Stuffed Stilton Mushrooms!

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A perfect wintery lunch! This is one of Nigel Slater’s favourites.

For 2

2 large portobello mushrooms, peeled and the stalk removed

3 knifefuls of unsalted butter – about 75 gm

A little water

A pinch of dried thyme

Some crumbled blue stilton – or any blue crumbly cheese really

A handful of chopped walnuts

All you do – pop a casserole dish on a medium heat, add the butter and when it melts add enough water to cover bottom of the dish. 

Add the mushrooms, gill side up – obviously! Sprinkle a little thyme onto each.

Pop on a lid and tuen the heat low. Let it bubble away for ten minutes – remove lid and spoon a little of the juice onto each mushroom. Lid goes back on for ten more minutes.

Then remove lid. Take pot off the leat and crumble stilton cheese onto top of each mushroom til the surface is covered. Then add several pieces of chopped walnuts onto each.

Pop back on the heat and whack it up high – after about 5 minutes the stilton will start to melt and the sauce will be bubbling and thickening.

When it has just melted, use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms onto a plate and spoon over the juices and any walnuts that have escaped!

See with crusty breadA winter lunch to impress. Can also be used as a side dish to a nice juicy steak!img_8120-jpg

Full on Feta Salad

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This can be a meal in itself – great for lunch or supper – but I had it last night with lamb chops pan fried with garlic, lemon and parsley.

INGREDIENTS

Salad leaves of your choice

6 baby plum tomatoes halved

1 block of feta rinsed and cut into cubes

12 black olives halved

Half a pointed red pepper thinly sliced

1 stick of celery thinly sliced

3 radishes thinly sliced

Handful of fresh coriander chopped- you could use mint instead

FOR THE DRESSING

6 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove crushed

Pinch of sugar

Dash of salt

Grind or two of black pepper

METHOD

  1. Make the dressing by whacking the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Toss all the there ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
  3. Just before serving , which the dressing once more and pour over the salad. 

Get a fork and tuck in!

 

 

Spinach, Goats Cheese and Walnut Pasta

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A winter wonder to wow all the family!

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INGREDIENTS FOR 4

400 gm pasta of choice 

Olive oil and a knob of butter

An onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely sliced

200ml chicken or vegetable stock

200 gm of spinach uncooked

3 tbsp of crème fraîche

100 gm soft goats cheese

Tsp of chilli flakes

A handful of basil leaves torn

2 tbsp of chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Put your pasta on to cook.
  2. Heat a little olive oil and the butter in a large frying pan or wok
  3. Add the onion and sauté gently until softened then add the garlic. Fry for a minute. Pour in the stock .
  4. Add the spinach and cook  for a minute, then add the crème fraîche and stir in. Season with black pepper.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and add to the creamy mixture. Crumble in the goats cheese.
  6. Add the chilli flakes and the torn basil leaves, then the walnuts. Stir gently.
  7. Check for seasoning.

A fabulous dish for late autumn and you can play about with it as you wish. Use different greens – maybe rocket – maybe savoy cabbage finely shredded or even crumbled broccoli. You could use pine nuts too. Tis up to you!

But you MUST try it!

Slow cooked potatoes with taleggio and thyme with cavolo nero and balsamic sausages

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This recipe is already on here (16th March 2015) please check it out. I had it tonight with oven baked sausages which I coated for the last five minutes in balsamic vinegar. Also on the plate was some lightly steamed cavolo nero, finished in butter, black pepper and sea salt.

Taleggio is so beautiful!

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Slow pan fried potatoes with mushrooms. thyme and taleggio

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This is a fabulous supper dish – great on its own or accompanying chicken, sausages, pork loin, even salmon. The flavours and textures are hard to beat. So simple, so satisfying and somehow something that feels as if you have spent a lot more time on it than you will have. I saw this recipe first on a Nigel Slater cookery programme – he is a real wizard with tasty supper dishes.

Taleggio is perfect for this – a Northern Italian soft cheese that melts to unctuous perfection. Fontina would work also. Do not remove the skin – there lurks so much of the fragrance and the flavour!

Ingredients

For 2 as a main – 4 as a small side dish. I used 750 gm potatoes for 3 of us last night.

500 gm new potatoes

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tbsps olive oil

50 gm slice of butter

2 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced thinly

A good handful or two of mushrooms of choice sliced

Thyme

100 gm Taleggio

Method

Slice the potatoes into pound coin size slices – some lengthways some across. Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan or large frying pan, and once the butter has melted, add the onion. Fry over a low to medium heat gently until the onion begins to become soft and pale gold, about ten minutes.

Then add the garlic, potatoes, mushrooms plus a good sprinkle of dried thyme or a small handful of fresh thyme leaves, some salt and black pepper. Stir gently to get all the potatoes coated in the oil and herbs.

Turn the heat as low as you can. Pop a lid on for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring every now and then. The potatoes will turn soft and golden – but not crispy – you do not want them to go crispy! – add the thin slices of Taleggio over the potatoes.. cover the pan again – it will have melted after a few minutes. 

Bring to the table and serve from the pan!

Sweet Squash and Goats Cheese Melt…

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A sumptuous simple starter to grace any table any time…especially in the throes of Autumn!

Autumn. Browns and golds speckle every roadside. Seasonal magic weaves its way into every household. Oranges and burnt umbers cascade form hedgerows. Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness descend upon each culinary heart.

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So it is that tonight after a simple carpaccio starter, I turn to a dish that one could use happily as a starter or a nourishing, warming main dish. Tis up to you. Tonight, this and the carpaccio were a marriage made in heaven. Enough with a fine bottle of shiraz to accompany it all.

I wanted to capture the season in a starter, a first course that yelled Autumn.

For 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish

1 decent sized sweet potato

1 butternut squash

Olive oil

Fresh bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped

Black pepper and a little rock salt

2 slices of soft goats cheese per person

Ok, nothing complicated here. Peel both the sweet potato and the squash. Halve the squash and deseed thoroughly. Halve again each half and slice into pound coin rounds. Then quarter the sweet potato and do likewise.

Pop all the slices into a large dish and drizzle a goodly amount of olive oil over. Add the parsley. Grind over the mix some black pepper and rock salt. Stir and leave for about half an hour. 

Heat your oven to 180c for a fan oven or 200c for any other type. Add the potato and squash slices to a roasting tin, but one that they fit into happily without overlapping.

Roast in the oven for around 40 minutes until browning and a sharp knife will easily cut into them.

Remove from the oven and add the goat cheese rounds. Pop back into the oven for about 5 to 8 inures until you can see the cheese beginning to brown and melt.

Remove from the oven and serve on platters with warm crusty bread, and more olive oil if desired. 

This is a fabulous dish and one you could play about with, experimenting with different types of squash or cheese.

Keats would have loved this, I know!

RED PEPPERS WITH GORGONZOLA

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PERFECT PEPPERS 

FOR 6

3 large red peppers, halved and deseeded

1 tbsp olive oil

200 gm gorgonzola cut into cubes – roughly 2 per pepper half (if poss. get the dolce not the piccante gorgonzola..

To dress

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped

3 tbsps olive oil

Balsamic to drizzle over – I use crema di balsamico – a balsamic glaze

Heat a large frying pan – brush the pepper halves with olive oil inside and out. Pop them in the hot pan cut side down for 5 minutes or so. Turn them over and add 2 pieces of cheese to each one. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes. Pop the pan then under a hot grill to finish off melting the cheese for about 2 minutes – keep an eye on them!

For the dressing – combine all the ingredients well in a bowl. Arrange the peppers in bowls – drizzle over a little of the dressing and then finish off with a squiggle of the balsamic glaze.

This is a fabulously simple Italian starter from the pages of Gino D’acampo – only tinkered with slightly! You could also use taleggio cheese like Gino…though I have to say the walnuts in the dressing combine mellifluously with the gorgonzola.

It is a surprisingly filling dish too when served with a slice or two of a good rustic bread to mop up the juices. It would be a great lunch dish on its own.

Nothing better than a bit of bruschetta for a Sunday brunch…

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Mozzarella, Pesto & Tomato Bruschetta

Sundays were made for bruschetta – all I did was use a slice each of a fabulous Pane Pugliese – available in Waitrose and lots of delis – toasted lightly on both sides then spread with a generous amount of a wonderful basil pesto – Pesto alla Genovese – or you could use one of your choice even a black or red pesto would be fine.

I sliced 4 San Marzano tomatoes in half and added them next. Then I sliced a ball of a good mozzarella and draped it over the tomatoes. Pop it under the hot grill for a minute or so until the moz just starts to melt – then remove and sprinkle a little black pepper and rock salt over it before adding a few fresh basil leaves.

It is bliss – each mouthful is a blessing. Make these soon. Please.

It’s all about how you like to dress…

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Greek Salad with Feta and Mint

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Lunch today was one of my favourites. The mint is magical in this combo of flavours.

For 4

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove crushed

Good pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper

200 gm feta cheese

1/2 head of iceberg lettuce shredded

6 San Marzano tomatoes quartered

1/2 cucumber thinly sliced

12 or so black olives pitted

Good bunch of fresh mint and a sprinkle of dried oregano

Make a dressing by whisking together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, sugar salt & pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. Rinse the block of feta under cold running water. Then cube it into about 1 inch squares. (Some Greek tavernas leave it whole smothered in oregano for you to break up at your leisure.)

Put the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber in a salad bowl. Scatter over the cheese. Just before serving whisk the dressing, pour over the salad leaves and toss together. Scatter over the olives, oregano and the mint!

A really wholesome and filling light lunch.

Asparagus, Taleggio and Prosciutto Pizzetta…

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A pizzetta is just a small pizza

This wonderful topping was inspired by one I came across at a restaurant called Polpo in London.

Asparagus, Taleggio and Prosciutto Pizzetta...

You can make your own dough – for one pizzetta you would only need a ball the size of your palm…but I cheated and used some fabulous round naan breads from a local deli. They worked a treat.

For each pizzetta you will need:

2 asparagus spears

Several slices of the hard style mozzarella
3 or 4 fine slices of taleggio
3 slices of prosciutto, though you could use serrano ham or speck
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Preheat your oven to 230c.

Slice each of the asparagus spears on the diagonal into about 5 pieces. pop in boiling water for two minutes then drain and rinse under the cold tap.

Evenly distribute the cheeses on the base until more or less covered. …but leave a ring around the edge as the taleggio melt beautifully and oozes outwards. Scatter the asparagus pieces onto the cheese. Pop into the oven straight onto the rack for 5 to 6 minutes – if using your own dough, put the pizzetta onto a baking sheet or pizza stone pre warmed. It should take about 7 minutes.

When the pizzeta is done, you will see the cheese run…remove from the oven and lay the ham slices on the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a good grind of black pepper….and serve! Great with a crisp green salad or radicchio leaves with a light dressing of oil.

The blend of flavours is fabulous and it makes a welcome change to the usual tomato and moz topping.

Experiment too with toppings – another favourite is a pizzetta topped with green olives, mozzarella, basil leaves and anchovies.

This is a very Venetian dish and I have enjoyed several varieties in the beautiful back street bars of Venice known locally as bàcari…and now my reminiscing has made me want to check out flights back to that most magical of cities!

Give this a go…please!