This is a nibble I served to our friends whilst the Surprise Tart was cooking but we loved it so much the Boy and I had it for a light supper the next day!

This is another recipe from the New Vegetarian

You need;
30g pine nuts
5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 garlic clove
Salt and ground black pepper
4 slices sourdough, 1.5cm thick
3 semi-ripe pears, unpeeled
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
120g good quality goat’s cheese
A few leaves fresh watercress and purple basil (I didn’t have any hence mine are a little beige!)

Preheat the oven to 200C
Put the pine nuts, four tablespoons of oil, garlic, a pinch of salt and a little pepper in the bowl of a food processor and work to a coarse, wet paste.
Spread on one side of each slice of bread, pop on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly coloured.
Remove and leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile cut your pears into slices, mine were very thin but you could have thick slices if you prefer, place the slices in a bowl along with a tablespoon of oil, sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and toss gently.

Take a griddle pan and place on high flame until piping hot. Lay in the pear slices and leave for about a minute, then flip over and leave for another minute, to get char marks on both sides.

To assemble the crostini, thinly slice the cheese and arrange over the toasts, alongside the pears, then pop them in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt.

Remove, place a pile of leaves in the centre of each toast, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot!

Simple and yummy… a great starter replacement!

So I am back!

The blog is upgraded so I can add more photos and I am now clearing space in my diary to cook and blog again!

I will be blogging the wedding task very soon but whilst I do that (I have a lots of beautiful photographs to go through) I though I would share some quick easy recipes…

This is something I made for friends last week, a very easy and impressive tart for your vegetarian buddies, I pinched this from the Guardian from Yotam Ottolenghi their ‘new vegetarian’ writer and I had my doubts about the caramel but it just sank into the tart and gave it a sweet edge which went so well with the cheese.
I only wished I had made two. It’s called ‘surprise’ because the scrummy goats cheese is hidden beneath the vegetables.

You need;
500g small potatoes; charlotte/new
150g cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
40g sugar
10g butter
1 spring fresh oregano
150g goats cheese
1 puff pastry sheet

Preheat the oven to 130C then halve the tomatoes, put on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, season and dry out in the oven for 45 minutes.

Chop off a bit off the top and bottom of each unskinned potato, and cut into two to three discs around 2cm thick, then boil until cooked (approx 10 minutes)

Sauté the onion in olive oil and a little salt for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Brush a 22cm cake tin with oil and line the base with baking parchment.

In a small pan cook the sugar and butter on a high flame, stirring with a wooden spoon, until you get a semi-dark caramel. Pour carefully into the cake tin and spread out over the bottom. Scatter oregano on top.

Stand the potatoes close together in the bottom of the tin. Press onions and tomatoes into the gaps, season well and cover with goats’ cheese.

Cut a puff pastry disc 3cm larger in diameter than the tin. Place over the cheese and gently tuck the excess around the potatoes. At this stage, you can chill the tart for up to 24 hours.

Bake in a preheated oven 200C  for 25 minutes, then at 180C for another 15 minutes. Place a reversed plate on top of the tin and carefully but briskly turn out.

I served this with a root vegetable salad with a dressing also from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi;
Roast chopped parsnips, sweet potatoes, red onions (quartered) and 1 garlic bulb (halved) in the oven for 45 minutes… start with the parsnips, garlic and red onion for 15 minutes then add the sweet potatoes for the reminder… drizzle with olive oil, and generous swizzles of salt and pepper…

I served with a dressing of lemon juice, oil, Dijon mustard chopped capers then scattered toasted sesame seeds on top… fresh and wintery at the same time… YUM!

This is a great easy vegetarian menu for friends… no effort and most can be prepared in advance!

Another recipe from 101 Cookbooks Heidi once again thank you for a lovely dinner!

It’s August and so the markets are still full of courgette, I managed to grab some yellow and green this week to make a colourful spaghetti dish…

You need;
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
fine grain sea salt
2 medium courgette, sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
a good handful of dill, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds

First boil a pan of salted water and add whole-wheat spaghetti and cook for 6-7 for al dente, more if you like it soggy!

In your largest skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Stir in the garlic and cook until it starts to take on a hint of color.
Stir in the shallots and a big pinch of salt, and cook until they start to soften, a couple of minutes.

Add the courgette, stir to get it coated with a bit of oil, and arrange the coins in as much of a single layer as your pan permits.
Dial the heat up a bit if needed, add another pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the courgette browns – ten minutes or so.

Remove from heat and fold in the dill and almonds before serving.
Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

I then chucked it all together in a large mixing bowl to stir everything through and divided into bowls before adding a big scoop of very soft goats cheese.

You could also try this with other herbs, I think basil or mint would be great.

The original recipe is here

This week I had yet another food gift from a friend at work, yellow courgettes, I just love colourful food… 

I then saw a recipe although I cannot remember where (a newspaper supplement, I cannot be more specific sorry!) which I wanted to try, luckily it’s a simple idea so I managed to recreate something like it… 

Griddled Courgettes with mint and goats cheese on toast, yummy… 

I used;
2 smallish courgettes, sliced as thinly as you possibly can
75 g soft goats cheese
6-7 fresh mint leaves
olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
some nice bread (I used a plain ciabatta)

 1. Drizzle your bread with olive oil and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes
2. At the same time griddle your courgette slices on a very hot griddle pan until you get the nice grill markings, making sure to salt them first 

3. Once baked I also griddled the bread, for that grilled look but there is no need 

4. Arrange the courgettes on the toast, crumble the goats cheese on with the mint leaves, and finally drizzle with olive oil and lots of black pepper 

As you can see I also made a tomato bruschetta, for this I literally just roasted about 15 baby plum tomatoes in the oven at the same time as I baked the bread then tossed with some torn basil leaves, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. 

Another 10 minute dinner, with thanks to Nicola for the Courgettes!

Last night the Boy was (supposed) to be out for dinner so I made something I have fancied for ages but have not made for dinner as boys don’t generally consider salad a dinner option… goats cheese salad…

I really hate supermarkets but I do think they are a necessary evil if you work full-time and are not 100% organised like me, and when making a fresh salad I really hate them, but that said last night I found some good bits and made a really good salad!

I started with some salad leaves, I brought three boxes of ‘fresh and naked’ leaves (don’t google at work!) they come in cute boxes with ideas of how to eat them on the back…

I actually like lettuce, I really love lambs lettuce and baby leaves especially and I love that I can buy these little boxes in supermarkets so I can stay away from the rubbish bags, these packs even tell you who packed them for you… by name!

I also bought a sun dried wholemeal loaf with peppers and tomatoes within to make some croutons, to make these brush or drizzle your bread with olive oil (depending on how healthy you’re feeling) and bake in the over for 5-10 minutes, I would get them in first then whilst they’re going you can assemble your salad…

some quite good goats cheese (you could use any soft cheese), I already had some scrummy pomodonino tomatoes and cucumber (love) and blueberries (fruit in salad is good, also try figs or chunks of apple)

I decided to add some balsamic almonds and asparagus to help fill me up… after I had added all this it has become quite a large salad!

To make the almonds cut whole almonds in to halves (as many as you want) then pan fry them in balsamic vinegar for 5-10 minutes (another one to get started at the beginning) this makes them really sticky and they taste great

The chuck all the ingredients in a big bowl and drizzle with some olive oil and plenty f black pepper (I use tons on everything I eat!) then arrange on a plate or bowl and drizzle with some balsamic glaze (which is much sweeter and vinegar) or vinegar. Enjoy!

As it happened the Boy came home for dinner after all, luckily I had made enough for two and it got a hungry man’s approval too! However if you really are hungry you could always add some sweet potato chips or roasted butternut squash in the mix (and swap blueberries for pomegranate seeds mmmmmmmm)

Date Night

June 11, 2010

So last weekend I decided I wanted to spoil the Boy, by cooking him a 3 course meal and that I would make a real effort on presentation, which is not my forte!
I can do rustic pretty but not restaurant fussy… but I wanted to try so here you are… the results;

The Menu
Rounds of stacked beetroot and goats cheese with an orange vinaigrette

Roasted salmon with braised red cabbage and beetroot, parsnip chips and watercress

Lemon posset with Orange flower biscuits

I cannot remember where I got the starter idea from I just love goat’s cheese and I have wanted to roast some beetroot at home for ages and thought the purple of the beetroot would be impressive.

The salmon recipe was from TimesOnline

The lemon posset recipe from a National Trust Summer Pudding book my Mum brought me, you can buy it here. Lemon posset is one of my favourite puddings and I have always wanted to make it. The result was very different from those I have had in restaurants which have always been pudding like, but mine was more of a mousse, probably because of the added egg whites and so was very light, it was very good!

For the beetroot stack
2 raw beetroot
2 tsp chopped chives
1 tsp fresh thyme
Black pepper and salt to taste
2 tbsp milk
120g soft goat’s cheese
Watercress to garnish

Firstly you need to roast the beetroot, I cut off the top and bottom but left the skin on, drizzled in olive oil with black pepper and salt and roasted for about 45 minutes at 180c, but this will vary depending on size, the lower heat and slower you roast them the better.
You can do this early on or even the day before if you like, or you could even use ready cooked beetroot, but it much nicer roasted yourself.

To prepare the goats cheese pop it all in a large mixing bowl, with the milk and whip using an electic mixer then add the herb, salt and pepper and whip until combined well.

This can be put aside until you’re ready to eat, then just stack it all up, I did four layers of beetroot, three layers of cheese, I suggest you slice your beetroot as thinly as you can and maybe only have three layers as ours was quite a big starter in the end.

I served with an orange vinaigrette , hazelnuts and rocket

For the orange vinaigrette
Orange juice – from 1/2 oranges
Orange zest -1/2 an orange
1/2 tsp Dijon/English mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp thyme
Black pepper

Literally just whisk it all together, this dressing gets better day by day so make extra you will use it all up

For the roasted salmon
2 Salmon fillets (skin on if possible)
sea salt
black pepper
2 onions, sliced
1tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves finely sliced
600g red cabbage (about 1/4 of a whole one)
150 ml red wine
100 ml orange juice (1/2 oranges)
2 tbsp cranberry jelly
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
150 cooked beetroot, finely diced
1 tbsp orange zest

Heat the oven to 200c
Melt the butter and oil and cook the onions until soft
Add the garlic and red cabbage, tossing well

Add the red wine, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the orange juice, cranberry jelly, red wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper, tossing well.

Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, tossing occasionally and adding a little water if necessary.

Season the salmon, brush the skin with olive oil and sear, skin-side down, on a flat griddle pan or in a large frying pan until crisped. Place skin-side up in the roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes or to your liking.
Add the diced beetroot and grated orange zest to the cabbage and heat through. (This makes quite a lot, I served this a couple of days later with some grilled sausages and olive oil mash, yum!)

Serve the salmon on a bed of red cabbage and top with grated orange zest

As the recipe suggests I served this with parsnip chips (roasted for 30-40 minutes in olive oil, a little honey, sea salt and black pepper) and watercress drizzled with a little of the vinaigrette

For the Lemon Posset;
600ml double/whipping cream
grated rind of 1 1/2 lemon’s
150ml dry white wine
4 tbsp lemon juice
115g caster sugar
3 large egg whites
2 tbsp caster sugar
extra lemon zest for decoration

Beat the cream and the lemon rind in a mixing bowl until thick. Beat in the wine until thick again. Add the lemon juice very gradually, beating all the time.
Add sugar to taste and beat until stiff.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and standing in peaks, then whisk in the 2 tablespoons of sugar until smooth and glossy.
Fold the egg whites in the cream mixture, then pile into a glass or china bowl; this made quite a lot, enough for 6 big servings (we had it for pudding for a few days!)

with Orange Flower Biscuits
50g unsalted butter
1 large egg
40g caster sugar
pinch of salt
45g plain flour
2 tbsp orange flower water

Some kind of tin, I used a muffin tin which was not ideal, but made cute little biscuit rounds in the bottom

Melt the butter over a low heat then leave to cool.
Beat the egg, caster sugar and salt in a bowl for 5 minutes, it should look like mayonnaise
Then sieve the flour in, fold this in with a wooden spoon and fold in the butter with the orange flower water.
Mix well but don’t be too rough
Leave this in the fridge for an hour then take out and leave at room temperature for half an hour.

Heat the oven to 220c, grease the tin, whatever shape you’re using and put about a teaspoon full in each section, bake for 5 minutes, if they need a little longer just keep an eye on them. Let them cool on a rack and enjoy

This pretty much took me all day (with breaks to do other things but I prepared most of it in the afternoon and then put it all together and cooked the salmon and parsnips when we were ready to eat, by then I wasn’t very hungry but I think the Boy appreciated my efforts :)