I don’t want to speak too soon but it appears summer has finally arrived in the UK! I am quite excited about the prospect of seeing some sunshine and the possibility of not having to wear a jumper for the next week or so. It also means I can enjoy spending quality time in my new garden. My house move 7-months ago saw me leave behind a small concreted corner in a communal garden and trade it in for a large expanse of wilderness that backs onto ancient bluebell woods. I LOVE it!

Now for the first time in a very, very long time I am considering ‘entertaining’. I have the perfect space for it and the perfect party food! All I can hope is that the British weather co-operates. Hmmm…we shall see about that! In any case these Vol-Au-Vents are great for any time of the year. All you need is some ready made puff pastry sheets and your imagination.

Here are some ideas:

Chicken, Tarragon and Grape

Poach a chicken breast in some water with some chicken stock or flavoured salt

Allow it to cool

Shred the cooled chicken and add 1-Tablespoon mayonnaise, 1-teaspoon dried tarragon (use fresh if you have it!) and approximately 8-10 green, seedless grapes cut into small pieces and add a crack of freshly ground black pepper

Store in fridge until ready to use

This mixture is also great in sandwiches

Bacon Caesar

Fry 2 slices of smoked back bacon until crispy

Allow to cool and then crumble or chop finely

Grate some Grana Padano cheese, about 2-3 Tablespoons

Finely chop 4-6 cherry tomatoes and shred some iceberg lettuce, approximately 1/2 a cup

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix with a dollop of mayonnaise and add a crack of freshly ground black pepper

Store in fridge until ready to use

I could eat this straight out of the bowl

Tomato and Fresh Herbs

Simply halve some cherry tomatoes and season with some flavoured salt and drizzle a very small amount of olive oil over them

Now this is apparently a bit of a no-no but I added the tomato halves to the puff pastry about 1/2 way through baking (Note: Adding ingredients like this can cause excess moisture to leak into the puff pastry and make it soggy. However, these Vol-Au-Vents were extremely successful and the pastry was still lovely and flaky. In fact these were my favourites!)

Once removed from the oven sprinkle on some finely chopped fresh herbs. I used garlic chives, parsley, coriander and oregano

Simple and delicous

The next step to making your Vol-Au-Vents is the ready made puff pastry. Follow the packet instructions in terms of oven temperature (mine was approx 200°C / 180°C Fan Assisted / Gas Mark 6 / 400°F) and don’t forget to allow the pastry to come to room temperature if chilled. Usually 10 minutes out of the fridge is perfect

Unroll the pastry and get cutting!

Seriously get yourself some pastry cutters

Place the cut pastry onto cookie sheets lined with parchment and brush with beaten egg or milk.  Bake for approximately 10 – 12 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown.

Starting to puff up

Meanwhile you can re-roll the excess pastry scraps and get even more Vol-Au-Vents and more Vol-Au-Vents is DEFINITELY a good thing!

Roll the pastry in between wax / parchment paper or the paper it comes pre-rolled in. This keeps it from sticking to the rolling pin

Once the puff pastry shells are done remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool

So cute!

Once cooled you can begin the process of filling them. Cut them in half using a sharp knife. Dollop about  1/2 a teaspoon (maybe slightly more) of mixture per Vol-Au-Vent. How much you use will depend on the size – mine were small. The lid should rest nicely on top

Messy but fun


Here’s another idea. Halve a slice of hard boiled egg and top with a small piece of crispy bacon. I didn’t add anything else to it – it didn’t need it but I was tempted by adding some mayonnaise (yes I know MORE mayo!) and grainy Dijon mustard

Place your Vol-Au-Vents on a large plate or tiered cake stand and ENJOY!

Looking good


To share or not to share…that is the question

Some other savoury fillings could include:

  • Cheese, Ham and Pickle
  • Prawn Cocktail
  • Smoked Haddock and Mushy Peas
  • Egg Mayo with Dill Pickles
  • Steak and Onion
  • Pulled Pork with Coleslaw
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Tuna Mayo
  • Chicken, Tomato and Capers
  • Feta Cheese and Orange

Sweet fillings could include:

  • Strawberries and Cream
  • Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam
  • Lemon Curd
  • Nutella and Raspberries
  • Stewed Apple and Custard
  • Mincemeat (perfect for Christmas)

(Tip: if making sweet Vol-Au-Vents you can always sprinkle a bit of white sugar on the pastry before baking)