Camembert Snowflake

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camembert 19/01/2018

I’m a tiny bit obsessed with cheese at the moment. That’s a lie, I’m always obsessed but here is a particularly gooey, overloaded offering containing caramelised onions, bacon, herbs and buttery pastry dunked into melting luxurious cheese.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 baking camembert
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp caramelised onion chutney
  • 75g crispy smoked bacon bits
  • 1 egg whisked
  • Honey
  • Rosemary leaves

Instructions:                                               

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface. Place a large mixing bowl on top of the pastry sheet. Cut around the bowl to form a circle (around 9-10 inch diameter).
  3. Repeat step 2 with the second sheet of pastry.
  4. Place one circle of pastry on the prepared baking sheet. Spread caramelised onion chutney over the pastry, leaving the middle centre clear. Sprinkle bacon bits over the chutney and then cover with the second circle of pastry.
  5. Place the camembert cheese in the centre of the circle of pastry and then cut around to form a circle. Discard the cut pastry and lay the cheese in the open centre.
  6. Cut the circle of pastry into 16 equal segments. You can do this by cutting the circle first into 4 equal segments. Then, cut each segment in half and then in half once more, ending with 16 segments in total.
  7. Lift one segment, twist once to the right and place it down. Then lift the segment next to it and twist once to the left and place it down. Keep going around, alternating the direction of the twist. Finally, bring up edges of two segments with opposite twist and press together.
  8. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Make 3-4 slits on top of the cheese and then drizzle cheese with a little honey. Sprinkle rosemary leaves over the cheese and pastry. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Rip off the pastry branches and dunk them in the gooey cheese. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
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Chocolate Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding

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hotc 18/01/2018

What’s not to like about chocolate, custard and bread? I’ll tell you. Nothing.

I know it is only January but yes, hot cross buns line the bakery isles already and these chocolate and salted caramel versions from Tesco are no exception. Ever a sucker for the end of isle specials, I found that a few packs had made their way into my shopping bags. And what better way to enjoy them than baked up in a wonderfully gooey, fluffy and light chocolate studded custard? Again, nothing.

Ridiculously easy and ridiculously tasty. Give it a go.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 chocolate and salted caramel hot cross buns
  • 25g butter
  • 75g dark chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
  2. Cut the hot cross buns in half and butter the cut sides, sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips, sandwich together again and place in a baking dish.
  3. Beat the egg milk, sugar, salt and vanilla together and pour over the buns. Scatter with the remaining chocolate chips and bake for 30 minutes or until just set.
  4. Serve with custard or ice cream.

Chocolate Irish Cream Roulade

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roulade 01/01/2018

Happy New Year! Have I got a treat for you?

Yes.

This gorgeous chocolate roulade is made without flour so it’s light as a feather. The cake is rich and chocolatey yet light and almost mousse-like from the pillowy egg whites.

I am not usually a huge fan of cream but the Baileys filling is light and subtle. I cannot describe what a joy this cake is to make and to eat so you’re just going to have to try it yourself.

I have included some tips for the assembly but don’t worry if the cake cracks as this is part of its charm.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • butter, for greasing
  • 175g (6oz) plain dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids)
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 300ml (10fl oz) double cream
  • 4 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
  • icing sugar, sifted, for dusting

You will need a Swiss roll tin, 30cm x 23cm (12in x 9in) and 2cm (¾ in) deep.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/350°F/gas 4). Lightly grease the Swiss roll tin with butter and line with baking parchment. It helps to make a small diagonal snip at each corner of the baking parchment, about 3cm (1¼ in) long, so the paper fits snugly into the corners of the tin.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. The base of the bowl must not touch the water. Leave until just melted, then remove from the heat, stir and leave the chocolate to cool slightly. (See below, Make a light cake, step 1.)
  3. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand whisk on high speed until fluffy and stiff, but not dry.
  4. Tip the caster sugar and egg yolks into another large bowl and whisk on high speed until light, thick and creamy, for about 1½ minutes. Pour in the cooled chocolate and stir until blended. Add two large spoonfuls of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and mix gently, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Sift the cocoa and fold it into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. (See below, Make a light cake, step 2.)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is well risen and firm on top. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside, leaving it in its tin until cold (expect it to dip and crack a little).
  6. Place the cream in a bowl with the Baileys Irish Cream liqueur and whip until thick enough to just hold its shape. If insufficiently whipped it will be too runny to spread; if over-whipped it will become too thick to spread evenly.
  7. Lightly dust a large piece of baking parchment with icing sugar. Turn the cake out on to the parchment and carefully peel off the lining paper. Spread the surface of the cake with the whipped cream, leaving a bare rim of about 2cm (¾ in) all the way around the edges. With one of the short ends near you, make a score mark 2cm (¾ in) in from this edge, being careful not to cut right through. Starting at this point, tightly roll up the roulade. Transfer the roulade to a serving platter or board. (See below, Roll a neat roulade.)

 

Keys to perfection:

Make a light cake:

  • As soon as the chocolate has melted, take the pan off the heat so the chocolate doesn’t overheat or it will become too stiff; it needs to be a pourable consistency. Stir, lift the bowl off the pan and leave the chocolate to cool until it feels tepid. If the chocolate is too hot when stirred into the egg yolks it will start to cook them.
  • Pour the cake mixture into the buttered and lined Swiss roll tin. The mixture should be light and airy now that the egg whites have been added. Ease it into the corners and smooth the surface level using a spatula. Do this very gently, so that you don’t squash out the air that you have just whisked in.

Roll a neat roulade:

  • Leave the roulade cake to cool completely before you tip it out of the tin. Run a small palette knife around the inside of the baking parchment in the tin to loosen the cake, so you can turn it out easily without it breaking.
  • Gently turn the cake out on to a large sheet of baking parchment that has been lightly dusted with icing sugar. Carefully loosen the parchment that surrounds the cake and peel it off, making sure you don’t take the cake with it.
  • Using a palette knife, spread the cream evenly over the roulade, so you will get a uniform spiral of cream in each slice. Rather than spread the cream right up to the edges, leave a gap of about 2cm (¾ in) all round, or the cream will start to ooze out as you start rolling.
  • Use a sharp knife to make a score mark 2cm (¾ in) in from a short edge, and cut about halfway through the cake on the score line. This will be a useful starting point when you start rolling and will give you a tighter, neater roulade.
  • Roll the cut edge over tightly to start with, using the baking parchment to help keep it all tight by gently pulling it up and over the roll. Don’t worry if the cake cracks – that is quite normal and will be part of the roulade’s charm.
  • Keep rolling, again using the parchment to help by pulling it up and over as you roll. After rolling, ensure the join is underneath, as this will keep the roll secure, then transfer the roulade to a platter using a large, wide spatula or two fish slices.

Salmon en Croute

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salm 21/12/2017

Oh the joys of being back at home for Christmas and having a kitchen again! This is a lovely comforting dinner but isn’t too heavy as light flaky salmon and fresh greens are used. It takes a bit of time to put together but the steps are easy then you just bung it in the oven when you’re ready and you’re left with a a dish that delivers on flavour and wow factor.

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 250g ready-made puff pastry

For the filling:

  • 450g piece of salmon fillet, skinned and any bones remove, cut into 3 even sized steaks (or 3 skinless and boneless salmon fillets weighing approximately 150g each)
  • 10g butter (a heaped teaspoon)
  • 150g spinach
  • 1 rounded tablespoon crème fraîche
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 dessertspoon lemon juice
  • Whole nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

sal

Method:

  1. Place the frying pan on a high heat then add the butter followed by the spinach leaves and wilt it for about 1 minute, stirring it around until it has collapsed then tip it into a sieve over a bowl and leave it to cool.
  2. Then use the back of a wooden spoon to press the wilted greens against the sieve and extract any juices. Now place it on a chopping board and press with several sheets of kitchen paper to extract any wetness that remains. Spoon it into a small bowl then stir in the crème fraîche, lemon juice, some freshly grated nutmeg and some seasoning.
  3. Sweat off the onion and garlic in a small saucepan then remove from the heat, add the spinach mix and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. Divide the rested pastry into 3 even pieces then roll the first piece very thinly into a rectangle the same shape as the salmon fillet, roughly 21cm by 15cm (you will need to adjust the size of the pastry to according to the shape of the salmon fillet).
  5. Then place a piece of salmon on one half of each piece of pastry and spread a third of the spinach mix on top of each fillet.
  6. Using a pastry brush dampen the corners of the pastry with beaten egg then fold the pastry over the salmon to encase it and crimp the corners with a fork to seal.
  7. Put each parcel onto a parchment lined tray. Pop them in the fridge until you need them.
  8. If you are preparing them in advance cover them with a piece of cling film.
  9. When you are ready to bake them, pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
  10. Place the parcels on the baking sheet, with a liner, then make a few diagonal slashes in each one and brush each one with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes on a high shelf until crisp and golden.
  11. Serve with seasonal greens, new potatoes and parsley sauce.

Bolognese Fondue with Garlic Butter Toasts

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bol 21/11/2017

OMG! This is amazing. It’s like the easiest lasagne ever but no need to stand there layering stuff up. Instead you dunk garlicky buttery crisp bread into oozy cheese sauce and rich bolognese. A word of caution though, let it stand for 10-15 minutes once removed from the oven or prepare for a scalded mouth for the next 2 days. I learned the hard way.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the garlic butter toasts:

  • 4 slices white bread
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • Parsley or oregano, chopped
    For the fondue:
  • 100g gruyere, grated
  • 3 tsp corn flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • A splash of milk
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 25g parmesan, grated
    For the Bolognese:
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 250g beef mince
  • 1tsp each oregano, thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chopped parsley

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Roll slices of bread flat with a rolling pin. Add the crushed garlic and herbs to the butter and melt in the microwave for 10 seconds. Brush the bread with garlic butter on both sides.  Cut into four triangles, corner to corner.
  3. Place flat on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes flipping half way through until golden brown and crisp.
  4. To make the Bolognese, add the oil to a pan over a high heat and brown the beef mince. Add the onion, carrot and peppers, reduce the heat to medium and continue to brown gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.
  5. Add the herbs, seasoning and tomato puree. Stir to combine.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and a little water then let the Bolognese simmer over a low heat for 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Mix together the cheese and toss in the cornflour.
  8. Heat the wine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cheese mixture a handful at a time until you have a thick smooth sauce.
  9. Pour in some milk and allow the mixture to bubble and thicken.
  10. Spread Bolognese on the bottom of a dish.  Pour fondue mixture over top and grate parmesan to cover.  Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbling.
  11. Top with chopped parsley.
  12. Dip toasts in and enjoy!

Stromboli

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strom 16/11/2017

Italian Stromboli loaf loaded with artichokes, olives, sausage, gooey mozzarella and rich tomato sauce. I seem to be making a lot of stuff under the guise of baked bread stuffed with cheese recently but it’s not something I plan to change any time soon. This is a really satisfying, comfort food. It takes a while to put together but is surprisingly simple and totally worth the effort. You can put whatever you want in the middle. Jalapeño and chorizo is another winning combo. My little brother even likes ham and pineapple in his.

str

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity pizza dough (see my recipe for pizza dough on ‘pizza’ post)
  • 1 jar pizza topping sauce
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup artichoke heart pieces, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage, crumbled
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Cracked black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper, into an 11 X 15 inch rectangle.
  2. Spread 1/2 cup pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border around all sides.
  3. Top the tomato sauce with fresh basil leaves. Layer the sausage, olives, artichokes and cheese over the basil leaves.
  4. Then lifting the parchment paper, gently roll one short end toward the other short end, creating a log with the seam facing down.
  5. Brush the loaf with melted butter then sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the Stromboli to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve the remaining pizza sauce in a bowl to dip the Stromboli slices into.

Fatayer

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fatayer 15/11/2017

Fatayer is a pizza-like dough stuffed with a herby cheese filling in this case. They are found throughout North Africa and the Balkans in differing variations and are traditionally served during breakfast or as a snack with a hot drink.

The combination of the salty cheese, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and nigella seeds makes these fatayer irresistible. I used feta cheese since it is more readily available but if you wish to make the fatayer more authentic, use akkawi cheese.

I have also tried a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, using half of each, which was equally tasty but more subtle and creamy. Experiment with different cheeses and see what you like best. I prefer the tart tanginess of feta.

Tip: Shape the fatayer as soon as the dough finishes resting. To keep the fatayer from puffing up too much and losing their shape, it is important to bake them right away. I made the cheese fatayer into boat-like shapes, which is the way they are traditionally made, but you can use any shape you prefer, including making them into mini pizzas.

Makes 6-8

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
  • 300ml warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil

Filling:

  • 200g crumbled/grated cheese of choice (I used 100g feta, 50g parmesan, 50g boursin)
  • ½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg

fata

Method:

  1. For the dough: Place salt, caraway, nigella seeds and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
  2. Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
  3. Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. For the filling and constructing: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well until combined.
  6. Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces.
  7. Roll out into an oval shape.
  8. Put 1½ teaspoons of the filling in the middle and spread.
  9. Lift one edge and press the ends. Do the same with other edge making a boat-like shape.
  10. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.