Sunday, 27 May 2018

Caramelised Red Onion, Cream and Stilton Quiche

I love quiche, the famous French tart is a regular favourite at home. I love making quiche and trying the different variations that this robust tart can offer. This quiche is a rather grown up quiche, the caramelised red onion offers a sweet flavour, the cream a creamy texture (as expected) and the Stilton offers a further depth to this. This is perfect quiche to make over a lazy Sunday or over the Bank Holiday. Any leftovers also make a fabulous lunch. 




Serves 4-6
Takes 15 minutes to make (plus cooling), 1 hour 5 minutes to cook.

Ingredients
50g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 large red onions, thinly sliced
couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 deep 25 cm blind-baked shortcrust pastry tart case
4 eggs
300ml single cream
200g Stilton, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of rocket leaves

Method 
Melt the butter with the oil in a large, deep saucepan. Stir through the onions and thyme sprigs, then cook, uncovered, over a very low heat for at least 30 minutes or until they are really soft, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the thyme stalks.
Pour in the balsamic vinegar, increase the heat a little and continue to cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes until you are left with a dark rich mass of caramelised onions. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool - the onions will be very hot indeed so let them cool down until they are cool enough to touch.
Once the onions are cool, preheat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/Gas mark 6.
Spoon the onion mixture into the pastry tart case and spread evenly. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and cream and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly pour into the pastry tart case, allowing it to settle and find its own level gradually around the filling, then sprinkle over the Stilton.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the filling is just set and the cheese is melted. Carefully remove the quiche from the tin and transfer it to a serving plate or wooden board. Serve hot or warm, scattered with a generous handful of rocket. This is a very rich quiche, so a simple salad dressed with a sharp dressing with work nicely as an accompaniment.

xxx
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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Steak and Guinness Pie

I absolutely love pies, nothing is more comforting than a steaming homemade pie on these cold dark nights. I love the versatility in pie fillings from a light and fresh filling to something hearty like the recipe I will be sharing. Steak and Guinness Pie, has a lovely Irish twist on a traditional Steak Pie - the addition of Guinness adds an intense warmth flavour. The steak is slow cooked in the oven for a few hours which makes the meat tender and full of flavour. Although this pie isn't a 30 minute wonder, as the oven does the hard work for you, once the meat browns, you can sit back and relax. A perfect dish to make over the weekend. 




Recipe from Leiths How to Cook

1 packet puff pastry (extra flour to dust)
1 egg

For the filling

1 onion
3 tbsp olive oil
handful mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and oregano
1kg beef chuck steak
450ml Guinness
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp butter, softened and mixed with 2 tsp flour, if needed
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method
  1. For the filling, halve and peel the onion and cut each half into 4 wedges. Place in a medium flameproof casserole or ovenproof pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, cover, ideally with a cartouche, and sweat over a low heat until soft and translucent but not taking on any colour.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop enough herb leaves to give you 1–2 tablespoons and set aside. Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the beef and cut it into 2–3 cm cubes.
  3. Heat the oven to 150°C.
  4. Once the onion is soft, remove it from the pan and set aside. Brown the meat in batches in the pan, using as much of the remaining oil as necessary and deglazing with a little water after each batch.
  5. Return the onion to the pan and add the Guinness, tomatoes, chopped mixed herbs, bay leaf and some salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Return all the meat to the pan and add a little water if the meat is not covered.
  6. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook gently for 2–2½ hours, or until the beef is tender. To check, remove a piece of beef; you should be able to cut through it with the side of a fork or spoon.
  7. Remove from the oven and drain the cooking liquid into a small pan. Discard the bay leaf, then taste and reduce the sauce, if necessary, to a consistency that lightly clings to the meat and a good concentration of flavour. If the sauce needs thickening, use a little beurre mani矇 (the butter and flour mixture).
  8. Add the beef back to the sauce and transfer to a lipped pie dish, ensuring the filling fills the dish generously. Use a pie funnel if necessary. Leave to cool completely.
  9. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 3 mm thick and 3 cm bigger all round than the pie dish. Cut off strips that together will line the lip of the pie dish. Lightly beat the egg with a very small pinch of salt, using a fork, then pass through a sieve into a bowl.
  10. Press the pastry strips onto the dish lip and brush with a little beaten egg. Carefully lift the pastry rectangle on top and press gently over the lip, to join the edges. Trim off the excess pastry and cut up the sides. Place 2 fingers lightly on the edge of the pastry and draw the back of a cutlery knife between your fingers and upwards, to create a scalloped effect. Make a hole in the centre of the lid to allow steam to escape. Cut out leaves or decorations from the pastry trimmings, if desired, and stick to the pie lid with beaten egg. Glaze the pastry with the beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm the pastry. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
  11. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg again. Bake the pie in the top of the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is well risen and golden and the filling is piping hot when tested with a skewer.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Spicy Potato Quiche

I've been on a mission to cook and bake from my almost 200 cookery books this year. The recipe for the Spicy Potato Quiche is from one of the first baking books I brought, Readers Digest Baking Bible. I often visited WH Smith back in 2011 at Birmingham New Street when I was studying for my Masters degree. Flicking through the array of baking recipes I was amazed by the eclectic range of recipes, many were distinctively American, others were incredibly retro and many more, such as this recipe, were very inspiring.  I have probably blogged about quiche and it's variant more so than other savoury bake. The French inspired bake has so many variants, from the simple egg and bacon filling to the more adventurous sort such as this spicy potato and leek variant. I wasn't sure whether the weight of the potato make the quiche heavy as I much prefer a light and airy quiche.





For the pastry

170g plain flour
2 fresh red chillis, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 egg
80ml sunflower oil
1 tablespoon lukewarm water

For the filling
350g waxy new potatoes
250g leeks, cut into 1 cm slices
65g gruyere cheese
2 tablespoon chopped chives
55g rocket, roughly chopped
2 eggs
150ml milk

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus 30 minutes resting
Cooking 40-45 minutes

Method
Use a baking tray and a 20cm round, flutter loose-based quiche tin. Sift flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the chilli and thyme, then make a well in the centre. Whisk the egg, oil and water and add to the dry ingredients; mix quickly with a fork to make a dough.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface; knead briefly just until smooth. Place in a dry bowl, cover with a damp cloth towel and leave to rest about 30 minutes before rolling out.
For the filling, cook potatoes in boiling water for 10-12 minutes or until almost tender. Steam leeks over the potatoes for 6-7 minutes, until tender. Drain thoroughly and leave until cool enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 200C (gas mark 6) and put the baking tray in to heat. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry thinly to line the flan tin. Scatter half the cheese in the case.
Thickly slice the potatoes and toss with the leeks, remaining cheese and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange half the potato and leek mixture in the pastry case. Scatter rocket on top then add the rest of the potato and leek mixture.
Lightly beat eggs in a jug. Heat milk to just below boiling pint then add to the three eggs; whisk gently to combine.
Place tin on the hot baking tray. Pour the warm egg custard into the case. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 180C gas mark 4. Bake a further 30-35 minutes or until the filling is lightly set. Leave quiche in the tin for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

xxx
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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Calaloo and Cheddar Tart

I love calalloo a leafy green leaf, similar to spinach, originating in West Africa and eaten throughout the Caribbean, it has such a robust flavour.  This tart is perfect for the Spring and Summer months and is incredibly light. I love serving this for picnics and al fresco dining alike. Serve with a leafy garden salad.



You will need: mixing bowl, dried beans and  9 inch flan tin
Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus cooling time.
Cooking Time: 45 minutes.

Ingredients
Fry light for greasing
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry or (1 shop brought ready rolled shortcrust pastry)
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 green birdseye chilli, thinly sliced
3 eggs
125 ml semi-skimmed milk
100g mature cheddar cheese
280 g tinned calaloo or (200g fresh spinach,  washed and finely chopped)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Lightly grease the flan tin with a couple of sprays of fry light. Lay the shortcrust pastry over a flan dish place a baking sheet with dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the orange pepper, spring onions and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the 3 eggs, milk and 50g of cheese, until everything is well mixed. Open the tin of calaloo (or spinach if using), place in a colander and rinse.

Remove the flan tin from the oven and remove the baking paper. Add the peppers, spring onions and calaloo in the tart case, try to smooth evenly. Add the egg-milk mixture over the flan tin and top with the remaining 50g cheese. Bake for around 30 minutes on the top shelf, or until golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

xxx
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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ackee and Bacon Tart revisited

Ackee and Bacon Tart
Ackee, the plump yellow fruit with black seeds, which tastes similar to scrambeled eggs is the national fruit of Jamaica. It also is one half of the national dish “Ackee and Saltfish”. Although ackee is a fruit, it is primarily eaten in savoury dishes and must be cooked before eating. Ackee only grows 
in warmer climates so I have always eaten tinned ackee, but that’s ok, the plump yellow fruit still tastes wonderful, whether it’s from a tin or not.

 My nan would often cook my sister and I, Ackee and Saltfish, or Ackee & Bacon for a quick and easy evening meal. In this dish, I combine my love for ackee and bacon with my love of pastry, in particular tarts to create this wonderful breakfast tart. Depending upon my mood, I will have a slice of my ackee and bacon tart with a dollop of ketchup, or garlic mushrooms.



Ackee and Bacon tart
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
Number of servings 6

You will need
A frying pan, measuring jug, whisk and a 28cm fluted loose bottom flan tin.

Ingredients
For the pastry
1 ready to roll shortcrust packet

For the filling
1 tbsp vegetable oil
155g bacon lardons
1 red pepper, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, stems removed, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced.
300g creme fraiche
3 eggs, lightly beaten
75g medium cheddar cheese.
1 tin (280g) of ackee

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, place the pastry in the tin, trimming off the excess, line the tin with the baking parchment and fill with dried pulses. Bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes, remove the dried pulses and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Whilst the pastry is blind baking, pour the oil in the frying pan and cook the bacon lardons, sliced peppers and spring onions for around 8 minutes.

Pour 300ml cr癡me fraiche, eggs and 30g of the cheese in a measuring jug and whisk. Open the tin of ackee, drain the water from the tin and set aside. 

Once the pastry has blind baked, remove from the oven, scatterthe bacon, peppers, spring onions, ackee and pour over the egg - creme fraiche mixture. Finally, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the tart. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling no longer wobbles.  Leave to rest for 5 minutes before slicing to wedges.

xxx
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Friday, 7 October 2016

Seasoned Creative Baking Class Review

I recently received an invite from the lovely people over at Seasoned Cookery School to visit the school and participate in one of the cookery classes. I instantly jumped at attending a class as I love learning new cuisines and techniques. Having attended a few cookery classes from different schools already, I had high standards. Scouring through the website, there is a comprehensive range of classes such as Italian, Chocolate Courses, The Best of British Meat, Middle Eastern Cookery Class and Fish and Seafood Class. I chose to attend Creative Baking Class by Season 1 Great British Bake Off Ruth Clemens. During this class, I learnt to master three essential bakes: bread, cakes & pastry. I'm more of a cook than a baker and when I do bake, I tend to stick to what I know: chocolate cakes, quiches and well, that's about it. I was more than excited to expand my somewhat receptive baking repertoire with three new bakes: 6 Strand Plaited Loaf, Raspberry and Rose Batternberg and Leek Potato and Cheese Mini Pasties.



I was a little nervous attending in a baking class with someone who was from the Bake Off and worried that everyone participating in the class would be like professional bakers. I need not to worry, Ruth was lovely and all the participants were very friendly too.

Bake to the baking, the class started off with the classic Battenberg cake but with a raspberry and rose twist. Now, I have eaten many a slice of a batternberg cake but I haven't actually baked one myself. Why? I had an overwhelming fear that the cake is too tricky, plus I never had a special tin. Thankfully, Ruth showed attendees a trick on how to separate the the cake batter in a normal square tin. It basically involved folding baking parchment a few ways to create a wall in the tin. The batter was easy to make, as it is a sponge batter. The flavour from the rose extract was quite strong, a tad to strong for my liking (I've never baked with rose) but other attendees appeared to really enjoy this exotic twist. I found the assembling of the cake, to make the iconic chequered pattern to be quite difficult. Not because the method was difficult, but after we made the cakes, we moved onto the other bakes and returned to assemble later on in the day. This meant that my brain was slightly frazzled, so by the time I layered up, I layered the cakes wrong meaning their was two vanilla squares on the top and two rose squares on the bottom. However, I must say that although I made a slight error, this was completely forgotten about by me and my family once I had a slice. The sponge was super light, the lightest I've made and I loved the raspberry.



After we baked the batternberg we mastered the notoriously difficult 6 plaited loaf. I actually made a 3 plaited loaf before, it was a disaster, so I was hoping that this would be much better. With this bake, you need to have patience and a lot of time too but once you get the hang of it, it's quiet easy to do. This loaf needs to be left to prove on two occasions. There was a handy technique that Ruth shared to make it easier to plait the loaf. I will definitely be making this again.






Most importantly, Ruth was there to answer the attendees including mine many questions and was also able to provide a helping hand when needed. I now can upgrade my pastry and bread game and implement these techniques at home.

The leek and potato pies was another wonderful bake, perfect to serve  as a party appetiser or to make one large pie. After we made the pies, we began to plait the loaf. Although it was recommended that we work in pairs, as I wanted to recreate this at home, I attempted to make this on my own. I got slightly confused and thankfully Ruth was on hand to guide me through the tricky plait.


As the course ended, we were able to ask any additional questions and take back our recipe cards.






The Creative Baking class costs £175 and is a full day (10am – 4pm).

Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Seasoned Cookery School.

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