Category Archives: Cheese

Chicory, Apple and Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

We invited some dear friends over for Chinese new year so to make sure we had  room for the evening’s 3 courses we had salad for lunch. We are currently experimenting with an organic vegetable and fruit delivery service so when we opened it up and found 3 gorgeous heads of chicory and some red apples I jumped at the chance to crunch my way through a tasty winter salad.

 

Chicory salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter or side

3-4 heads of chicory (depending on size, ours were quite little)

1 red skinned apple

3 tbsp walnuts, pine nuts or mixed seeds (walnuts would be best but I didn’t have any so substituted with seeds and pine nuts)

2-4 rashers of streaky bacon or pancetta

Dressing

50g blue cheese (I used some stilton left over from making a broccoli and stilton soup, but gorgonzola would be gorgeous)

2 tsp yoghurt

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard

salt and pepper

 

First make the dressing, chicory and apples discolour very quickly so you want to be able to chuck it all together at the last minute.

In a whizzer or just in a bowl break the cheese up into small pieces with your hands, now add the rest of the dressing ingredients and pulse or mash with a fork until combined but still has a nice texture

Fry your bacon on the hob without any oil until it is very crisp, then cut into small pieces.

At the same time toast your nuts/seeds either in the oven or on the hob stirring all the time to avoid burning for about 2 minutes

Now cut the end off the chicory and gently separate all the leaves

Cut the apple into quarters, slice out the core and slice very thinly

Toss leaves and apple slices together, sprinkle with seeds/nuts and bacon and dollop (it doesn’t pour!) the dressing over the top

 

 

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Filed under Cheese, Fruit, Lunch, Quick, Recipes, Starter, vegetables

A Festive Feast for 20 guests

So I have finally completed the Supper Club menu. It was a long and arduous task which involved waking up every morning with recipes stampeding through my head and worries about how to get enough serving dishes and a balanced yet crazy menu. All is now calm as the menu is set, the guests are booked and now all I have to do is cook, shop and plan (my 3 favourite things)


So here it is, the great unveiling of the Festive Feast Menu

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Monday 19th December, 7:30pm

Peckham Hotel, 137-139 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN

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Warm Spiced Cider with Cloves and Cinnamon

Rechewys Close and Fryez (Tudor Mince Pies)

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Pork Pies

Pearl Barley and Beetroot Salads

Brandied Mushroom and Chestnut Pate

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Pheasants Braised with Madeira

Glazed Carrots

Savoy Cabbage

Jerusalem Artichokes

Stuffed Pumpkins (for the vegetarians)

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Almond Milk Jelly with Pomegranates and Grapefruit Syrup

Poached Pears

Almond Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Prunes

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Port

Cheshire Cheese

If THAT doesn’t give everyone gout I don’t know what will.

I can’t wait to see you all there!

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Filed under Baking, Cheese, chocolate, Christmas, Drinks, Fruit, Meat, Pudding, Pulses, Recipes, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

Feta, Leek and Spinach on Toast

A quick lunch was required and I was at a loss until I saw the feta in the fridge and decided that it had the type of consistency that would be excellent whipped up into a frenzy with some lightly sauteed veggies and then spread thickly on toast.

Leeks go very well with feta cheese and the addition of spinach was more necessity to use it up and a craving for colour than anything else, but it’s silky texture really added to the finished experiment. This was a brilliantly simple Saturday lunch to whip up when a friend was over. It would be lovely with a crisp glass of white wine.

A variation I have thought of since would be to bake it…. If you fancy trying this just pop the whole lot in the oven for 10 minutes with a little more oil and maybe some fresh tomatoes until the feta gets really spreadable…and let me know how it turns out!

Feta, Leek and Spinach on Toast

1 block of feta

1 leek, sliced

olive oil

20g spinach

Parsley

1/2 lemon

pepper

Slice your leeks into rounds and sautee in a teaspoon of olive oil until soft, then remove them.

Wash the spinach and add to the pan until it has wilted, then squeeze out excess moisture and slice

Chop your feta into very small pieces and put it in a bowl with the parsley, lemon juice and a glug of oil

Beat until it is leaning towards smooth

Now stir in your leeks and spinach and season with plenty of pepper and some more olive oil.

Serve on top of hot toast

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Filed under Cheese, Lunch, Recipes, vegetables, Vegetarian

Party Party!

There’s nothing I  relish more than a good birthday party. So many opportunities to cook!  On Saturday we held  our birthday Ping Pong Picnic Party in the Park with mulled cider on a camping stove and lots of delicious cheeses. And birthday cake of course.

Below are several of my favourite party food recipes from a few past birthday celebrations…

Mulled Cider

Lemon Polenta Cake with Pistachio Cream

Spinach and Feta Filo Parcels

Party Biscuits

‘Caspars’

Chicory Leaves with Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnuts

Don’t f0rget to decorate the kitchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mulled Cider

For 2l good dry cider use 100ml cloudy or freshly squeezed apple juice

1 apple studded with cloves

1/2 an orange, sliced thinly

1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients into a pan and warm gently.

Drink, preferably outside, under a tree, in Autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The apple, orange and cinnamon will last for at least 4 rounds (that is 4 lots of 2l of cider) but after that the spiciness will have weakened, so make sure to have spare, this goes down a bit quickly especially at a big party!

Lemon Polenta Cake with Pistachio Cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cake

330g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

130g fine polenta, plus extra for dusting

300g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs, beaten

300g ground almonds

1½ tsp baking powder

4 tsp plain flour

Grated zest of 4 large lemons and juice of 2

Syrup

100g caster sugar

Juice of a large lemon

Icing

150g mascarpone

100g ricotta

150ml double cream

2 tbsp icing sugar

4-5 tbsp lemon curd

Handful of chopped pistachios to decorate

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees, gas 3

Butter a 23cm springform cake tin, line the base with baking paper, butter again and dust all over with a little polenta.

In a big bowl or your food mixer beat the softened butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the beaten eggs

Fold in the polenta, almonds, baking powder and plain flour with a metal spoon.

Add the lemon zest and juice, combine.

Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 1¼ hours until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean

Meanwhile, make the syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a pan until the sugar has dissolved

When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and poke holes into the cake with a skewer. pour over the warm syrup and let the cake cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes, then remove from the tin and completely cool on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, make the icing. In a bowl or your mixer, beat together mascarpone, ricotta and cream until smooth and thick. Sift in the icing sugar and mix well in. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and then drizzle over the lemon curd, you can swirl the curd into the icing with a skewer. Finely chop your pistachios (or you could use almonds) and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Watch it disappear in milliseconds.

Spinach and Feta Filo Parcels

6 sheets of filo pastry

6 shallots

2 tbs chopped fresh parsley

500g cooked drained and chopped spinach (squeeze all the juice out so you have a sort of spinach paste or use frozen which is pre-chopped, you’ll still need to squeeze it)

200g feta cheese

50g butter, melted

salt and pepper

Nutmeg

Cook or prepare your spinach (if using frozen, thaw out, drain and squeeze then use. If using fresh, wash it, then put it in a pan over a low heat with the lid on, you will need no more water than this, then drain, squeeze and chop finely)

Pre-heat the oven to gas 4 / 180 degrees

Chop the shallots finely and sautee in a little olive oil for 5 minutes or so.

Chop the feta into 1cm squares

Mix the spinach with the shallots until heated through, add the parsley feta and a good grating of fresh nutmeg to taste. Season.

Slice each of the filo sheets in half length ways, you want strips about 10cm wide and 30cm long (or you can make little hors d’oeuvre sized parcels by slicing each sheet into 3)

Brush a little butter along the edges of the pastry and put about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture into the right hand corner.

Now for folding:

Take the pastry by the bottom right hand corner and and bring it to the opposite corner above the mixture.

Brush the edges with a little melted butter then take the bottom left hand corner and lift it straight up and over. Continue until you reach the end (it should take about 5 folds.) Make sure to press the edges together so the filling can’t leak out.

Brush a baking tray with melted butter and the top and sides of each parcel too and bake for 35 minutes until pastry is browned and crisp.

Party Biscuits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This recipe is from the bbc website. They are VERY sweet, but that’s what you want at a party. Classier biscuits to follow…

250g plain white flour

85g golden caster sugar

175g unsalted butter , at room temperature, cubed

2 tbsp lemon juice

250g white icing sugar

1 tbsp raspberry jam

Heat oven to 180 degrees / gas 4. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor. Whizz until the mixture forms crumbs, then pulse a little more until it forms a ball.

Put in the fridge for at least an hour

Dust a clean surface with a little flour, then roll out the dough to about the thickness of a £1 coin. Stamp out rounds using any biscuit cutter or a water glass, then if you want them ina ring shape cut out the middles with the end of a piping nozzle. Lift onto baking sheets and bake for 10 mins until pale golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Put the lemon juice into a bowl  and sieve in 175g of the icing sugar; stir together to make a smooth icing add a DROP of water if it’s not liquid enough).

Into another bowl sieve the raspberry jam (or you’ll block up your nozzle!) and add 2 tsp boiling water, mix, then sieve in the remaining icing sugar.

Spoon the lemon icing over the biscuits, then drizzle or pipe the pink icing over. I piped people’s initials on the biscuits but you can just drizzle with a teaspoon to make splotchy wobbly lines or dots or anything else you fancy!

Leave to set for at least 20 mins. Will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight tin, longer if left un-iced.

 

 

 

Caspars

I invented these biscuits for a brand new perfect baby boy, Caspar or Mr C as he is known to his friends. Obviously he couldn’t eat them but his parents were happy to have something to give to visiting friends and family. I think they make a perfect gift, very pretty, delicate and light. And they taste delicious!

Almond, Lemon and Honey ‘Caspars’

4oz butter

2oz castor sugar

1oz muscovado sugar

4oz plain flour

2oz ground almonds

2tbs honey

zest of 1 lemon

handful of flaked almonds

1 tbsp poppy seeds

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees or gas 3

Beat butter and sugars together, add honey and combine

Add flour almonds and lemon zest and mix until a rough dough

Form into a ball and chill in the fridge for at least an hour (this dough freezes very well too)

Dust a clean surface with a little flour and roll the dough out to the thickness of a £1 coin.

Cut out with a water glass (or biscuit cutter) and sprinkle over a couple of flaked almonds, a few poppy seeds and a scattering of castor sugar

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place the biscuits on

Bake for 15 mins but keep a close eye on them. They are done when they are golden brown but they’re very delicate so be careful when lifting them onto a wire rack to cool

Chicory Leaves with Gorgonzola, Pears and Walnuts

A very simple pretty snack to serve at a party, we had these at my mum’s birthday and they went down very well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 heads of red chicory and 3 of green

200g gorgonzola

2 tbs yoghurt

3 pears quartered and sliced very finely (put the slices into ice cold water with the juice of a lemon to stop them browning)

100g walnuts, chopped and toasted for 10 mins in the oven (gas 4 / 180 degrees)

You want to make small batches of these as chicory browns quite quickly, have about 8 on a plate and 8 in the fridge at all times

Mix gorgonzola and  yoghurt together to form a soft loose consistency (add more yoghurt if needed)

Slice the end off the chicory and separate the leaves. You probably can’t use the first 3 leaves as they will be too thin and floppy

Put around 2 teaspoons of the cheese mix into a leaf, tuck a pear slice in next to it and sprinkle with walnuts.

We also had excellent parma ham from the fabulous deli with finely sliced melon, home-made hummus, mini goats cheese and red onion tarts (recipe later) and my sister’s amazing bulgur wheat salad (recipe please R!)

Eat, drink and be merry…Have a great party! Remember to invite me and I promise to bring edible gifts.

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Filed under Baking, Biscuits, Cake, Cheese, Drinks, Fruit, hors d'oeuvre, Kitchen Tips, Pudding, Recipes, vegetables

The Easiest Supper in the World

Baked beans on toast…

OK not that easy.

Mushrooms with Goats Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a great recipe with only 5 ingredients and is great for a mid-week meal. My mum used to make this when I was little but olives were something I didn’t like until my teens, I actually trained myself to like them by forcing them down at every opportunity… now I can’t get enough!

Buy big deep mushrooms, they will act as a bowl for the cheese and olives and their thickness gives a lovely meaty bite.

Mum always used a goats cheese log with a skin on the outside for this, it has the perfect combination of ooze and staying power, perfect for grilling and baking. You can buy a chunk from the deli and slice it into portions yourself or if you’re buying from the supermarket 1 pre-packaged round will just serve 2. I haven’t put exact measurements with this because I do the whole thing by eye and what is handy, also you can adjust to your taste, more olives, less goats cheese… just try it and decide.

I recently taught this to a friend who  does.not.cook.  She found the whole thing very satisfying as it requires so little preparation and time. She mastered it in one go.

Mushrooms with Goats Cheese

2 large portobello mushrooms

enough goats cheese to top each mushroom with a 1cm  slice

a handful of kalamata olives

a handful of pine nuts

butter

pepper

Serves 2

Pre heat your oven to gas mark 3 (180 degrees)

Gently pull the stalk out of the centre of the mushroom (I cup the mushroom cap in my hand and gently twist and squeeze the stalk, don’t pull or bend as this may split the mushroom) and place them, as little mushroom bowls,  in an oven proof dish.

Dot the inside of the mushroom cap with little flecks of butter

De-stone and finely chop your kalamata olives and divide between the mushrooms

With a serrated knife, slice your goats cheese into even round portions and put on top of the olive mixture.

Sprinkle with a little olive oil and freshly ground pepper  and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and the cheese is browning lightly and oozy at the edges. In the last 5 minutes, scatter over some pine nuts to lightly toast.

Serve this with a crunchy salad, watercress, beetroot leaves and roasted seeds would be good, and some crusty bread.

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Filed under Cheese, Lunch, Recipes, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

Scrumping for Quinces

It is the hottest October since 1984 and the boughs of a near-by neighbours tree are heavy with enormous ripe quinces.  One successful scrumping expedition later and I have a kitchen full of their fragrant citrus apple perfume.  I have decided to make everything and anything possible with them starting with quince paste or ‘Membrillo’. This soft fruity preserve goes beautifully with cheese (typically Manchego) and is sold by the (very expensive) ounce. It is notoriously tricky to make, but worth a go… I’ll update you once the mission begins…

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Filed under Cheese, Fruit, Preserving, Recipes