Tag Archives: Nigel Slater

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

Banana goodness

3 Jan

So, most weeks I’ll buy some bananas at the supermarket, as I know he’ll take a banana to work each day, and it’s a way of getting towards that 5-a-day of fruit and veg.  I hadn’t really thought through the whole Christmas/New Year thing and how it might interrupt his banana consumption.  So, this morning I decided to do something with the three blackening bananas left on the side in the kitchen.

Banana loaf was the obvious choice.  Or I have a good foolproof and adaptable banana muffin recipe. But if I’m going to make muffins in the next 24 hours, it’s going to be vodka-soaked-cranberry muffins, using the cranberries from my vanilla cranberry vodka which are currently in the freezer waiting to be enjoyed.

So, I turned to the internet for inspiration and good old Nigel Slater came up trumps again. He calls it black banana cake.  And I’m not sure if that is a reference to the state the bananas are in before you start, or the fact there is plenty chocolate in there, so the cake will be darker than you might expect for a banana cake.  I figure it’s probably the former.  As ever, I vaguely modified the recipe as I went along, but you can find his original here.

Banana choc nut cake

175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened in the microwave as it’s so cold in the kitchen.  In fact it was softened so much that some of it was melted, and I had to beat it back together again

175g/6oz sugar (half golden caster, half light soft brown muscovado type sugar)

75g/2 ½ oz mixed nuts (Nigel wanted hazelnuts but I had mixed in the cupboard so that’s what I used)

2 free range eggs

175g/6oz SR flour

2 very ripe bananas (Nigel asks for about 250g/9oz in weight, but all I know is I used two ENORMOUS bananas)

About ½ tsp vanilla essence (Nigel only wanted a single drop)

175g/6oz good quality dark chocolate chopped into rough chunks

A little Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 170C/325F/GM3

Line the base and sides of a 20cm x 12cm / 8in x 5in loaf tin.  I used a 1lb loaf tin – cake is still in the oven so I’ll find out soon if it was big enough (it was!)

  1. Toast the nuts.  Rub them in a tea towel to remove their skins if you can be bothered (I didn’t) and then grind them in a food processor, or with a zizzer or whatever implement you have to grind nuts. You’re looking for a pretty fine consistency – a bit like sand. I used a hand held zizzer, you know the kind of thing you’d usually use to blend soups.
  2. Beat the butter with the sugar till light and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs one by one and beat into the butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Mix in the nuts and SR flour.
  5. Peel the bananas and chop them into small pieces into the bowl with the sugar/butter/egg mixture.
  6. Gently fold in the vanilla, bananas and chocolate nuggets into the cake mixture. Don’t overmix.
  7. Shlop into the prepared loaf tin. Dust with a little Demerara sugar (I forgot to do this, and doubt it will matter too much).
  8. Bake for 1hr – 1hr 10 mins, covering the top with foil if the top looks like it’s about to burn.

Oh my world, it’s amazing!  Lovely light texture, strong zing of chocolate when you get a nugget of it.  And gentle banana flavour running through it all.  Scrum.  Eat with a cup of Earl Grey tea, in a china teacup of course.

Banana choc nut cake anyone?

Sausages, mushrooms, chestnuts… lovely autumnal flavours

19 Nov

I love Nigel Slater.  I don’t think that’s too strong an emotion.  He’s a proper cook, and he writes beautifully.  I love good food and good writing, so what is there not to love about him?

I first came across him many many years ago – in the early 90s, with his series of books: Real Fast Food, The 30-minute Cook, and Real Cooking.  See, Nigel was doing this 30 minute mullarkey long before Jamie got on that band wagon.  Mind you, he never professed to help you make a whole meal in 30 minutes, usually just one fabulously tasty course, although often in less than the 30 minutes allotted, so you’d have time to rustle up a second course if you fancied it.

Anyway, Nigel, oh Nigel.  I try to love you on telly too, but I just don’t.  There’s something about your relationship with food (which we know all about, thanks to your excellent memoir, Toast) which is just ever so slightly creepy.  So, if you don’t mind, I’ll probably stick to reading your books and articles in magazines from now on.

However, had I not seen you on TV the other night, I wouldn’t have discovered this gem of a recipe.  It’s a perfect Autumn supper.  Or a Winter supper too probably, but I’m in denial about Winter yet.  I know the clocks have gone back, but I’m still clinging to Autumn for a few weeks yet.  So, Autumnal suppers it will be.

This is what we’re having again tonight.  Adapted of course, because I doubt I have precisely all the right ingredients to hand, although I know I have mushrooms, sausages and chestnuts, so I’m pretty much sorted.

So, thanks Nigel.  And the BBC.

This is supper for 2 people.  Or starters for 4.

Autumn sausage supper

4 large mushrooms

1oz butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

A couple of good sprigs of thyme, with the leaves picked off them

1-2 Tbsp madeira or sherry, or stock

1 medium onion, or a couple of shallots

4 tasty, herby sausages, Lincolnshire or similar will be good

A sprig of rosemary

4oz fresh breadcrumbs

4oz chestnuts, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 180C / 350F / GM4

  1. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms, and place the mushrooms in a large oven dish.
  2. Place a wee knob of butter in each one and then drizzle them with some olive oil
  3. Sprinkle the thyme leaves into the mushrooms and then glug some madeira all over them
  4. Pop the mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, the sun is probably over the yard arm by now, so you should pour yourself a glass of wine while you do the rest
  6. Roughly chop the onions and sweat in a frying pan with a little butter until golden
  7. Remove the sausage skin and break the meat into chunks and put in the pan with the onions
  8. Throw in the rosemary (either a whole sprig, or chopped up a bit) and add the breadcrumbs and allow to cook through slightly
  9. Add the chopped chestnuts and mix all together
  10. Now, if this has worked out, your 20 minutes for the mushrooms should be pretty much up, if not, put your feet up for a minute or two and have a glug of that wine. Or prepare some savoy cabbage to have as a side
  11. When the mushrooms have had about 20 mins, take them out and heap generous mounds of sausagey stuffing over the top of each mushroom, and all around, either in yummy heaps, or shape into slightly more cheffy balls
  12. Return the dish to the oven for a further half hour.  The stuffing should become crisp and golden
  13. Serve with savoy cabbage, or brussels sprouts (if you can bear them).  I’m going to try a juniper brussels sprouts recipe tonight, in a bid to make the hateful veg acceptable.  The man loves them.

Books 2011 – the results

27 Jan


Here are the books I’ve read this year:


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

One Day by David Nicholls

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards


Nourishment by Gerard Woodward

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald – our book club book for March


Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki

History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason

Room by Emma Donoghue


Ascent by Jed Mercurio


Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

The Bullet Trick by Louise Welsh

Purge by Sofi Oksanen


Toast by Nigel Slater

Snowdrops by AD Miller


Sin by Josephine Hart

The Pornographer of Vienna by Lewis Crofts (novel based on the life of Egon Schiele)


Weight by Jeanette Winterson


When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

The House of Rajani by Alon Hilu


Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson

What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson (not finished by end of year)

So.. the grand total is 26 books, and a half.  Not bad going for this year I think.

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