To serve three to four you will need:
- A pack containing 2 oblong sheets of frozen, uncooked, ready rolled puff or flaky pastry, weighing 1 lb, 425 g.
- 2 small cans of sardines in vegetable or sunflower oil, 125 g each, 250 g altogether for the 2 cans, (nearest imperial weight being 9 oz).
- 2 large eggs.
- 1 small tub of plain, unflavoured cottage cheese, 250 g, (or 9 oz).
- 1 heaped tsp of hot Madras curry powder.
- salt and pepper.
- a little milk for glazing.
- Begin by taking the pastry out of the freezer and defrosting it over night in the fridge or thawing it on the same day by leaving it to defrost naturally, in its box or wrapping on the worktop for several hours before you need to use it. Keep it covered though because if you let the air get to it, the edges of the pastry will dry out, making it crack too easily when you come to work with it later.
- Grease an oblong baking sheet, or Swiss roll tin, that is approximately 7 inches wide by 11 inches long, (18 by 28 cms).
- Set the oven to gas mark 7, 425 f, 220 c, 180 fan.
- Place the eggs gently into a saucepan of cold water, with just enough to cover them, bring to the boil, turn down the heat till the eggs are bubbling gently in the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, so that they are really hard boiled.
- While they are cooking, tip the contents of the pot of cottage cheese into a bowl.
- Drain the oil from the cans of sardines and put them in the bowl with the cottage cheese. I find that a good way to do this so that I don’t get oil everywhere is to remove the lids while the tins are standing on the draining board on a pad of kitchen paper or absorbent paper towel to catch any oil. Then I pour the oil straight into the sink, holding one hand gently over the sardines to stop them from falling out of the tins. Have some more absorbent paper towel ready to wipe your hands on, gather up the tins and lids in the paper on your draining board and transfer everything straight to the kitchen bin.
- Squeeze a little washing up liquid into the sink and put a few drops into the palm of one hand, turn on the taps so that warm water cleans the sink and your hands at the same time. Now, hopefully there shouldn’t be any oil spillage to clean up.
- Turn off the heat from the eggs once they are boiled, take them to the sink still in the pan and place the saucepan in the sink, letting cold water run over it gently for several minutes until the eggs are completely cold.
- To shell them, tip out the water, take each egg, tap it on the worktop firmly, pointed end down, and the shell should break, piercing the membrane underneath, enabling the shell to come away fairly cleanly. Have a plate handy for the eggs and a sheet of scrap paper to put the shell on, so that you can wrap it up and put it straight into the kitchen bin without any mess.
- Slice the eggs using an egg slicer, or roughly chop them and add them to the bowl containing the sardines and cottage cheese. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper to taste and add a heaped teaspoon of curry powder.
- Using a fork, mix all these ingredients together until well combined, the mixture will become quite thick and the egg will be incorporated into the mixture.
- Unroll one pastry sheet and spread it out on the bottom of the greased baking tray, following the shape of the tin so that the long side of the sheet fits along the length of the tin so that as much of the inner surface is covered as possible. If it doesn’t quite fit, don’t worry, just gently stretch and smooth it out so that it reaches into all the edges and corners. You should find that the pastry sheets will fit, as most manufacturers (Jus-rol and Saxby’s make them for use with this size of tin.
- Now, using a flat bladed palate knife, spread the sardine mixture over the pastry, taking it almost to the edges. Put a small amount of cold water into a teacup and either use a pastry brush or your fingers to dampen the outer edge of your pastry all the way round. I find that I prefer to hold the cup in one hand and use the fingers of my other hand to dip and wipe along the pastry edges.
- Unroll your other pastry sheet on a clean worktop, dampen the edges in the same way and carefully put it on top of the sardine mixture in the tin, dampened edge side down. It might be easier if you have the tin with its narrow edge towards you to do this, hold the pastry sheet with both hands, one on the narrow edge nearest to you and the other one at the opposite narrow end, then press the dampened edges nearest to you together. Once these are fixed it should be fairly easy to work your free hands along the pastry in order to join the other edges. You should have enough spare pastry around the outside, enabling you to pinch them together and lift them up to form a ridge all round the edge of the sardine slice.
- Make several holes along the top of the pastry with the point of a knife to let out the steam while its cooking and brush with a little milk, again you can either do this with a pastry brush or your fingers, it might be easier with a brush this time because you’ve got a bigger area to cover.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 27 to
30 minutes when the pastry will have risen well and be crispy on top.
This makes a lovely, warming supper dish served with chopped fresh or warmed canned tomatoes. If you don’t like sardines you can always substitute it for tuna, although, remember, oily fish contains all that poly-unsaturated fat that is so good for a healthy metabolism.