Monthly Archives: October 2007

Bacon & Mushroom Quiche

Continuing our theme of not-so-healthy dinners, I made a bacon & mushroom quiche for tea tonight. I admit I cheated slightly with the pastry. I can make really short pastry which is great for mince pies, but not so good with quiche so I picked up some ready made pastry in the shops. I’ve never really “baked blind” before and I forgot that pastry does sometimes shrink, but I managed to fit nearly all of the egg mix in. However I forgot that our oven is on a slight slant and the egg mix tipped out of the back of the pie and into the oven. Oh well!

Bacon and mushroom quiche
serves 4

pre-cooked pastry base
3 rashers of bacon, cut into pieces
5 mushrooms
3 eggs
100ml double cream
100ml milk
handful of grated mature cheddar

1) Preheat oven to 160oc. Fry bacon and mushrooms until cooked. Sprinkle pastry base with cheese then bacon & mushroom

2) Whisk eggs, milk and cream together then season. Pour egg mix in base. Cook on a baking tray in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Plum & Port Brulee

We’ve had some plums for a few weeks now that have been refusing to ripen, so rather than making a jam with them I stewed them with port and served it as a kind of creme brulee for pudding tonight. Photo isn’t great as hubby kept on casting a shadow as he was blow torching his pudding. Plus the dodgy things that look like chicken nuggets at the front of the plate are actually pieces of puff pastry (leftover cuttings from the pies!) that had been dusted in icing sugar and baked in the oven!

Plum & port brulee
Serves 2

4 plums, stoned & quartered
2 tbsp port
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 star anise
6 tbsp yogurt/creme fraiche
demerera sugar

1) Simmer vanilla sugar, port and plums for 10 min. Allow to cool for around 10 min then spoon into ramekin dishes.

2) Spoon yogurt over plums then sprinkle liberally with demerera sugar. Either place under grill or use blow torch to caramelise sugar.

Cauliflower Cheese & Bacon Pie

I’ve been wanting to make a pie for a while, but never really got around to it. I fancied a pie that wasn’t your usual beef/chicken pie and came across a cauliflower cheese pie on the GFM website. To make it non-veggie for hubby I altered the recipe slightly and added some bacon. I was really tasty, creamy but light at the same time and we’ll be certainly be having it again. I did use my alphabet cutters to put our names on top of the pies, but it hasn’t shown up well on the photo. I served it with carrot and roast potatoes.

Cauliflower cheese and bacon pie
Serves 2
1/2 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 rashers of smoked back bacon, cut into small strips
3 spring onions, chopped
200ml creme fraiche
100g mature cheddar (I used Quickes cheddar)
ready-made puff pastry
egg, lightly beaten
1) Preheat oven to 200oc. Fry bacon and spring onions until bacon is cooked. In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together (apart from pastry) then spoon into pie dishes.
2) Roll out puff pastry to size of dishes then place on top. Pinch around the edges and use a knife to put 2 slits into each piece of pastry to stop it getting soggy underneath. Brush with a small amount of egg. Cook for 25-30 min.

Boiled Fruit Cake

I have an addiction. Some people have addiction to shopping, others to gambling, me?…. it’s cooking. Everyday this week I’ve had an overwhelming desire to cook. I get really fidgety until I’ve cooked something! Yesterday I had made my granola by 8am and today a boiled fruit cake was out of the oven by 9.30am. However making granola at 8am probably wasn’t the best idea as I forgot to add the vanilla and used greaseproof paper instead of baking parchment and the granola welded itself onto some parts of it. I’ve also been thinking in detail about Christmas baking. I’m sure I’ll be back to normal next week once half term is over!

My good friend Rachel made this boiled fruit cake back in the summer holiday for a camping trip. It was so delicious, I had to have the recipe. It’s a wartime recipe (hence the lack of eggs) that her Grandma gave her.

Boiled fruit cake

8oz/225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
4 oz/110g of margarine
4-8oz/110g -225g mixed fruit
4 oz /110g demerara sugar
180ml hot water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1) Preheat oven to 160oc. Sieve flour, nutmeg, mixed spice and salt into bowl. Mix in fruit.

2) Heat margarine, sugar and water into saucepan and heat gently until marg has melted and sugar has dissolved. Boil for 3 min. Allow to cool.

3) Add bicarbonate of soda to cooled sugar mix. Pour into flour mix and combine quickly.

4) Pour cake mix into lined cake tin (7-8 inch diameter). Bake for 1 hour.

Firstly “hello” to everyone who found my blog after my Cinder Toffee post was linked to on the Guardian website. My sister has been down to stay with us for a couple of days. Yesterday we went to Birmingham with the primary aim of eating our way around Selfridges Food Hall. I haven’t been feeling well over the last couple of days so we ended up not eating much, it was more window shopping! But when I go back in the next couple of months I will certainly try out the noodle bar and one of their ice cream sundaes. The only things we brought from there were some Krispy Kreme doughnuts (almost as good as ones I tried at a fiesta in Spain) and Lucky Charm cereal for hubby. I was hoping to get some Welch Grape Juice that I have seen there before, but the shop assistant didn’t know what I was going on about.

Lunch was at EAT! I really like this place as the food is fresh not doused in mayo and is forever changing depending on the seasons.

The only other foodie purchase of the day was a metal hand whisk. Only recently I replaced my old metal hand whisk with a silicone one, thinking it would be easier to clean. Yes it is easier to clean, but it doesn’t whisk very well at all, so decided splash out on a new posh metal whisk from House of Fraser.

Sausage Casserole

Most weeks Hubby makes a sausage type casserole for his lunch. Every week the ingredients vary depending as to what is in season and what is in our cupboards. This week Hubby isn’t feeling too great so I’ve made the casserole.

Hubby’s sausage & bean casserole
Serves 3-4

2 large leeks, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 lemon & fennel sausages, each cut into 3
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
5 flat cap mushrooms, sliced
500ml passata
250ml beef stock
1/2 cup of red lentils
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 can of cannellini beans (or naked beans as Hubby calls them !)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp thyme
salt & pepper

1) Fry leeks and garlic in a large saucepan in a small amount of butter until soft. Add the sausage pieces and fry until beginning to brown.

2) Stir in carrots and mushrooms and cook for 2 min. Pour in passata, stock, Worcestershire’s sauce, bay leaf, thyme and seasoning. Stir. Simmer for 25 min.

3) Stir in lentils and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add cannellini beans and cook for another 5 mins. Regularly stir during these 10 mins or the lentils and beans can catch on the bottom of the pan.

Crumpets & Cinder Toffee

I woke up stupidly early this morning with a deep urge to make crumpets from breakfast. I decided to use the crumpet recipe that was used in last weeks Something for the Weekend. It was really interesting seeing the dough develop and it was a really springy dough texture. They tasted delicious (far far better than shop brought variety), but the texture wasn’t quite right. I think I may have over beaten it when I added the milk. We started out making the crumpets with a metal pastry ring, but also tried pouring the batter straight into the pan and they turned out more like pikelets. I did take pictures, but they just look awful!

Not to be undeterred I decided to make cinder toffee this afternoon. I’ve always been a bit scared of boiling sugar, worried about burning myself. I had heard from some people that the Nigella recipe for cinder toffee doesn’t always work so I found an alternative recipe in a back copy of GFM. If only I knew cinder toffee was so easy, I would have made it ages ago. It was amazing to watch the reaction between the sugar and bicarb. My sister is coming to stay tomorrow, but I can’t guarantee there will be any cinder toffee left by then. The pieces just keep on falling into my mouth!

Cinder toffee (Honeycomb)

5 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1) Heat the sugar and syrup gently in a saucepan until sugar has melted, begins to boil and turns a golden yellow colour.

2) Whisk in bicarb with a hand whisk then pour quickly onto baking parchment. Allow to set.

tip: to clean toffee encrusted pan, pour boiling inside pan and the toffee will melt away.

Garam Masala

As I’m now on half term I have lots of cooking planned for the next week. First on the list was garam masala. I’ve been meaning to make some for ages, but just never got around to it. Traditionally garam masala contains cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom, but it greatly varies depending on the region it is traditionally from. I came across this recipe on Kitchen Chick and as I had all the spices decided to give it a go.

The smell that filled the kitchen while the spices were roasting in the oven, was amazing. As I don’t have a coffee grinder I had to use my blender, pestle & mortar then passed it through a tea strainer to ensure I was left with just the powder. I was a bit scared about putting the whole nutmeg through the blender so grated it first. I’m looking forward to cooking with the spices.

This week is British Sausage Week and tomorrow is Apple Day so to celebrate we’re off to Chantry to buy some of their award winning sausages and I’m planning to make apple and plum strudel.

Any chance of healthy eating before Christmas has been blown. I’ve just seen Lidl’s TV advert promoting their Christmas range. I spent 3 years of my childhood growing up in Berlin and have fond memories of the Christmases there. A great deal of my memories relate to the food that is traditionally eaten in Germany over the festive period. The Glühwein, stollen, pfeffernüsse, lebkuchen herzen and chocolate coated marzipan. I can vividly remember staring through a bakery window watching them construct a huge gingerbread house.

I could happily swap traditional British Christmas fayre with the German traditions. I have made my own stollen and pfeffernüsse before, but they still are not quite as good as the originals. Lidl’s mini stollen and dark lebkuchen herzen are addictive.

oooohhh I’m hungry now and craving lebkuchen!

Shepherd’s Pie with Spiced Parsnip Mash

Originally I was going to make moussaka for tea then hubby announced he doesn’t like aubergines so I had to have another think about how I was going to use the lamb mince and make it stretch over 2 nights. Some body then suggested shepherd’s pie. After having a quick search online I came across this recipe for shepherd’s pie with spiced parsnip mash.

Hubby enjoyed it, but I’m not too sure. I think I found the parsnips overpowering. I would rather a load of cheesy mash on top than parsnips.

I have a stat counter on this blog that tells me where visitors come from and what they click on while they are here. The Google keyword hits are the most interesting, “immaculate baking” did make me laugh! Over the last few days I’ve had quite a few hits from around the world after people putting “custard creams” ?!?

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