Life’s been a bit all over the place for me lately. It seems the ever-present narrative of getting a good degree from a good university in order to get a good job is basically Moses promising sugarcandy mountain to the overworked animals in George Orwell’s famous political allegory. Some degrees are more equal than others, it turns out.
To haul myself out of the deep hole of victimhood this morning, I was helped along by having a block of puff pastry on hand, 3 soggy leeks and a piece of sweaty cheese in the fridge.
It was obvious that instead of getting up and staring at a blank screen to summon the gumption to write yet reams of more soulless SEO-bound website content, I should instead do something with my hands (no, not that) and make these wee puff pastry things.
If you would like to do so too, firstly acquire the following items:
- 200g block of puff pastry
- 1 large leaky bottle of soy sauce, or if you’re normal, a rolling pin
- A palm-sized block of whatever hard cheese you like. I used gruyere because I’m extra, but gouda would be nice, and bog standard cheddar is great too.
- 3 very flaccid leeks
- Some butter or olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Start by sawing your leeks into rounds. I say ‘sawing’ because I’d let mine freeze to the back of the fridge. You don’t have to do this for full authenticity. Healthy, erect leeks will do the job just fine.
Gently fry the leeks in butter or olive oil and then put a lid on to half steam half saute them. Keep the heat down to medium low, because while they’re frying, you can have a brief shower. Grate the cheese in the shower if you’re feeling adventurous.
When you’re done having a shower, put the oven to around 210 degrees C, and roll out your pastry onto a work surface a bit thinner than a £1 coin, into a rectangle shape. Cut the rectangle into 8 smaller rectangles with a sharpish knife. When your leeks are are nice and soft and buttery smelling, grind loads of black pepper over them, and scoop blobs of the mixture onto one side of the smaller pastry rectangle and cover with the grated cheese. If you’ve got any chutney lying about, adding a teaspoonful on top is a great idea. Fold over the other side of the pastry onto the blobs. You’re going shortways with these, not longways – they’re puff bites, not puff adders.
Transfer each of your uncooked puffs to a lined baking tray, leaving lots of space between them. Get your favourite prick and get them to make a slight hole in the top so steam can escape. Cover the pastry in egg-wash or milk, or simply don’t.
Bake them in the oven (where else?) for about 12-15 minutes or until they are golden, risen and generally very handsome.
Wait for 5 minutes before biting into them because you will burn your bloody tongue. Seriously.
Eat a few and then swiftly return to existential dread.