Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Ultimate BLT

So this is it folks the unveiling of the ultimate in sandwiches, the one that brings me the most happiness when I bite into it, the most satisfaction (of a job well done - pat on the back for the chef!) and the greatest sense of well being.

To me there is nothing worse in life (well obviously that's not true but...) than the let down of a bad lunch time sandwich! soggy bread... dried curly bread... are you sure this is bread?... not enough fillings... tasteless tomatoes (ugh!)... and the worst of all crimes... no crunch when you bite into it!

So after years of tweaking & perfecting here is my ultimate BLT - a sandwich of  mouth watering and mind blowing yummyness. 

So take a deep breath, clear some space for that drool spot and read on.....

(enough for 1 well filled sandwich)

3 slices of a good Malted Grain Bread
4 Slices Bacon (I use smoked back bacon)
2 medium Vine Tomatoes
1 Avocado peeled & each half sliced into 3
Stilton Cheese
1 small Cos Lettuce Heart washed & dried
Chilli Sauce
Mustard & Cress

First preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6

Lay your slices of bacon on a rack & place in oven for about 15mins until crispy, remove & set aside.

 Slice the tomatoes and place on a non-stick baking tray, add a little olive oil & salt
and also bake for 10-15mins until softened and starting to colour. This enhances the natural flavour of the tomato and increases there sweetness.

Next the bread - this is very important it's not just there to hold your filling it must add texture &
flavour as well and also be strong enough to keep the other ingredients in!

I like to use a locally made loaf of Malted Grain.

Take your slices of bread and give a liberal coating of mayonnaise to one side.

Next take your lettuce and make sure the leaves are dry - blot with kitchen paper if needed you don't
want soggy bread.

Lay a couple of lettuce leaves on the bottom slice of mayonnaised bread.

Next add 3 of your avocado slices

Take your block of Stilton and thinly slice off a few slivers and 
lay on top of your avocado

Pop on a couple of rashers of your cooked bacon - I've left the rinds on because
they cooked really crispy but remove them if you want.

Next place on half of the tomatoes and then the second slice of bread. This slice of bread
 must be put mayonnaise side down because you now need to spread the upper 
side of this slice with the chilli sauce.

Repeat the layering process and on the final top slice of bread sprinkle on a 
layer of mustard & cress - gently press this down into the mayonnaise to hold it in place and
fold over onto the top of your sandwich do not press down.

Holding the top layer down gently cut your sandwich in half .

Once I popped them on the plates no one spoke for 10 minutes whilst they ate.

They're really that good -
if you want to make a sandwich
you'll never ever forget then
 this is the one.


Printable Recipe


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Little Laundry

A relaxing evening doing the ironing - am I the only woman that like ironing?
and I realised with my 'photographers eye' that it looked pretty nice piling up on our dresser
I had to take pictures & share

Monday, 28 April 2014

Meatballs & Pasta


  • This week the rain has returned and I'm feeling in need of comfort food and my snuggly sweater

  • And the best comfort foods are those that throw you back to your childhood and Mum's Cooking
  • What's not to love with spaghetti and meatballs on the same plate!

  • This is Very 1970's -  I should be sat in front of the telly watching re runs of Starsky & Hutch

  • I have adjusted the original recipe of my mum's with the introduction of the pimento & chocolate
  •  which added depth to the taste  - also I'm not sure she had even heard about basil back in the 1970's

  • The Meatballs

  • 500g  minced beef 
  • 1 onion, peeled and very finely chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped 
  • 50g  white breadcrumbs (or rolled oat which work really well)
  • 1 tsp smoky pimento
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate 
  • 25g  Cheddar, grated 
  • 2tbsp chopped basil or flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to finish 
  • Sea salt and black pepper 
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 2tbsp olive oil

  • The Tomato Sauce

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  •  1 onion, peeled and very finely chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped 
  • Good handful of chopped basil
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes 
  •  water 
  • 1-2tsp caster sugar
  • Salt & Pepper

  • To make the meatballs, mix the mince, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs (or oats) cheese, spices, cocoa and chopped parsley/bails together in a bowl until combined.
     Season well and add the beaten egg to bind and  mix in with your hands. 

    With damp hands, shape the mixture into about 16 meatballs, trying not to press them too tightly, flour and
     place on a large plate, cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.

    To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry gently .
    Increase the heat slightly and stir in the tomatoes, water and sugar. 
    Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.
    Then remove the pan from the heat and set aside

    To cook the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a large, wide pan.
     Add the chilled meatballs and fry for 5 minutes, don't over load the pan - I cooked ours in 2 batches,
     turning frequently until browned all over. 

    Then place in a preheat oven (180C/160C Fan/Gas4) whilst cooking the pasta & reheat the sauce

    Divide the meatballs and tomato sauce between warm bowls of buttered pasta 
    and sprinkle with chopped herbs & some Grated Cheese to serve.

    turn on the telly, put on your most snuggly sweater & enjoy......

    Printable Recipe

     meatball pasta

    Friday, 25 April 2014

    Lemon Curd Pavlova

    I made this pudding on a whim, I didn't feel like baking 'per sa' but  I needed to do
    something in the kitchen. The need to cook is always there & I did have to find
    something to fit as a dessert over Easter so this was the result. 

    A melt in the mouth marshmallowy meringue with layers of tangy lemon curd and 
    vanilla cream. I love the crunch of the outside of the meringue followed by the soft
    chew inside and it looks spring like too - result!

    It's a bit of a fiddly recipe but it's worth doing and it perfect for my frugal side.
    I never know what to do with the egg yolks that are left over after making meringue. 
    I know you can freeze them but who does that and also remembers they have them in the freezer? 
    Super-cooky-woman maybe able to but that's not me!!

    So in making the lemon curd you get to use the yolks as well - yay

    Serves 6-8

    4 eggs separated
    250g caster sugar
    1 tsp white wine vinegar
    1 tsp cornflour
    1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

    Lemon Curd
    4 unwaxed lemons - Zest & Juice
    200g caster sugar
    100g unsalted butter cut into cubes

    Vanilla Cream
    Large pot of double cream
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste
    1 tbsp caster sugar

    Pre heat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2

    Prep a baking sheet with either baking parchment or silicon sheet (my chosen surface)

    Whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer, in a squeaky clean bowl, until they form stiff peaks
     - my Mum used to say 'if you can hold the bowl upside down & the whites don't fall out it's ready!'
    Nothing was said on what you did if they did fall all over you & the kitchen! anyway I digress -
    Next whisk in the 250g sugar one tablespoon at a time until the meringue looks glossy.
    Whisk in the cornflour, vinegar & vanilla.

    Spread the meringue into a round on the baking sheet creating a slight dip in the centre. 
    Bake for 1 hour, then turn the heat off and allow the pavlova to cool completely inside the oven

    Lemon Curd

    Put the lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter into a heat proof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of
    gently simmering water - make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl- stir the mixture until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Next add the egg yolks and gently mix together. You now 
    need to keep a gentle movement on the 'curd' using a wooden spoon. If you whisk it or move it to
    quickly you can end up with 'scrambled eggs' be very gentle & attentive. Keep this up for about 10-15 mins
    until the mixture is thick and creamy and will coat the back of a spoon.

    Remove from the heat & set aside to cool - stir occasionally as it cools.

    Vanilla Cream

    Pop the cream in a bowl and whisk until stiff then fold in the sugar & vanilla

    To Assemble

    Place your Pavlova onto your serving plate and spread on half the lemon curd. Then pile
    on the vanilla cream and top with the remaining Lemon curd.
    Chill before serving 
    This luscious pud is the best end to a lazy Sunday lunch.

    printable recipe

    Here are a few pictures I took that were left over from yesterdays Wild Garlic post.
    I love them so I thought I'd share

    and also some pictures of my new keyring - he's just so darn cute!

    Please excuse the long post today - I couldn't stop!

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, 24 April 2014

    Wild Garlic

    All the lanes around our cottage are full of Wild Garlic (or Ransoms as they are called here)
     It smells wonderful and brings a lovely lush green to the countryside.
    A Japanese friend of mine was telling me how this leaf is sold in the markets in Japan
    and is seen as a delicacy - which seems ridiculous when our houses is surrounded by it
    and some of my neighbours even see it as a weed. However, it go me thinking of ways
     I could cook with it and I have come up with a number of recipes to try. 

    We liked the flavour it imparted adding a subtle garlicky taste to the meal.
     You could subsitute leeks if you can't find any ransoms and you want to try my recipes


    Roast Chicken with Wild Garlic Stuffing

    Serves 4

    Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5

    1 large Chicken
    1 Lemon quartered
    Olive Oil
    Salt & Pepper

    For Stuffing
    3oz Couscous
    1oz Sultanas
    1oz Candied Peel
    1 stick Celery chopped 
    Good Handful Ransom Leaves (or 1 Large leek sweated down in butter)

    Firstly prepare you chicken - pull the legs aside slightly to widen the cavity and wipe out with kitchen
    paper.Next place the lemon quarters inside and push to the back leaving room at the front
    for the stuffing. Set aside in the fridge.

    To make the stuffing - place the couscous & sultanas into a dish and just cover with boiling water. leave for 10 minutes until the couscous is al dente and the sultanas have plumped up a bit, drain & set aside.

    To prepare the Ransoms- pick through them and discard and damages or older leaves. Rinse well, ours grow along a busy dog walking path so I like to gather the leaves from as far from the path as possible
    -I'm sure you understand why! next slice the leaves into thin ribbons.

    To assemble the stuffing place the couscous & sultana mix into a bowl & add the ransoms
    candy peel and celery along with some salt & pepper I also included some of the ransom flower as well.
     The mixture shouldn't be too wet as the juices from the lemon & the chicken add to it whilst cooking.

    Pop the chicken in your baking tray and pile the stuffing into the cavity but do not press it in leave it fairly loose.  Cover the chicken in the olive oil along with some salt & pepper.

    Bake in a preheated oven for hour & half until chicken is cooked through and looking golden.

    We served our with some juniper cabbage and a few parsnip chips

    We also tried the ransom under some baked salmon steaks which was really successful

    (The salmon was covered in a simple indian spice paste with the leaves place under the salmon.)

    printable recipe

     Wild Garlic Stuffing

    Wednesday, 23 April 2014

    Cheesy Pasta

    The most request meal, and luckly the easiest to make, was cheesy pasta this bank holiday. It's a big hit with my neices and they love it for lunch - I think it refuels them for an action packed afternoon

    (Serves 4)

    9oz Pasta 
    • We used Orecchiette or 'belly button pasta' as it's known in our house! 
    • 1½oz Butter
    • 1½ Plain Flour
    • 1pint 1½fl oz Milk
    • 9oz grated Cheddar
    • 2oz grated Parmesan 
    • Some Cherry Tomatoes - halved

    Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes; drain well and set aside.

    Melt the butter over a medium heat in a saucepan slightly larger than that used for the pasta. 

    Add the flour and stir to form a roux cooking for a few minutes.

    Gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time. Cook for 10-15 minutes to a thickened and smooth sauce. 

    Meanwhile, preheat the grill to hot.

    Remove the sauce from the hob, add 175g/6oz of the cheese and stir until the cheese is well combined and melted.

    Add the Pasta to the sauce and mix well. Transfer to a deep suitably-sized ovenproof dish and dot the
    tomaotes over the top Sprinkle over the remaining cheddar and the parmesan
     and place the dish under the hot grill. 

    Cook until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Serve straightaway.