This is a such a simple bake, and is ideal using left-over ham at Christmas and bits and bobs lurking around: frozen peas, a dollop of chutney and mustard……The actual proportions are only a guideline, so add more or less depending on what you have to hand. It can be made even speedier using bought sauce, although that itself doesn’t take long to make from scratch.
Simple and effective pastry cases
Rather than making and rolling out shortcrust pastry to line tins, baking blind and the like, I use mini muffin tins and line them with filo pastry. This is a very easy way to get gorgoeus sweet and savoury nibbles, so that it is more about the filling.
Essentially you take a sheet of filo pastry, brush it with oil or melted butter, and cut into small squares about 3 inches by 3 inches – although you really shouldn’t measure, and they really do not need to be anything like perfect squares: just big enough to be pushed into the tin with a little poking out of the top of the tin.
I go for 3 layers of pastry which gives enough pastry case to hold the filling without being an effort to eat!
I use a tin that has 24 mini muffin holes: perfect for mini cakes, mini Yorkshire puddings and all manner of small-scale sweet and savoury treats. However, use any moulds you have and make them small or larger.
If you do not have any tins, simply place 3 small squares of filo on top of each other, add about teaspoonful of the filling in the centre and pull up the pastry around and over the filling, giving little money purses: they need not be sealed at all! Then just bake them as they are.
These bites can be prepared a couple of days advance, sprayed with water, covered in clingfilm and left in the fridge to bake when you are almost ready to serve them. The spraying of water helps keep the filo pastry from drying out.
Recipe: pea and ham filo bites – makes about 24 mini ones
- 4 – 5 sheets filo pastry
- vegetable oil or melted butter
- about 300g thick white sauce or cheese sauce
- about 200g cooked ham, chopped
- about 50g frozen peas
- 1-2 teaspoons caramelised onion chutney or chutney of choice
- 1-2 teaspoons mustard of choice
- a few grinding of freshly ground black pepper
- fine sea salt to taste
You will also need mini muffin moulds (often come with 24 holes) – either metal, silicone or whatever you have to hand, brushed lightly with oil. See Tins above.
(1) Take a sheet of filo pastry, and cover the rest of the pastr with a damp tea towel to stop it from drying out. Brush the sheet with a little oil and cut into rough squares, about 3 inches by 3 inches. Take three of the squares and place them on top of each other, placing each at a slight angle to the one underneath (forming a kind of star shape).
(2) Push the stack of pastry into one of the holes, so you have an empty pastry case. Repeat with the pastry until all holes are filled with pastry.
(3) Mix the rest of the ingredients together to give a thick mixture. Place about a teaspoon of this filling into each pastry case.
(4) Bake in an oven pre-heated to 170C (fan) for about 12-15 minutes. Leave them in the tins for a couple of minutes and remove them carefully. Serve warm either just as they are, or with a few chopped chives sprinkled over.