Cheese Swirls

At work this week we celebrated a Macmillan Coffee Morning.  Because I am lucky enough to work in a generous and perhaps greedy office, we actually did a weeks worth of cakes and savouries with people donating food, time and money to raise money for Macmillan nurses.  I am fortunate enough not to have experienced the work of Macmillan, but recent years have brought me closer to the effects of cancer upon people and their families so the cause which has always been extremely worthy has become increasingly poignant for me.

I am not a baker and am definitely not capable of baking a cake (although my new friend at NR11 Blog has inspired me to try…soon!) so I did a quick cheat and made my team some cheesy pastry swirls.  Dead simple and I didn’t use shop bought pastry because I am incapable of making my own, but because all the TV chefs have said that it’s okay and they do it too.  I believe that they were a success, all gone by tea break in the morning, so I thought I’d share the recipe!

Cheesy Pizza Pastry Swirls

1 roll of puff pastry

1/2 an onion, chopped finely

100g grated cheese

50g tomato puree

Herbs and seasoning for the tomato base, I used some fresh thyme, black pepper and a little bit of dried basil as that was what was within easy reach!

First, take the pastry out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature.  While it’s warming up a little, use the time to finely chop the onion and grate the cheese.  Now’s also the time to preheat the oven to about 200C.  Make sure you eat the bit of cheese that won’t grate because you are fearing for your finger tips.  No one wants fingertips in their swirls, so you’re doing it for the greater good.

Put the tomato puree into a little pot.  Add your herbs and seasonings, plus a tiny bit of water.  Mix it so that it’s all well incorporated and at a consistency that is thicker than your standard pasta sauce but that you’ll be able to spread.

Once everything is prepped, now’s the fun part.  Unroll the pastry, but keep it on the little bit of plastic so you don’t have much washing up.  Take your tomato paste and spread it across the pastry.  I made sure to cover the whole area right up to the edges, but left about 2cm on the far end.  This means that when rolled, you can use the ‘dry’ part of the pastry to finish the seal at the end.  Now take the onion and cheese, sprinkling it across the tomato base.  Make sure it’s even and not too thick in any place.  Once you’re happy everything is spread nicely, it’s time to roll!

The joy of buying shop bought pastry is that once you’ve unrolled, it’s really easy to roll it back up again.  Make sure that you keep it even and fairly tight as you go, you don’t want the cut pastries to fall apart in the oven!  Squish (technical term) the dry part against the roll to be sure to close it all up.  Slice your nice swiss pastry roll up, about a finger width per slice.  Pop the pieces on a baking tray, making sure to leave a couple of centimeters between each one.  This is puff pastry, after all, and it will puff.  A quick glaze with some milk (an excuse to use the pastry brush you have in the back of that drawer!) then put it in the oven and – ta-dah! – about 20 minutes later you’ll have a house that smells of pastry and cheese and anyone who popped over for a cup of tea will be bitterly disappointed that they don’t get to eat the tasty treats.

Well, unless you are nicer than I was at least.  Dead easy, still a bit homemade, and delicious all within 30 minutes.  What more can you ask for?

There would be countless variations on this theme too.  Feel free to add other bits (maybe some chorizo? Peppers? Fresh tomato?) as you fancy but make sure you don’t over-fill it.  If you do, they may fall apart which would be a disaster.  They wouldn’t be suitable to serve for any charity bake, you’d have to eat them all and start again.  And no one wants that, do they?!