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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Anchovy straws

anchovy straws

In my wardrobe, I have a black dress hanging that will never sit on my skin again. It's light and billowy and sits just right on my body. Black's my favourite colour, whether it's a colour or not. This dress, to me, has it all.

Unfortunately, no one else seems to like that dress. Too big, too black, the neckline is all wrong. Isn't it funny how you can look in the mirror and see something entirely different to other people? Well, one day, I wish I had listened to those naysayers. It was my beautiful friends Flemmo and Hester's engagement party. Matt and I made the trek over the other side of town for the event.

We took the tram and wandered up the streets of Armadale to her parent's house. The sunlight was gorgeous on that summer's day. So gorgeous it managed to catch the outline of my butt cheeks under my dress. It was completely see through. My choice in underwear was, shall we say, unfortunate given the transparency of my outfit.

I spent the entire party with my back to the wall, or with Matty standing behind me. We didn't last long at the soiree. I learnt that sometimes you have to listen to the haters and go with popular opinion. Other times, of course, they can go get stuffed. Such as when we're talking about anchovies.

anchovy straws

I never used to like the hairy little suckers. I'm not sure when I came around, but I suspect it was around the time I tried them pickled rather than salted. When I came back to salted, they seemed less intense. I'm now that annoying guest who insists on anchovies on their takeaway pizzas.

We go through quite a few jars of anchovies now. I used them as seasoning in stews and pastas, atop pizzas and in dressings. It's a different salty flavour than you'd get using flakes. When I stumbled on a recipe for anchovy straws in Shannon Bennett's My Vue, I knew I had to give them a whirl.

I've been making these for parties for a little while now. They're mostly cheesey little pastries, but you'll get a little salty kick every coupla bites. So good. I normally use a puff pastry (bought) for these, but decided to mix it up and use the rough puff I made a few weeks ago. It was a great substitute.

If anchovies are still too repulsive for you to wrap your tiny brain around, then you could easily substitute them out for tapenade or even a thin line of a pesto. But I think the original is best.


Adapted from Shannon Bennett

375g plain flour
300g butter
170ml water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

20 anchovies
200g grated parmigiano reggiano
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is just combined. Add the lemon juice and half the water. Pulse briefly to incorporate. At this stage, check if more water is necessary - dribble as much in as you need.

Pour the dough onto the bench and knead just to bring it together. Shape into a rectangle and roll out to approximately 40cm x 30cm. Imagining your dough in three equal sections, fold the right third over the middle third. Brush off any excess flour. Fold the left third over the middle and again, brush off the excess flour. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

anchovy straws

Once chilled, remove from the refrigerator and roll out to 40cm x 30 cm. Repeat the folding as above and chill again for 30 minutes. Repeat this step one more time and chill for a further 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Roll the pastry out to 50cm x 30cm (or around 3mm thick). Trim the edges to make a neat rectangle and brush lightly with egg wash. Top the pastry with half the grated cheese. Line with four stripes of anchovies. Fold the bare half of the pastry over the anchovy side. Brush again with egg wash and top with the remaining cheese.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Slice into straws around 2cm wide x 12cm long. Place on a lined baking tray and freeze for around 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

anchovy straws

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