Friday, 29 November 2013

Festive Fruit Mince

If there is one essential thing you need in your fridge this festive season it is definitely home-made Christmas mince.  There is nothing better than a warm croissant with a thick slice of Brie and some festive fruit mince on it Christmas morning. It keeps for up to 6 weeks in a seal-tight jar as well. Here we go ...

75g brown sugar
60ml ruby port
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
75g currents
75g raisins
30g dried cranberries
1 clementine, zest and juice
25ml brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey

In a large pan dissolve sugar in port over gentle heat.
Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves, currents, raisins, cranberries, zest and juice of a clementine.
Bring to a gentle simmer for 20 min.
Break fruit with the back of a spoon in the pan.
Remove from heat and cool.
Add brandy, vanilla and honey and stir well in.
Spoon into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge.

Best ways to enjoy this:
    As a dip for a cheese straw
    Alongside a slice of pork or gammon
    Smeared on a toasted Raisin bread
    As a base with some deep fried Camembert on top

Happy holiday eating!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Butternut, Bacon & Feta Bake

Just had a special friend from New York pop in for an overnight stay.  It was awesome to catch up but being a work day there was no time to cook a big dinner.  Store bought roast chicken, rosemary potato wedges and this great winter side dish was perfect to serve.  Quick, easy and gave us loads of time to enjoy a few bottles of red wine in front of the fire - with @Angus Pitkethley.  Here we go ...    

1 tbsp olive oil
250g bacon bits
800g butternut, medium dice
1tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme
200g goat feta cheese
250 ml lite cream

Heat oven to 190'c
Add oil in a pan and fry bacon until a crispy
Add butternut and the spices to a bowl and mix
Add bacon and all the juices from the browning
Crumble 100g cheese into mix and stir through
Transfer to an oven proof dish
Rough crumble rest of the feta on top
Pour cream evenly over
Bake for 60 min until butternut is tender
Stir allowing liquid to be absorbed and serve

Enjoy as a winter side dish with almost anything.
It is even better cold the day after.

Miss you already AP, see you in a few weeks time!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Super Cheat Two-Minute Triffle

It was a total accident whipping this one up.  Needed a little sweet something to enjoy after an afternoon roast and this is what I found myself doing playing in the kitchen today.

1 pkt instant pudding, caramel flavour
4 large digestive biscuits, roughly broken
4 tsp good chunky strawberry jam
Fresh cream, firmly whipped

Follow cooking instructions of instant pudding, should take 2-3 min max
Divide biscuits evenly into the bottom of 2 dessert or parfait glasses
Heat strawberry jam for 40 seconds in the microwave to soften a little
Add 2 tsp jam per glass on top of the biscuits, making sure some trickles down the sides
Pour pudding mix over and place in the fridge to set
If using a really chunky jam, the syrup will stay at the bottom and the strawberries will float to the top of the pudding. which is perfect
Whip up cream, add and garnish with whatever you have

Delish ... and a 100% cheat, which is also fine sometimes.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Easy homemade pizza with 2 toppings

I have never made pizza before as it looks like a lot of hard work, you might as well just go buy one. However, today was the day, I rolled my sleeves to give it a bash and it was surprisingly easy.  Don't be afraid, try it ... here we go:
Making Weekends Count

250g all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
110 warm water
1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp oil
Salt, generous pinch

Add all of the above into an electric mixer with a hook attachment and mix well until dough pulls away from the edges.
Drop in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling warp and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 min.
Knead a little with floured hand before rolling out on a floured surface.
Add your favourite topping.
Bake on a pizza tray or baking sheet lined with baking paper, lightly dusted with flour at 220'c for 20-25 min until golden brown.

My favourite 2 toppings:

Spread base with tomato sauce
Add lots of grated mozzarella on top

  1. Serrano Spanish ham, black pepper, minced garlic, blocks of Camembert cheese
  2. Slithers of smoked salmon, fresh chopped dill, black pepper, dollops of cream cheese

Yummy, your family will love this one!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Soup'ilicious: Hunter's Minestrone

It is Friday so it is another SOUP'ILICIOUS night.  This is the best winter soup ever ... a take on the classic minestrone with a few tweaks.  It does have a lot of ingredients, but it is worth it.  Make a huge pot - it freezes well.

300g small pasta shells
2 litres chicken stock, homemade
6 cloves garlic, halved
4 tsp dried sage
1 sprig rosemary
3 sweet Italian sausages or chorizo sausage, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tins whole tomatoes
2 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
4 - 6 shin bones
2 tins white bean

Cook pasta according to pkt instructions
In a large pot combine stock, garlic and herbs and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 15 min and then strain.
Add sausage, carrots, celery, onion, tomato, bay leaf, salt, pepper and shin to the stock.
Cook until meat is tender.
Remove bones, stir in beans and pasta and heat through.
Process half the soup and add back to the pot - this will thicken it.

Enjoy with some whole wheat baguette and a good bottle of wine... just what we need after a hectic week at work!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Smoked Salmon, Camembert and Dill Omelette

Who says an omelette has to be a breakfast serving? They are easy, healthy and so ideal for a quick whip-up early Sunday dinner.  Using left overs, usually make the best ones that you can never repeat. Dinner tonight, Here we go ...

3 tables herb oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup cream
2tbsp chopped dill
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
100g smoked salmon, large rough strips
75g Camembert cheese, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a frying pan..
Meanwhile mix eggs, cream, dill, paprika, salt and pepper with a fork.
Do not over mix or the protein will start to breakdown and the eggs will become tough.
Pour into hot pan and turn heat down to medium.
Add salmon evenly.
Allow to cook for 1 - 2 min, scraping away from the sides allowing liquid to fill the gaps.
Once the bottom seems solid add cheese and pop under a grill for a further 1 min to cook the top until golden and fluffy.

Fold over and serve with some seasonal salad greens and crackers on the side for crunch.

This is delish.
I am enjoying it with a glass of  Macon Villages Chardonnay - thanks @Jayne Hillner, awesome wine!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Soup'ilicious: Pea & Bacon Soup

Temps are shocking this weekend and dropping!  All I am thinking is soup, soup and then again a little more soup.  Fresh country loaf, glass of Chardonnay and a log fire served on the side.  Keeping it 'soup'ilicious', dinner tonight. Here we go ...
Photograph: Amy Neunsinger

500g split peas, rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 leek, rinsed and sliced
200g bacon, large dice
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaf
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
9 cups chicken stock, homemade if possible

Place peas in a pot, cover with water.
Bring to the boil, cover, remove from heat and set aside for 1 hour
Heat oil in a large pot.
Add onions, leek, bacon, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, paprika, salt, pepper.
Cook for 15 min until softened and golden brown, turning occasionally.
Drain peas and add to vegetables with stock.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 min until peas have softened.
Set aside to cool, remove bay leaf.
Transfer to a blender and whizz in batches until smooth.
Return to pot and heat through on medium for 10 min.

Garnish with some twigs of fresh Thyme and croutons.
Yummy, tummy warmer!

Recipe freezes for up to 2-months.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Mustard and Parmesan Baked Fish

How simple it this.  Tasty, easy, very healthy and just perfect for me, myself and I as my hubby is travelling.

300g white fish of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
100g smooth cream cheese
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tbsp French Tarragon
1/4 cup grate Parmesan cheese
Paprika for dusting

Preheat oven to 200'c
Generously season one side of the fish with salt and pepper
In a bowl mix cream cheese, mustard, tarragon and Parmesan until well mixed
Spread evenly over fish
Sprinkle with a little paprika
Bake for 20 min until just done

Serve with some healthy stir fry veg ....

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Pepper Grilled Salmon

My absolute all-time-favourite, healthy and oh, so easy!  Definitely a weekend dinner winner.  Did you know that Salmon is a highly nutritious food that is high in protein and the 'good fats'.  For every 4 z serving,  it provides a full day's requirements of vitamin D?  Here we go ...

Making Weekends Count: Peppered Grilled Salmon

500g Salmon, skin off
Olive oil
10ml pepper garlic seasoning
5ml coriander, crushed
5ml Cajun spice

Preheat over to 200'C
Place salmon on a plate and drizzle with oil 
Season with all the spices rubbing them in well
Leave for 20 min at room temperature to draw
Heat skillet on the stove to hot
Add fish, meat side down and cook for 1 minute
Carefully flip and cook on the other side for 1 min
Pop into the pre heated oven and cook for a further 3 minutes - no longer!
Remove from oven, cover with aluminium foil and stand for 5 min before serving

Serve with a little white rice sprinkled with parsley and a squirt of fresh lemon

Bon appetite!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Soup'ilicious: Roasted Butternut Coconut Milk Soup

There is an Autumn icy wind blowing outside today, so what better way to warm up than with a bowl of butternut soup, warm farm style bread with some fresh salted butter. Did you know that a butternut is actually a fruit that grows on a vine?  The more ripe it becomes, its colour and sweetness enhances making it richer!  Try and use some really ripe fruits for this recipe. Here we go ...

2 large onions, large dice
1 apple, peeled, cored, large dice

2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1.5 kg butternut, peeled and cubed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1,5 litres chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp hot/chilli sauce

Preheat oven to 200'C
Place onions, apples, carrots, garlic, butternut, salt and pepper on a baking sheet
Drizzle with oil and toss well
Roast for 45 min tossing occasionally until tender
Add veg to a blender with some of the stock and blend until smooth
Add to a large pot with remainder of stock, coconut milk, paprika, turmeric, sugar and hot sauce and simmer for 10 min

Time for a nice big bowl for lunch!