One of my favourite memories of Italy is called merenda.
Merenda is an afternoon snack, nothing as fussy as afternoon tea, just a simple, sweet snack to tide you over to dinner time. The time for merenda is usually about 4 ish and you can eat anything from fresh bread with jam, biscuits, budino or crostata if you are lucky enough that someone had the thought to make one. Normally washed down with a fruit tea, juice or espresso.
Crostata is basically a tart, a big tart.
Made with a base of pasta frolla and covered with your favourite jam, in this case I used the Apricot jam we bought back from France last week.
The quantity of pastry given here is enough for two crostata so I have frozen the other half for next week’s dopo scuola merenda.
The beauty of a crostata in the house is it’s good for merenda, as already mentioned but also good for a slice with a cup of tea whilst watching tv in the evening like husband and I did last night. It’s good for breakfast instead of toast and it’s good for elevenses too.
Make one and tell me when you enjoyed a slice, here’s the simple recipe which I am also submitting to Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off Week 5 which follows the GBBO on the TV, this week was pies and tarts so Apricot Crostata here you go. Head over to her blog for lots of other fantastic ideas.
Apricot crostata - or massive apricot jam tart
Author: Marianne Weekes
Recipe type: Dessert
- 300 g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 150g butter
- 130g sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 800g apricot jam
- egg to brush the pastry with
- Place the flour, salt and butter in a mixer and whizz until it's like a breadcrumb mixture.
- Turn into a bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest and eggs.
- Mix well together with your hands until a pastry is formed.
- Cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- Take your pie dish (I have a removable bottom one) and coat the insides with butter and then flour to prevent the pastry sticking.
- Roll out the pastry until ¾ mm thick, roll it around your rolling pin and transfer over the pie dish.
- Push gently into place making sure it's not stretched and trim the edges for a neat finish.
- Prick the bottom a few times with a fork and then cover with the jam spreading evenly over the base.
- With the remaining pastry cut long strips about 1cm thick to make the lattice pattern on top.
- Place your strips about 3cms apart first one way and then go over the top in the other direction.
- Trim the edges and push to the top of the jam for a neat edge.
- Brush with eggwash and place in a preheated oven at 180C for about 45 minutes
I’m also linking up to
I’m sure it must be written somewhere that as the first autumn rain falls and the grey skies replace the blue it is time to enjoy a good old British pie.
For my second attempt at the #GreatBloggersBakeOff the theme is pies following the Great British Bake Off on BBC2, I have chosen a classic favourite of mine – Beef and Stilton pie with a few personal tweaks to the original recipe and I’ve also made it busy mum friendly aka ‘ready made puff pastry’. The flavours combine to give you a delicious burst in every mouthful. Enjoy!
I used my slow cooker to prepare the meat but it can be cooked on the stove in a casserole following the same method, just stir frequently and simmer for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours until the beef is tender.
Beef and Stilton Pie | perfect comfort food
Author: Marianne Weekes
Recipe type: dinner
- 3 tbsp seasoned flour, (salt, pepper, mustard powder, mixed herbs, paprika)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 kg braising steak, cut into chunks
- 2 onions
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 100 g chestnut mushrooms
- 1 handful of fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 can of beer – (I used Leffe this time)
- 500 ml beef stock
- 75 g stilton cheese, crumbled
- 500 g frozen puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
- flour, for dusting
- 1 egg, for glazing
- Place your seasoned flour in a large bowl, add the cubed beef and coat on all sides
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the beef until browned all over. Add the meat to your slow cooker turned on high or casserole
- Return the frying pan to the heat and sweat the onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft. Add to the slow cooker or casserole.
- Add a generous handful of thyme and peppercorns to the slow cooker, add 1 can of beer and the beef stock, cover and cook on high for 2 hours followed by low for 3 hours or if using a casserole, simmer for 1 and ½ to 2 hours until the beef is tender.
- Strain off half of the cooking liquid and keep to one side to make a gravy for serving. Crumble the stilton onto the meat mix and stir until melted. Check the seasoning and set to one side to cool.
- Grease your pie dish ready. Dust your surface and rolling pin with flour. Using ⅔ of the pack for the base and the other ⅓ for the lid, roll out the base. Using the rolling pin to pick up the pastry base, transfer to the greased pie dish, make sure the pastry is not pulled but fits the dish well. Once satisfied, cut around the dish to tidy up making sure to leave a slight excess leaning over to account for any shrinkage.
- Fill the base with the beef and stilton mixture. Brush around the top of the pastry with beaten egg ready to seal the lid on. Roll out the top on a dusted surface and transfer to the pie using your rolling pin. Pinch along the edge to ensure the pie is sealed. Make a slit in the centre for the steam to escape and slash the top lightly to decorate.
- Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining beaten egg. Bake in a pre-heated oven set to 200°C for about 25 mins until pastry is golden brown and filling is piping hot.
- Serve with mash, vegetables and gravy – using the remainder of your cooking sauce.
#GBBO so far
1. Bejeweled Brownies – a real hit in our house