads were safely in the fridge it was time to turn to the savoury palmiers. I have never really cooked with pastry much. Apart from the odd quiche I have always been a bit nervous of it and not quite sure what to do with it, but with the ready made stuff so easy to find these days, there really is no excuse not to get involved. I decided to go savoury for these so that we could nibble on  them with a drink tonight to toast the coming weekend. Lydia loves all things Italian so I thought I'd create a taste of Italy with pesto, goats cheese and sun dried tomatoes. 

To make about 24 of these lovely canapes, you will need:

  • 1 packet of shop bought filo pastry
  • 1 small jar of pesto
  • 1 small packet of goats cheese
  • 1/2 a jar of sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Firstly, take your filo pastry and lay it out flat on a floured surface. Thankfully mine was already the right size, but if not, roll it out to about 24cm wide and 30cm long.

Cover the pastry with pesto and then sprinkle with crumbled goats cheese and chopped up sun dried tomatoes. I have to say it looked very pretty at this stage but unfortunately I forgot to take a photo so you'll just have to have a go yourself!

Next step is the folding, to get that lovely fan shape of the palmier leaf. Working from the short ends of the pastry, fold each end halfway to the centre. Then fold both ends again towards the centre so that the folded edges almost touch. Finally fold once more so that one side is entirely on top of the other, and press down firmly. You should now have a rather flat sausage with lots of folded layers of pastry inside. You then cover this in cling film  and pop it in the fridge for 30mins to chill.

In the mean time, preheat the oven to 200°C and get some baking trays ready, lined with baking paper. Once the pastry has cooled, cut the sausage into strips of about half a centimetre, place them face up on the baking tray allowing enough space between each one for them to fluff up, and pop them in the oven for 14mins, until golden brown. After a few minutes in the oven I could see them start to fan out beautifully; all very exciting. I was delighted with the end result and just hope that they taste as good this evening as they did straight out of the oven!

I really enjoyed making these little treats and am keen to develop my repertoire of foodie gifts. They are so personal and are great fun to make to boot. If you have any suggestions do let me know! In the mean time, happy cooking...I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have.

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