Monday, 6 February 2012

Easy and Delicious Cheese Parcels

Although I really like cooking and could spend ages in the kitchen preparing, tasting and 'bringing the meal to perfection', on an average day time is of essence so lunch must be tasty, but  most of all quick. It took us a while to fight the temptation of takeaways or fast food bars (old habits! :) as an option for quick lunch, but by now, I've developed quite a selection of quick and tasty meals.
The luxury of 'slow cooking' is reserved for the weekends and actually, the first time I prepared this meal was indeed at the weekend, as I expected the preparation to be much longer than it really is.  I was quite shocked how quickly the parcels were ready to be served (only to disappear from the plates even faster!).
The meal combines the necessary requirements for a 'weekday lunch' - it is stunningly easy to prepare and truly delicious - could one ask for more? Depending in the imagination they may be square, triangular, or circular shaped. I usually go for squares, so my parcels look like puffy cushions. This time I added a few triangles, but the French pastry I used didn't make my life easy - it was too sticky on the outside, whereas the sides of my parcels wouldn't want to close. It took a bit of effort, but in the end they (mostly:) closed.

To prepare the parcels we need:

A packet of French pastry
150 gram of strong cheese
100 gram of blue cheese
100 gram of smoked ham
2 tablespoons of cream
2 eggs
black pepper

Roll the pastry and cut into squares. Dice the cheese, blue cheese and ham, mix them well in a bowl. Add cream, 1 egg and pepper to taste (no need for salt here, as blue cheese will add the salty flavour. Mix all the ingredients well, then distribute the stuffing on the French pastry squares - leaving 1 cm on the sides uncovered to close the parcels. Be careful not to overfill them. Stick the sides together and make sure they together well, otherwise the filling will pour out during baking it nearly! happened to a few of mine, you can tell from the pictures). Fluff the remaining egg and spread it on top of the parcels with a baking brush (it will add a lovely golden colour). Place the parcels on baking paper covered tray and put them into pre-heated to 200C oven for 15 minutes. That's it - they're ready.
I usually serve them with pesto based sauce, as they might seem too dry on their own. Unfortunately, all the sauces I make tend to be "made to taste", I adjust the amount of ingredients while observing what is happening with the sauce.

For this one we need:

1 or 2 tablespoons of butter
1 or 2 teaspoons of plain all-purpose flour
4-5 tablespoons of pesto genovese (basil pesto)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
some milk

Melt butter in a pan and add flour, stir until the mixture is smooth. Add some milk (not much, it is mostly added to give the sauce volume) and keep on stirring. Spoon in pesto, olive oil and add spices.  Simmer for a few minutes so as it heats up, if it thickens to much you can add more milk. If you want it to be thicker, though, add a little bit more flour (careful with it though - it's easy to overdo and make the sauce too thick and flour tasting). Bon apetit! :)

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