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

Avocado crostini

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Simplicity itself…and soooo good for you…especially after the excesses of the Christmas season…at least I hope you excessed a little!

I adore avocados…so versatile…and, apart from being an excellent source of fibre and vitamins, research suggests that there may be a number of other benefits associated with the fruit, including: lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of diabetes, promoting lower body weight, and… they contain a shedload of vitamins and other goodies. These green goddesses are an excellent source of potassium (containing more per weight than bananas). and they are rich in vitamin K, Vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E.2. And one avocado accounts for almost half your fibre content for a day. So there.

If you want to cut back on things like mayo – mash an avocado and use in its place – creamy too and better for you.

This light lunch today was a thin slice of grilled panini topped with a chopped ripe avocado, which had been mixed with the juice of half  a lemon, a small handful of chopped coriander (cilantro), a little black pepper and a dash of sea salt. You could use any herb instead of the coriander – fresh basil or oregano would work well. It would also be a great starter.

I said it was easy – and it is so tasty… and all you will need to fill you for a light lunch.

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!

Padrón Peppers Pack a punch…well, now and then…

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These beauties known as pimientos de Padrón in Spanish are one of my favourite tapas. They are so simple to prepare and have a wonderful fresh earthy flavour and, now and then, – they say 1 in 30 – one has quite a chilli kick! Whether a given pepper ends up being hot or mild apparently depends on the amount of water and sunlight it receives during its growth. They are fun to eat and my family looks on it as a kind of tapas roulette – who will get the fiery pepper!

They originate from Galicia in North West Spain, in actual fact from Padrón near La Coruna – hence the name. The peppers are picked while their size is still small, starting as soon as mid-May. Traditionally, they were sold in the period going from late May until late October or, on occasion, even early November. However, the introduction of greenhouse plantations has made them available throughout the year. e get ours from a local market but Waitrose often sell them too. You can order them on line as well.

All you need to do is take your peppers and wash and dry them. I reckon about 8 each is a good number for a tapas – but it is up to you! Pop some olive oil in a frying pan and get it hot. Add the peppers to the pan and fry gently until they start to blister and brown slightly. About three minutes or so usually.

Sprinkle them with rock salt and serve immediately – great with a nice glass of ice cold beer, a cold dry sherry or a cold crisp dry white wine. Eat it all down to the stalk!

A friend of ours calls these ‘Pardon me peppers’ – if you eat too many – you will no doubt discover why !!