Friday, 7 March 2014
There is nothing that brings me more satisfaction than being able to pull together a few simple ingredients and come up with a delicious dish that has people ooohing and aaahing and, well . . . wanting more . . .
You can't really go wrong with the combination of onions and cheese.
They are the perfect marriage.
Onions have a natural sweetness that goes so well with the tang of a good cheddar!
You see it in French Onion Soup . . .
With the added crunch of a toasted crouton on top . . .
This delicious casserole has all of the same elements . . .
except there's a tasty, creamy sauce as well.
Make this today. You will love it. I kid you not. Go on . . . you know you want to.
*Cheese Scalloped Onions*
Serves 4 to 6
This is a lovely side dish. Cheese and onions go together so very well. They also go very well with most things.
3 large onions, peeled and sliced
6 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese
2 cups croutons, crushed a bit
2 ounces butter (1/4 cup)
2 ounces flour (1/4 cup)
500 ml of whole milk (2 cups)
salt and black pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg
a knob of butter
Place the onion in a large saucepan. Cover with lightly salted boiling water and allow to sit on a slow simmer while you make the sauce.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for one minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg. Remove from the heat.
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas 4. Butter a 2 litre casserole dish.
Drain the onions well. Place half of the onions into the buttered dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese and half the croutons. Pour on half of the sauce. Layer on the remaining onions and cheese. Pour the remaining sauce over top. Cut into it a bit with a dull knife to distribute the sauce evenly through out. Sprinkle on the remaining croutons. Dot with butter. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Delicious!
Thursday, 6 March 2014
I do get sent the nicest things. I know you must get tired of me saying so, but it's true! I DO get sent the nicest things. Bannister's Farm recently sent me some of their Fully Loaded Jacket Potatoes. We loved baked jacket potatoes in this house, so we were really excited to get these. I confess that I buy at least one box of their frozen plain baked jacket potatoes a week. As well as being quick and easy to use, they are reasonably priced and they are actually very good in my opinion. A baked potato is like a canvas for all sorts, and they make for a very nice meal.
The first two were the Fully Loaded Chicken Tikka Jacket Potato and the Fully Loaded Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese Jacket Potato.
The Chicken Tikka potato was delicious. I was worried it might be too spicy, but it was just right and there was a nice ratio of filling to potato. We shared it and both enjoyed it very much. (I did take my own pictures of each of these potatoes when we ate them, but for the life of me I cannot find them now. They have disappeared into the ether called the world wide web, so you will have to forgive me for using stock photos.)
I just adore cauliflower cheese and broccoli cheese, and so I was really delighted to be able to try this Fully Loaded Broccoli and Cheese Jacket Potato. I didn't want to share it, but being the good wife that I am, I did. It was delicious! Once again there was a good ratio of filling to potato and it was really tasty. I think this one was my favourite one of all, but then, I just love my broccoli and cauliflower! (I love cheese too!) This one could not lose.
The other two flavours which were sent were the Fully Loaded Mature Cheddar Cheese and the Fully Loaded Chicken and Mushroom, both of which were also excellent and well flavoured, with a good ration of filling to potato as well.
The chicken and mushroom filling has the lovely addition of a hint of thyme and oregano, which was just beautiful. We both really enjoyed this. They also use British chicken, which is a plus for me.
The cheddar cheese one was absolutely loaded with beautiful mature british cheddar. It was quite simply delicous. We both really enjoyed this as well.
They also have a Cheese and Beans one, which we were not sent, but if the rest are anything to go by, this one would be very tasty as well.
What I like about the Bannister's Farm line of baked potato products:
1. Price. They are not over priced, but affordable, and are often on offer. I stock up on them when they are. I can usually get a box of four of the plain ones for only £2, which is great.
2. Convenience and ease of use. All of their potato products are very easy to use. You simply pop them into the microwave and in less than 10 minutes you are rewarded with a perfectly baked potato, ready to top as you wish, or to eat plain. You also have the option of baking them in the oven, which takes about 45 minutes, but they are also excellent done this way. In truth . . . I bake them for half the time required in the microwave and then finish them off in the oven and they are beautiful.
3. They are delicious. I have never had a bad one yet. The potatoes they use are nice potatoes, and the fillings they use for the filled ones are very tasty, and not skimpy in the least. You get a good ration of filling to potato.
4. They are completely British. They use British Potatoes, British Chicken, British Vegetables, British Cheese. I like that. We need to support our own farmers when and if we can. I applaud that ethos.
5. Their mission. The Bannister's Farm mission is to simply produce the tastiest spuds and they are passionate about good food and try their best to unite traditional values with the requirements of busy modern life. Good wholesome food at the push of a button. You can't ask for more than that.
Many thanks to Gaia and also to Bannister's Farm for sending me these lovely products to try. They are just wonderful and I highly recommend them to anyone. I've tried other brands in the past and I always come back to Bannister's because quite simply . . . they are the best. And that's the truth.
Bannisters’ Farm Fully Loaded Jackets (375g) retail from £2.00 to £2.50 and are available in the frozen food section of most grocery stores nationwide.
Check out their web page
Follow them on Facebook
Labels: product reviews
Oh, I am so very annoyed with myself. I told myself the other day that I wasn't going to bake anything scrummy for a while . . .
I wasn't going to bake anything that I couldn't resist stogging into my cake hole for a while . . .
I wasn't going to bake anything so scrumptiously moreish that I would find it hard to resist for a while . . . and then what do I do???
I go and create something so moreishly, decadently, scrumptiously magnificent that NOBODY would be able resist it!!
I know . . . I'm one bad puddy tat! But then again . . . I can't stay mad at me for long.
One bite and you will be in flap jack heaven. Buttery, sweet, nutty and oh-so-very hard to leave alone. Resistance IS futile.
*Cranberry, Pecan and White Chocolate Flap Jacks*
Sweet and scrummy. Just perfect for those times when you want a little something to give you some extra energy.
5 ounces butter, plus extra for greasing (1/2 cup plus 2 TBS)
200g of porridge oats (2 cups)
25g of dessicated coconut (1/4 cup)
50g light muscovado sugar ( generous 1/3 cup packed)
5 TBS golden syrup
6 ounces toasted pecans, broken into chunks with your hands (1 1/4 cups)
2 ounces dried cranberries (1/3 cup)
100g bar of white chocolate (about 3 1/2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 7 by 11 inch baking tin and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Melt the butter together with the sugar and golden syrup, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool.
Stir together the oats, coconut, pecans and cranberries. Pour the cooled butter mixture over top. Stir to combine well. Break up 2/3 of the chocolate into bits and stir into the mix. Press into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and mark into squares while still warm. Allow to cool completely, then cut all the way through. Melt the remaining white chocolate and drizzle it over top of the bars. Store in an airtight container.
Note - this is a repeat, but I think you'll forgive me when you see what I have been working on. Something special, a three course dinner for St Patricks Day. Watch this space!
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Farmer’s Choice are an online butchers, green grocers and deli that deliver completely free range, British meats and produce to homes across the UK. I am a guest author on their site and they have just published another one of my recipes that would be perfect for Mother's Day later this month.
Roasted Chicken Breasts with a Cranberry and Port Sauce. This is a simple and yet elegant recipe which makes for a delicious dinner when you want something just that tiny bit special. It is something which I prepared often for the people I worked for at the Manor when they had guests for dinner or luncheons. It's not complicated and yet it tastes just wonderful.
Not only will you find these and other recipes on the Farmer's Choice site, but you will also be able to purchase a quantity of the ingredients necessary to prepare all of the recipes you will find there. All the convenience of online supermarket shopping whilst supporting your local farmers. It's really a win/win situation!
Labels: Farmer's Choice
As anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows, the Toddster is really not very fond of pasta at all. I do make it from time to time, but more often than not I make something completely different for him, or he has the sauce, but on a potato instead. You will remember last week when I posted a review for the DUO Silocone and Ceramics springform cake mold from Lekue (what a fabulous pan) and today I want to show you something else they sent me!!
This is the Lekue Microwave Pasta Cooker. Cook any kind of pasta in the microwave, the fastest and cleanest way. Cook, drain and serve in the same place
It was very easy to use. On this day I cooked cappellini because that is what I had. As you can see here, you simply add the pasta to the cooker, cover it with water.
Place the lid on top and then cook in the microwave for the same time as is required as per package instructions.
At the end of that time you should have perfectly cooked pasta, which you simply drain using the slotted lid, so no extra dish to wash. It did take my cappellini a tad bit longer than the original directions on the pasta, but that was not a problem. I simply popped it in for an extra minute.
There are basic guidelines on the box in any case.
On this particular day I cooked a simple spicy tomato cream sauce to have with the linguine. I chose this for a number of reasons . . . one . . . I quite simply adore simple tomato sauces, using tinned tomatoes. (I always use a really good Italian brand myself, especially when it's a sauce that isn't going to be cooked for a long time period.)
Two, it's a really quick, QUICK sauce to make. It's done in approximately the same time as it takes to cook your pasta, 10 minutes tops.
Oh, and for a simple10 minute sauce, it packs a lot of flavour . . . with the addition of garlic and chilli flakes . . . and cream. Delicious. Quick. Easy. You can't ask for much more than that!
*Cappellini with a Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce*
With a spicy basic 10 minutes sauce, angel hair pasta and freshly grated cheese, you can have a filling and delicious supper on the table in less than 20 minutes!
2 TBS olive oil
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a large pinch of crushed chillies
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice, undrained (two 14 ounce tins)
125ml of heavy cream (1/2 cup)
fine sea salt
a pound of Cappellini pasta
a large handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil over high heat. While you are waiting for it to boil, heat the oil in a large deep saute pan. Add the garlic, pepper flakes and some salt. Cook, stirring, just until the garlic becomes very fragrant. Tip in toe tomatoes and their juices. Bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer until fairly thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cream and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Keep warm. Add your cappellini to the boiling water, stirring to separae the strands, Cook according to the package directions. Drain well, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Toss the drained pasta in the hot sauce, along with some of the cooking water and the parsley to combine. Top with some cheese and serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.
- Pasta cooker scientifically design to cook a variety of pastas within minutes in the microwave; just follow the instructions on the pasta box
- Save time with no need to boil water first; specifically designed so water doesn't overflow in the microwave while cooking
- Specifically designed to wash, cook and drain your pasta in the same vessel; the lid becomes a colander
- Use for a wide variety of pastas including spaghetti, short pasta, fresh pasta, noodles etc. Dishwasher safe: made in plastic and 100% platinum silicone
Fall in love with healthy, easy cooking with the most innovative products thanks to Lekue. Quality, functionality and design that will surprise you with a wide range of tools to make cooking, preparation, preservation, baking and freezing easier. With this collection, Lekue provides practical and revolutionary solutions for today's society way of cooking. Discover the pleasures of cooking at home by blending different flavors, textures and trying exciting recipes that are included with every Lekue product. Healthy cooking solutions for the day-to-day kitchen that breaks with the myth that healthy cooking is boring or bland.
Lekue is located in the Catalonia region of Spain outside of Barcelona and has been the leaders in design and manufacturing of high end silicone products since 1980. Cooking with Lekue's platinum silicone is completely safe and has many advantages.
- This is the ideal material for manufacturing molds or products that will come into contact with food. There is no leftover residues that will alter the flavor of food.
- All the products comply with the quality, technical and design specifications that guarantee durability. Lekue's products are non-stick; they do not require greasing, making unmolding easier. You save calories because you don't need to add extra butter and/or oil. In addition, you can easily fold and store the products made with this flexible material without deforming them, so you save space in the kitchen.
- Silicone doesn't break like glass and doesn't rust like metals.
- Products manufactured with platinum silicone withstand high temperatures: -60ºC and 220ºC. Its versatility and ability to withstand to high temperatures make it safe to use in the microwave, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator and freezer.
- Platinum silicone repels water and germs so, apart from easy maintenance, it guarantees maximum food hygiene and safety.
I give the Lekue Pasta Cooker a hearty two thumbs up! Many thanks to Lekue for sending it to me. I have to say I am in love with the Lekue products. They also sent me a Microwave Rice and Grain Cooker.
It has also performed very well, with exact times printed on the outside of the box and in the booklet which comes with it.
With the same qualities and ease of use and clean up as the other Lekue products, this is also an excellent piece of kit, which I highly recommend.
Yes, I am a very lucky girl. Many thanks to Lekue!!
Although I was sent these products free of charge, any and all opinions are my own.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
This has to be our favourite weekday breakfast in the winter time. Not only is it filling, giving us much needed energy to combat the colder winter temps, but it also is belly warming and immensely satisfying without being high in calories or fat.
It really doesn't take much effort to make your own oatmeal from scratch and let me be honest here . . . homemade from scratch tastes infinitely better than prepacked/instant . . . seriously.
It's comforting and heartwarming. It's delicious.
I think it is the vanilla and spices that make this so special. I also happen to like raisins and they also add something wonderful to the mix . . . and as for those toasted pecan nuts on top, well they give an added dimension of flavour and crunch.
You really can't go wrong with this . . . lightly sweetened with brown sugar and juicy plump raisins . . . it is the perfect winter breakast. And if you are really in a rush, you can spoon yours into a cup and take it with you when you dash out the door to begin your day.
It's a good thing . . . not to copy Martha or anything . . . but it IS a good thing! (Don't throw away any leftovers . . . I've got something fantastic to show you tomorrow that makes good use of them!)
*Vanilla Spiced Breakfast Oatmeal*
This makes a frequent appearance on our seasonal Winter breakfast table. Spiced with warm spices and topped with crunchy toasted pecans, it's filling, delicious and always welcome!
60g of shelled pecan nuts (1/2 cup)
825ml of water (3 1/2 cups)
160g of old fashioned rolled oats (2 cups)
75g of raisins (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg
2 TBS firmly packed soft light brown sugar
250ml of low fat milk to serve (1 cup) or to taste
ground cinnamon to dust over top
Place the pecans in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Cook and stir, until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool and then chop them coarsely. The toasting should only take about 5 minutes.
Combine the water, oats, raisins and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce to a slow simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oats are tender and cooked. Remove from the heat. Stir in the brown sugar, vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Divide into heated serving bowls and serve with some milk poured over top (if desired), a dusting of cinnamon and 1/4 of the toasted pecans.
Monday, 3 March 2014
Hooray! Tomorrow is pancake day, one of my most favouritest days of the year! I love pancakes and a day that celebrates these little lovelies is just a great day altogether. When I was a child, believe it or not . . . pancake day was the only time my mom ever made pancakes! I know!!! I had a deprived childhood! Seriously, they were a real treat!
When my own children were growing up, pancakes was the breakfast I cooked for them every time they had a sleepover and also the breakfast we had whenever we went to Uncle Ewen's for a visit. He made the most delicious buttermilk pancakes, and he always served them with canned peaches, maple syrup, sausage and bacon. Sooo good!
I have a lot of pancake recipes on here. There are Irish Pancakes, Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes, Bacon and Polenta Pancakes, Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, Silver Dollar Pancakes, Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes, Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes, Honey and Raspberry Pancakes, Cranberry and Oats Buttermilk Pancakes, Applesauce Pancakes with a Spicy Apple Syrup, Blueberry and Granola Buttermilks, Sticky Toffee Pancakes, and an Autumn Apple Pancake.
What can I say??? It's CLEAR we adore pancakes!
This year we were challenged by the people who make Tefal pans to come up with something new for Pancake Day and I was sent this lovely Tefal Jamie Oliver Pan to cook them in.
With it's unique 10th anniversary pattern on the bottom of the pan, it's new prometal hard non-stick coating (engineered for the rigours of every day use) and durable hard enamel exterior this is a dream pan.
It also sports the Thermo-Spot, optimal cooking dot in the centre, which changes colour when your pan is at the right temperature for cooking. I have never had one of these before and was very excited about this.
Just look at that spiffin handle! Can you tell how excited I am about this pan. I hope so because it's an excellent pan and it cooked like a dream. No sticking whatsover, and great cookin' and it cleaned up fantastically!
I was also very excited about this pancake day challenge too, so excited in fact that I came up with not one, but two different pancake recipes for us and all of you to enjoy! Yay!
First up a little something healthy. Whole Wheat and Cheddar Pancakes with a Spiced Apple Topping and Syrup. Oh boy, sooooo good!
So tasty and so fluffy, using both plain and white flours and the tasty addition of wheat bran for extra goodness . . . and then just a touch of strong cheddar . . .
And that delicious topping . . . wowsa, with nice crispy tender wedges of tart Granny Smith Apple and maple and cinnamon. Oh so tasty. These were gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. And it was nice to know that the gorgeousness also came along with a bit of healthiness! Apples and Cheese, a marriage made in heaven!
*Whole Wheat Cheddar Cakes with Spiced Apple Syrup*Serves 4
1 TBS butter
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease the pan if needed and then ladle 1/4 cup ful's of the batter on, leaving space between to spread. Cook until golden brown on the underside and the tops are covered with small bubbles. Flip over. Cook until the other side is golden brown as well. Keep warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.
Another favourite of ours is rice pudding and so I thought . . . why not Rice Pudding Pancakes??? Why not indeed!!
All the flavours of a rice pudding . . . custardy rich egg . . . nutmeg, vanilla . . . rice . . . cooked into a tender and fluffy pancake . . .
And you all know how much we love Blueberries in this house, so it just seemed that a delicious sweet/tart blueberry syrup would be the perfect addition to crown these tasty little babies!
I could go on and on about how very tasty they were, but you'll just have to make them for yourself and see! These are winner/winner/chicken dinner's!!! Ceptin they are not chicken dinners . . . they're pancakes, and they're luciously scrumdiddlyumptiously good!
*Rice Pudding Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup*Serves 4
the finely grated zest of one lemon
the juice of half a lemon
Serve hot and pass the blueberry syrup!
Many thanks to Tefal for sending me this lovely pan to work with. It really is a lovely pan. I adore it. And also for issuing the challenge. I had a lot of fun, and for Nicola at Yomego for contacting me about it in the first instance.
Now what are you all waiting for??? Treat yourself to a new pan and get flipping!
Note: Although I was sent a new pan, any and all opinions are my own and in no way prejudiced because of this.