Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mushroom, sundried tomatoes and nut bake

I try to stick to meat free Mondays as often as I can. This dish came about quite by accident as I was planning on making The Hairy Bikers mushroom, feta and tomato baked peppers. The kids didn't fancy that so I decided not to roast the peppers and just use the ingredients that I had for the stuffing. It was a meal in itself and very quick to prepare and bake. I didn't feel that it needed feta and just stirred a handful of Parmesan in instead which gave a nice creaminess.

Serves 2

8 sun-dried tomatoes pieces in oil, drained well
2 tsp sunflower oil
2 x 175g packs of chestnut mushrooms, wiped and diced
20g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
50g of dry white or brown bread crumbs
1 tsp chilli flakes
100g feta cheese or soft goats cheese (or just a handful of Parmesan)
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200. Roughly chop up the sundried tomatoes. Heat the oil in an oven and stir fry the mushrooms over a high heat for 4 minutes.
Add the roughly chopped hazelnuts and fry for a further minute until the nuts are lightly toasted. Season with a good grind of black pepper and remove from the heat.
Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Break the cheese into small chunks and toss them through the stuffing lightly. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture and bake for about 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are crispy. Serve warm with a lightly dressed mixed salad.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Well you couldn't eat a huge slab of this cake, even my daughter, the Queen of consuming chocolate cake found it on the rich side. I just fancied giving it a go yesterday after seeing the recipe on the Delicious website. It was relatively easy to make, but quite extravagant with ingredients, its certainly not an everyday cake. Was it better than chocolate brownies or a basic chocolate cake?  I'm not sure. Everyone who had a slice said how lovely it was, but left a little. Maybe a bit too chocolatey, but if that's what you like this one is for you. The middle is moist and gooey and the recipe says to serve with fresh raspberries, which would have been perfect to combat the sweetness. 

Serves 10-12

250g unsalted butter
300g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
5 medium free-range eggs, separated
250g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
Cocoa powder for dusting
Fresh raspberries, and double cream to serve

You’ll also need…
23cm springform cake tin, greased and base-lined with baking paper

Heat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the butter starts to turn brown and smell biscuity. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. 

Remove from the heat, then whisk in the egg yolks. Transfer to a large clean mixing bowl.
In another large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks using an electric mixer (the peaks should droop when the beaters are lifted out). Mix the sugar and almonds into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the egg whites using a large metal spoon. Pour the mixture into the tin.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, then chill until needed.
Just before serving, dust with cocoa powder, then decorate with raspberries and rose petals, if desired. Serve with cream.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Pasta with a Quick Sausage Sauce

This may look like a basic ragu, the principal is the same but its actually quite a different flavour from a beef based sauce. I love the addition of the rosemary and the herby taste of the sausages. The recipe is an old one from the River Cafe Cook book,  now I have remembered about it I'll make it more often. I love the Italian name for it "Penne con Sugo di Salsiccie alla Cloe". Comforting, wintery, perfect for a cold January weekend, accompanied with a nice glass of red. Unless you're doing Dry January of course. 

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions, peeled and chopped
6 Italian spiced, fresh pork sausages, meat removed from skins and crumbled (Any sausages will be fine)
1½ tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 small dried chillies, crumbled
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g penne pasta, (more for a larger appetite)
5 fl oz double cream
120g parmesan, freshly grated

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the onion until light brown. Add the crumbled sausage, the rosemary, bay leaves and chilli. Fry together over a high heat, stirring to mash the sausages. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, and continue to cook for 20 minutes. The sausage meat should become brown and disintegrate. Add the tomatoes, stir and return to the boil. Remove from the stove. Cook the penne in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly. Stir the cream into the sauce along with the drained penne and half the parmesan. Serve with the remaining parmesan.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year

Christmas was as usual filled with wonderful food and spent with family and good friends. I didn't eat too much, but what I did eat was quite indulgent as you can see from the pictures below. Probably my favourite meal was the Pre-Christmas meal that my husband and I  cooked together,  when the kids were out for the night. I could just eat it now, my mouth is watering looking at the photo of the pheasant in cream and calvados sauce. Christmas Day dinner was a very delicious turkey cooked by my mum and brought along on Christmas morning, we added all the traditional accompaniments to it and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. New Year's Eve dinner was pulled pork, roasted slowly for hours in an aromatic rub, with potato wedges and homemade coleslaw, followed by lemon cheesecake and salted caramel pavlova. So now the thought of some homemade soup for tea seems quite dull and boring, but in typical New Year fashion, it's time to cut back a little, so it will have to do this evening.

Happy New Year to everyone who reads my blog, I'm sometimes amazed that people still do and I really appreciate all of you.