Cauliflower, leek and chorizo gratin with a parmesan crumb topping.

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So, this is my new blog. What do you think?

I thought what a better way to kick start it off but with a recipe that went out on last Friday for one of my regular shows I do for BBC Radio Leicester, “Food Friday” which I have done for a few years now. It’s on my friends show, that of course is the lovely Mr Ben Jackson. I love cooking on “Food Friday” as I love being able to help people think of ideas for the weekend. I normally do something seasonal, inexpensive, fridge raids/leftovers and family friendly recipes. You get the gist.

This dish is a simple recipe for a family of four all put together in one dish.It’s using seasonal ingredients at its best with a little something extra.

You could also have this as a side dish or starter in smaller sized dishes (how I have shown on the pictures). It’s a dish you really don’t need to be accurate with ingredients. You can play around with it a little, i.e if you don’t want to have the chorizo in it, its also great as that lovely parmesan crumb on top gives a special crunch. It would make a great dinner party dish that doesn’t have you slaving in the kitchen too.

It really is a super, simple supper that is inexpensive to make.

Click on this link to hear to me showing Ben and our listeners just how fabulous and easy it is to make.  

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Half way point!

Ingredients:

Depending on how big your dish is, this is based on serving 4 people in a 25cm gratin dish.

Gratin mix:

  •  1 whole head of cauliflower including using some of the leaves. Florets broken apart and sliced downwards to the stalks.
  • 1 leek sliced thinly
  • 1/2 chorizo ring ( approximately 100g ) chopped into smaller cubes
  • cheddar cheese grated, I used a mature British ( approximately 60-70g )
  • A sprig of thyme, if the leaves are quite large, chop them finely. My herbs are from my garden so I didn’t need to and just stripped off the leaves.
  • 300g carton of double cream ( you may not need to use it all, don’t cover the gratin mix with it )
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A few knobs of Unsalted butter
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season

Crumb topping:

  •  2 slices of bread ( a few days old ) I used wholemeal which gives more flavour
  • 2 spring onions chopped roughly
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • 2-3 tbsp Parmesan ( Parmigiana reggiano ) grated some in the crumb mix and some for on top

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At the finish, bubbling away nicely

 

Method:

  •  Preheat your oven to 180c fan.

 

  •  Blanch off your cauliflower until just starting to soften.

 

  • In the meantime, in a blender/processor blitz together the ingredients for your topping.

 

  • In your chosen dish place a layer of cauliflower at the bottom. Then layer up with your leeks, chorizo, garlic, cheese and thyme. Then finish with cauliflower again on top.

 

  • Pour over your double cream and place your knobs of butter on top. Pop in the oven for 15 mins until things are starting to bubble and brown. Take out and put your crumb topping on. Place back in the oven for another 10 mins.

 

  • When golden brown onto, serve with perhaps some crusty bread, a nice salad and a lovely red wine.

 

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Diving in!

 

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Wheres that red wine and crusty bread?

Pork and prawn crispy spring rolls

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It’s Chinese New year this weekend, the year of the Rooster and what better way to celebrate the coming of a new Spring with these lovely Spring rolls. They also are meant to represent wealth by looking like “Gold bars”.

I started to create these recipes by using one wrapper per spring roll which they do work like that, however will either break or go a little soggy after a short period of time. So because I have done smaller sized ones, I simply doubled up on the wrappers and they work wonders!

If you are celebrating the Chinese new year or want to be involved these are incredibly so simple to make.

If you wanted to do a vegetarian version, simply leave out the prawns and pork (obviously) and then add in maybe some beansprouts and chestnut mushrooms.

I don’t normally deep fry a lot of food so this recipe is a true treat. It makes a great starter to a meal or just simply a great snack for other times of the year.

Here is a link where you can hear me on BBC Radio Leicester with Ben Jackson and simply going through how to make them for you! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04qz7r3

Ingredients:

( Serves approximately 24 spring rolls )

Filling:

  • 250g Pork Mince chopped/bashed down again with a meat cleaver or strong knife.
  • Half a bag of 225g Frozen king prawns ( defrosted ) and then chopped as fine as you can get them. – These are still great flavour to fresh but cheaper in price.
  • 1/2 227g tin of water chestnuts chopped
  • 1-2 carrots depending on size, into strips using a veg peeler.
  • 2-3 leaves of Chinese cabbage/lettuce or you could use pak choi shredded.
  • 2-3 spring onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 thumbnail size amounts of fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tsp of Chinese five spice ( I used Spice Kitchen’s blend )
  • a handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • a good pinch of caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce.

– 1 packet of spring roll wrappers/pastry, defrosted. ( I used 250g weight ones but any other size, you can cut them down.

– 1ltr bottle of vegetable oil or groundnut oil.

– 2 tbsp of cornflour mixed with a little water for your “Glue”

– A wok to deep fry in!

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Method:

  • Place a damp towel over your spring roll pastry to keep them moist.
  • Put all ingredients for the filling into a mixing bowl and mix through.
  • Heat your oil in the wok. Pop in a piece of bread to see when it is ready for deep frying.
  • Onto a plate take two of your wrappers and place the square into a diamond shape, so as a corner is facing you.
  • Take a tablespoon of your mixture and place it in the centre of your parcel, making a rectangular shape.
  • Fold the corner into the middle which is nearest to you, then fold in the outer corners to the centre of the spring roll. A bit like an envelope.Tuck in and roll to the centre. Place some of your cornflour mixture around the top corner to form a ” glue” and roll into your spring roll.
  • Pop into hot oil and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Take out with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper.
  • Simply serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

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Double cheddar cheese and chive quiche with chive flowers

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Pies, tart’s and quiches are never perfect looking when I make them. I like the rustic look when I make them for the household, cliche I know but it looks homemade then.

The thing is I am not actually a great quiche lover, well I have to say, I don’t really like most shop bought ones, they have to be really good quality and then you find that the price is quite shocking for a small pastry case filled with egg. So believe it or not, when it comes to this time of year through the asparagus season and just before Wimbledon, I always fancy a quiche!
They are quite good when you think about it as you can use produce up including eggs, milk, cream. Any veg you have or when you come to the end of a packet of bacon or sliced ham and not quite sure what to do with that last slice. However for this recipe I had an abundance of beautiful chives that had flowered and I wanted to showcase how tasty eating the flowers are. What a perfect recipe to do for my regular slot on BBC radio Leicester with Ben Jackson. You can hear the recording of myself and Ben HERE
Whatever occasion you may have coming up wether it be a friend coming round for a cuppa, an alternative tea or even a picnic. A quiche can be a winner.

National picnic week falls from the 11th-19th June 2016, one of my favourite National weeks.

 

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Ingredients:

Pastry:

250g plain flour
150g Stork margarine chopped into cubes
a good pinch of sea salt
a pinch of caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp cold milk

Filling:

4 eggs
125ml double cream
100ml milk
a handful of chives chopped into 1.5cm length
sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
75g welsh slate cheddar grated
75g mature cheddar grated
( You can use any cheddar you like as long as they are different to each other but give a bit of a punch in flavour)

Method:

Place the flour in a heap onto your work surface and make a well. Add in your butter, pop an egg on top, add your salt and sugar and then start to mix in together with your fingertips.

 

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Once the dough starts coming together add your milk. Bring the pastry together to form a ball, then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until using.

 

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Preheat your oven to 190c. On a floured surface.Roll out your pastry to 2mm thickness. Line your chosen tin with the pastry and then with baking parchment and “Blind bake” with baking beans/lentils or rice for 15 mins.

After 15 minutes reduce take out your baking beans and then cook for a further 5 minutes.

Whisk your eggs, cream, milk and seasoning together in a jug. Add a layer of cheese, then custard mix, then chives, repeat again to fill your pastry case.

 

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Place in the oven for 30-40 mins.

 

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* Once cooked all the way through and golden on top, add your picked chive flowers, place on a cooling wrack to cool before slicing. Or as I did, place in the fridge overnight, then eat.

 

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Gooey Chocolate Chilli brownie’s with cranberries




  At teatime or in the evening when it begins to get chilly, this is great to have with a cup of Coffee or tea. It gives you a real tingle inside after having one.

  I have been making this Chocolate chilli brownie recipe for years now, sometimes I drizzle white chocolate on top, add pistachios or you can even change the cranberries to dried cherries. However Ive decided to use cranberries as we only seem to see them in December but in actual fact they go perfect along side the chocolate and chilli.
This is such a super, easy, sweet treat to serve whatever the occasion. It will go great after Hot dogs, or an autumnal one pot wonder. They are even fantastic to give as a gift.

  You can serve this with double cream, ice cream or to be even more decadent and naughty, I would add some booze such as Pedro Ximenez sherry.


  I also made these for my regular cooking slot on BBC Radio Leicester a couple of weeks ago so if you click on the clip here, you can hear me making them for Ben Jackson and how much he liked them! 



Gooey Chocolate chilli brownie’s with cranberries:






Ingredients:


(Serves 8 Brownies in a tin roughly as mine was 28cmx18cm )

–  100g Dark Chocolate ( at least 60,70 % cocoa solids ) 
–  88g unsalted butter
–  163g Caster sugar
–  2 eggs
–  65g plain flour
–  50g dried cranberries
–  1/4-1/2 tsp of Ground hot chilli powder (depending how hot you want it! )I use Spice Kitchen spices
–  1/4-1/2 tsp of fresh chopped red chilli ( depending how hot you want it! )




Method:

*  Grease a tin of your choice and line with parchment paper

*  Preheat oven to 160-170c

*  Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water

*  In a separate bowl whisk eggs and sugar together and then sift in flour and fold in

*  Place that mixture into the melted chocolate and butter and mix with a spatular, add in cranberries

*  place mixture into your baking tray and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes

*  Allow to cool on a tray until you cut into squares

*  Serve with a nice cup of hot drink, double cream or Ice cream. If you want to be even more naughty, pour over some booze such as Pedro Ximenez sherry.
















Berbere spiced salmon with warm summer garden vegetables






So last weekend was August Bank Holiday weekend, the last of the year. I was on BBC Radio Leicester for my regular cooking slot with Ben Jackson on his show on the Friday and I was determined more than ever to keep summer alive for one last time at least this year. I’d met Ben for Lunch earlier on that week and already Ben was talking about Blackberries, chutneys etc… The reaction from me was just not yet, not THIS weekend.

  As you know by now, all of my spices are from Spice Kitchen and they have sent me recently some extra Middle Eastern and African spices to develop with. One in the pack is Berbere which is an Ethiopian spice and is amazing! Lovely flavours with a slight kick of chilli as you’ll hear in the recording. 

  I used salmon as I just happened to still have more in the freezer from the Whole one I bought for only a fiver! But you could use other fish such as Loch trout, pollack, coley or even turkey or chicken. I teamed this up with a melange of colourful, garden, summer vegetables to try and keep that summer feeling alive.


  Little did I know how quickly the weather would change this week. So if you aren’t ready to bring out the casserole pot out yet, this is for you.


  Listen here to hear myself and Ben on the Radio:




Berbere spiced salmon with warm summer garden vegetables:








* Please excuse some of the pictures as I sometimes forget to take photos and just dive into the food! Including Ben.


Ingredients:

(2 people approximately)

Salmon:

–  2 salmon fillets
–  2 tsp of Berbere spice ( Ethiopian spice ) Or you could use, piri piri, cajun, jerk etc Mine is from Spice Kitchen
–  salt and cracked black pepper to season
–  a couple of slices of red chilli chopped finely
–  Few sprigs of fresh coriander
–  1 slice of lemon


For the Garden Vegetables:

–  1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
–  1 red pepper sliced lengthways
–  1 orange pepper sliced lengthways 
–  1 courgette sliced into ribbons
–  2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
–  1 small red onion sliced
–  1 Corn on the cob ( kernels taken off when cooked )
–  handful of cherry tomatoes sliced
–  a couple of slices of red chilli chopped finely
–  handful of fresh herbs: Oregano, lemon thyme and mint chopped finely
–  Salt and cracked black pepper to season
–  chopped fresh coriander to finish 

Method:

–   Marinate salmon fillets with berbere spice and season a little for at least an hour ( the longer you can the better)


–  Preheat oven to 190c

–  Pop on a pan of water to boil for your Sweetcorn and cook until tender



–  Pop salmon into foil in a ceramic/metal baking tray. Pop a little water into the foil. Place lemon, coriander and chilli on top of salmon and create a little parcel. Place into the oven for approximately 10- 12 minutes

–  Drain off your sweetcorn and pop aside to cool slightly

–  Fry of peppers in a frying pan, stir for a couple of minutes. Add your onion and cool for a further minute or two.

–  Add to your mix your Garlic and Tomatoes. Then your Courgette ribbons. Cook for a minute or two and stir.

–  Take off your sweetcorn kernels with a knife and add to your vegetable mixture. You could even grill the sweetcorn or bbq.

–  Add the fresh herbs and chilli, season to finish if needed.

–  Take out your salmon, serve vegetables on a plate, pop on salmon and juices and finish with fresh coriander.