Category Archives: cheese

Chilli beef burgers

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A few years ago I dropped in on Jones and her parents in Shropshire and I was treated to Papa Jones’ chilli beef burgers and they were pretty special.  Last week I thought I would see if I could recreate them, given that we had an abundance of burger buns in the freezer.

Making burgers is incredibly straight forward and can be made and cooked within 15 minutes, so a perfect option if you are looking for a simple supper.  You can ‘jazz up’ your burger by adding Stilton and tomato relish which is my preference, or you could go for a combination of, cheese slices, fresh tomato, bacon, mustard, lettuce, etc. The options are endless…

With BBQ season coming up quick and fast these burgers are a great option and can be made up well in advance and will keep in the fridge if covered in cling film for a couple of days.   This is definitely a recipe to try.  Enjoy!

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Chili Beef Burgers (makes 6)

Ingredients :

  • 400g minced beef
  • ½ red onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (diced)
  • 1 birds eye chilli (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 egg
  • seasoning

Steps :

  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well (it is much better done with your hands).
  2. Shape the mixture into 6 equal sized balls.
  3. Heat a little oil in a heavy based frying pan.  Place the meat balls in the pan, using either your hand or a spatula to flatten out your burgers, till they are roughly ¾ of an inch thick.
  4. Cook your burgers for roughly 3-5 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve, in a burger bun with a side salad.

Tip:  If you are going to serve your burger with cheese, just before removing the burger from the pan place the cheese on top of your burgers so that it melts slightly.

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Bruschetta snacks

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Jones (my housemate) and I have had a tough week and were feeling somewhat jaded this morning.  There was only one way to make us feel better –food.  Unfortunately for us that meant a joyous trip to the supermarket on a Saturday morning before we could tuck in.

Fancying something a little bit healthy, we settled on the idea of bruschetta, mostly because it can be put together in a matter of minutes and it looks and tastes good!  In the end we made four different types: a classic tomato, a pea and broad bean, goat’s cheese and beetroot and avocado, red pepper and mozzarella.

These bruschetta are perfect for a light lunch, starter or even a canapé.  Don’t be afraid to change the ingredients depending on what you have available and what is in season.  The only thing I would strongly advise is make sure that you season the toppings well and make sure you always taste as you go along.

 

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Avocado, Red Pepper and Mozzarella Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1/3 of a red pepper
  • ½ a mozzarella ball
  • 4-5 green olives
  • 1 tbsp of fresh chopped chives
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic glaze

Steps:

  1. Dice the avocado, red pepper, mozzarella and olives.
  2. Place in a bowl with the chives and stir.
  3. Season well, add balsamic glaze and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the balsamic glaze and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.

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Classic Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • Handful of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 4 black olives
  • 1tbsp of finely diced chopped red onion
  • 5/6 basil leaves (chopped finely)
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps:

  1.  Finely chop the cherry tomatoes, olives. (If the tomatoes give off a lot of juice then pour away some of the excess)
  2. Place in a bowl along with the red, basil.
  3. Season well , add the lemon juice and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the lemon juice and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your tomato mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.

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Pea and Broad Bean Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 handful of broad beans (frozen are fine)
  • 1 handful of peas (frozen are fine)
  • 5/6 mint leaves
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps:

  1. Place your broad beans in a pan and cook according to the instructions.  Once they are cooked peel the broad beans (it is worth the effort.)
  2. In a separate pan cook your peas, once cooked place in a bowl together with the broad beans and mash using the back of a fork.
  3. Season well, add the mint, lemon juice and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the lemon juice and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.

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Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cooked and peeled beetroot
  • 2” goat’s cheese log
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic glaze

Steps:

  1. Dice the beetroot and goat’s cheese.
  2. Place in a bowl and mix together.
  3. Season well, add balsamic glaze and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the balsamic glaze and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.


 

Stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon

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I think time must have started speeding up as I have no idea where the weeks let alone the days nor hours…   I am very much back in London mode, where you try to fit in as much as possible during the day.  Whilst it couldn’t be any more different to SW France, I am glad to be back and I’m thoroughly enjoying being able to catch up with my friends throughout the week and heading off to go sailing or do something a little bit different at the weekends.   (If you are missing my tales of SW France, check out Mumsy’s blog http://molleslifeinswfrance.wordpress.com/author/mollesquercy/ for French life from a less food orientated perspective!)

Between all the madness I have been able to keep playing in the kitchen and have been making a few different things including a fish pie parcel (that I was really pleased with and I hope to share the recipe over the course of the next week) and two gluten free lemon drizzle cakes.  The gluten free cakes have caused me a little bit of dismay, I am used to my cakes being fairly light and delicate and the gluten free cakes were definitely not that!  Truth be told the first attempt at making the cake was definitely the best, I used almonds in the place of the flour and it tasted OK despite the cake itself feeling like a lead weight that crumbled everywhere.  The second attempt was, umm let’s say interesting, it is the first time in years that I have actually followed a recipe for a cake because it suggested using a combination ground almonds and mashed potato.  Yup, you read it right, mashed potato.  In fairness to the mashed potato, I think it did make the texture of the cake more like a sponge, but the taste, well that had a lot to be desired!  However, I shall persevere and try and find a gluten free recipe that both looks and tastes good.

One meal that I have repeated a couple of times over the last couple of weeks has been stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon.  The joy with this recipe is that you can prepare it the day before if you think you are going to be short of time and then simply throw it in the oven and cook it as soon as you get home and 40 minutes later you have a delicious meal on the table.  The chicken is stuffed with Boursin Cheese which along with wrapping the chicken in streaky bacon keeps the chicken breast beautifully moist.  The only fiddly bit in making this meal is wrapping the chicken breast in the streaky bacon, but once you’ve found the technique it couldn’t be easier!  This is definitely a recipe worth trying!

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Stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 12-16 slices of streaky bacon (smoked)
  • 1 Boursin cheese
  • olive oil
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan.
  2. Remove any sinew from the chicken breasts then, using a sharp knife create a ‘pocket’ in the chicken breast that you are going to stuff the cheese. (I find the easiest way to do this is to work from the ‘fattest’ side of the chicken breast and work carefully inwards, making sure that the cut runs almost the full length of the chicken breast so that you can pack in as much cheese as possible).
  3. Once you have made the ‘pocket cuts’ in the chicken breast, taking a good wedge of the Boursin cheese stuff  the breasts, packing it in firmly, make sure that you press down on the breast to close the ‘pocket’.
  4. Next lay 3-4 slices of the streaky bacon out on top of a chopping board so that they create a rectangle for the chicken breast to be wrapped in.  Place the chicken breast towards one side of the rectangle and then roll up in the bacon, wrapping it as tightly as possible.
  5. Place the chicken breasts on a baking tray, season with black pepper, drizzle over a little olive oil.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.  Serve on a bed of sweet potato mash or couscous with the vegetables of your choice.  Enjoy!

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Starter: Goat’s cheese tartlets – Main: Mediterranean chicken

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I started my new job just over a week ago and I am finding the early mornings a bit of a shock to the system.  That being said I’m slowly getting back into the routine of things. One thing that I can say however is that I have not missed the London commute during my time off; the tube whilst practical is not a pleasant experience in rush hour.   Consequently I am forcing myself to brave the elements and cycle to work 2-3 times a week…

There was one thing that I had been missing whilst I was living in France and that was cooking/going to dinner parties.  This weekend I had the flat to myself and I seized the opportunity to get friends over and spend the evening eating good food and drinking far too much wine!

We started off the evening with a very simple canapé/starter of goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlets.  I used filo pastry to make them as it is beautifully light and the resulting tartlets look very pretty.  On this occasion I didn’t serve the tartlets with anything, however, a simple rocket salad work well.

For the main I cooked chicken in a Mediterranean style sauce mixing a combination tomatoes, olives and feta.  The resultant dish was fresh and packed full of flavour.  I would recommend serving the chicken on a bed of mashed potato with steamed vegetables.  It is a simple dish to make and is a great option to make if you are having lots of people over!

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Mediterranean Chicken (Serves 5-6)

Ingredients:

  • 5/6 chicken breasts
  • 800g chopped tomatoesDSC_0551 (3)
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes
  • 100-125g black pitted olives
  • 2 large onions (finely sliced)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ glass of red wine (I used a Rioja)
  • 200g feta cheese (cut into cubes)
  • ½ tsp herbs of Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • Seasoning
  • olive oil for cooking with

Steps:

1.  Preheat an oven to 180C fan.

2.  Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil and cook on a medium heat until they are soft.

3.  Pour a little oil into a large roasting tray, add the chicken breasts and make sure they are coated with the oil and season well.

4.  Add the softened onions, olives, chopped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, wine, lemon zest, bay leaf, herbs and mix together.

5.  Cover the roasting tray with tin foil and cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

6.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven.  Scatter over the feta cheese and parsley and then serve with some mashed potato and the vegetables of your choice.

 

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Goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlets

Ingredients: (makes 24)

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  • 250g goat’s cheese (cut into small pieces)
  • 100-125g sun blushed tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
  • 2tsp freshly chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • black pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat an oven to 170C fan.

2.  Lightly grease two mince pie trays, place 2 squares of filo pastry into each of the moulds.

3.  Mix together the goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomatoes in a bowl, then put a little of the mixture into the centre of the pastry.

4.  Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with black pepper.

5.  Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the cheese has melted.

6.  Remove from the oven and scatter over the chopped parsley just before serving.

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Turkey in a creamy sauce with leeks and green beans

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It has been a while since my last blog, but I am slowly getting into the rhythm of London.  I had forgotten what London is like, particularly if you are a cyclist! I bought my road bike when I was last living in London and used to enjoy commuting on it as it guaranteed I got a good dose of fresh air.  However, I had forgotten how busy the roads can be and now more often than not find myself holding my breath and staying as close to the curb as possible every time a huge lorry or bus rattles past me – a stark contrast to the country roads of France which I had all to myself…

I had also forgotten how little time there is to cook when you live here as so often the evenings are filled with seeing friends or going to the gym etc.  Consequently being able to rustle up a quick supper that is fairly healthy is an absolute necessity.  The meal below is one such example as it shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes to make.   The leeks and beans make sure that you have a proper amount of vegetables and add a nice variety of textures to the dish.  The sauce is not overly creamy and complements the vegetables and turkey bringing the whole dish together.  I would tend to serve this dish with plain rice, however boiled potatoes or a jacket potato would make a nice alternative.

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Turkey in a creamy sauce with leeks and green beans

Ingredients:

  • 400g turkey breast (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 leeks (washed and cut into 1cm circles)
  • 1 large handful of green beans (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 50g cream cheese (roughly 1 heaped tbsp)
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 handful of flour
  • 50-100ml water
  • Seasoning

Steps:

1.  Combine the flour, seasoning and crumble the stock cube into a bowl, add the turkey pieces and mix until the meat is coated with flour.

2.  Heat some oil in a frying pan, then add the meat and brown off.

3.  After about 5-10 minutes add some water a little at a time stirring continuously until you have a sauce the consistency of gravy.

4.  Add the leeks and beans, cover with a lid and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the leeks have softened.

5.  Just before you are ready to serve, add the cream cheese and season as needed.

6.  Serve on a bed of plain rice or with a few boiled potatoes.

Warm goat’s cheese salad

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After a not too stressful trip back to the UK I am back in London.  I have been assured by the Old Man that Hetti (the puppy) is OK and demanding attention from anyone that will give it to her.  Meanwhile I have commenced the delightful task of job hunting…

Yesterday, evening on the request of my brother’s girlfriend I cooked a vegetarian supper.  As I have mentioned before my mind often turns blank when I have to think of a vegetarian meal.  I wanted to cook something relatively healthy, unfortunately that meant that anything involving pastry was out.  Also, I wanted to use up a couple of the leftovers that were in the fridge.  After a little bit of thought I settled on the idea of a warm goat’s cheese salad.

The salad had a lovely combination of flavours and textures.  The goat’s cheese melted slightly due to the heat of the new potatoes and sugar snap peas and made the salad beautifully creamy.  It was filling and is definitely a good meal to have in reserve if you have a vegetarian over for lunch or supper.

Warm goat’s cheese salad (Serves 3)

Ingredients:

  • 200g soft goats cheese
  • 1 bag of baby leaf herb salad or lettuce
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  • 10-15 new potatoes (pre-cooked and cut into small cubes)
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 3 beetroot (pre-cooked and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 handful of sugar snap peas (cut into small pieces)
  • 2-3 spring onions (cut into thin strips)
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar (for dressing)
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the potato pieces, oregano and season well.  Cook on a medium heat until the potatoes are golden and crispy all over.

2.  Once the potatoes are almost cooked add the sugar snap peas and cook for a minute or so that they are warmed through.

3.  Dress your plates by place the salad leaves on the base then scattering over the tomatoes, beetroot, spring onions, potatoes and sugar snaps.

4.  Finally place slices of the goat’s cheese on top, drizzle over a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with some freshly ground pepper.  Enjoy!

Savoury chelsea buns

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Yesterday, Mumsy returned from buying the bread looking very pleased with herself.  She explained that she had been chatting to various people whilst waiting for the bread to come out of the oven and had arranged for us to go around a local ‘Fromagerie’ (Cheesemaker ) that evening at 6pm.  Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind; (1) that Mumsy had arranged something at [heaven forbid] ‘Apéro time’; and (2) why did she think I wanted a tour of a fromagerie/dairy farm?

In fairness to Mumsy, earlier in the week I had asked if we could pop up to the local Fromagerie (about 5km away) to buy some cheese.  I was interested in ‘Le Quercy Blanc’ (as the Fromagerie is known locally) because I had tried several of their cheeses at various fêtes during the summer and thought they would work well in a couple of recipes…  Also, I fully endorse supporting local producers – not only does it keep them in business but, more often than not, their produce is infinitely better than the equivalent that can be found in the local supermarket.

Anyhow, yesterday evening Mumsy and I donned our coats and boots and set off in the pouring rain.  The first thing to say is actually I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was.  Having grown up living in farmhouse that was attached to a Diary Farm I knew about the milking processes, but I have not seen cheese production on a small scale.  The farm is run by 3 families and between them they have roughly 200 milking cows, (the vast majority of which are Holsteins).  For their cheese production, they syphon off a very small quantity of the milk the output of roughly 4 cows (between 100-125litres a day).

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 The proprietors explained the cheese making process which to all intents and purposes was very straightforward.  The ‘raw’ (i.e unpasteurised) milk is placed in a large vat, ‘la présure’ (rennet) is added, how much that is used depends on the type of cheese being made (e.g. a Tome requires a higher concentration to produce its texture and form).  The milk is then left to do its work over a period of 24hrs, whereupon the curds are separated from the whey.  From there it is either potted up and labelled as ‘Fromage Blanc’ or salt is added to the curds which are then shaped in moulds before they are left to mature in a ‘warm’ refrigerator (around 14C)  from anywhere between a week (for the soft centred cheese) to 2+ months for the Tome.  After that time the cheese, brushed down in the case of the Tome, is then placed in a ‘cool’ refrigerator where it is stored until it is sold.      

 

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I have to say I am really pleased that I visited the Fromagerie as it allowed me to create these Savoury Chelsea buns for lunch.  The cheeses complimented the sweet flavour of the dough and the combination of the lardons, cheese and red onion and port marmalade worked better that I could have hoped.  Whilst I appreciate unless you go to an extraordinary effort to travel to this part of the world you will be unable to use the same cheeses that I have, do not worry just use the cheeses that you have available that are similar and most importantly that you like! Enjoy!

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Savoury Chelsea Buns (makes 12)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour (Type 80)
  • 40g sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 200ml milk (warmed slightly)
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:

  • 25g butter (melted)
  • 3 heaped tsp red onion and port marmalade (see recipe)
  • 2 soft centred cheese, roughly 100g (I used a local cheese, but Rocamdour, Cabecou or even a Brie would do)
  • 50-75g Tome, grated (alternatively use medium Cheddar or Gruyere)
  • 50-75g lardons or bacon bits
  • ½tsp thyme
  • 1 egg beaten (for glazing)

Steps:

1.  Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix together.

2.  Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.

3.  Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.  The dough will be fairly wet.

4.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

5.  Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 2 – 3 hours (until it has doubled in size).

6.  Knock the air out of the dough, place on a floured surface and flatten into a rectangular shape.

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 7.  Brush the dough with the melted butter, spoon over the red onion and port marmalade, scatter over the cheese, lardons and thyme.

8.  Roll the dough up into a long cylinder shape then, cut into 12 equal-sized pieces.

9.  Place the pieces in a greased and floured tin, brush with the egg wash and leave to rise until they have doubled in size.

10.  Once they have risen, bake in an oven at 180C fan for 18-20 minutes.

11.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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