Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wholemeal Pikelets



Ingredients

  350g strong bread flour,  1/2 tsp sugar, 400ml lukewarm water, 200ml lukewarm milk/buttermilk 

Serves: 24 preparation: 1 1/2 hours


A pikelet is but half the size of a crumpet and is a deliciously flat, crispy treat that I remember making a lot as a child, but unlike crumpets, you very rarely see available to buy these days. These pikelets are PERFECT toasted with my lavender jam but I'm not going to lie to you - they don't look as pretty as those made with white flour which I'm trying to eat less of at the moment which is why I'm using wholemeal in this instance.


1) Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl and whisk in the warm water.


2) Gently warm the milk and whisk in. The mixture should have formed a fairly robust batter quite quickly but ensure it is whisked perfectly smooth.


3) Cover the dish with a warm, damp tea towel and leave it to prove somewhere warm for an hour.


4) Grease your ring *ahem* well and set in a frying pan or on a griddle to warm to a medium heat. Give the batter a stir as they're heating for about a minute.


5) Fill the rings with no more than 2 tablespoons of batter and cook for about 2 minutes. Touch the surface of the pikelet (carefully...) and if it feels relatively dry it's time to flip it over for 1 more minute.


You can eat the pikelets immediately from the griddle, but personally I prefer to allow them to cool on a rack and then to toast them. I make these in this batch size and then freeze the ones I don't want to eat right away.

Wholemeal Crumpets



Ingredients

  350g strong bread flour,  1/2 tsp sugar, 400ml lukewarm water, 200ml lukewarm milk/buttermilk 

Serves: 12 preparation: 1 1/2 hours


If you had asked me as a child what my favourite breakfast was, I would have said crumpets without a doubt. Some of my fondest memories are toasting them over a fire with my Nana and eating them piping hot, slathered with butter. As a teenager my brother and I liked to melt cheese on them, or even chocolate and if you've never spread them with chilli and baked them with an egg on top, well you just haven't lived! Last Saturday I was pretty horrified to see James Martin make some "quick" crumpets on Saturday Kitchen. Now crumpets are supposed to be holey and you only achieve this texture by allowing the batter to rise for an hour and form yeasty bubbles - these bubbles bust when cooking and leave you with the holes. These crumpets are PERFECT toasted with my lavender jam but I'm not going to lie to you - they don't look as pretty as those made with white flour which I'm trying to eat less of at the moment which is why I'm using wholemeal in this instance.


1) Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl and whisk in the warm water.


2) Gently warm the milk and whisk in. The mixture should have formed a fairly robust batter quite quickly but ensure it is whisked perfectly smooth.


3) Cover the dish with a warm, damp tea towel and leave it to prove somewhere warm for an hour. You want it to look like this...






4) Grease your ring *ahem* well and set in a frying pan or on a griddle to warm to a medium heat. Give the batter a stir as they're heating for about a minute.


5) Fill the rings with no more than 3-4 tablespoons of batter and cook for about 5 minutes. Touch the surface of the crumpet (carefully...) and if it feels relatively dry it's time to flip it over for 1 more minute.


You can eat the crumpets immediately from the griddle, but personally I prefer to allow them to cool on a rack and then to toast them. I make these in this batch size and then freeze the ones I don't want to eat right away.

Pistachio, chilli & lime potato cakes


Ingredients


 leftover mashed potatoes, 100g pistachios, 2 limes, 1 tbsp chilli powder, white flour, olive oil. 

Serves: 2 preparation: 10 minutes


Of all the exotic and delicious foods that I cook on a daily basis for your viewing pleasure, if you were to ask me what my favourite food is, I would probably answer mashed potato. Whenever I was poorly as a little girl my mum used to make me mashed potatoes and let me lay on the sofa under a duvet watching Disney films with a bowl of pure comfort. Leftover mashed potato isn't a regular occurrence in this house but on the occasions that I've made far too much I love to make potato cakes with it - and these tangy, spicy little lumps of heaven are spectacular.


1) Grind the pistachio in a mortar and pestle (or pulse in the blender) - until you have a good mix of fine crumbs and chunks, then stir into the mashed potato along with the lime juice and the chilli.


2) Season well and form into patties, then dust with flour. Personally I like them as you see, quite thick and scone like but it's more traditional to have them about half the size...


3) Drizzle a little olive oil in a frying pan and drop in the potato. Using a fishslice or a wooden spatula, turn them frequently until the surface is crisp and serve!

Multiseed bagels



Ingredients


     5 cups wholemeal bread flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 100g mixed seeds, 3 cups warm water.  
Serves: 8 Preparation: 1 hour and a half.

I love bagels - they're so versatile and can be topped with virtually anything, savoury or sweet. These multiseed bagels are a healthier nod to breakfast. They're gorgeously crunchy when toasted and taste great with hummus!

1) In one bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water and set aside to stand for 5 minutes.

2) In a second bowl sift the flour and salt and seeds and add to the yeast mixture bit by bit whilst hand mixing (I mix with one hand and pour with the other but you might want to ask someone to help you, or use the dough setting on your blender if you have one) once the mixture begins to form a ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl without sticking you have the right consistency. Adding more flour may be necessary.

3) Once the dough forms a good ball, kneed on a floured surface for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, covered for an hour until it has risen to double its size.

4) Divide the dough into 8 pieces (half, half and half again!) and form balls. Set aside to rise further for 30 minutes.

5) Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch a hole through the dough and stretch until you leave a sort of gaping hole at least double the size of the usual bagel hole. Set them aside to rest for 10 minutes whilst you bring a pan of water to the boil.

6) Using a large slotted spoon or a fish slice drop the bagels one at a time into the water. They should sink to the bottom but then quickly begin to float like dumplings. The rule of thumb is that as soon as they float, they're ready but some recipes suggest leaving them to float for 2,3 sometimes 4 minutes!

7) Remove them from the water with the spoon and set them aside to cool a little and drain. Whisk one egg and using a pastry brush, glaze the bagel and sprinkle with more seeds, then bake for 25-30 minutes in the oven.

Once the bagels are ready allow to cool then slice and toast! Traditionally served with butter or cream cheese but personally I'm a sucker for hummus!

Clove fried onions



Ingredients


1 white onion, cloves, butter
Serves: 2 preparation: 10 minutes


I adore cloves. To me they are one of those spices that are used widely but still manage to evoke specific memories - such as clove and orange for Christmas. As you'll recall from my adventures with onion & mint soup, I'm on an everlong quest to make myself like onions (as an "active" ingredient rather than a base ingredient) and I immediately thought of clove as the perfect partner. What could be more comforting? After all when making bread sauce the onion is traditionally infused with clove but it merely brings a warmth rather than takes charge as a flavour. I ramped up the clove and despite not enjoying the texture of the onion (still! damnit!) I have definitely cracked the taste. I used these onions to dress my Quorn hotdog and they were utterly fantastic.


1) Peel and slice the onion into strips.


2) Grind the cloves into a fine powder and add to a frying pan as it begins to heat to lightly toast the cloves. Add a knob of butter and stir through.


3) Add the onions and stir until the clove infused butter has coated them. Fry in the pan until the onions are meltingly soft, season well then serve.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Spinach, butterbean & feta stir fry


Ingredients


    1 tin butterbeans, feta, 200g
     spinach, leek, butter, basil, basil oil, lemon, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano.
 

Serves: 2 Preparation: 1


I have always loved butterbeans but I realised recently that I only use them in soup. This recipe was my attempt to branch out... and use up some leftover pesto and it turned out to be a fantastic side dish. This works hot or cold, so give it a try.


1) To make the pesto - add a good handful of fresh basil leaves to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. Sautee 1 crushed clove of garlic in basil oil and add to the mortar bowl along with a pinch of salt and a handful of pine nuts. Grind thoroughly, adding lemon juice, basil oil and parmeggian to taste.


2) Finely dice about an inch of leek and sautee in a teaspoon of butter.


3) Boil the beans for 5 minutes in salted water and strain. Add to the pan of leek and stir through.


4) Allow the beans to sizzle in the butter for about a minute, then add the spinach and stir through.


5) Once the spinach has wilted, stir through the pesto and remove from the heat. Add the feta and serve.

Pesto mini muffins



Ingredients225g self raising flour, 50g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 150g Rachel's Organic greek yoghurt, 125ml milk, 1 egg, basil, basil oil, lemon, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano.
Serves: 52 Preparation: 20 minutes


I am a total soup junkie and forever creating different flavours of breads to dunk in, or different textures and flavours to use as croutons. I have even been known to fill Hula-Hoops with cream cheese and float them on my soup. Mmmm melty goodness. These mini muffins are a great way to use up leftover pesto .


1) 
To make the pesto - add a good handful of fresh basil leaves to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. Sautee 1 crushed clove of garlic in basil oil and add to the mortar bowl along with a pinch of salt and a handful of pine nuts. Grind thoroughly, adding lemon juice, basil oil and parmeggian to taste.


2) Sift together the self raising flour, plain flour, baking powder and baking soda.

3) Whisk together 1 egg with the milk and 6 tsps pesto and stir into the flour mixture.

4) Stir in the yoghurt but do not make the mixture too smooth - it needs to be a bit lumpy for the muffins to rise and have those lovely fluffy bubbles of air inside.

5) Spoon into the mini muffin cases and bake at 220 degrees for 7-10 minutes (until they mushroom from the cases and become golden brown).

6) Allow to cool and pop them out of the cases and float on your soup.

Lemon & poppyseed mini muffins




Ingredients

225g self raising flour, 50g plain 
 flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 6 tsp vegetable oil, 150g Rachel's Organic greek yoghurt, 125ml lemon juice, 1 egg, 1 tbsp poppy seeds, 2 tbsp icing sugar.
Makes: 52 mini muffins Preparation: 20 minutes


I am a total soup junkie and forever creating different flavours of breads to dunk in, or different textures and flavours to use as croutons. I have even been known to fill Hula-Hoops with cream cheese and float them on my soup. Mmmm melty goodness. With parsnip soup, I like to make these lemon and poppyseed mini-muffins to float on the top but they're gorgeous just as they are too.

1) Sift together the self raising flour, plain flour, baking powder, icing sugar and baking soda.

2) Whisk together 1 egg with the milk, lemon juice and vegetable oil and stir into the flour mixture. Add the poppy seeds.

4) Stir in the yoghurt but do not make the mixture too smooth - it needs to be a bit lumpy for the muffins to rise and have those lovely fluffy bubbles of air inside.

5) Spoon into the mini muffin cases and bake at 220 degrees for 7-10 minutes (until they mushroom from the cases and become golden brown).

6) Allow to cool and pop them out of the cases and float on your soup.

Carrot & mozzarella pesto salad


Ingredients


Carrot, mozzarella, basil, basil oil, lemon, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano.  

Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes


I love to make pesto, it's not only delicious it's versatile so leftovers are never a problem! The crisp sweetness of the carrot is the perfect contrast to the grainy, savoury pesto.


1) To make the pesto - add a good handful of fresh basil leaves to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. Sautee 1 crushed clove of garlic in basil oil and add to the mortar bowl along with a pinch of salt and a handful of pine nuts. Grind thoroughly, adding lemon juice, basil oil and parmeggian to taste.


2) Grate the carrots and mozzarella and stir in the pesto and you're done!

Raisin bran loaf



Ingredients


     1 cup Bran Flakes, 1 cup sultanas,  
   1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 cup self raising flour.
Serves: 1 Preparation: 1 hour (plus overnight)


I have never posted a recipe on this blog that I did not create myself or adapt from a classic recipe so this is a first for me! My dear friend Paul, who climbs mountains on foot or by bike and other impressively healthy things is rather addicted to this scrumptious low-fat bread and gave me his recipe to try. Initially I was intrigued by the retro notion of creating bread from cereal - it seemed like WW2 rationing but I genuinely couldn't believe how delicious the bran and raisin combination was.


1) Add the bran flakes and sultanas into a bowl and cover with the milk. Leave to soak overnight, ensuring the bran flakes are submerged in liquid.


2) Stir the flour and sugar into the bowl until the mixture forms a rustic dough. 


3) Transfer into a cake or loaf tin and bake in the oven for 45 - 50 minutes at  180 degrees.


4) Allow to cool before serving and keep well wrapped to retain the moisture. Like making banana loaf or malt loaf I recommend putting it straight into the freezer from the oven for 5 minutes. This recipe also works well with a combination of dried fruits and mixed peel. I made a second batch with dried figs, ginger and cherries with a little cinnamon and it was spectacular!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Carrot, pomegranate & poppyseed salad



Ingredients


    5 Carrots, 1 pomegranate, 2 oranges, 1 tbsp poppyseed
Serves: 4 Preparation: 5 minutes


I love the combination of carrot and orange but adding the crunch of poppyseed and the beautiful bursting texture of pomegranate jewels works perfectly. Great in sandwiches or just as a side salad.


1) Peel and grate the carrots. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and stir into the carrots. Personally I like to let this marinate for at least an hour so that the flavours infuse thoroughly but you can eat it straight away if you're in a rush.


2) Slice the pomegranate in half and hold over a bowl, fruit side down. Bang sharply with a wooden spoon to release the jewels. Alternatively, if the pomegranate is very ripe, it's sometimes as quick to just break it in half and peel off the membrane.


3) Stir the pomegranate into the carrots and add the poppy seeds.

Potato & egg salad with pea pesto


Ingredients


8 exquisa potatoes, 4 eggs, 1 cup garden peas, basil, basil oil, parmigiano, salt, garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, parsley.  
Serves: 4 preparation: 30 minutes


Who says that salads have to be boring? A big heaped dish of this gloriously succulent salad and I guarantee you will never put those two words in mind. The wonderful savoury pesto, fresh sweet peas and the big chunks of egg and potato are filling and comforting and it's full of good stuff for growing people! 

1) Boil the potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, adding the peas to the water in the last 3 minutes, then strain and set aside to cool. Once they are cool enough to touch, slice in half.


2) Hardboil the eggs for 12 minutes, then run under the cold tap and peel (my tip for peeling. Squash the egg with your palm and start from the top - if you get under the membrane the shell should spiral off, almost in one piece) Slice the eggs in half.


3) To make the pesto - add a good handful of fresh basil leaves to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. Sautee 1 crushed clove of garlic in basil oil and add to the mortar bowl along with a pinch of salt and a handful of pine nuts. Grind thoroughly, adding lemon juice, basil oil and parmeggian to taste.


4) Stir the potatoes and eggs gently into the pesto, add some freshly chopped parsley and serve warm or cold. If you're feeling extra indulgent, add some grated mozzarella to this heavenly salad.

Beetroot, orange & olive salad



Ingredients

2 oranges, 1 beetroot, 10 kamalata olives, Peashoots, Spinach, salad leaves, white wine vinegar, olive oil.  
Serves: 2 Preparation: 5 minutes


I have been going nuts for olives recently and when toying with creating an orange and beetroot salad I wanted something really savoury to cut through the sweetness, that wouldn't change the texture like a nut would. Olive seemed the natural choice and I am in love with the results. Give this a try, it's sinfully moreish!


1) Wash the beetroot and slice off the stalks and leaves. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Carefully peel the beetroot with the nick of a knife, then once it's cool slice in half, and then into segments. 


2) Peel the orange carefully with a sharp knife, then slice into each section to release the segments, free of pith.


3) Squeeze the remains of the oranges to release any juice into a bowl. Mix equal parts of white wine vinegar and olive oil with the orange juice to form a dressing, then season with salt and black pepper.


4) Toss the salad leaves in the dressing, then arrange the orange and beetroot on the plate. Pit the olives and add to the salad and drizzle over the remaining dressing.

Aubergine & pomegranate salad


Ingredients


    6 baby aubergines, 1/2 pomegranate, 3 tablespoons Greek yoghurt, basil oil, salt, cumin, chilli flakes.

Serves: 2 Preparation: 30 minutes


Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables, I love to roast it to melting perfection and the combination of cumin, chilli and pomegranate with the cool yoghurt makes this a great dish to serve with lamb.


1) Slice the tops from the baby aubergines and rest them skin side down in a roasting dish. Sprinkle with a little salt to draw out the bitter juices, then add a light dusting of cumin and ground chilli flakes. Drizzle with basil oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.


2) Slice the pomegranate in half and hold over a bowl, fruit side down. Bang sharply with a wooden spoon to release the jewels. Alternatively, if the pomegranate is very ripe, it's sometimes as quick to just break it in half and peel off the membrane. Stir into the yoghurt.


3) Remove the aubergine from the oven and top with the yoghurt. Serve hot or cold.

Sausage & mustard mayonnaise salad


Ingredients


3 Quorn sausages, 1 lemon, 1 tsp grainy mustard, 4 eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, 1 pint vegetable oil.

Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes


Quorn is a funny old thing. When I was just starting out as a vegetarian the key thing for me was to fit in, to prove that I wasn't a total weirdo and I could still eat all the same things as my family did. So at Sunday lunch I'd have a Quorn chicken/turkey breast. When they had a lasagne or shepherd's pie, I'd have the same but with Quorn mince. And on Saturday mornings I could have quorn sausage sandwiches, at parties Quorn sausage rolls and when making curry or stir fry I could use Quorn chicken pieces. As you'll know from reading this blog, I rarely use Quorn as a source of protein now - preferring to get creative with beans and nuts and pulses but occasionally I do and this quick snack makes a great side dish or picnic snack. You can make it with "real" sausages too!
1) To make your own mayonnaise - separate 4 egg yolks from the whites (discard the whites) and put in a large clean bowl to whisk (or use the whisk attachment on your blender if you have one). Add the lemon juice/vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk thoroughly, adding the oil ONE DROP at a time until the mayonnaise is thick and glossy. You don't have to use all the oil - I like it quite thick but if it's too thick you can always add a little warm water to thin it back down again.



2) Grill the sausages, brushed with a little oil to help crisp the "skin", allow them to cool a little and then slice them into chunks.


3) Add a good squeeze of lemon and teaspoon of mustard into the mayonnaise and stir the sausages through it.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Pomegranate & chilli jelly



Ingredients


200ml pomegranate juice, 2 sheets gelatine, 1 chili pepper 

Serves: 2 Preparation: 10 minutes (plus setting time)


This flavour combination was inspired by a gin cocktail that The Maven in Leeds made for me last night and I could quite easily become horribly addicted to. It reminded me of combining a spicy lamb tagine with chilled pomegranate jewels to cut the spice.


1) Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for a few minutes until they are pliable.


2) Slice the chili pepper and remove the seeds. Crush the pepper in the bottom of the pan to release the juice and add the pomegranate juice.


3) Stir through and bring to the boil, then whisk in the gelatine until it has become completely incorporated.


4) Pour into moulds and allow to set in the fridge. These are perfect served as a garnish to lamb, or just eaten on their own!

Vanilla & tomato soup


Ingredients


  2 lbs tomatoes, 1 pint vegetable stock, vanilla pod, 1/2 onion, butter.
Serves: 2 preparation: 30 minutes


i know this sounds unusual but tomato and strawberry can be interchangeable in salads and sandwiches - both go successfully with most of the same ingredients and in this case, vanilla brings out the spiciness of tomato in the way that it brings out the sweetness of strawberry.


1) Peel and finely dice the onions and sautee in a little butter.

2) Once the onions are soft, slice the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Stir the tomatoes into the onions and add the vegetable stock.


3) Slice the vanilla pod in half and use the knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the pan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

4) Strain the tomatoes, vanilla pod and onions from the liquid using a sieve and pass the tomato flesh through the sieve into the liquid, leaving the onions and skin in the sieve. Discard the contents of the sieve.

4) Stir the liquid and return to the hob, season well and simmer for a further 10 minutes before serving.

Tomato, lime & mint soup



Ingredients

   2lbs tomatoes, chopped mint, 2 limes, 1 pint vegetable stock, 1/2 onion, butter.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 30 minutes


Tomato soup is an institution. Mouthwatering, comforting, universally adored and at once sweet and juicy and savoury and rich - tomatoes have a natural acidity which reacts so well to the lime in this dish but the mint balances it perfectly.


1) Peel and finely dice the onions and sautee in a little butter.


2) Once the onions are soft, slice the tomatoes in half and stir into the onions. Add the vegetable stock, lime juice and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.


3) Strain the tomatoes and onions from the liquid using a sieve, and puree them in the blender. Pass the tomato flesh through the sieve into the liquid, leaving the onions, seeds, core and skin in the sieve. Discard the contents of the sieve.


4) Stir the liquid and return to the hob along with the chopped mint, season well and simmer for a further 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate & cardamom fondants



Ingredients


      150g dark chocolate, 300ml double
 cream, 10 cardamom pods, 2 egg yolks,  50ml milk. 
Serves: 6 preparation: 15 minutes


Chocolate fondant is the ultimate in indulgence - a firm pudding top filled with sinfully rich liquid chocolate, it's quick to make and it's something people always like to eat. A big thanks too for my friend Pete for keeping me supplied with ramekins!


1) Break open the cardamom pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add to a pan along with the cream.


2) Bring the cream to the boil and remove from the heat immediately.


3) Break the chocolate into small pieces and stir into the cream, whisking until it has become completely incorporated.


4) Separate the egg yolks from the whites and discard the whites. Fold the yolks into the chocolate and cream mixture. The mixture will begin to stiffen as it cools and as the egg yolks become combined so add the milk, a little at a time and whisk through until it is just pourable.


5) Pour into ramekins and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. They are ready when the tops have become firm but the insides are still liquid. Serve immediately with ice-cream or cream.

Chocolate & cardamom ganache



Ingredients


150g dark chocolate, 300ml double cream, 10 cardamom pods
Makes: 50 chocolates preparation: 1 hour


Niki Segnit says that cardamom makes dark chocolate taste expensive and I absolutely agree. I like my chocolate dark and bitter, something with a seductively high melting point. The citrus and eucalyptus properties of cardamom give this thick, indulgent treat an exotic twist. Pour it into a tart case and chill, or serve it as it stands with ice cream or fruit for dessert.


1) Crack open the cardamom pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle and add to the cream.

2) Break the chocolate into small pieces and stir into the cream on the hob.

3) Allow it to come to the boil and then remove it immediately from the heat. Whisk through to ensure the chocolate has become completely incorporated.
Pour into moulds and leave to set.

Chocolate & mint ganache


Ingredients


150g dark chocolate, 300ml double cream, 10 mint leaves

Makes: 50 chocolates preparation: 1 hour


Dark chocolate and mint are perfect partners - the bitterness of the chocolate and the freshness of the mint are such an elegant combination.


1) Crush the mint leaves in a mortar and pestle and add the juice and leaves to the cream. Warm the cream gently but do not boil - strain the mint leaves from the cream and add back to the pan.


2) Break the chocolate into small pieces and stir into the cream on the hob.


3) Allow it to come to the boil and then remove it immediately from the heat. Whisk through to ensure the chocolate has become completely incorporated.
Pour into moulds and leave to set.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Chilli & egg tarts



Ingredients


   1 slice bread, 1 egg, smoked chilli jam, butter

Serves: 1 preparation: 10 minutes


These tarts are so simple to make and so cute! For those of you with children, or for those occasions where you have lots of guests for breakfast they're a fun way of serving breakfast - the combination of egg and chili works so well for a saucy treat.


1) Rub a little butter onto a muffin tin and set aside.


2) Slice the crusts from the bread and discard, then flatten the bread with a rolling pin. Slice the bread in half and press one half into the muffin tin, then press the other half onto that layer and trim the top of the bread so that its level with the top of the tin, forming a case.


3) Add a teaspoon of smoked chili jam into each muffin tin.


4) Crack an egg over the top and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, or until the egg has formed. Serve hot.

Pancetta & egg tarts


Ingredients

1 slice bread, 1 egg, 1 tsp pancetta, butter  

Serves: 1 preparation: 15 minutes


These tarts are so simple to make and so cute! For those of you with children, or for those occasions where you have lots of guests for breakfast they're a fun way of serving breakfast.


1) Rub a little butter onto a muffin tin and set aside.


2) Slice the crusts from the bread and discard, then flatten the bread with a rolling pin. Slice the bread in half and press one half into the muffin tin, then press the other half onto that layer and trim the top of the bread so that its level with the top of the tin, forming a case.


3) Sizzle the pancetta for a few seconds in a frying pan with a little butter and then add a teaspoon into each muffin tin.


4) Crack an egg over the top and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, or until the egg has formed. Serve hot.

Avocado, cheddar & cucumber pitta pockets



Ingredients


Pitta bread, 1/2 avocado, cheddar, cucumber.
Serves: 1 preparation: 5 minutes


I love toasted avocado with cheese - this snack takes just 5 minutes to put together and it's absolutely glorious. The softness of the cheese, the creaminess of the avocado and the crunch of the cucumber really work.


1) Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scoop the avocado from the shell and slice into strips.


2) Cut a slice of cheese and slice the pitta bread in half. Layer the avocado and cheese in the pitta bread and put under the grill for 2 minutes, turn over and grill for a further 2.


3) Slice the cucumber into chunks and add to the pitta bread, then serve

Roast pepper & goats cheese pittas


Ingredients


    Pitta bread, 1 bell pepper, 20g goats cheese 

Serves: 1 Preparation: 15 minutes


Roast pepper and soft cheese is such a great combination - rich and creamy all at the same time this quick snack is totally moreish.


1) Slice the tops from the peppers and remove the core and seeds. Cut into slivers and roast under the grill until the skin just begins to blacken.


2) Slice the pitta in half and stuff with the goats cheese and peppers, then toast under the grill.

Chocolate & almond tart


Ingredients

   Filling: 75g butter, 75g caster sugar, 75g ground almonds, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 egg, 2 tbsp milk
   Pastry: 250g butter, 100g caster sugar, 500g plain flour, 1 tbsp milk.
 

Serves: 6 preparation: 1 hour 30


Almonds go so perfectly with chocolate, the nuttiness really works with the strength of the cocoa beans and the texture of the tart filling contrasts beautifully with the crisp casing.


1) To make sweet shortcut pastry: sift the flour and sugar and add small cubes of the cold butter into your blender and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk and pulse until a dough ball forms. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to cool for an hour.


2) To prepare the filling: mix the sugar, almonds and cocoa powder together and cream in the butter. Beat in the egg and milk until the mixture is smooth.


3) Roll out the pastry and cut out circles of dough. I made some tarts with very thin crusts and some like the picture with the thicker casing and both work equally well.


4) Press into the tart cases and pour in the filling. Bake for 25 minutes at 200 degrees and dust with icing sugar.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Onion & mint soup



Ingredients

   1 small potato, 4 white onions, 100g mint leaves, 1 pint vegetable stock, butter.
Serves: 2 Preparation: 30 minutes


I am not a fan of onion. It smells too strong, tastes too strong and I can't bear the lingering taste on my breath. I use onion as a base ingredient to flavour soups, stews, risottos but never use it as an "active" ingredient and forget eating onion raw - I would rather rub it into my eyes!
I discovered recently though that in the same way that parsley neutralises garlic, mint neutralises onion and this simple, comforting soup was the result of my experimentation. A summer classic I think you'll really love.


1) Peel and finely dice the onions and sweat them down with a tablespoon of butter.


2) Once they are completely soft, add the peeled, diced potato and stir through.


3) Pour over the vegetable stock, add the chopped mint and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.


4) Strain the onions and potatoes from the stock and puree in the blender. Pass through a sieve and back into the stock, then simmer on the hob for a further 5 minutes.


5) Finish with a splash of cream, then serve.

Cauliflower, saffron and gruyere risotto



Ingredients

1/3 cauliflower, 2 cups risotto rice, pinch saffron, 30g gruyere, 1 pint vegetable stock, 1/4 leek, butter.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes



Saffron is an incredibly complex flavour - the scent makes me think of rusting iron and sweetpeas and it works so, so well with cauliflower which has a musky, sweet flavour when cooked well (overcooked it becomes sulphuric and bitter) and really contrasts with the nutty, caramel tones of the gruyere.
All risottos (no matter what the ingredients) can be made in 3 simple stages. The first is called tostatura - coating the rice in fat, the second involves cooking off some alcohol and the third involves releasing the starch from the rice one ladle of stock at a time. 




1) Prepare the cauliflower by removing the leaves and slicing the stem to the base. Slice the cauliflower into thirds and then cut one piece into thick slices, and then chunks.


2) Finely dice the leek and sautee in a little butter until soft. Add the cauliflower, risotto rice and stir until the rice becomes transparent, revealing a white dot in the centre and pour in a glug of vermouth.


2) Once the alcohol cooks off, add the first ladle of stock and stir through.


3) Continue adding the stock to the risotto, one ladle at a time, adding the saffron to the last ladle of stock. 


5) Stir through the grated gruyere, finish with freshly grated black pepper and serve.

Fennel, melon & cucumber salad



Ingredients


    1 melon, 1 bulb fennel, 1/4 cucumber.
Serves: 4 Preparation: 5


Melon and cucumber have the same green, grassy notes and the fennel adds a beautiful liquorice contrast. If you wished, you could dress this with a little white wine vinegar and basil oil but it's gorgeous as it is.


1) Slice the melon in half and scoop out the seeds, then slice into chunks.


2) Slice the tops from the fennel and dice.


3) Peel the cucumber and dice, then stir into the other ingredients and serve.

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