I found out a "neat" thing today - chestnuts explode! Fortunately, I have a lovely husband who is currently cleaning my oven while I sit on the couch. If I had bothered to google roasting chestnuts before I popped them into the oven, I would've found out that I should've cut them first. Whoops!
On Saturday, the highly entertaining PG kindly hosted the second Bloggers Banquet. Oooooh pressure! What do you cook for people who love food and know a lot about it? I had a feeling that there would be lots of sweet items, so I went down the savoury route.
One of my items was bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I've owned a copy of Richard Bertinet's Crust (not an affiliate link) for a couple of months, and so far all I have made are bagels. To be fair though, none of the bread recipes in this book are quick and easy. This was my second attempt at the bagel recipe, and initially it all seemed to be going rather well. The starter dough fermented in the fridge for a day, and then on Friday night I added the rest of the ingredients and worked the dough as instructed. The dough started to come together and was very light and lively. I let it rest for 30 minutes, then separated it into small balls and shaped into bagels. The bagels then proved for an hour.
When I came back to them, the bagels had risen but seemed a bit limp. But I was too far gone by this stage and had to keep going - the bagels got a brief boiling then baking. They tasted okay (I think), and had the chewy texture, but they were a bit flaccid and some were wrinkly.
Obviously I haven't quite mastered the art of bagel making yet, but I will keep trying!
Fortunately I had another item to redeem myself! The recipe for the tarts is from Cuisine.com.au and the shortcrust pastry recipe from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion. My bread making skills are a bit lacking, but at least I can make pastry! It was 11pm by the time I rolled out the pastry, and despite the late hour and my haphazardness, the pastry was still light and slightly flakey.
Onion tartlet recipe from Cuisine.com.au.
From Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion
Will line up to a 26cm tin
180g unsalted butter
240g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
Remove butter from refrigerator 30 minutes before making pastry.
Sift flour and salt onto a marble pastry slab or workbench.
Chop buter into smallish pieces and toss lightly in flour.
Lightly rub to combine partly.
Make a well in centre and pour in water.
Using a pastry scraper, work water into flour until you have a very rough heap of buttery lumps of dough.
Using the heel of your hand, quickly smear pastry away from your across the workbench. It will combine lightly.
Gather together, then press quickly into a flat cake and dust with a little flour.
Wrap pastry in plastic film and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
When required, roll out pastry, dusting generously with flour as necessary.
Line your required tin and blind bake.