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?

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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BBQ roast chicken pizza

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Pizza is one thing in our household that we make every couple of weeks. Reason why? Its cheap, you can use things up in your fridge and you feel like you’re having a takeaway but with better benefits.  Its very, very tasty and ultimately satisfying when you make your own.

I have so many families that have said to me in the past that they don’t have the time to do this, but I beg to differ…

Firstly the dough takes 5 minutes maximum to make, 30 minutes to rise and yes then putting on a topping and baking…another 18 minutes (approximately)  Not long hey? Surely that is the time it takes for a family to decide firstly what cuisine they are having? Who the takeaway is going to be, ordering and then waiting? Thing is…the great thing is, YOU and your FAMILY have made it and put on exactly what you want on it!

That’s really what I wanted to show you in this write up and when I went on my regular slot with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester a couple of weeks ago. It’s a great recipe to do together as a family and more to the point, the one we did here cost roughly around 85p-£1 per pizza! Bearing in mind my plain flour only cost me 45p for 1.5kg bag!

So imagine if it was just cheese and tomato, or another vegetarian option? Would be a lot more cheaper too! This week is half term, so why not have a go at making them or even on a weekend sometime.

Here I am showing Ben Just how super easy and cheap it is to make these tasty pizzas at home:

Roast BBQ Chicken Pizza:

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Ingredients  ( Makes two large pizzas)

Dough

 –  500g Plain flour

–  Good Pinch of Salt

–  A drizzle of Rapeseed Oil or Extra virgin Olive Oil

–  1 Sachet of fast action dried yeast

–  350ml of warm water added a bit at a time

 

Topping:

 

–  Roughly 1/2 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes (400g tin)

–  1 heaped Tbsp Tomato Puree

–  A few Herbs such as Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary etc chopped

–  BBQ Sauce

–  Leftover Roast Chicken

–  Bag of Grated Mozzarella (250g)

–  1 Sliced Green Pepper

–  2 rashers Chopped cooked Bacon

–  1  Red Onion sliced

 

Method:

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*  Get a Large mixing bowl and add all dry ingredients into your bowl. Pop in a drizzle of your Oil and then start to add in your warm water bit by bit.

 

*  With a Wooden Spoon, use the Handle to mix, not the spoon end as this is much easier, trust me!

 

 

*  Start to mix your Dough together, you’ll feel it starting to Gel. Keep adding your water until you have a nice dough texture. Too wet, you need to add a little dusting of flour.

 

*  On a floured work surface, just bring the dough together with your hands, kneading only slightly.

 

*  Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a warm, damp tea towel and place in a warm place. I put mine in the Airing cupboard. Leave for about 30-45 mins to rise.

 

*  Bash together with a fork in a bowl or in a Food Processor your Tomato Puree, Tomatoes and herbs.

 

*  Preheat oven to 200c

 

*  Once the Dough is ready, Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface and shape the dough out flat using your fingers as thin as you can. You can put onto a tray first if easier.

 

*  Add the Tomato paste allowing to leave an inch all around the Pizza. Add on top the bbq sauce, not too wet though.

 

*  Pop on a little cheese, then veg, meat and cheese again. Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until pizza is done.

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Bruschetta with Asparagus, Soft cheese and Homemade "Sun-Blushed" Tomatoes




One thing you will know about myself already is how passionate I am about Seasonal Food and I don’t care how many times I will repeat myself in saying this.  I feel very lucky to live in Britain and what amazing seasonal produce is all around us.  Of course I also try my best with this subject in my own Kitchen Garden.

  One seasonal Vegetable that I yearn for at this time of year and I am totally honest when I say I will NOT touch it grown from any other country but Britain, and that My readers is the Sexy, Slinky Asparagus. I know I am quite a frugal Queen, but I don’t mind a little splurge with this! 
  There is just something about the taste of our British Asparagus that is NOTHING compared to other countries who grow it. Ours has a lovely Sweet, yet Earthy and Nutty taste, not to mention the Lovely Vivid Green colour that it gives off. 



  This year, the British Asparagus season starts today, Thursday 23rd of April but prior to this, and this is just how passionate I am about seasonality. I decided that Myself and my fiancé would travel all the way over to the Wye Valley, Ross on Wye to be precise to get my hands on the very first few bunches that were starting to be sold.  My friend Ben Jackson called this “Mental Asparagus searching” which I like that! 

So to kick start off my Asparagus recipes, I wanted to do something very Easy, Fresh and clean cut, not to overpower the taste. This recipe just hit the nail on the head.  You may remember about 3-4 weeks ago I made my own “Sun-blushed” tomatoes, well I decided to use those in this recipe but of course made a fresh batch last week. It worked a treat! 


Bruschetta with Asparagus, Soft Cheese & Homemade “Sun-blushed” Tomatoes:




Ingredients:

–  Good Quality bread. I used Multigrain Rye bread. Sourdough would be great too.
–  Good Quality British Asparagus, Mine was from the Wye Valley
–  Homemade “Sun-blushed” Tomatoes or bought 
–  Soft Cheese or a mild Goats Cheese
–  The oil that the “Sun-blushed” tomatoes sits in
–  2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
–  Ice and cold water in a bowl



Method:

*  Take a Large Bowl and place in  some Ice cubes and cold water

*  Boil a small amount of water in a large saucepan

*  Take your Asparagus and take off the bottom, the woody stalk end with a knife. About an inch.

*  With a Veg/potato peeler, peel ever so slightly down about an inch 1/2 of the top layer of asparagus skin at the bottom. You will see this reveals a lovely bright vivid green.

*  As soon as you have done this, plunge the Asparagus into the Iced water, this will keep it that vivid green colour.

*  Slice your bread and drizzle some rapeseed oil onto the bread. place in a Frying pan to colour each side

*  Once your Water is Boiling, plunge your asparagus and cook for roughly 2-3 minutes depending on size.

*  When Bread and Asparagus is cooked, Start to assemble your dish and voila! A lovely starter, breakfast, Lunch…the List goes on! 



French Onion Soup (East meets West) style



When I was given the details for this Development Project for Lee Kum Kee, I thought of this recipe first, not sure how? Just I suppose I think that way and wanted to start with something fairly simple.  I believe I thought of a way in which the earthiness of the Oyster sauce and soy would work together well in which a traditional French soup has that strong  flavour.  I wanted this to be Sweet, yet powerful. 
   I would like to add that this Soup may look like you can eat tonnes of it, but do believe me, with all the flavours and Croutons, it is very filling!  This is why I feel this recipe goes to 4 people. 
  I imagine coming home from a cold hard day, need to use up an old, slightly crusty baguette and a bit of cheese in the fridge…Get that bubbling away while you’re in the bath and Bloody great stuff!  You’ve got yourself a filling, slightly different soup/meal.




French Onion Soup with Giant Garlic Cheese Croutons:



Ingredients:

(Serves 4) 

Soup:

–  3 onions sliced
–  1 Tbsp of Rapeseed or Olive oil
–  A good Knob of Unsalted Butter (40g)
–  Pinch of Caster Sugar
–  1 Heaped Tbsp of Plain Flour
–  150 ml of dry white wine
–  0.75 litres of Beef stock (1 1/2 cubes)
–  1 Bay Leaf
–  A very Small Sprig of Fresh Thyme
–  Cracked Black Pepper
–  2 heaped Tbsp of Lee Kum Kee Oyster sauce 
–  1 Tbsp of Lee Kum Kee Double deluxe Soy Sauce
–  Fresh Parsley chopped to serve

Giant Croutons:

–  A day old Baguette
–  2 Garlic Cloves
–  Grated Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese Or Gruyere 


Method:

–  In a Large Saucepan, (Heavy bottomed if possible) fry off the sliced onions in butter 
and add the glug of oil to Soften over a low to medium heat.

–  Once the Onions have softened, Add the Sugar to help the onions Caramelise.

–  When the Onions are more Sticky and golden in colour then add your flour and coat.

–  Then add the White Wine, Beef Stock, Bay Leaf, Sprig of Thyme and some Cracked Black Pepper. Partially Cover and Simmer for about 20 minutes. Checking in between if you need to top up with a little extra water.

–  After 20 minutes add the Oyster Sauce and Soy sauce and repeat for a further 20 minutes.

– Just before the Soup is ready, preheat your Oven to 180c. Place some sliced Baguettes into the hot oven for about 3 minutes. Take out. Rub some fresh garlic clove onto the bread. Cover with grated cheese and cook for a further 3 mins or until melted.

– Serve the soup with chopped fresh parsley and the Giant Croutons.

*Note* –  This Soup should Taste Sweet yet Earthy and deep from the Oyster sauce, beef stock and Soy sauce.  If it needs Salt, add extra Soy sauce. You can always add a little more   sugar also if you want it sweeter.