Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sweet Cheese Danish

Made from an authentic European recipe, this pastry has a delightful creamy center. Serves 8.


2 cups strong white flour
Pinch of salt
1 ounce (30 g) butter, chilled and diced
6 teaspoons caster sugar
1 sachet rapid-rise dried yeast
1 egg, beaten
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
Beaten egg, to glaze
1/3 cup seedless raisins
6 1/2 ounces (200 g) cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon cornflour


1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub the chilled butter into the flour with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Mix in the egg and 4-5 teaspoons lukewarm water to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl; cover with oiled clear plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
3. Put the softened butter between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or greaseproof paper. Flatten with a rolling pin to a 5 inch (12.5 cm) square.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 10 x 8 inch (25 x 20 cm) rectangle. Put the flattened butter in the middle; fold the long sides of the dough into the center so that they overlap. Fold the top and bottom ends into the center.
5. Turn over and roll into a 10 x 8 inch (25 x 20 cm) rectangle. Repeat the folding and rolling process two more times, chilling whenever too soft to handle.
6. To make the filling, in a small bowl, mix together the raisins, cream cheese, egg yolk and cornflour. Chill until ready to use. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C).
7. Roll out the dough to a 16 x 10 inch (40 x 25 cm) rectangle. Spread the filling down the center, leaving 2 inches (6 cm) uncovered at the top and bottom and 2 inches (6 cm) on either side. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Fold in the ends just over the filling.
8. Cut the dough into strips on both sides of the filling at 1 inch (2.5 cm) intervals. From alternate sides, fold the strips over the filling until it is covered. Trim any ragged edges.
9. Transfer to a large baking tray and brush with beaten egg. Leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Lemon and Garlic Chickpea Spread

This versatile spread can be used as a sandwich filling or a dip. For variety as well as for extra nutrition, stir in a chopped small red pepper (capsicum) or 8 ounces (250 g) of chopped fresh English spinach. Recipe makes 3 cups.


1 can (1 pound/500 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
11 ounces (320 g) frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 drops Tabasco or chili sauce, or to taste


1. In a food processor or blender, blend the chickpeas, green peas, lemon juice, oil, cumin, garlic and Tabasco sauce for 1 minute or until pureed. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour before serving. Will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 2 days.

Tex-Mex Variation: Omit the garlic and Tabasco sauce and stir in 1/4 cup chopped mild green chilies and a finely chopped spring onion.