In addition to Tomato Tartlets, this is another one of them recipes that if so simple and so quick to do.
Mushroom & leek puffs, with cheddar and damson jam
- Preheat the oven to 200ªC.
- Cut out rectangles from pre-rolled puff pastry and score a smaller rectangle in each piece, about 5mm from the edge, so you get a border all around.
- Place the pastry rectangles on a large baking sheet, prepped with parchment paper. Here, you may choose to brush the rectangles with egg wash, so you get that lovely shine. I’m lazy most of the time.
- Line up mushrooms, chopped leeks and cheddar within the small rectangles of the puff pastry pieces.
- Bake on the top rack for 10 minutes, before moving down to the bottom rack for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with a dollop of damson jam on the side, or mini-dollops within the puff. Any mildly sweet slightly sourish berry jam does the job.
Pleasant tea-time snack.
This only requires one step.
One compound step:
- Using this recipe for the pastry, make a thick concoction of finely sliced mushrooms, a beaten egg, grated cheddar and some milk.
Easy as pie.
- 2 eggs, cracked in a bowl, unbeaten
- ¼ mug of milk
- small knob of butter
- small handful of finely grated cheddar
- pinch of dried oregano
- freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Everybody’s got their own method of scrambling eggs but here’s how I like mine done:
- A small knob of butter goes in on a skillet, on high heat.
- Once the butter melts, put in the eggs and turn down the heat to low.
- Using a spatula, break the yolks and scramble the eggs erratically.
- Add the milk, cheese and oregano. Stir about till done.
- Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
I like my scrambled eggs with chunks of white and yellow, as opposed to having everything mixed thoroughly into a single colour. Then again, do it any way you like.
The scramble for scrambled eggs ends here. Hah.
Remember King’s Asparagus? We know from that meal that bacon and asparagus are a match made in heaven. Now, we’re gonna have it with pasta.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 streaks of smoked bacon, cut up into one-inch bits
- 3 large stalks of asparagus, sliced in half lengthways (Don’t be like me and forget to buy asparagus. I used dwarf beans instead. I am ashamed.)
- a quarter of a yellow pepper cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 handfuls of quick-cook penne
- 1 tsp of vegetable oil
- 1 small small knob of butter
- Cheddar, finely grated
- dried basil
- dried oregano
- sea salt, freshly ground
- black pepper, freshly ground
- chilli, minced (optional)
Here’s how you do it:
- Get the pasta cooking in a pot of boiling water.
- In a hot skillet with vegetable oil, toss in the bacon to render the fat out.
- Then, in goes the butter, garlic and asparagus.
- If you like spice, now’s the time to toss in the chilli.
- Fry till bacon browns and asparagus wilts slightly.
- Welcome the Aroma Fairies into your kitchen, they’ve missed you sorely.
- Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta and mix it altogether in the skillet.
- Add more salt if necessary.
- Serve with an abundance of shaved Cheddar atop.
You probably won’t have enough time in the mornings, but when you do, you’d be pleasantly rewarded if you try this – almost as good as a panini.
- Toast a couple of slices of bread, wholemeal or white, up to you.
- While that’s in there, fry up some onions and white mushrooms. Don’t forget to add a sprinkle of dried thyme or basil, salt and pepper.
- Your bread should be all crisp and toasted before you’re done with the onions and mushrooms. Slap on a small hunk of butter on both slices.
- On goes the mushrooms and onions on one slice, and fresh rocket leaves on the other.
- Peel out some mature cheddar with a speed peeler, and lay them on the sizzling mushrooms and onions.
- Then, here’s the grand finale – a fried egg, sunny side up, done with an egg ring.
This is an egg ring (with an egg in it):
- Once that’s done, lay it gently on the cheese. Be careful not to burst that lovely yolk of golden goodness.
- Sandwich everything together and cut up into pretty triangles, if you must.
Gloomy autumn mornings are a thing of the past.
It’s tragic how I had my first Yorkshire Pudding only when I came to London some months back. It was about the size of my palm, and carried a scoopful of lovely roast beef, white onions and gravy. Definitely love at first bite. I always thought they were difficult to make until I came across Jamie’s Oliver’s Mini Yorkies recipe. Literally, a piece of cake.
Long story short, the versatile Yorkshire Puddings or Mini Yorkies: with a couple of tweaks, and some true advice from Yorkshireman Niall, here’s how I like mine done:
- 1 large egg
- half a mug of plain flour
- half a mug of fresh milk
- Into a shallow 12-hole muffin tray, liberally drizzle olive oil in one swift motion, from hole to hole without stopping. Stick into the oven and preheat to 180°C on the top rack. While that’s in there, prepare your pudding mix. It’s real similar to pancakes, so pay attention.
- Get the ingredients in a big bowl and mix away, till smooth.
- When the oil’s all hot (and maybe bubbly), get the tray out. Then, with the pudding mix, fill each hole to about half, give or take. At this stage, you’d be horrified to see the rings of oil surrounding the pudding mixture. Don’t worry, it beats using butter, hands down. (The amount should be just about right for 12 holes. Work out everything else in between.) Don’t take too long or the tray will cool down. Chuck it back into the oven for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, you can prepare a beef gravy or whatever you fancy in a yorkshire pudding. Personally, I think yorkies were created to caress beef.
- Keep an eye on them yorkies and you’ll see that they rise beautifully at the sides first, forming a little well of goodness. Done till golden. Brilliant. It’s plain physics, or so Sarah explains. If you forget to preheat the tray and oil till hot, the sides won’t rise.
This is what you’ll get:
I had this with a pork belly stew. More on that here.
A coupla months back, here’s how I had them:
After I’d gotten them out of the oven and out of the tray, this is what I stuck into each hole, and back into the heat:
- a slice of tomato, as the base.
- beef mince, marinated the way I like, with thyme and sage.
- half rings of white onion.
- cheddar, as the ‘glue’.
When the toppings were ready, on a chopping board, I plopped them onto the individual yorkies. Then, top off finally with a couple of leaves of arugula and a sprinkle of paprika.
With a snack looking this delish, you’d be a fool not to smile. (:
Bolognese Brilliance: no serious slurping, no mess, just awesome food.
Building on from Springy Bolognese, I’ve decided to list some numbers and ingredients for this massively easy pasta dish. Its hearty and satisfying; perfect for that one time when you’re feeling incredibly hungry. Hurhur.
The brilliant thing about bolognese is that there’s no hard and fast rule about what goes inside. To me, it’s like Chinese Fried Rice; you add whatever tickles your fancy. Personally, I aim for ‘colourful’.
So here’s what I had in mine this time. Extremely extravagant.
- 1 third of pasta from a standard size quick cook spaghetti pack
- 1 handful of chopped red pepper
- 1 handful of chopped yellow pepper
- 1 handful of peas, frozen works the same
- 1 handful of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 white onions, minced
- 1 third of a finger chilli, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 thumb-sized knob of butter
- 50g of double concentrate tomato puree
- half tbsp of dried basil
- 1 handful of finely grated cheddar (if you have parmesan, even better)
- 1 handful of fresh rocket (optional)
- 1 handful of beef minced (omit this is you’re vegetarian)
With all the ingredients ready, what you’re going for now is efficiency and speed. No mucking about. You’re hungry, and if you’re not about getting angry yet, your stomach is. A hungry man is an angry man. Whatever.
This is how to roll:
- Since we’re going for speed, quick-cook pasta is the key choice here. Get that in a pot of boiling water and let it work its magic. If you believe in the Italian saying that ”the water for pasta cooking should be as salty as the Mediterranean”, then go right ahead and salt that water.
- While that’s happening, get another pot/wok on the hob too. If your peas are frozen, get them straight in, together with that knob of butter. If not, get everything you want in your bolognese e.g. onions, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, etc. and dump them in. Let them fry about while you wash up your chopping board and knife, and welcome the Aroma Fairies.
- When they (the ingredients, not fairies) are just about done, in goes the minced beef. Toss.
- Then, tomato puree goes in too. Here’s a tip. Instead of using plain water to dilute your sauce, get some of that starchy pasta water, about half a cup full and pour it into the sauce. Happy days.
- Mix about before adding the dried basil. Mix some more and taste. Season with salt and pepper your liking. Turn the heat off.
- Your pasta should be done, so drain the water out and get it straight into your superb bolognese sauce. Toss about, coating every strand of that spaghetti in red goodness. Move all to a serving dish.
- Top with fresh rocket leaves. Then, grate your cheese straight onto everything.
Strangely enough, after coming back from Oslo, I found myself reminiscing Greece. One of the things unique to Greek cuisine is the Spanakitiropita, or more commonly known as Spanakopita, which is a spinach and feta cheese pie. There are proper better recipes out there but here’s how I did mine, as little tarts.
Stuff you’ll need:
- 3 eggs
- 200g of feta
- 75g of cheddar
- a bag of prewashed spinach leaves
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- olive oil
- a box of filo pastry
- a 12-hole shallow muffin tray
- First things first, get everything ready. Preheat the oven to 200°C, boil about 2 pints of water, get a pot on the hob on low heat.
- Next, into the mixing bowl, crack the eggs and dump in the cheeses. Add the lemon zest and dried oregano as well. Pepper goes in as well. Stir about and stop before it’s all smooth. In this case, chunky is pretty good.
- When the water has boiled, empty the bag of spinach into the pot on the hob, then pour the boiling water in, just enough to wilt all the spinach leaves. Add a sprinkle of salt and toss about. The leaves should wilt in about 40 seconds or less. Once wilted, turn off the hob and drain the spinach leaves. Add them to the mixing bowl and mix everything about.
- Get your muffin tray ready. Then, on a board, lay out a layer of filo pastry from the box. Half it lengthways and sideways so you get four individual pieces. Drizzle olive oil and pat each of them so they are coated evenly. Sprinkle paprika over the pieces. Layer each of them atop each other. Don’t worry if they’re broken here and there. Once done, lay it in a well of your muffin tray. Repeat for all 12 holes; you should only need 12 layers of filo pastry then.
- Fill the wells of filo with the spinach and cheese filling, or with spanakitiro. Pardon my urge to speak Greek. Wrap the little tarts up erratically.
- Pop them into the bottom rack of the oven. Welcome the Aroma Fairies into your kitchen.
- Take those babies out when they’re golden brown and let them rest for about 10 minutes or so, while you salivate.
- Wait some more if you want. If not, DIG IN.
Baked dishes are a breeze; simply shoving the tray into the oven and waiting for a lush treat is not difficult to do at all. Best part is, you’ll get a crispy layer on top, and succulent parts below. You can bake just about anything – from rice to pasta, vegetable to poultry. But here’s what I did last night:
Dump whatever tickles your fancy into a tray, with the parboiled pasta dumplings. For this, I had a base layer of fresh wild rocket leaves, then a bunch of mushrooms and a couple of white onions, all sliced up. The tortellini of choice was bacon-filled, but if you’re vegetarian, spinach-filled ones works too! After adding the tortellini, I grated a hunk of cheese to cover the top, making sure every inch of that pasta goodness was sitting under a snug blanket of mature cheddar. Drizzled with nuts and chopped rocket, the tray goes into the oven, baked till golden and precious.
Welcome the Aroma Fairies to your kitchen.
Before devouring, more rocket is laid atop, together with a sprinkle of paprika for colour.
Ignore the Very Succulent Braised Chicken Portions. What I’d like to turn your attention to, is the bland-looking mishmash of a pasta.
Lesson for the Day:
Butter, mushrooms, garlic and oregano are a fantastic combination, a crowd-pleaser. But if what you wanna achieve out-of-this-world fireworks that will knock your loved ones out of their seats, add finely grated cheddar and chopped rocket before you take the pasta out of the pan. The nutty flavour of rocket will complement earthy oregano and mushrooms beautifully. The cheese sticks everything together, and adds the coveted stringy trail in every bite.
If you’re still looking at that juicy chicken thigh, I’m sorry the pasta doesn’t look as good. More on the Very Succulent Braised Chicken Portions here.