Crustless Bacon, Mushroom & Pepper Quiche

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quiche 08/07/2018

What do you do when you you’re going to stay with the folks for a few weeks and you need to use up all your odds and ends from the fridge? Chop it all up and bung it in an eggy, cheesy mix of course.

This is a very simple dish that can be served hot or cold, as a snack or a meal. Use whatever combination of fillings you have. I bought quark by accident having never tried or heard of it before. I was actually after a garlic and herb cream cheese and, as usual, was paying more attention to lining up songs on my Spotify playlist than what was going in the basket but it actually gives a lovely texture and flavour to the quiche even though it is fat free.

Ingredients:

  • 100g bacon, visible fat removed, chopped
  • ½ red and ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 50g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g garlic and herb quark
  • 50g Extra-mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry for a few minutes then add the peppers, mushrooms and garlic and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the peppers and mushrooms have softened. Set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190°C/fan 170°C. Spoon the bacon mixture into an ovenproof baking dish.
  3. Mix together the eggs, quark and seasoning then spoon over the bacon mixture.
  4. Top with the grated cheddar and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until just set.
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Cheese Souffle Omelette

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souf 05/05/2018

Making a soufflé omelette is a doddle and is a perfect meal for a Sunday brunch. It takes no more than five minutes and tastes amazing. This one has three cheeses, but you can make it with just one, or even four if you happen to have them hanging around. I always have a selection of cheeses to rival a small deli in my fridge.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 oz (25 g) mature Cheddar, finely grated
  • 1 oz (25 g) Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), finely grated
  • 1 oz (25 g) Gruyère, finely grated
  • 1 heaped tablespoon finely snipped chives
  • ½ oz (10 g) butter
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

Method:

  1. First separate the eggs – yolks into a small bowl and whites into a squeaky-clean large bowl; it helps if you separate the whites singly into a cup first before adding them to the bowl, then if one breaks, it won’t ruin the rest.
  2. Now beat the egg yolks with a fork, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Next put the pan on to a low heat to warm through. While that’s happening, whisk the egg whites with either an electric hand whisk or a balloon whisk, until they form soft peaks.  Next add the butter to the pan and turn the heat up.
  3. Then, using a large metal spoon, quickly fold the egg yolks into the egg whites, adding the Cheddar, half the Parmesan and the chives at the same time. Then, when the butter is foaming, pile the whole lot into the pan and give it a good hefty shake to even it out. Now let the omelette cook for 1 minute exactly. Then slide a palette knife round the edges to loosen it, sprinkle the grated Gruyère all over the surface and whack the omelette under the grill, about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat. Let it cook for 1 more minute, until the cheese is melted and tinged golden.
  4. Next, remove the pan from the heat, then slide the palette knife round the edge again. Take the pan to the warmed plate, then ease one half of the omelette over the other and tilt the whole lot out on to the plate.
  5. Scatter the rest of the Parmesan all over and serve immediately.

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.

Bread & Butter Pudding

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Screenshot_2016-06-05-20-26-28-1[1] 10/06/2016

Bread and butter pudding is a traditional English pudding that goes easy on the wallet and is a fantastic way to use up your old loaves. It is one of my all-time favourites! Bread that is a couple of days old works best for this as it soaks up the lovely eggy custard so you get a crunchy, golden top and a soft, delicate centre. Don’t use pre-sliced bread. It is nowhere near as nice. You’ve been warned.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 slices white bread
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • approx 2 0z (50 g) caster sugar
  • 1/2 oz (10g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped
  • 2 oz (50 g) currants
  • 10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
  • 2½ fl oz (60 ml) double cream
  • 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160 fan.
  2. You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) enamel baking dish (one of the oblong kind), well buttered.
  3. Butter the bread, remove the crusts and cut each slice of buttered bread in half. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants.
  4. Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the caster sugar and cinnamon (if using) then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg and demerara sugar then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with cream, ice-cream or custard.

Screenshot_2016-06-05-20-24-24-1[1]  Screenshot_2016-06-05-20-30-15-1[1]

Top tip: To make your pudding boozy, soak the dried fruit in 2 tbsp of brandy, whisky or rum before adding. The liquid will make the fruit really plump and luxurious and infuse your pudding with a subtle boozy, warming flavour.

Shakshuka

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IMG_20141016_195832[1] 18/10/2014

Originally of North African origin, Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in tomato based sauce flavoured with spices and herbs. Here, I have used roasted garlic and chillies for flavour but feel free to experiment to your liking.

You could prepare up until the end of stage 3 in advance, freeze the sauce and have it ready to pull out of the freezer at any time for a quick meal packed with flavour.

This recipe serves 2 for a hearty winter warming meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 green or red chillies
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
  • 1 small carton of passatta
  • A pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 chorizo sausages, skin removed and broken into chunks
  • 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • Crusty bread rolls to serve

Method:

  1. Cook chilies on stove top until blistering and black all over, a few minutes on all sides. Put chilies in a bowl and cover with cling film. Let sit 15 minutes.
  2. While the chilies are cooling, heat olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the passatta and a pinch of salt, the pepper and sugar. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to low. Gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Carefully peel and discard the blackened skin off of the chilies. Slice and add chilies (with some of their seeds for a nice heat) to the passatta. Continue to let the sauce bubble for a couple of minutes then remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a cold frying pan, add the chorizo sausagemeat and bring to a medium heat slowly so that the natural flavoured fat is released. Once this happens, add the bell peppers and fry together for 6-8 minutes or until the peppers have softened but still have a little bite and the chorizo has browned nicely.
  5. Add the tomato sauce to the chorizo and peppers and stir to incorporate. Make two wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each one. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes. The egg will begin to set but will not turn white straight away.
  6. To finish, place the frying pan under a preheated medium grill for 1-2 minutes just to set the eggs. The yolks should still be really quite runny.
  7. Serve with crusty bread rolls to dunk into the egg yolks and mop up the sauce.