Archive | May, 2013

Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Pepper Tart with Walnut Pastry

26 May

I happened across the idea for a goat’s cheese, walnut and roasted pepper sandwich. Tried it, loved it, wanted it in a tart!

NOT a confident pastry chef, I am always apprehensive when attempting to make pastry from scratch, but the recipe I used for this shortcrust is just amazing. It made pastry easy! And delicious of course. I know you can just buy the stuff but it bothers me so much when I can’t get something right it makes me even more stubborn to keep trying. It’s a recipe from a ‘Basics’ book I borrowed from the library, and is interwoven with the recipe for the filling which is mine.

This serves 4 and makes enough pastry to line a 23cm flan tin.

For the Pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten, plus extra for brushing

For the Filling:

  • 150ml log soft, rindless goat’s cheese
  • 70g roasted peppers from a jar, drained
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml milk
  1. Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg and about 1-2 tbsp water to form a soft dough. Knead briefly, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. For the filling, beat the eggs with the milk. Roughly crumble the walnuts and goat’s cheese and add this to the egg mixture. Roughly chop the peppers and add most of these, along with any seasoning you might like.
  3. Heat the oven to 200ºc. Knead the pastry again and roll it out to the required size. This pastry doesn’t shrink so there is no need to chill it! Brush the base and sides with beaten egg.
  4. Put the flan tin on a baking sheet and bake blind for 5 minutes (do not use baking paper or baking beans as this would stick to the egg wash). Add the filling and bake for 15 minutes more. Now turn the heat down to 180°c and continue cooking for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly set.

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Serve with salad! 🙂

Errol and the Blackberry Apple Crumble Cake

23 May

Make this!

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I did, for my Dad’s birthday, and it is THE BEST cake I have had in a very long time.

It made my Dad very happy too 😀

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Partly because it contained all of his favourite things (cinnamon, apples, nuts, berries), and partly because the man likes cake.

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This cake has been at the top of my cake-making bucket list for a few years now, and it is a shame that it took me so long to get round to it!

The fruit is the perfect level of sweetness, the crumble is delightfully cinnamony, and the cake batter itself makes the moistest treat you could hope for!

And! Thanks to the layers of crumble throughout the cake, the fruit doesn’t sink to the bottom! I found this amazing 🙂

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute pecans for hazelnuts as I (strangely) didn’t have any hazelnuts in. I am excited to make it again with a different mixture of fruit and nuts! Perhaps raspberry and pear crumble cake with chocolate chips in with the crumble? Oooh…

Now, Errol has nothing to do with this fabulous cake other than the fact that he too was meant to be a birthday present. I just had to name this post ‘Errol and the Blackberry Apple Crumble Cake’ because it sounds like a book I would liked to have read when I was younger…

You may recall a post quite a while ago now where I pondered about what to get the love for his birthday. Safe but boring or slightly risky and amazing? I went with amazing 😀 and this is Errol:

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Right!?

So he’s 28 days premature because stealth-pants went routing around some papers I left out and found an Amazon invoice for a book entitled ‘How to Care for your Pet Tortoise’!!!

…Admittedly I left said papers out for him to shred at work and had no idea I’d left the invoice in with them… But yeah, he managed to figure it out from there and figured it would be better to tell the truth than to act surprised on his birthday.

I appreciated that, but of course I was gutted too!!! I had plans to make a huge deal of it on his birthday, presenting the tank to him decorated with balloons and bunting… *sigh*

Still, Errol was received VERY warmly and VERY excitably (is that a word?) so I am super happy that I chose him 😀

Off to the butterfly farm tomorrow and then it’s half term!

Oh I do love this time of year 🙂 🙂 🙂

Umbrian Lentils with Homemade Sausages

17 May

I loved making these. And eating them!

It is an Antonio Carluccio recipe from his book Simple Cooking, changed slightly to suit my tastes.

The method for making sausages from scratch is so clever! I will be trying it again with different flavour combinations, and the puy lentils are so full of flavour – I had the leftovers for lunch the following day and it felt like such a treat. Also, this is a bit cliche but usually I cannot stand celery, but here it just seems to merge with the other flavours so well that all it does it heighten those flavours… I’m glad I took the plunge and threw the celery in or I may never have known that I could abide it in super-delicious circumstances!

A special meal 🙂

Serves 4.

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 25og puy lentils
  • 450ml chicken stock
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Sausages:

  • 500g minced pork
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 scant tsp dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. For the lentils, fry the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in a good glug of olive oil for a few minutes in a large pan. Then add the lentils, stock and celery. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Cover and keep warm over a low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the sausage ingredients together well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Take a handful of mince and roll it into a sausage shape, about 8cm long and 3cm wide. Wrap tightly in a piece of foil, closing by turning in the ends as you would a sweet.
  3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Poach the sausages in the water until they pop up to the surface (2-3 minutes). Leave to cool a little, then remove the foil. Poaching the sausages should ensure that they hold together. GENIUS! 😀
  4. Moisten the sausages with a little olive oil, then fry or grill until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the sausages to the warm lentils and allow to cook gently together for 5 minutes.

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We had ours with boiled potatoes and pencil leeks. Mmm! But crusty bread would also be a lovely addition 🙂

 

Squidgy Chocolate Fondants

14 May

SO. MOREISH!!!

I expected these little nuggets of insane gorgeousness to be a disaster if I’m honest. They’re the sort of things that people tend to bang on about being difficult and “you have to do this at this exact time or else your efforts will have been entirely wasted”. Those fear-mongerers! I may have just been lucky, but these turned out perfect first time! And I recommend them 100%, especially if you’re in the mood to over-indulge slightly… you just will not be able to stop.

Particularly because these are mini versions and so it doesn’t feel quite so bad if you go for just one more 😛

The recipe I used was actually for 4 average-sized fondants, but I’d recently purchased a cute little heart-shaped silicone mould and I just had to use it, especially as I was making them to treat the love 🙂 it yielded me 8 little precious babies. I’m not over-reacting by calling them that, they are precious I tell you!!! I won’t tell you how many I ate *sniff*

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Makes 8 miniature fondants.

  • 2 eggs
  • 50g brown sugar (I used soft light brown)
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp cornflour
  • 140g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) broken into small pieces
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 3 heaped tbsp double cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c .
  2. Use four average sized or 8 miniature moulds. Grease them and dust with flour or line with baking parchment. Place them on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture turns pale. Sieve the flour and cornflour together, add to the mixture and continue to beat.
  4. Melt the chocolate, butter and cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  5. Pour the chocolate cream into the sponge mixture and mix until you have a smooth paste.
  6. Fill the moulds, put in the oven and cook for approx. 10 minutes for the mini fondants, or 15 for the average-sized ones. The cakes should be very soft to the touch. Turn out of the moulds and serve straight away with cream or ice cream 🙂

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Luscious, Cinnamony Sweet Potato Tagine

9 May

Ghillie Basan is one of my favourite food writers, and not least because Moroccan food is one of my favourite things to cook!

But this is my favourite recipe BY FAR that I have used from her book Tagines and Couscous – and I’ve made a fair few now!

It was difficult for me to decide what to call this meal because every ingredient is a star and combines so beautifully with the others… The only word I could really settle on was luscious because, well… that is exactly what it is! I did however really and truly believe with my whole heart that luscious was spelt with an ‘h’ after the ‘sc’. *sigh* I was so much better at spelling when I was 10…

So yes, if I was being super fair and diplomatic to all of the highly deserving ingredients in this recipe I would call it ‘Tagine of Sweet Potato, Shallots, Carrots, Prunes, Cinnamon, Ginger, Honey and Mint – Syrupy and with a Hint of Coriander’. But it’s quite a mouthful. No pun intended. But it really is an amazing mouthful.

Anyway, the reason I picked cinnamon and sweet potato for the title is that the former just permeated the house with its sweet and mouth-watering smell, making me feel as though I was been taken under in a haze of Moroccan balminess… *another sigh* (if only!)… and the latter simply because it makes up the bulk of the meal. Well hey, people need some idea of what’s really going on!

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So, here’s how you make it:

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Serves 2 generously, or 4 as a side dish for grilled/roasted meat.

  • olive oil
  • 20g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 2 small-medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • handful ready-to-eat stoned pruned (about 60g)
  • 2 tsp dark, runny honey or agave
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • a few fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat some olive oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole. Add the ginger and cinnamon – cook for a minute then toss in the shallots. When the shallots begin to colour, add the sweet potato and carrots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring, then add the prunes and honey. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for about 25 minutes.
  2. Uncover and stir in the mint and coriander. Season to taste and reduce the liquid, if necessary, by cooking for a few minutes uncovered. The vegetables should be tender and slightly caramelized in a very syrupy sauce.

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Most often I would serve this with couscous and toasted flaked almonds, but we were OUT OF COUSCOUS! I know, shocker! So instead we had it with red and white quinoa – really yummy! Though it does smell a bit weird… It worked, just so’s you know 🙂

And finally, may I just plead with you – if you are using a brand new tagine, PLEASE treat it beforehand and be careful when adjusting it’s temperature so it doesn’t crack and momentarily destroy your life. Been there… just saying…

I am going to make this so many times!!!

Miniature Turkey Meat Loaves

5 May

Happy May everybody!

Isn’t it beautiful?

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My latest posts have been very wordy. One might even say verbose 😉

(reference to a certain someone, don’t worry about it)…

So you may be glad (or sad?) to know that I don’t have an awful lot to say about this recipe, apart from that it is easy, healthy and delicious!

I was inspired by this recipe, but I have of course fiddled about with it to make it my own.

And um… Here it is!

Makes 4 mini meat loaves:

  • 500g turkey thigh mince
  • 1 egg white
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • pinch each of dried thyme, basil and oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 tbsp ready-made tomato pasta sauce
  • 1/2 ball mozzarella (62.5g), shredded
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c and lightly grease 4 mini loaf tins with olive oil. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the pasta sauce and mozzarella.
  3. Divide the combined mixture between the loaf tins and press down to make them even.
  4. Add about 2 tbsp of the pasta sauce on top of each meat loaf and spread it out so it is covered, then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and scatter the mozzarella on top. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more, until the cheese has melted.

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There will be a little liquid in the bottom of your tins when the meat loaves are ready to serve, but they should come out easily and in one piece with the liquid remaining at the bottom of the tins.

I love to serve this with potatoes of any kind! Here it is pictured with new potatoes and mixed veg, but a jacket potato is not something I’d say no to alongside it 🙂

Also, as there are only 2 of us, making 4 at a time makes for great leftovers. I love it sliced in a crusty roll, or I simply freeze them for a super easy meal on a busy night.

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Hope you enjoy!