Category Archives: Cheese

Cooking Up My Bookmarks: Root Vegetable Gratin


Mmm. Just goodness. Just before eating this we found out that Francois Hollande had won the French Presidency. The first Socialist President in about 2 decades. We didn’t mean to have a French-named dish, but we did. So I guess we had a gratin in dedication to Monsieur Hollande, but…we didn’t really. IT WAS ALMOST LIKE FATE.

Again, as part of my mission to cook my bookmarks, I’ve made this recipe. It was really great, with leeks, onions and sweet potatoes. Made in a cheesy, creamy sauce and then topped with breadcrumbs (and a bit more cheese). Baked. Great stuff.

Honestly, this bookmarks mission is really getting me to shake up my cooking routine, I was getting into a bit of a rut.

Ingredients-serves 5, adapted from this.

-1 leek, sliced into rings

-2 red onions, chopped into big chunks

-1 clove of garlic-chopped

-1 sweet potato sliced REALLY FINELY into rings.

-1 tbsp butter

-1 tsp salt

-3 tsp dried rosemary

-lots of black pepper.

-1/3 cup white wine

-3/4 cup of milk

-1/2 cup + 1/4 cup of grated gruyere cheese separated (or whatever cheese you have)

-100g breadcrumbs

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200c. Grease a baking dish, or individual ramekins.

-Melt the butter in a large sauce pan, and add the onions, leek, potato slices and garlic, add the seasoning too. If the mixture seems a bit dry, you might need to add a bit of olive oil.

-Add the white wine, and cover the sauce pan with a lid and cook on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

-Once the vegetables have softened, add the milk and 1/2 cup of cheese and stir.

-Once the cheese has melted and the mixture starts to bubble, spoon the mixture into the baking dish(es).

-Top with the breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese, and add some more pepper. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top has browned off.

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Warming Veggie Enchiladas

So it’s very chilly, and grizzly, and grey and wet/snowy. I have to say Leeds was  much colder and grey than it is here in London, but my family proclaim that “it’s just SO cold!”.

I’m still injured and getting over it (to an extent). It took a few days moping around and lashing out at my family but I’m recovering day by day and swimming like Nemo so it’s fine. My problem is something to do with my lower disc which consequently putting strain on my groin and hip. It’s weird, and I’m not sure I really get it. But I’m walking relatively pain free, and the pain in my foot has almost subsided.

So my injury hasn’t left me with great empathy with cooking, but after lots of swimming and an absence of pain, I foresee a future with running so my appetite has come back. These Mexican enchiladas are quite work intensive, but are SO worth it. If you like Mexican, you’ll love this. I’m not trying to be particularly big headed or anything. Anyway you’ll have to make your own enchilada sauce first, so here is the recipe for that:

For one portion of Enchilada sauce

Ingredients

-1 tbsp of flour

-2 tbsp of olive oil

-3 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 clove of garlic crushed

-4tsp paprika

-2 tsp cumin

-2 tsp coriander

1x 200g tube/can of tomato puree

-1 cup of water (maybe a bit more)

Method

-WHISK the oil flour, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until there are now lumps.

-Warm slightly in medium saucepan, and continue to whisk.

-Add the remain ingredients, whisking at all times. I can’t stress the importance of whisking, whisk until there are no lumps.

-Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember to taste test, you might want to adjust the seasonings.

For the Enchiladas

Ingredients-Serves 4

-1 pepper-chopped into slices

-1 mushroom-chopped

-1 courgette-chopped into half moons

-2 tsp of cumin, coriander and paprika.

-salt and pepper

-1x can of aduki beans.

-1 x red onion chopped

-1 serving of Enchilada sauce (recipe above)

-4 tortillas

-cheddar cheese (optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 c, gas mark 8 and roast courgettes, mushroom and pepper with the spices and about 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook for about an hour, or until the vegetables are done.

-Drain the beans, and divide into two portions. Mash one portion with a potato masher.

-In a saucepan, fry onion in a bit of oil and salt, until soft. Once soft, add both portions of aduki beans, roast vegetables and 2 heaped tbsp of enchilada sauce.

-Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.

-Warm tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave. Divide the bean and vegetable mixture down the middle of each wrap, fold up and place seam side down in a baking dish. Place the wraps snugly next to each other.

-Spread remaining enchilada sauce over top of enchiladas and top with grated cheese if wanted. Any cheese, such as goats or mozzarella, is fine!

-Serve with GUACAMOLE

Ingredients

-2 x Avacados

-Juice of one lime

-2 tsp of salt

-2 tsp of coriander leaf or fresh coriander chopped finely

-1 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 half of white onion, chopped very finely.

-3 cherry tomatoes, chopped.

Method

Scoop out insides of avacado in a bowl.

-Add rest together and mash with a fork, knife or potato masher!!

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Filed under Cheese, Mediterranean, Vegetarian

Back-to-School Pasta and Pesto

This is such a staple, and it was done perfectly. Pasta and pesto, the posh way. After a bit of trials and tribulations with the pasta machine, and then the food processor, this came out and we were very happy. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can easily do it the manual way, but it might be a bit of an effort, and in such a case you’re probably better of just making the pesto.

In other worlds, my food processor keeps on not working, any suggestions? Also, just moved into the new house, with my camera but without my dad’s macro lenses so I feel a bit deprived but I feel the photo has turned out okay.

Ingredients

Pasta

-2 cups of plain flour

-2 eggs

-1 tsp salt

Pesto

-a lot of basil, about 2 cups

-1/2 cup of olive oil

-1/4 cup of grated parmesan

-2 tbsp pine nuts

-1 tsp salt

-1 clove of garlic

Method

-For the pasta, either mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a fork until it forms into a ball, using your fingers to make sure the mixture is combined and the dough has turned silky and firm. If you have a food processor, process all the ingredients until one ball has formed in the food processor. Either way, leave the dough in a cool place for an hour.

-For the pesto, whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until it looks like pesto!

-Follow the machines on your pasta machine to form tagliatelle, or if by hand, roll out the dough to about 1-2mm thickness, and cut into shreds. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 minutes, and there you go!

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Filed under Cheese, Italian, Rice and Pasta, Vegetarian

Butternut Squash part 3

Mmmm, look at that cheesy, stuffed goodness. Salty, but with no added salt. Sweet but not too sweet. Filling, but not sickening. My sister called it a bad boy, but with only a small spattering of calcium rich mozzarella, this is in no way bad for you. In a continuation of how to cook a butternut squash, I give you butternut squash-stuffed. I would advise not to make this just for one person, this could serve 4 MASSIVE portions each (me and my sis had a quarter each, guilt-free) , but could easily serve 6. The only drawback, was the time it took. But believe it, never has a wait been so worth it.

Ingredients

-1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthways and deseeded.

-4 tbsp oil

-2 carrots, peeled and grated.

-1 tin of lentils, drained and rinsed.

-2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

-1.5 tbsp of tomato purée.

-3 tsp basil, or a handful of the fresh stuffed finely chopped.

-anchovies (optional)

-mozzarella, however much you like. About 1 200g ball is PLENTY.

-some cherry tomatoes

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 8/230-240 c. and place butternut squash halves face down a roasting dish, but before, cover the exposed flesh with 2 tbsp olive oil, and then once turned over in the dish drizzle the rest of the oil on the skin. Prod the skin with a fork, I feel this lets the butternut squash cook better all the way through. This will need to cook for about 1-1/2 hours.

-Whilst it’s roasting, mix all the ingredients except the cheese and anchovies in a bowl.

-The butternut squash is ready when the skin has brown, and when you poke a fork through the skin, it feels soft.

-Now, being careful, turn the halves upside and scoop out the flesh and mix with your lentil-carrot mixture. Once the mixture is well combined, divide back out evenly between the emptied out butternut squash halves.

-Lower oven to gas mark 6-7/210-220 c., and place these in the oven for 10 minutes. Take out again top with the anchovies and chopped mozzarella. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the mozzarella has browned.


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Filed under Butternut Squash, Cheese, Fish, Pulses, Vegetarian

Butternut Squash Part 2

Hellloo!

I’m back from Italy with some fresh ideas. I’m obsessed with gorgonzola for one thing. However, right now: ‘here’s something I made earler’.

This was a trial and a half, but don’t let that scare you. This is easy, whether you have shop bought pastry or home-made pastry. I had both. I was using shop bought, which was in the freezer, and had defrosted. I rolled out the block and put in my pie dish and wanted to blind bake it. WRONG IDEA. I think I used too much pastry or something, but the pastry was so gooey and oily. I threw the pastry away and decided to use my food processor to make my own pastry, and IT WORKED. All things pastry and dough get me all panicky, but I made this pastry in less than a minute with my food processor. Therefore, I believe my processor is superhuman and needs a name. Does anyone have any ideas? 

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry

-Shop bought pastry, or

-250g plain flour

-1 tsp salt

-45 ml water

-125 g cold butter diced into cubes

Filling

-1x butternut squash

-2/3 cup of grated parmesan

-1/3 cup pine nuts

-2 tsp salt

-1 onion, cut into cresents

-25 g butter(or oil)

-rosemary and thyme to taste

Method

– Pre-heat oven to gas mark 9/240 c. Cut the squash lengthways and drizzle cut side with a bit of olive oil then place the cut side down on a baking tray. Roast for about 1 hr, or until when you prod a fork in the squash, it is soft.

-Make the pastry while the squash is cooking. In a food processor, process the flour, butter and salt for about 6 seconds, until it resembles really fine breadcrumbs. Slowly add water down the tube while the processor is on, and keep on processing until 1-2 balls form. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and put in the fridge for half an hour.

-Now there is some waiting, but you can prepare the onions by melting the butter and cooking the onions in it until soft.

-Once the butternut squash is done, scoop out the insides and discard the skin. Process the interior until mushy but still has a bit of texture. Put squash into a mixing bowl and mix with onions, pine nuts, herbs and cheese.

-Roll out your pastry on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, and place in a greased pie dish, pushing the corners so that no air is trapped. Pour the butternut filling into the pie, and cook at gas mark 6/200 c. for 40mins-1hr.

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Butternut Squash, Cheese

Pizza Parmesan Pull-Apart Dough Balls

This is a very simple recipe, simple because of all the doughy sort of recipes, pizza dough is the one thing I can actually do. Thank God. These dough balls are just pulled from the baking dish and remain in their spherical shape. I’ve been working as a waitress for catered events, and it really isn’t a great job because I love food and I see all these great canapés being eaten and I die a little inside (but what kills me more is when someone ordered me to sort out the remaining cheese from the cheese board, it floored me). So when my friend said we can no longer make pizza, but we are having a bbq, make something like garlic bread? I was like CANAPE TIME. Enjoy. By the way this is really easy and cheap. Here they are in action with some garlic butter!

Ingredients

400g plain flour

-1 x 7g sachet of yeast

-3 tablespoons of oil (plus more for greasing and oiling the balls)

-400 ml lukewarm water

-1 tsp salt

-Italian ‘erbs, like oregano and basil

-Parmesan (optional)

Method

-In a jug, mix the yeast, oil and water (YOW) together with a fork.

-Put the flour, herbs and salt in a bowl, and make a well in the middle.

In stages add the YOW to the flour mixture, and with a fork bind the ingredients together. I found I had a lot of  YOW left over, so just do it slowly, or you’re left with a gloopy mess.

-Once the dough is coming together in a bowl, put the fork down, dust your hands with flour and sprinkle some on the dough and start to knead the mixture. Use your instinct, if it is too sticky and you’re getting nowhere, add flour, if it is really stiff add some YOW. The dough should be really silky and come easily from the sides.

-Put a cloth over the bowl and store in a warm place for about an hour.

-Pre-heat oven to gas mark 7/ 220 c/424 f. If you grab a dish, it could be one that is shaped like a dougnut, or just an ordinary cake tin, and oil it and sprinkle a bit of flour on the inside. Next make a oil and herb mixture, this is about a tablespoon of oil mixed with some dried green herbage.

-After an hour your dough should have doubled in size. At this point I grated about 3 handfuls of parmesan on top of the dough and kneaded it into the mixture.  If you don’t have parmesan, knead it anyway. Using a bit of flour to make the job easier.

-Now it gets oily. Grab a small lump of dough, about a reallllyyyy heaped teaspoon size, and dip it in the oil and herb mixture. With your hands form into a perfect sphere, and plop in your baking dish. Continue to do this until you have run out of dough, piling the balls on top of each other.

-Put in the oven for about 40 minutes and you have your perfect summer side dish!

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Cheese, Italian, Snacks and Starters, Vegetarian

Greek Pie

I  have a lot of Greek restaurants near me, and some Turkish ones too, which always make these feta and spinach triangles (spanakopita) which are so nice. With a bit of research I realised it is not impossible to make a spanakopita pie, which is what I did here. It was so nice, the only problem is that I would say it wasn’t THAT thrifty. The ways to make it cheaper are by buying “salad cheese” instead of feta, which basically tastes like feta but is made out of cow’s milk instead of sheep’s, and not purchasing the pine nuts.  To be honest, this was absolutely amazing, and it was ridiculously easy, so I would definitely recommend making it.

Ingredients

A knob of melted butter/margarine/oil

-4-5 sheets Filo pastry (just buy a whole pack, and separate 4 sheets from the pile)

-300g Feta/Salad cheese

-3 massive handfuls of spinach

-2 cloves of garlic

-3 eggs

-A handful  of pine nuts

-Lots of dried herbs(basil, thyme, oregano)

-Salt and pepper

Method

-Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 c/400 f

-Put the spinach in a saucepan and cook on a medium heat, crush the garlic into it with a garlic press, and continue to stir until all the spinach has wilted. Wilted is when it looks wet and has shrunk in size.

-Crumble the feta into a mixing bowl, add the eggs, spinach, pine nuts, some teaspoons of herbs and s + p  and mix thoroughly until it is combined really well. Make sure there is no orange floating about from the egg yolk.

-Put this aside and start with your filo papers. Prepare a pie dish by greasing the sides with the butter or oil, if you don’t have a pie dish, just make do with any deep dish pan the you have. In this case it might be necessary to use more sheets to make sure all the dish is covered.

-Place one sheet of the filo pastry, being very delicate, in a pie dish. Using a brush if you can, spread some of the oil or melted butter over the sheet. Just a bit will do.Try to push the pastry into the dish so that no air is left under the surface and it has completely filled the dish. Add another sheet, doing the same thing with the butter. Do this until you have used all 4 sheets. If using a circular dish, try to make sure all the edges are covered.  BE DELICATE.

-Now pour the feta and spinach mixture into the pie dish, and it should spread easily into all areas of the pie base. Now wrap the edges of the filo over the mixture so that it ressembles some sort of crust, like in the photo.

-Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the mixture feels springy and golden and the crust is brown.

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Cheese, Mediterranean, Vegetarian