Tag Archives: cheese

Wild Garlic Pesto

3 Apr

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Wild Garlic Pesto is one of life’s absolute joys. You go out to the woods, pick a handful or two of wild garlic leaves (you’ll know them by their scent) and then come home and whizz them up with some cheese, nuts and oil. And you have just transformed your dull pasta dish.

If you’ve not made it before, you might not believe the pungency of the pesto comes from just those leaves, and that no real garlic has been added.

Anyway, if you’ve just come in from a walk down the woods, armed with your bag of leaves, here is your recipe. If you’re looking for precise quantities and directions, go elsewhere, and probably don’t forage.

Ingredients

  • several handfuls of wild garlic leaves, rinsed well (you know that wild garlic grows below dog-pee level don’t you?)
  • about 100g unsalted nuts (I’ve used walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pinenuts, and a bag of mixed nuts… all are good)
  • about 100g cheese. Parmesan would be traditional, but you can mix it up with another hard cheese, or try a soft goats cheese to mix it up a bit
  • a good glug of oil – I use a mix of light olive oil and sunflower oil, but feel free to use your favourite oil (but probably not expensive extra virgin olive oil as the flavour will just get slapped by the wild garlic)
  • a wee squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Get your food processor out from whatever cupboard you keep it in. You can try making this with a liquidiser, or a nutri-bullet or one of those hand held soup zizzers. Or even one of those mini choppers. But you’ll probably kill the motor in anything other than a proper food processor with a big blade.

Roughly chop the cheese, and the wild garlic leaves. Feel free to roughly chop the nuts too, but you don’t really need to.

Throw everything in the bowl of the processor and press the button.

Keep adding more oil till you get the consistency you like. And taste it to see if you like the balance of flavours. Add more of what you fancy.

Pop in a jar and feel smug.

If you are making industrial quantities of the stuff, get yourself one of those silicone big ice cube trays, and freeze big cubes of the pesto. Once the cubes are frozen you can pop them out into a freezer bag and keep them all year. Then just nuke one in the microwave and through into a bowl of pasta to feel smug all over again.

A post-Christmas soup

4 Jan

We were given a lot of cheese just before Christmas. When I say a lot, I mean really an awful lot. Almost more than was possible for just the two of us to eat.

It included Grana Padana, Brie, Feta and Gorgonzola.

So I have discovered many things to make with cheese, Continue reading

Christmas leftovers (but no turkey)

2 Jan

It’s that time of year when you’re probably still living out of the fridge and store cupboard, still eating up bits of food you bought thinking you’d need it over the festive period. Or perhaps you haven’t over-shopped this year and you are now eating delicious meals started from scratch, made with fresh vegetables and real meat (ie not leftover roast turkey, or cold ham). If so, well done.

But have you still got things lurking in the fridge which you’ve had enough of? Maybe you’ve had enough of Stilton? Or brussels sprouts? If so, I have a couple of recipes for you which might help: Stilton Nibbly Biscuits (gluten free!) and creamy sprouts.

Let me explain first of all about the sprouts. I never thought I would grow to enjoy a sprout, but they are the Captain’s second favourite vegetable! Yes, seriously, they are. His favourite is parsnips, and I think this afternoon I’m going to find a recipe for a parsnip cake just to use up the last of the bag of parsnips I have in the fridge. But, back to the sprouts. I’ve done all manner of things with sprouts to try to enjoy them: added juniper berries, lardons, chestnuts, lots of butter… but all to no avail. Until now. I used what I had in the fridge (as you do at this time of year) and found my perfect Brussels Sprouts recipe. It’s not for the faint hearted, and should be eaten BEFORE you start your diet. But it is delicious with roast pork, or a pork chop, or I can imagine it working really well with sausages and black pudding and some creamy mash.

And then I mentioned Stilton didn’t I? One of my favourite cookbooks over the last year or so is by Thane Prince: Ham, Pickles and Jam. It consistently gives me interesting and useful recipes. One that I keep returning to is for cheesy nibbly biscuits. All you need is about 30 minutes, and food processor and some leftover cheese. OK, and some butter and flour too (preferably gluten free).  I originally wrote about this recipe here, back in 2011.

Over the months I’ve modified the recipe – these days I generally make it with stilton and pretty much always omit the parmesan. Also, when the dough is made I roll it into a great big sausage, and then just slice off pieces to bake them, instead of all that faff with making cherry size pieces and then squishing them flat before rolling them in sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are important though – they add an extra nutty flavour to the biscuit. And I’ve only ever made them with gluten free flour – I love the light crispness you get with this mix.

So, that’s your stilton sorted. Now for the brussels sprouts.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts

Prepare your brussels sprouts by cutting off the wee end, and removing the outer leaf or two if necessary. Then slice the sprouts – you’ll get about 4 or 5 slices out of each sprout, depending on their size. You don’t need to be a perfectionist with this, all you’re doing is cutting down the size of each sprout so they cook through more quickly and evenly.

Put the sliced sprouts into a wide flat pan and throw in some stock (or if you’re me, some water and a stock cube). You don’t need much stock – the idea is that the sprouts will cook in it, but it will boil away. I use about 200ml when cooking enough sprouts for two people.

Now, put a lid on the pan and boil up the sprouts. Remove the lid and stir them around a bit, to make sure all the sprouts are in the water. Put the lid on again if you think you should, but if it’s a tight fitting lid, you might want to leave a slight gap to let some steam out.

Ideally, the sprouts should be just about cooked at the point when the water is just about boiled away.

Throw in about 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg and a good turn or two of black pepper. Stir. Add a seriously big glug or two of double cream and stir again.

Leave quietly bubbling away while you serve the rest of your food up, and by the time you’ve plated everything else up the sprouts will be ready.

Delicious with roast pork and all the other trimmings, or as I’ve just discovered with Lucas Hollweg’s Beef Casserole with Cinnamon and Prunes. Exquisite!

 

Perfect and easy cheese scones

2 Dec

You know how it is, you’ve got some nubs of cheese left in the fridge and you think they’d be better cooked than eaten on a cracker.

But you want your cheesy snack NOW.

Mimolette cheese scones

Mimolette cheese scones

Well, this is the recipe for you – from start to finish it probably only takes about half an hour.

Ready?

Off we go.

Spicy cheese scones

Preheat oven to 200C / GM6. Prepare a baking sheet

  • 200g SR flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • a good shake of celery salt
  • a good shake of cayenne pepper
  • a good shake of smoked paprika
  • about 40g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, grated on a coarse grater
  • 100g mature cheddar-type cheese (I used mimolette) either grated or cut into wee chunks
  • 3tsp crunchy mustard
  • 100ml milk
  1. Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
  2. Stir in the butter and cheese
  3. Add milk and mix together with a fork
  4. Bring together with your hands and knead REALLY lightly on a floured board. If the dough is really solid, add more milk – it should come together, but feel quite light and spongey (not hard and solid)
  5. Pat down to about 2cm thickness
  6. Either use a cutter to make about 8-9 scones, or cut into rough scone shapes with a knife
  7. Bake for 12-15mins until golden brown

Grating the butter means you don’t need to do anything other than mix it in to the dry mixture – no working it till it turns into breadcrumbs. To be honest I didn’t weigh the butter, I just grated about 1/6 packet of butter (mark the pack of butter half way down, then divide the half into 3 .. don’t actually cut through it, just mark with a knife then grate to this point).

You could make these into wee baby scones and they’d be delish with a wee sherry at Christmas. Or Bonfire Night

Cheese and onion tart

14 Feb

Cheese and caramelised onion tart

I bought one of those value bags of onions the other week.

And I still seemed to have a huge bagful of onions in the kitchen this morning. What to do? Well the first obvious recipe was french onion soup. I have several recipes for french onion soup, but for some reason went for a new recipe: Nigel Slater’s Onion Soup with Madeira and Gruyere Toasts.  The picture of it looks oozingly and unctiously dark and delicious.  But mine wasn’t. He uses chicken stock instead of the traditional beef. I have no problem with this – I’ve often made onion soup with chicken stock. But I’ve no idea how he managed to get his soup so dark in colour, without a beef stock, as mine is light in colour, as you’d expect.

But, we didn’t have onion soup for lunch. And the dough for the baps remained in the bread machine till later in the afternoon.

And I got started on a better lunch solution: Cheese and Onion Tart.  This was clearly a far more sensible lunch, as it made use of not only a whole load of onions, but also some leftover cream, leftover pastry and a lump of cheese from the fridge. I love a fridge-sweep to make something new, delicious and unexpected. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner?

Cheese and caramelised onion tart

  • Shortcrust pastry made with 4oz flour
  • a big glug of olive oil
  • a big slice of butter, about 25g
  • 4 large onions, cut in half from end to end, and then thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 soupspoonfuls of muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 2 extra yolks
  • about 200ml cream
  • about 50ml whole milk
  • 2 soupspoonfuls of cream cheese
  • 50g mature cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat your oven to 200C or GM7. Butter a sponge sandwich tin (well, that’s what I used, a 23cm round tin with a loose bottom).

  1. Roll out the pastry and line the tin with it. Place the tin on top of a baking sheet – it’ll make everything so much easier later on. Put back in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Prick the base with a fork, then cover the pastry with some baking paper and baking beans. Put in the hot oven for 12 minutes.
  3. Remove the baking beans, turn the oven down to 180C / GM4 and return the pastry to the oven for 5 minutes.
  4. While the pastry is in the oven (for the first time) put the oil, butter and onions in a heavy bottomed frying pan and heat on an oh so gentle heat for 25 minutes with the lid on. You might want to stir them from time to time, but not too often, as you need to keep the lid on to retain their liquid. After 25 minutes they should still be pale in colour, but have a certain sticky gloopiness about them.
  5. Now remove the lid from the onions, stir in the sugar, and cook the onions for a further 10 – 15 mins, till nicely caramelised, and the liquid has all but evaporated.
  6. Whisk the egg and the yolks together in a big bowl. Add the cream cheese, the cream and the milk and mix. Add the grated cheddar, and season with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Spread the base of the pastry case with the dijon mustard.
  8. Pick the thyme leaves off the stems and fold them through the onions, then spread on top of the mustard
  9. Pour the cheesy, eggy, creamy mix over the top of the onions and carefully slide the whole thing into the oven.
  10. Bake for about 35 minutes – the tart should still have a wee bit of a wibble wobble about it.

Serve with boiled new potatoes and a salad. It’s best at room temperature, or a wee bit warmer.

Yeah... it tasted good

Nibbles

4 Dec
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Super easy cheesy sesame biscuits

Are we counting down to Christmas yet?  I am.  In my house, that means practising various recipes to make sure they are up to scratch as Christmas gifts.  And today is nibbles testing.

First off were some cheesy sesame biscuits, which aren’t yet in the oven (they’re doing that resting in the fridge thing, so beloved of pastry-type goods). They were ridiculously easy, and have persuaded me of the value of my food processor.  I’ve owned the food processor for bloody years.  It usually lives on a shelf, just out of reach, under the stairs.  I last used it when I attempted one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals.  He likes to use a lot of gadgets and I knew if I wanted to be in with a chance of having two courses served up within 45 minutes the food processor would be needed. I actually would have needed two, but that’s another story. It was delicious!

But back to the cheesy sesame biscuits.  They are from my new favourite cook book: Ham, Pickles & Jam by Thane Prince.  It’s a glory of a book – full of reminders of (mostly lost) traditional kitchen skills, like preserving with salt (gravad lax and preserved lemons in this section) and drying (oven-dried tomatoes and beef jerky here).  Sadly most of the drying recipes require a dehydrator, so I may take a while before I get to testing that section.

Oh my, now that I’ve brought the recipe out again to type it up, I see I’ve omitted a key ingredient in the biscuits (how can I do this when there are only 5 ingredients?).  Read on and you’ll see.  And you’ll see my adaptation too.

Cheesy Sesame biscuits

  • 4oz SR flour, or use plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder.  Gluten-free is evidently best, so that is what I have used
  • 3oz butter
  • 3oz blue cheese ( I used a distinctly average dolcelatte from tesco’s but would like to try this with some oozingly yummy gorgonzola next time)
  • 3TBsp parmesan, grated
  • 2-3 TBsp sesame seeds
  1. Place all ingredients except the sesame seeds in the bowl of your food processor and whiz, using short bursts of power, till it combines to make a dough (I forgot to add the parmesan, thinking it was going to be part of the sesame coating at the end… ooopsie)
  2. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for an hour
  3. Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F / GM7 and grease or line a baking sheet
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll cherry-sized pieces of dough into balls
  5. Roll the balls in sesame seeds (or for me, the mix of sesame seeds and parmesan) and place on the greased baking sheet.  Make an indentation in the centre of each ball with your thumb, or a teaspoon
  6. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack
  7. Perfect with an aperitif!!!  A nice wee sherry I think.

So… I clearly failed that recipe, but I suspect they will be tasty all the same.

Edited February 2018 to add:

Instead of rolling these into individual balls, roll the whole lot of dough into one big sausage (stage 2) and leave in the fridge for a while. When you take it out, slice it up. Pour a whole lot of sesame seeds onto a plate and press each slice into the sesame seeds to cover them. Place them seed side up onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 6-7 mins as above. They looks pretty special done this way (see pic above). 

While the dough has been in the fridge (and I’ve made our Christmas cake, and lunch) I also made some spicy nuts.  Also from Thane Prince, but to be honest I went a bit off-piste with this recipe too, which I think is the whole point of this one.  But, if you want to make your own roasted spicy nuts, here you go:

Roasted spicy nuts

  • 250g nuts (I used a mixture of cashews and blanched almonds)
  • some olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw egg white (not sure this is entirely necessary)
  • 1 TBsp salt flakes – use the best quality salt you can find
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and finely ground

Preheat oven to 150C / 300F / GM2

  1. Drizzle some oil on a baking sheet
  2. Place the nuts on a single layer on the baking sheet
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, till a pale golden brown
  4. While they are in the oven, use a teeny tiny whisk and try to whisk up the wee bit of egg white, really just to break it down a bit
  5. And use a pestle and mortar to grind the salt and mix with the cumin. I went off-recipe and just threw some cayenne pepper in with the salt once I’d ground it a bit with the pestle and mortar
  6. As soon as the nuts are out of the oven, turn them in the egg white, which is meant to turn them glossy.  I didn’t notice any glossiness, but it doesn’t seem to have done any harm, and I had a spare egg white from the biscuits I made yesterday, so that was ok.
  7. Once you’ve tossed your nuts in the egg white, throw the salt and spice mix over them and toss some more.  The flavours will dry on as the nuts cool
  8. Keep in an airtight container, unless you are eating immediately with drinkies.  More sherry I think!

I suspect that both of these will end up as Christmas gifts. Further copies of the book might too, if books are allowed in our homemade Christmas again this year.

Next weekend I’m baking a ham. Any suggested recipes or just general ideas for what to do gratefully received (and brutally altered to fit whatever I have in the cupboard and what mood I’m in).

later…

OK… I baked the cheesy sesame biscuits and they are just scrumptious! They are light and crumbly, and have a great blue cheesy flavour, with that typical ‘back’ flavour that comes with a strong blue cheese.  Make them!  they are delicious,  and would be even nicer with a wee glass of something to accompany them.  Pictures will follow.

A few days later… and here is a promised picture.  OK, I know I promised pictures, but you’re just getting one for just now.

Nummy nibbles

Parmesan and courgette herby muffins

2 Jul

I had to see the doctor yesterday morning.  At 10.30am.  But Id had to get up at 8am to phone the doctor, well to press the redial button many many many times before getting through to a receptionist who quite bluntly told me there were ‘no appointments today’.

I was ready for this.  My friend Jane had informed me that the way to see a doctor when faced with this sort of obstacle is to say, calmly, “It’s really important that I see a doctor today.”

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I eventually got an appointment for 10.30am.  Which gave me 2 hours to finish getting ready, bring my washing in from the line, have a quick tidy up and clean the bathroom, and make muffins.  Because of course that’s what everyone does when faced with some unexpected extra time at home.

Isn’t it?

I found the basic recipe here http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/gruyere_and_courgette_61507 and set to adapting it:

Parmesan and courgette herby muffins

8oz plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1 decent sized courgette, coarsely grated

3-4 oz parmesan, finely grated

200ml milk, and more if necessary

1 egg, beaten

75ml olive oil

a handful of chopped fresh herbs (marjoram, chives and parsley)

Line a muffin pan with muffin cases.  I ended up using 24 fairy cake cases in a regular sized muffin tin, to make nice small muffins.

  1. Mix together flour and baking powder
  2. Add courgette and cheese and mix
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, milk and egg together. Add the herbs
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix quickly together. Don’t over-mix, just bring everything together so it has no lumps of flour. The mixture needs to be quite soft and wet, but not runny
  5. Spoon a large soup spoonful of mixture into each muffin case
  6. Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden) in a medium hot oven (Gas Mark 5)

The muffins were cooled for a wee while on a cooling rack, and then bundled up in a clean tea towel, tied with a piece of string and taken to work to share with my colleagues. The verdict seemed positive!

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