Tag Archives: recipe

Cauliflower and blue cheese soup

Cauliflower is fairly good value at the moment and I have been trying to think of some different things to do with it.  As cauliflower and cheese is a classic combination I thought I would try it in a soup.

I found that blue cheese works well in the soup as it adds a salty creaminess that doesn’t overpower the flavour of the cauliflower. By adding crème fraiche, I found that it enhanced the creaminess of the cheese and helps to make the soup silkier.  The lardons give yet another texture – especially if you can make them golden brown and slightly crunchy.  However, they aren’t strictly necessary but are a nice addition.

I served this soup with homemade cornbread which added a light sweetness which lifted the soup, however good French bread would work just as well.

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Cauliflower and blue cheese soup

Ingredients:

  •          1 medium cauliflower (cut up into medium sized pieces)
  •          1 onion (diced)
  •          2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  •          2 bay leaves
  •          1 small bunch of thyme (tied together)
  •          1 ½  litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
  •          50g blue cheese (e.g Bleu d’Auvergne)
  •          3 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  •          ½ tsp pepper
  •          50g lardons (for decoration, optional)
  •          oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Place the onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaves in a large pan with a little oil and sweat on a medium heat until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the cauliflower and stock, bring up to the boil and cook until a knife goes easily through the cauliflower.
  3. Remove the thyme and bay leaves then, liquidise the soup.
  4. Put the soup back into the saucepan and add the crème fraiche, crumble in the cheese and season.
  5. Cook for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile cook the lardons in a hot saucepan until they are golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve the soup with a few of the lardons scattered on top with some French bread or cornbread.

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Rabbit and Pork Terrine

Last week I went into a local store (Quercy Frais) to buy some pork to make a terrine.  On asking the advice of the butcher, I was informed that if I wanted meat for a pâté I should wait until Thursday when they held their weekly pâté promotion for seasoned pâté meat at 3€ / kg.  Thinking this was a great deal we decided to go for it.  So, on Wednesday we placed an order for the number of kilos we were after (15kg) and went back in to collect it on Thursday.  What we got is a combination of pork meat, pork liver and pig fat that had been seasoned and coarsely ground.

Please note when I set out to make my terrine I was looking to buy 1kg at most.  However, after much discussion at home we decided to make up a variety of different pâtés in various quantities.  I think in total we have around forty 400g pots which are now stashed away in the larder ready to be opened when they are needed.  Despite our forward thinking and marking each of the pots with a marker pen before they were placed into a huge vat, the pen markings came off the pots during the cooking process – so now it is a case of a lucky dip when selecting our pâtés…

Over the course of the next week or so I will blog all of the pâté recipes.  First up is a Rabbit and Pork Terrine,  I made it by first poaching the rabbit simply because I find it easier to get the meat off the bone after cooking.  I then added a selection of spices, fruit and vegetables that complimented both of the meats very well.  By wrapping the terrine in streaky bacon it held its shape making it far easier to cut into slices.

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Rabbit and Pork Terrine

Ingredients:

Poaching the rabbit:

  • 1 large rabbit
  • 2 onions (cut into quarters)
  • 2-3 carrots (cut into chunks)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (keep in their skins)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries
  • 1 – 2 litres chicken stock (enough to cover the rabbit)
  • seasoning

For the terrine:

  • 800g poached rabbit meat (removed from the bone)
  • 800g pork meat for pâté (alternatively use a combination of pork belly, pork shoulder and pig liver and season well)
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries (crushed)
  • ¼ tsp allspice (crushed)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves (from the poaching pot squeezed out of their skins)
  • 400g apricots (roughly chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 15-18 thinly sliced rashers of streaky bacon
  • 3 bay leaves (for decoration)
  • 1 tsp peppercorns (for decoration)
  • butter (for greasing)

Steps:

Step 1 – Prepare your rabbit:

1.  Preheat oven to 160C fan.

2.  Place the rabbit, onions, carrots, garlic, juniper berries and seasoning in a casserole dish (with a lid) pour over the stock until the meat is covered.

3.  Cover and place in the oven and cook for 2 hours.

4.  Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool.

5.  Strip the meat from the bones of the rabbit and cut up roughly.  (Keep the stock to make a soup later in the week).

 

Step 2 – Prepare your terrine

1.  Combine the rabbit meat, spices, onions, garlic, apricots and eggs in a bowl.

2.  Add the pork meat and mix well.

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3.  Prepare your terrine dish by greasing with butter and then lining the sides with the streaky bacon.

4.  Pack the rabbit and pork meat into the terrine dish pressing down firmly.

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5.  Wrap in the bacon, place the bay leaves and peppercorns on top with a final knob of butter.  Cover with the lid.

6.  Place in a roasting tin that has been half filled with boiling water.

7.  Place in an oven at 160C fan for 1 ½ hours.

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8.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

9.  To serve, remove the terrine from the dish by warming in a little hot water for a few minutes, run a knife around the edges and then tip out onto a plate.

10.  Serve with, some French bread and gherkins and/or chutney and/or red onion and port marmalade.

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Chicken in breadcrumbs

This is one of my all-time favourite things to eat.  This is my aunt’s recipe which she often cooked for us when we visited her in Italy.  Whilst it may not be the healthiest thing to eat, it is absolutely delicious as most fried foods tend to be…

When I was last in London my brother cooked this for me, however, he broke away from the traditional recipe and used a combination of stuffing mix and parmesan because he couldn’t find any breadcrumbs.  I have to say it worked well, but, my aunt’s recipe will still always be my favourite!

I tend to make my own breadcrumbs these days as a way of using up any stale bread as I hate throwing things away.  Below is a quick guide to make them.

Quick guide to making breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 100C fan.
  • Cut any old or stale loaves/rolls etc. into chunks.
  • Place the chunks onto a roasting tray and bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour to remove any moisture from the bread.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  • Place the bread in a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.
  • Store in an airtight jar.

 

Chicken in breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4oz breadcrumbs
  • 1oz parmesan
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • oil (for cooking with)
  • 1 lemon (cut in quarters for serving)

Steps:

1.  Slice or beat the chicken (using a rolling pin) into thin escalopes.

2.  Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg (make sure it is well covered).

3.  Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and seasoning together in a bowl.

4.  Place the chicken pieces into the crumb mix and coat thoroughly pressing the crumbs firmly into the chicken.

   

5.  Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan.   Once it is very hot, carefully add the chicken in batches and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes. (Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the middle of one of the escalopes).  Place the cooked pieces in an ovenproof dish, keep the warm in the oven at 100C fan

6.  Once all the chicken is cooked serve with a piece of lemon and the vegetables of your choice for example ratatouille and/or mashed potatoes.

 

Chilli con carne, jacket potato and coleslaw!

Everyone has their own ‘go to’ comfort food and I think that chilli con carne is in my top five.  What I like about this dish is that the chilli offers warmth and a little bit of spice whilst the coleslaw counteracts some of that spice and provides certain freshness and a pleasant crunch. Finally, a jacket potato with its crispy skin and wonderfully soft middle fills you up and soaks up all the other flavours on the plate.  Perfect comfort food!

I recently entered a competition for comfort food with my lemon drizzle cake with raspberry sauce.  It did quite well and was selected as one of the top 10 recipes. However, sadly it did not win.  Since entering the competition I have been thinking about comfort food and how what food I go to for comfort changes during the course of the year.  For example, in the summer, my preferred comfort food is the aforementioned cake because it is so light and refreshing and gives you a brilliant sugar rush but on the whole doesn’t make you feel that guilty…  Whereas, in the autumn months, chilli con carne and lasagne are two of my favourites, particularly when the cold wet weather and short days are getting me down.

Chilli con carne

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 300g mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • seasoning
  • oil

Steps:

1.  Place the onion, garlic, sugar and a little oil in a pan – cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.

2.  Add the mince and spices and cook until the meat has browned off.

3.  Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and season well, cook on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Finally add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Salted Jacket Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (ideally Maris Piper, King Edward or Mona Lisa)
  • Salt

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 200C fan

2.  Wash the potatoes well removing any bruises, eyes and bad bits.

3.  Sprinkle salt all over the potatoes.

4.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  To see if the potatoes are cooked either see if a knife goes through easily or, preferably, give the potatoes a squeeze to check if the middle is soft enough.

5.  Serve with a little butter.

Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 400g white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp mayonnaise

Steps:

1.  Grate the cabbage, onion, apple and carrots using either a manual grater or a food processor.  (Personally I prefer it when the vegetables are coarsely grated).

2.  Place the grated fruit and vegetables into a bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix well.  Serve.

Chestnut Cupcakes

A couple of days ago I tried out another idea I had for using fresh chestnuts since we had some sitting in a fruit bowl waiting to be used.  I had been wondering for the last couple of days how they would work in a cake.  So, after preparing my chestnuts, I gave it a go.  The resultant cake was delightfully crumbly and light.  It was much sweeter than I thought it would turn out but was just what I needed after an afternoon spent painting.

The one thing I would say if you do make these cupcakes is make sure there is no husk left on any of the chestnuts before you grind them up as it can make the cupcakes have a slightly gritty texture.  If you can’t find fresh chestnuts then using tinned or vacuum packed chestnuts would be fine.

 

Chestnut Cupcakes

Ingredients: (makes 12)

For the cake:

  • 4oz chestnuts (ground finely – see chestnut preparation)
  • 5oz caster sugar
  • 5oz butter
  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For the frosting:

  • 2oz chestnuts (finely ground)
  • 2oz butter
  • ½tsp salt
  • 6-7oz icing sugar

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 170C fan.

2.  Grease and flour a muffin tin or cupcake tin.

3.  Place all of the ingredients for the cake together in a bowl, beat together using an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Spoon the cake batter into the muffin tin.  Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (or until a skewer comes out of the cupcakes cleanly).


    

5.  Run a knife carefully around the sides of the cupcakes then tip them out onto a cooling rack.

6.  Whilst the cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting.  Combine the butter, chestnuts and salt in a bowl.  Gradually add in the icing sugar stirring continuously until you have a fairly stiff frosting.

7.  Spoon a little of the frosting onto each of the cupcakes and smooth it over using the back of the spoon.  Serve with a cup of tea or coffee.  Enjoy!