Black Cherry Puff Pies

We are still making the most of the stone fruit season here and these big black cherries were so juicy and sweet they were almost too good to put in a pie, well almost!

Cherry Hand Pies

Pitting cherries is always a messy business even with a cherry stoner, but there is something quite satisying when you fire the stones out of the cherries once you get going. Anyone else eat the little circles of cherry that come out attached to the stones, no, me neither!

I must admit that I did cheat and used not only puff pastry from the supermarket, but the ready rolled stuff too. The all-butter puff pastry you can get is really very good and so much easier than making it yourself.

The pies themselves are really simple, with not too many ingredients.  The buttery, flaky layers and super sweet juicy cherries make for a perfect summer baked treat and would be a welcome addition to any picnic.

Now the heatwave has released its grip on us (for now anyway) the oven can come back on!

Ingredients:
2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry, or you can buy the blocks and roll yourself, or of course home made would be best!  Keep refrigerated until ready to use
1 large punnet of black cherries – I bought a 500g pack
1 small lemon
1/4 cup sugar – use a little more if the cherries are very tart
1tbs corn flour/starch
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract (optional)
1 egg and a little milk to make a wash
Demerara/Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Cherry Hand Pies1

Method:
Place the pitted and halved cherries into a pan with the sugar, juice from the lemon, corn flour and the extracts. Stir everything together to combine.

At this point, you could mix the lemon juice and corn flour separately and then add, but I’ve never had any lumps just adding everything in together.

Heat the cherry mixture gently and stir everything together, taking care not to break up the fruit. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cooks.

Cook on a low heat for around 5 minutes, until the cherries soften a little and the juices are thickened.

Leave the pie filling to cool and then place in the refrigerater until cold. You can’t add hot pie filling to a cold crust as bad things will happen to the pastry.

Place the chilled, rolled out pastry on a lightly floured board and cut out circles – I got enough for 8 bases from one sheet and the 8 lids on the next sheet.  Whatever size cutter you go for, just make sure you have an even number, otherwise one of them might have to become a tart!

Place the pie bases onto a lined baking sheet and add a spoonful of the cherry pie filling into the centre of each circle, taking care to leave an edge.

Brush the edges with the egg wash and place the pastry lid onto each pie.

Crimp the edges together with a fork, making sure you have a good seal. I keep a little pile of flour ready when I do this, so I can keep dipping the fork in to stop it sticking to the pastry as it will be warming up a little by now.

You need to refrigerate the pies for 30 minuites to allow everything to relax.  You can also freeze them at this point too.

Cherry Hand Pie

When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F

Brush the pies with the egg wash and make a few slits in each pie to let the steam out.  Finally, sprinkle over a little of the sugar.

Bake for around 20 minutes. The pies will puff up and go a lovely golden brown colour when they are ready.

Leave them to cool a little before allowing anyone to sample them as the filling will be very hot!

Cherry Hand Pie1

They are just the best when still warm and crisp, but good cold too.

Prawn and Avocado Summer Rolls

Its been a long, hot summer so far with no signs of it ending anytime soon. For a summertime meal that is light, flavourful but substantial too, summer rolls are a good choice.

Summer roll ingredients

You do need to buy a specialist ingredient to make these, but the rice wrappers are quite readily available in the supermarket, along with the rice noodles and on Amazon too.

Once you have your ingredients ready, they are quick and easy to make and no deep frying required like with spring rolls.

My family really enjoyed them and you can leave out the fresh herbs, if you want to serve them plain. The juicy prawns and fresh, crunchy vegetables are a nice alternative to a salad and just the thing for yet another hot day.

Is anyone else ready for Autumn, or just me!?

Ingredients:
Vietnamese rice wrappers – available at most supermarkets or Amazon
Approx 100g vermicelli rice noodles
1 pack cold water prawns/shrimp
1 avocado
1 x red and yellow pepper
1 carrot
1 Romaine lettuce
Fresh coriander/cilantro and mint leaves
1 large lemon
Sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method:
This is mostly an assembly job and you need to have everything ready and to hand before you can make the rolls.  My ingredients made 8 rolls, but you can easily scale this up for more people.

Summer roll veggies

Start by preparing the rice noodles as per the packet and leaving to cool.

When they are ready, prep all the veggies by very thinly slicing the peppers and carrots into matchsticks. Thinly slice the avocado and toss in lemon juice so it doesn’t discolour. Tear the lettuce into large pieces.

Toss the prawns in lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.

Summer rolls2

In order to soften the rice wrappers, they need to be submerged into warm water. I used a shallow pan and gently heated the water, but you could just use warm tap water in a large enough dish. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the packet.

When you have everything ready, you need to work quickly.

Submerge the wrapper into the warm water and leave for around 10 seconds, it will quickly soften and become very pliable.

Place onto a board and stuff with a little of everything, taking care not to overstuff.

Summer rolls4

As you can see the ingredients through the wrappers, you can place the herbs on first so they can be seen. Some people get very artistic!

I used coriander for some and mint for the others as my husband loves mint, but isn’t a big fan of coriander (like me!)

Summer rolls

I started with the herbs and lettuce then added the noodles, prawns, avocado, peppers and carrots. Place the sticks of vegetables all pointing the same way in the centre of the wrapper, fold over the sides and roll away from you like you would a burrito.  Roll fairly tightly, but gently, folding in the ends as you get to the end of the roll.  The ingredients will be fully enclosed in their see through parcel.

While assembling the rest, place the summer rolls seamside down onto your serving plate, keeping them separate as they will stick together if they are touching.

Carry on until you have used up all your ingredients, then cut in half diagonally and serve immediately.

Summer rolls zoom

Enjoy with a dipping sauce, either home made or a good one from the supermarket. I have used a sweet chilli one, but hoisin or a peanut sauce is really good too.

These make a really delicious and light summer lunch or supper and are really worth trying.