Tandoori Chicken with Shan masalas

What are the three dishes that you associate Punjabis with? I am sure it would be:

Rajma Chawal (Kidney Beans and rice)

Butter Chicken, I know I don’t need to translate that

And

Tandoori Chicken  (Chicken cooked in a clay oven)

However contrary to popular belief, you won’t find us making Butter Chicken or Tandoori Chicken in our homes every day. Hell, most Punjabis have never made Tandoori Chicken at home because we can get it so easily in restaurants back home.

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The later two dishes are also very popular in Australia. However, the amount of colour used in the dishes by both restaurants is very off-putting to me. I hate it when I bite a piece of Chicken my hands are stained with red colour. Hence, as a result, we never order any of these dishes whenever we eat Indian food at a local restaurant.

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So when I received a pack of Tandoori Chicken as a Buy 3 get 1 promotion offer from Shan masalas, I was still a bit unsure if I wanted to use it. I have been using Shan masalas for a few months now and have sort of started to trust its products as all the dishes I have made have come out really well.

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And I thought why not? After all, I had not eaten a good Tandoori Chicken in years and after having watched this video on how easy it is to make fabulous meals with Shan masalas, I had to try.

 

I was so glad that I trusted the brand and made the Chicken. Although the recipe on the box called for Red colour, I skipped it, However the Chicken was still beautifully red and juicy when roasted. The masala was not overpowering but beautifully subtle, the Chicken melting in our mouth made for a delightful dinner.

 

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 6)

 

1 ½ Kg Chicken (Skinless cut into 8 – 12 portions, make a slit on each piece)

1 cup plain yogurt

5 – 6 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

½ tsp Red food colour No.6 (Optional)

Cooking Oil/Melted Butter 4 – 6 Tablespoons

Shan Tandoori masala  mix 1 packet (Do not mix with water)

Method

Mix the Lemon Juice, food colour if using and the Shan Tandoori masala. Apply to the Chicken pieces and prick the chicken with a toothpick to ensure the Chicken is coated well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Apply the yogurt and set aside for 3 hours or even overnight if you want to.

Arrange the pieces in a tray and discard the marinade.

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F apply oil to the Chicken pieces and bake for 25 – 30 minutes under the high setting of a grill or on a barbecue.

Serve hot with Green chutney.

 

 

 

Hail the pork – Goats Cheese and Prosciutto Mini Tartlets

I don’t remember at what stage did I fall in love with Pork. I can eat it in any form and eat a lot of it. Especially when I have some delicious “Prosciutto” in front of me, my gluttony knows no bounds.  “Prosciutto” is dried cured Ham cured with Salt and air dried for some time till it becomes this delicious slice of heaven that it is.

1-IMG_8936 Usually eaten as an “Antipasti” on its own or wrapped with Melons, it has a very strong smell and flavor which somehow blends beautifully with the sweetness of the Melon. It is also used as a topping in Pizzas, Salads and tarts and god I love it.

1-IMG_8985It is an expensive cut of meat and some days when I am in the mood to indulge I treat myself to a few slices of good quality Prosciutto to be enjoyed with a chilled glass of wine and olives while watching a good movie. Because let’s face it, some days a girl need to treat herself.

1-IMG_8921And these “Goats Cheese and Prosciutto Mini Tartlets” are one of the best ways to enjoy the glorious meat that I can devour without any regrets. Yes it has puff pastry, yes it has Goats cheese, yes it has a salty slice of meat but really, do I look like a girl who worries about what she eats?

1-IMG_9008A perfect party starter or a breakfast option you can use a full sheet of pastry or make mini tartlets like I have. Somehow the fact that these tartlets are so small made me feel a little less guilty. We enjoyed these with a chilled bottle of Riesling and they tasted perfect.  And if my Ode to Pork doesn’t convince you to make them, then perhaps the fact that they are ready in minutes should.

Recipe (Cooking time 15 – 20 minutes, makes 12 mini tartlets)

Two ready-made Puff pastry sheets thawed at room temperature

100 gms Prosciutto (I had around four thin slices)

12 Cherry Tomatoes (1 for each tartlet)

Goats Cheese

Olive oil to drizzle on top

Dried Oregano

A Muffin pan to bake the tartlets

Pre-heat the oven to 180 Degrees C.

Using a cutter or a bowl make six rounds from each sheet of pastry.  You don’t have to oil the Muffin tray or use a Muffin case as the butter from the pastry will not allow it to stick to the pan.

Place each pastry round in its individual slot. Slice each Cherry Tomato into two pieces and place them in individual pastry cases.

Tear the Prosciutto into equal slices and place in the pastry case and top it up with Goats cheese, a drizzle of Olive oil and some Oregano on each tart.

Bake for 15 -20 minutes till the pastry has puffed up and turned Golden brown.

Serve hot or warm as you please.

Tip: The Prosciutto and Goats Cheese have both got strong flavors so don’t go overboard with them.

Also since the Prosciutto is already salty I don’t use any Salt for these tartlets.

 

Chana Zor Garam – Chana Chaat (Warm Chickpea Salad)

A Punjabi without chole (chickpeas) is like a fish out of water! We grow up eating chole like it is nobody’s business. Our weekends demand chole, and we usually serve them with deep fried bread or rice. There is hardly a Punjabi, who doesn’t swear by ‘Mummyji ke haath ke bane chole’ (chickpeas cooked by their mother). And, if we don’t get enough of these gas-inducing delights of heaven, we move towards chane, which are the smaller and darker version of chickpeas. Typically we make them during the time of Navratri, where we invite Goddess Shakti to bless our homes. Apart from this particular festival, they usually can get a little overshadowed by their bigger cousins.

1-IMG_8819However, we are not the people who neglect food, so another way in which we eat Chane is by making a chaat. Chaat basically means ‘to lick’; it is a term for North Indian street food that is now popular throughout the country, and also the world. I guess the reason behind the name is because it is finger-licking good!

1-IMG_8809The process of chaat making using involves one key ingredient, and that is then topped and seduced with an array of mouth-watering ingredients that make the dish an out-of-this-world experience. I can recount the number of times I have gone chaat hopping with friends or family, from one street vendor to the other. Gorging on these temptations are almost a religious experience with the explosion of sweet, sour, cold, warm in your mouth. And Chana Chaat has to be my favourite.

1-IMG_8815Like everything I make in my kitchen, this chaat hardly takes any time especially if you have the chana pre-boiled. Usually, I cook the chana a day or two in advance to make the process even simpler.There are different versions and variations of this chaat, but I am sticking to my simple, whatever- is-in-the-fridge formula and I am not disappointed at all. The chaat can be served hot or cold depending on what suits your mood and is a lip-smacking treat for a cold, rainy evening.

Check out the recipe on Indian food network.

A feast for passionate foodies – Pita Bread with easy Tandoori Chicken and mint Chutney

We all need to know what Passion is. Passion is something that drives us, pushes us to exceed our boundaries and makes us become better than what we are. And this passion could be our love for anything. And one of the great passions in my life is my love for food.

I obsess, I dream,  I indulge in this passion daily and I guess that’s why I blog about it too even though I am not a good writer.  Infact on introspection I realize I am not even a fabulous cook that can make dishes that can knock everyone’s socks off. But I guess I am a passionate one and when I cook I put those emotions of love in everything I cook.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI think it is this passion that keeps me pushing my boundaries. Especially on days when I have no desire or inclination to cook and on those days when I am alone and just cannot be bothered to go to the kitchen. Some days I am thankful that this blog happened  because even if may not have the desire or the energy to cook for myself, I have to cook and take pictures to keep the blog going. And on those days I cook for the blog and for the handful of readers who do take the time and effort to come here and look for something interesting or new that I may have made.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAnd this delicious Pita bread stuffed with Tandoori Chicken and chunky mint dip is something that is born out of my passion and love for cooking.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe Tandoori chicken is extremely easy to make and I do it in a pan and the caramelized Onions give it a lovely sweet taste while the mint chutney instead of the traditional Hummus that one associates Pita Bread with makes the whole combination almost delectable. It is lip smacking goodness in a small Pita bread sized pockets. It is certainly not my most creative inventions but it is one of my most delicious ones.

Recipe (makes stuffing for 2 Pita breads)

2 Pita Breads.

Follow this link for the Chutney

For the Chicken (Cooking time 20 minutes, marinating 20 minutes or overnight)

1 large Chicken Breast

1 tbsp Curd

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp fresh Ginger paste

1 tsp fresh Garlic paste

Juice of half a lemon

1 large Onion finely sliced.

1 – 2 tsp Vegetable oil

Wash and dry the Chicken and cut it into long strips of equal size so they cook evenly.

Mix all the ingredients except the Oil and the Onion and marinade the chicken for atleast 20 minutes. If possible you can marinade it overnight too.

When  ready to cook heat oil in a pan and add the Chicken pieces and just cook them for 20 minutes on both sides or until done. I like it when t he Chicken looks a little burnt, gives the dish an extra edge. Also since the Chicken is cut into strips it will cook and burn faster so keep an eye.

Just when the Chicken is almost done in the same pan add the Onions and cook till almost caramelized.

Assembling the pita bread

Warm the pita bread in an oven or a griddle.

Add the Onions and Chicken pieces equally in both the breads and then a generous helping of the chunky chutney. Eat warm as it is and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

A cheesy snack for a rainy evening – Vegetable Toastie

So it rained in Perth yesterday. Rains in Perth are a unheard phenomenon, it hardly rains here. It is like the guest that visits your home once in a blue moon for a few minutes, promises to come back but never shows up, making you feel that you have done something wrong to make the guest angry.

1-IMG_5992But the rains yesterday were like the rains back home, it poured all day and make me miss the Mumbai rains, when it rained in Mumbai, the water just plummets from the sky like a million taps turned on at the same time drenching everything in its path. The leaves turned a deep shade of green; the earth exhumes a beautiful perfume, inhaling your senses. Long drives happen out of the blue, everyone went for impromptu picnics and the romance that the rains brought was straight out of mills and boons story book.

1-IMG_5995Rains also make me always crave for hot Pakoras (Onion bhajis) and steaming cups of Ginger Tea. However I couldn’t be bothered making something really oily, I just did not have the energy.  Since I had some left over vegetables left in my fridge and a piece of “French Breadstick” which I had brought to have with a Soup, I decided to dump the soup and make Vegetable toasties instead.

1-IMG_5993I make these Toasties often as a Starter when I have guests over and sometimes even for breakfast or a snack depending on whatever takes my fancy. One can try a variety of vegetables for the toasties, I used whatever I could lay my hands on from my fridge, added some Cheese, a big glug of Olive oil and let the oven do the cooking while I stared at the rain, pinning away for home. I feel this is a fun dish for kids as you can make it really colorful by adding different colored peppers as well. It is a pretty looking Toastie and goes well with the Ginger tea that I have kept on the gas while these little beauties grill in the oven.

Cooking time (10 – 15 minutes, makes 10 – 15 toasties)

1 big French stick

½ Zucchini cut into small squares (this will make it faster to cook)

1  cup Button Mushrooms (chopped into small pieces, like the Zucchini)

1 large onion chopped

Grated Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese, as much as you like. I usually go overboard with it.

Salt & Pepper to taste

Red Chilli flakes depending on your taste

Freshly chopped Parsley

A generous helping of Olive oil.

Cut the french stick into equal portions, making sure the pieces can lay flat on baking tray or the toppings will fall off.

Mix all the vegetables, Cheese, Salt, Pepper, Parsley, Chilli flakes and Olive Oil together.

Take spoonfuls of the filling and gently press them on each Toastie.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes in a 160 degrees C preheated oven, keeping an eye on them to make sure the bread doesn’t burn. Serve hot and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

The guilt laden Zucchini Pakoras (Fritters) sandwich

We Indians love our Pakoras or Bhajiyas as they are commonly known back home. Pakoras are nothing but different vegetables deep fried in Gramflour and eaten with spicy dips and Chutney’s. It is a famous tea time snack and is very popular in the rainy season with the soft and hot Pakoras melting in your mouth creating a perfect symphony with the beautiful rain.

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I am however not a Pakora or a Bhajiya person, I do not like the fact that they are deep fried in so much oil but sometimes I do make exceptions and go the deep fry way. So when I had half a Zucchini lying in my fridge, which was not enough to use anything else out of it, I thought making Pakoras was my best bet.

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Now you don’t have to wait for rains  or Tea time to enjoy these sinful treats. I actually cut a Turkish Bread in half, lathered it with lots of spicy Peanut and Mint chutney and then stuffed the bread with slices of Onion and the Pakoras. Oh my god, it was a treat. I finished a whole sandwich for dinner and felt terribly guilty after it.

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But I guess this is why you eat such things, to enjoy them, to savor them and just relish the taste of the deep fried goodness in between soft bread with the crunchy Onions and tangy Chutney.

Here is the recipe (cooking time for the Pakoras 5 minutes, preparation 20 minutes)

1 Zucchini

3 tbsp Gram flour powder

1 tbsp Semolina

1 tsp Red Chilli powderhttp://en.wordpress.com/post/

1 tsp chat masala or Amchur powder (Dry mango powder)

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

Vegetable oil to fry (I used around 1 cup of Oil)

1 cup water to make the batter

1) Wash and cut the Zucchini in medium sized pieces.

2) Add the gramflour and semolina in a bowl. Add the Salt, Turmeric powder, Chilli powder, Chat masala and mix them well.

3) Now start adding the water slowly mixing gently making sure that you don’t have lumps and there is a thick runny batter formed.

4) Add the Zucchini and let it rest in the batter for around 10 minutes.

5) Heat oil in a pan and now add the Zucchini pieces, dipping them in the batter one by one. Make sure that the gas is on a medium flame as the gramflour may burn quickly without the Zucchini being cooked. Don’t add all the Zucchinis at the same time. Do a few at a time ensuring there is enough space to turn them around.

6) Once the Zucchini is browned on both sides remove them from the oil and drain on a kitchen towel before you serve them with some hot chutney or stuff them in between soft slices of Bread. Enjoy !!

Hara Bhara Kabbab – Spinach and Potato Cakes, a vegetarian Indian starter

I am not very good at making starters, especially Indian ones. Not that we don’t serve starters in India, we have a huge variety to choose from. It’s just that I have this thing, yeah thing not sure what else to call it, that stops me from making them often. So when I had friends come over for lunch one Sunday afternoon I had to really challenge my grey cells to come up with something good to start the meals.

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And after thinking, looking at recipe blogs, checking my cook books all I could come up with was the boring “Hara Bhara Kabbab” which has to be the most eaten Vegetarian Indian starter in the world I guess. All restaurants have it on their menu and you would see it served for any Indian party you go to.

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Now the reason why I called it boring is usually it is only made with Potato and Spinach and I don’t enjoy the typical spinach taste that one gets after eating it. So I jazz it up a bit by adding some Ricotta or Cottage Cheese and Almond powder in it to make it softer and more delicious. The best thing about it that you can make it a day or 2 in advance and just shallow fry it when the guests arrive.

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It is a perfect option for vegetarians and also can be used for breakfast to stuff in wraps with some delicious spicy sauce. You can also roll it around Ice cream sticks and serve it for Cocktail parties as the perfect pick me up starter.

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Here is the recipe (Cooking time 10 mins, Preparation time 30 minutes, makes 15 medium sized kabbabs)

6 – 8 medium sized Potatoes

1 cup Spinach

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese (drained of water) or crumbled Cottage Cheese (optional but tastes soooooo good)

1/4 cup Almond or Cashew nut powder

3 – 4 Green chillies

Salt to taste

1 tsp Cumin powder

1 cup Green peas

1/2 inch Ginger (Do not use store brought ginger paste)

1 tbsp Cornflour, you may need a bit more if your Potatoes are really watery.

1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

1 tbsp Vegetable oil to shallow fry

1) Boil the Potatoes, peel and mash them when they are hot so they are easier to handle. Let them cool.

2) While the Potatoes are boiling, heat some water and pour it in a bowl and add the Peas and Green Spinach and let them sit for atleast 10 minutes. Take a colander and drain all the water from the bowl and let the Spinach and Peas sit in the colander.

3) Once the Potatoes have cooled a bit, drain all the water away from the Spinach. Just hold the spinach in your hand and squeeze hard making sure there is no water left. Take a grinder and add the Green chillies, Ginger, Spinach and Peas in it and blitz to a paste without adding any extra water.

4) Add the Spinach and Peas paste, Almond or cashew powder, salt, cumin powder and the Ricotta/Cottage cheese on the Potatoes and gently mix everything.

5) Now add the Cornflour, which will dry up the Potatoes a bit. Take a portion of the Potatoes and try and roll it in a ball, if you find it difficult to roll them, add a little more cornflour to the mix.

6) If not making the Kabbas the same day, just put them in a dry plastic box and refrigerate. Do not freeze them.

7) When ready to cook sprinkle some Bread crumbs on a plate and roll the kabbabs on the crumb, coating them well.

8) Heat Oil in a non stick pan and once it is hot place the Kabbas on it and let them cook on a medium flame. on both sides till nice and golden.

9) Serve them hot with variety of chutneys or tomato sauce.

Puff Pastry with a desi twist – Bhaji Puff (Puff pastry stuffed with left over Bhaji)

It is Saturday morning and I am wide awake at 7.00 am. My body clock does not understand the concept of weekends and it does not matter what the day of the week is I am up by 6.00 or latest by 7.00 am. 

Now that I was awake I started thinking of what to make for breakfast. I did not want to slog early in the morning making a heavy breakfast and I did not have the stomach to eat Oats or Cornflakes on a Saturday (my stomach knows it is a weekend). I did not have the energy to make something heavy like Parathas or Pooris which are a perfect treat nor did I have the ingredients.
I had some left over Dosa bhaji in the fridge and some puff pastry sheets, so I decided to give the Puff pastry a desi twist and make a Bhaji Puff.
I was skeptical how it would taste but I wanted to give it a try. And thank god I did. The bhaji tasted delicious with the light flaky pastry and was an awesome accompaniment to the hot cup of Ginger tea that I was brewing.
One thing I realized when I was making this was that you could use almost any leftover dry sabzi like Aloo bhaji, scrambled Eggs/Paneer/mince, whatever is available. Do remember that the filling that you use is dry and not watery else you would be left with a mushy slush for a Puff.
This puff is so easy to make and all you need is 1 cup bhaji and 1 sheet of pastry which makes 6 beautiful puffs that melt in your mouth with every bite. Can it get any easier then this? I don’t think so. Also it does not have to be a breakfast option but can also be made as a starter for a dinner/lunch party. I think this is a perfect start to the weekend don’t you?
Recipe (Preparation time 20 minutes, makes 6)
1 Cup left over Bhaji
1 Pastry sheet
A knob of Butter to coat the sheet
Remove the frozen pastry from the freezer and let it thaw for a few minutes. Mash the bhaji with a spoon so there are no big chunks of Potatoes left. 


Cut the Pastry into 6 squares and lay little portions of bhaji on each square. Be careful not to go overboard with the bhaji or you will not be able to roll the pastry.

Now lift one side of the pastry square gently and just roll it over to make small puff shapes like the picture above and turn the pastry around so the open part on the pastry faces downwards. Now coat the puffs gently with some melted Butter.
Bake the puffs for 15 minutes in a preheated oven or till the pastry has a slight Golden texture. Serve it with Chilli or Tomato sauce.

My quick fix sticky Chicken drumsticks – Asian Style

Asian food and I are not friends. I know I know there are some gems in Asian cuisine and there is a lot to choose from but I do not enjoy it. If I get a choice between eating Asian food and some other cuisine chances are that I will go with the other cuisine. I have traveled to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and eaten some great food but I am sorry to say that I am still not a fan. 

So one of the things that I want to do this year along with learning to bake is to also learn Asian cuisine and become friends with it. I want to start taking baby steps rather than jumping right in and getting scared with the flavors or getting marred with techniques or elaborate preparation.
I am going to start with something really simple and just make some Sticky Chicken drumsticks Asian style and see how it goes.Because I want to start easy, I want to use fewer ingredients and still try and get good flavour. And we all know that Soy sauce and honey usually make the bases of most Asian marinades so that was a good place to begin. 
People who know how to cook good Asian food please do not laugh at me because this is the first time I am doing anything remotely Asian and I am not even following a recipe. I am going by memory and tastes of some food I have tasted before. 
I have used only 6 basic ingredients and the taste was splendid. D kept stating how great and different they tasted. 
Here is the recipe:
4 Chicken Drumsticks (2 per person) 
½ cup Light Soy Sauce
½ cup honey
Salt to taste
2 – 3 chopped Garlic flakes
Juice of 1 Lemon
In a bowl add the Honey, Soy Sauce and Salt. 

Add the Garlic cloves and Lemon Juice and  marinate the Chicken for 30 minutes or more.
When you are ready just put them on a Baking tray which is lined with an Aluminum Foil and grill for 20 – 25 minutes or till the Chicken is cooked.  Serve with some Chilli Sauce.
See how gorgeous they look. Yummy eh J

The sexily dressed Onion and Mushroom tartlets for the handsome photographer

It is a Sunday and a day to rest and catch up with friends and family. I called my best friend A and her hubby B – Yes A and B. They are my favorite couple and I have a different friendship with each of them and with them as a couple. A is my soul sister, my mirror and B is my I hate you like I love you friend. He is like a brother who teases me, encourages me and fights with me a lot while A just looks at us like a HOT indulgent parent of 2 spoilt children.

B is a talented photographer and has the knack of capturing some beautiful moments. He has worked very hard to be where he is and I love the fact that he has taken the opportunities life has given him to become what he is today. I have been lucky to be part of his journey and feel really proud of him. Infact I am his biggest fan and he knows it.
I do feel that people around us can inspire us to be better at what we are or what we can do. And he is one of those people. His photographs are so lovely that I feel I need to improve the quality of my pictures to be a better food blogger. So lately I have been reading about food photography and trying to click pictures which would make B proud of me. I don’t claim to be a photographer but I am a foodie and the pictures I click should do justice to the food I make. So this post is dedicated to the Photographer only for being such a good support and someone who I can look upto.

I have made a Mushroom and Onion Tartlet and surprisingly have managed to click good pictures with my I Phone.I have modified this Donna Hay recipe to use what I had in my kitchen and it turned out to be great. This is an easy recipe again cooked under 30 minutes and is a great snack or starter.

The recipe:
30 Gms Butter
1 Tsp Olive Oil
2 Cups thinly sliced button Mushrooms (You can substitute Mushrooms with different colored Peppers)
1 medium Onion (thinly sliced)
1 ½ Tsp Brown Sugar
1 ½ cup Red Wine Vinegar (or Balsamic vinegar)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Feta cheese to sprinkle on top (you can use Mozzarella or Goats Cheese too)
Some herbs (I have used Oregano)
Store brought Puff Pastry Sheets – I used 1 big sheet and made 6 Tartlets out of it (do ensure you are not using Shortcrust pastry, it must be puff pastry only)
 Head Butter and Olive oil in a pan adding the Mushrooms to it.
Add the Onions,  Garlic and Brown Sugar and let it cook for 5 minutes on a medium flame.
Add the Red Wine Vinegar and let it caramelize for 5 – 7 minutes. Sprinkle Salt and Pepper to taste.
Cut the Thawed Pastry sheet into 6 medium sized squares. Lay it on a non stick baking paper sprinkled with Olive oil.
Put the Onion and Mushrooms on top of each sheets. Do ensure that you do not overpower the pastry sheet with a lot of the dressing. Sprinkle some crumbled Feta Cheese and Oregano on top.  If you are using Mozzarella or Goats Cheese add it after 10 minutes of the pastry being cooked by slowly removing the tray from the hot oven and sprinkling the cheese on top.
Bake the tartlets in a preheated oven on 180 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes till the pastry is cooked. I kept checking throughout ensuring the pastry did not burn.
I love the way the pastry puffs up and is so crunchy. The Red Wine vinegar adds a very tangy flavor to the Onions and Mushrooms and tastes delicious.
I personally feel the Tarts look really sexy, totally doing justice to the hot photographer in B 🙂