Quick Portguese Custard Tarts


, , , ,

Ok so this feels like the cartoon version of a seriously good piece of literature.  But there are times that you don’t want to spend hours preparing a tasty treat, and once again that rolled around for me last night.  Another rugby game,  cannelloni in the oven for the main and I thought at half time what better than a little tarty treat.     The trick was to precook during the afternoon then fill and heat quickly at the beginning of half time.   Not only did it all work perfectly but the ABs managed a spectacular record breaking win against the South Africans.   A great night then.


These tarts would be perfect when you have a load of people, and want something quick and easy.   You can play around with the filling.  This one was total cheat from start to finish – but Jamie Oliver has a lovely quick custard filling that is not out of a box – I haven’t tried it,  but just might next time I make these.  Jamie Oliver’s trick with the cinnamon I did use, and boy it is definitely going to be repeated – legend.  Go here for Jamie Oliver’s take, which I just tweaked a little.  (It is so refreshing to watch him in action – so much energy).   Easy too to just add a little something in the middle before you fill with custard (maybe a raspberry, maybe a little chocolate), or finely grate some lemon peel and add it to the custard.

Recipe –  for six small tarts

Take one sheet of sweet short pastry.  (You can also use puff – we just happened to have short).   If it is frozen then allow to sit on bench for around 15 minutes until it has softened.   Sprinkle cinnamon all over the pastry and then roll up into a log shape.   Cut the log into 2, then cut each piece into 3.     Take one of the pieces, push it down with your palm so it is rounded.   You should be able to put that into a small muffin tin so that the pastry comes up the sides.  Squish it around until it fills the space.   Do that with all of the other 5 pieces.  Prick the bottoms of the pastry and then put in fridge for around 15 minutes (or more – it can fit in with whatever timetable you are working to).  Put oven on to around 180C, and when ready put pastry/muffin tin into the oven.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes.  Watch them – I just about lost mine as they were ready earlier than I had thought  –  so our pastry cases ended up quite crunchy –  but still great.

When you take the cases out of the oven you will probably have to push down the pastry with the back of a teaspoon (or fingers – go on – be honest – it’s easier).  You could of course fill each tart with a piece of baking paper and then use some baking beans to hold the pastry down while you cook it. (I preferred just to have another glass of wine).  Once cool take the pastries out of the pan and store.


Just out of the oven – you can see they are just slightly too browned – but luckily not burnt!

When ready to serve pop cases back onto an oven tray,  open a packet of your favourite ready-made custard and pour into pastry cases until level with the top of the case.  Put into a warm oven (around 140C) for about 15 minutes – you want to gently heat them – not overcook the pastry cases.     When ready top with sifted icing sugar, or any other special treat that takes your fancy.   Some grated chocolate could be good.   Voilà. Done.




Rustic Chicken Empanadas


, , , ,


Mr MWCED makes a mean pork empanada, however I had borrowed a cook book from the library and saw a chicken empanada recipe and decided that was worth trying.  The book was one of Annabel Langbein’s, love her style, and is virtually the same as her recipe though I have changed some of the measurements.

The other thing that intrigued me was that this recipe uses Kumara (sweet potato) instead of plain old potato.  Now that in itself is worth trying the recipe for,  though to be honest I don’t usually like Kumara but thought that as it is grated the taste will probably be muted.  And so it was.  A good trick to get fussy people (a la me) to mix up their vege intake.

I’ve called these ‘rustic’ because I didn’t take too much care and attention in ensuring that each pastry was nicely folded and crimped.  I was a bit short of time – we were just about to sit down and watch the ABs play Argentina – and who wants to miss any game time!    We found that 2 empanadas each was Plenty.  Making eight means that we have frozen half of them and they can be a meal another time.    And they definitely will be another meal – as they tasted great.

We ate a coleslaw with the empanadas.  It was a mix of green cabbage and some red cabbage leaves from the garden (though they were dark green), and a couple of ‘red’ spring onions which had sprung from the compost.  Oh, don’t you love the magic of compost when it nutures seeds and then throws up wonderful surprises!

Rustic Chicken Empanadas
Serves 4

500g Chicken mince
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato pate
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 small green pepper, cored and diced
1 medium kumara, peeled and grated
¾ cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
handful of chopped fresh coriander
1 beaten egg, to glaze.

Yoghurt and Olive Oil Pastry
3 cups high-grade white flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
¾ cup olive oil
1 cup natural yoghurt

Pastry: combine flour and salt and add to bowl of food processor. Add oil and yoghurt to flour and mix until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead 10 or 12 times until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for around 30 minutes. You don’t have to use this immediately, it will keep wrapped in the fridge for a week or can be frozen.

Chicken Filling: heat a large frypan and cook chicken in oil until no longer pink, breaking it up into a fine crumb with the ack of a spoon. Add grlic, tomato paste, cumin, chilli and sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Add green pepper, kumara, water, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until kumara is soft, about 5 minutes. Mixture should not be sloppy, so cook for a bit longer if necessary.   At end of cooking add coriander.


Chicken mix before adding liquid

Preheat oven to 180C fanbake and line an oven tray with baking paper. Form pastry into a log and divide into 8 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece out to a circle around 20cm diameter (about the size of a bread and butter plate). Place 2 tablespoons of mixture on one half of each circle, leaving a 1cm pastry rim.

Fold pastry in half to enclose filling and then roll in and crimp edges to seal firmly. Brush with egg wash and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or cooled. Can be stored in fridge, cooked, for up to 4 days or freeze then thaw and reheat.


Coleslaw:  No measurements –  just chop finely some green and red cabbage (though as I said earlier my red cabbage leaves were green – go figure).  Add to cabbage a pinch of sugar and salt.  Mix this through cabbage – best with your hands.  Add chopped onion, red pepper and anything else you would like.  I would normally add some grated carrot but we were carrot-less. Throw in some chopped parsley too.  Then make a mayo.  Mine was a mix of cider vinegar (about 1 teaspoon), some sour cream, some mayonnaise and a big dollop of dijonnaise, followed by salt and pepper to taste.




Roasted Lemon Chicken Thighs & Veg


, , , , ,

Those of you who see most of my posts know that (a) I am mostly a weekend cook; (b) I love recipes that are quick and also one pan and (c) chicken is on the menu OFTEN!

Yesterday was one of those end of winter days; grey, constant drizzling rain, chilly and just generally no fun.  We felt like something simple but warming, and I definitely felt like something simple after spending most of the afternoon snoozing on the couch.

This recipe certainly fits the bill.   I found it on The Woks of Life.  Wow do I love that site.  I have bookmarked so many recipes to try.    Having gone to the supermarket prior to deciding what to cook I also had some vegetables other than just potato, so we also have parsnip and carrot in this dish.     Mostly I purchase skinless & boneless chicken thighs,  however for this recipe skin on, bone-in is much much better.  (Though I resisted the urge and left the skin on the side of the plate!).

Be assured ‘simple’ also means ‘tasty’.   It only takes a few minutes to put together but ends up being a pan of deliciousness and easily translated up or down in terms of catering numbers.  In fact you don’t really need to measure or weigh anything.

Recipe below is enough to feed 2.  I allowed 2 chicken thighs per person (with one leftover so I can have a chicken sandwich the next day).  The recipe this is inspired by allows 1 chicken thigh per person – which might be fine if you have other courses or just want a small amount.  (I’m afraid mostly neither of those things happen in our household).    If cooking for a large number of people you may need to use 2 pans.


Lemon Chicken Thighs & Veg


Serving Number:  2

  • 5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • approximately 4 washed potatoes (I left the skin on), cut into 1″ chunks,  one parsnip and one carrot, peeled and cut into smallish chunks.
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled (or however many you want – though probably not a lot more)
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C and season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a roasting pan set over two burners at medium high heat.
  2. Sear the chicken skin-side down in the roasting pan. After the chicken thighs have been searing for about 5-7 minutes, flip them over. Add the vegetables and stir them in the oil. Add the lemon slices and garlic cloves, tossing everything together so the vegetables and garlic are well-coated in olive oil.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.   At around 2/3 of the way through you may want to check the dish and pour off some of the juices if it looks like the vegetables are ‘swimming’.   (Don’t know what your experience is, but our chicken seems to have a lot of excess water which comes out in cooking.  Note to self: buy free-range organic chicken.)
  4. Remove from the oven and stir in the herbs. Serve.

We served this with a very simple leafy green salad with some chopped tomato and red capsicum –  sprinkled with raspberry vinegar and balsamic syrup.

Plus – I can’t help it, I love a bit of aioli with potato.   But we didn’t have any and it was 5 minutes until dinner was ready.  So I made the following:

1/4 cup mayonnaise (Mr MWCED and I prefer Best Foods)
1/4 cup Sour Cream
a dollop of pesto
a dollop of dijonaisse
salt & pepper to taste

Mix it all together.  (You could also ‘steal’ a clove or 2 of garlic from your roasting dish – they will be nicely mushy by now – and add – I definitely suggest you consider it).   Don’t be tempted to scoff it all  before you take the dinner out of the oven.