Mozzarella, sun dried tomato, and fresh basil pasties. All the flavours of a caprese salad wrapped up in buttery, flakey and golden rough puff pastry. Delicious warm and melting straight from the oven, or cooled and packed into a basket as the perfect picnic treat.
Today I bring you pasties, and an exciting bit of life news!
In just over 7 weeks time we will be packing up our life here in our little corner of Asia, and taking ourselves off on a new adventure. We’ll be leaving Hong Kong, at least for a little while. We leave in September to travel back to the UK overland via a fair bit of South East Asia, China, Mongolia and Russia, and be back in England just in time for Christmas at home. Mum is already stocking up on the port!
Over the past two weeks we’ve started really preparing for this trip that we’ve been talking about for so many months, packing up the house, dismantling 4 years worth of life. Things are getting real now! When we came out here neither of us owned any furniture, what things we did have we were able to leave with our parents, and we came out here with not much more than a backpack each. Somehow since arriving we’ve acquired a house full of things that now have to be sold, or packaged into big cardboard boxed and put on a ship back to the UK. We’ve started selling the bigger things that can’t come back with us. I keep going to put things on book cases that aren’t there anymore, or trying to find where on earth the cling film has been moved to now there aren’t draws in the kitchen. I guess its a good transition for life on the road!
It’s a crazy, busy, exciting, terrifying time.
These pasties, in contrast, are quick, simple and easy. They’re also very tasty. We ate them for lunch one day last week in between a trip to the China visa office trying for the 4th time to sort our visa for China, and a trip to the post office to send off another big parcel.
The combination of flavours in a caprese salad is my absolute summer favourite, so fresh and bright and flavoursome. Today they come wrapped up, melted and delicious in home made buttery rough puff pastry. I’ve substituted fresh tomatoes for sun dried tomatoes to stop the pastry becoming too wet and soggy. The deeper flavour lends itself well to the pastry too.
Don’t be afraid of making your own pastry. The recipe is really simple and the results are so much better than shop bought pastry. Butter, flakey and golden. The recipe i’ve used for my pastry comes from Gordan Ramsey and is available on BBCgoodfood. Even in a very hot humid kitchen I got good results.
These pasties are wonderful eaten warm straight out of the oven while the cheese is still soft and stringy. They’re also perfect to cool down and take out summer picnicking.
Mozerella, Sun dried Tomato, and Basil Caprese Pasties
for the pastry
250g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
250g cold butter, cubed
150ml cold water
for the filling
100g sun dried tomatoes
large handful fresh basil
150g grated mozzarella (you can either grate yourself from a hard block, or buy it ready grated from the supermarket)
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg (for egg wash)
Weigh your flour into a large bowl. Stir through the salt.
Add the butter to the bowl and loosely rub it into the flour. You’re not aiming to rub it in completely like you might if you were making scones, you want to leave large chunks of butter still there. Essentially you’re just mixing it up with the flour a bit. You need to still see butter if you’re going to get marbles of butter that create those lovely puffy layers in the oven.
Start slowly adding your cold water, mixing it into the flour and butter with a table knife. Keep going until you’ve formed a loose, shaggy dough. You may not need all the water.
Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, place it on a lightly floured surface. Here you’re going to start rolling and folding it to get the layers of butter running through the pastry.
Roll the dough into a rectangle measuring around 20cmx50cm. Try and keep it as a neat, straight rectangle.
Fold the top third of the dough down to the centre, then fold the bottom fold up over that. You should have a thick book of pastry.
Give it a quarter turn so you are looking at the side of the pastry.
Roll out into a rectangle again, using the same dimensions as before.
Again, fold the top third into the centre, and the bottom third over the top.
Give another quarter turn and repeat one more time.
Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes before rolling out to use.
While the dough is resting, make your filling.
Put the grated mozzarella into a bowl. Using your hands, rip the basil leaves up and add to the bowl. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, drained of any oil they may have come in, and throw them into the bowl. Stir together and season generously with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Take your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out into a large rectangle.
Use a small side plate as a template. Place it on the pastry and cut around with a knife. You will need four circles to make four pasties.
Spoon a generous heap of filling into the middle of each pastry circle.
Fold the pastry over to seal in the filling. Use a fork to crimp down the edges, then use a knife to cut a small hole in the top of each pasty to let out the steam as they cook.
Brush each pasty with egg wash.
Place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof baking paper and bake for 20 minutes until puffed up and golden.
Eat straight from the oven or allow to cool completely on a wire rack.