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Toasted Cheese Rounds



Its hard to believe that here we are on the last day of 2018!  I wonder what the new year will bring to each of us.  Good things I hope.  I know I have a new book coming out shortly.  This one is about half the size of the last one, but I have had nothing but good reports on it, so I am hopeful that it will also be a success, fingers crossed!



So that is one good thing to look forward to, on my part at least.  I try always to look at each new year as an opportunity.  I am not one much for making resolutions and such.  If I can end the year having done something good, and being a little bit better than I was the year before, then I call that year a success! 



I have never been one much for going out on New Years Eve.  It was always a bit cost prohibitive for us My parents always went to a dance each year. As children, we would be just as excited to ring in the New Year as they were.  But that was mainly because we knew they would bring us home a party hat and a noise maker to play with the next day.  (We were never allowed to play with them much until the 2nd of January due to headaches and such, lol)



Normally what we did when the children were growing up was to have a finger food buffet and watch a few movies that they enjoyed and then watch Dick Clark's Rocking New Years Eve.  My ex husband always had to work New Years Eve, so the children and I partied all on our own.  We didn't mind.  We enjoyed each others company and some delicious food. It was all good! 



Some favourites I would have made would be Chicken Wings  . . . .
my Smoked Salmon Spread was another favourite.  There would be chips and dips, and pizza rolls, etc.  A veritable finger food feast!




Finger food actually takes longer to make than a meal would.  Its all the picky bits.  I remember when I worked at the Manor, I had to put together a finger food buffet for 200 when their daughter graduated, and that was tons of work.  I was working for days and days to get ready for that one! 



I relied heavily on things that I could make ahead and freeze on trays that I was then able to take out and cook on the day.  Tasty nibbles such as these Toasted Cheese Rounds! 



These are so quick and easy to make, and very easy to make ahead and freeze (if you need to). 


They basically only use three ingredients, four if you count the baguette rounds. 


Grated cheese, mayonnaise and chopped spring onions.  The original recipe called for twice as much mayonnaise, but I have cut it way back and they work fine with half the amount.  I would not use low fat mayo.   You just mix together all the ingredients and then spread the mixture onto French bread rounds and bake.  Easy Peasy! 



The end result are hot, baked, crispy, cheese rounds of deliciousness!  Quick, easy and tasty.  I call these triple winners!

Yield: 40

Toasted Cheese Rounds

prep time: 10 minscook time: 15 minstotal time: 25 mins
A quick, easy and delicious nibble for celebrations and get togethers.

ingredients:


220g good quality mayonnaise (1 cup)
240g grated strong cheddar cheese (2 cups)
60g grated Parmesan cheese (1/3 cup)
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and minced
40 (1/2 inch thick) slices of baguette bread

instructions:


Preheat
 the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Mix the mayonnaise, both cheeses
and the onions together in a bowl, mixing together well.  Spread on one
side of each bread round and place, cheese side up onto baking trays. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden
brown.  Serve immediately.

Note - You
can make ahead and just bake as needed.  You can also freeze these
unbaked in a single layer and pop them into the oven frozen, baking as
above.  They will  take slightly longer to bake.

Created using The Recipes Generator


Oh boy but these are some good.  I even like them cold and leftover the day after, but then again, I am a bit of a Glutton. (Aren't we all to some degree!)  Whatever  . . .  Bon appetit and Happy New Year! 



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Marie Rayner
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Salted Caramel Pavlova



I wanted to create something a big special to share on here for New Years Eve.  I had rather a lot of egg whites in the refrigerator from when I had made our Egg Nog for Christmas, so it only made sense to do something with them. 



I toyed a bit with the idea of doing a Lemon & Blueberry Meringue Roulade . . .  but then I decided not to go that route.  Todd's not overly fond of lemon and since he will be eating the majority of it, then I thought I best make something he would enjoy! 



I did see a chocolate pavlova that looked really tasty, but Todd is also not a huge fan of chocolate desserts.  (I know!  How can anyone not like lemon or chocolate desserts???)



That's when I decided to make him a Salted Caramel Pavlova . . .


With a simple billowing marshmallow-like base  . . . .


Filled with rich softly whipped double cream  . . .  I do add a bit of vanilla bean paste, but it is perfectly delicious on its own without any additions . . .


Over that I drizzled some melted dark chocolate.  I used a really good quality one with a high cocoa solids content . . . its often very nice to have something not so sweet as a contrast to what is essentially a very sweet dessert . . . so the cream is not sweetened and the chocolate is not either.


No worried however, as the salted caramel drizzle more than makes up for any lack of sweetness on their parts  . . .  had I used sweetened cream and chocolate, it might have been too much! 



The final addition was a sprinkling of candied flaked almonds.  If you have never made these, you are bound to be surprised as just how very easy they are to create! 



You just dump some flaked almonds and sugar into a skillet and then cook them over medium heat until the almonds toast and the  sugar melts and begins to coat them in a sugary praline.  Dumped onto a sheet of baking paper and torn apart with a fork, they were the perfect finishing touch!!



This turned out absolutely flipping gorgeous if I don't say so myself! 



It was beautiful to look at  . . . . 



And the textures and flavours were spot on! 



Sweet, creamy, crisp, unctuously magnificent  . . .  moreish . . .  delectable  . . . well deserving of being served for New Years Eve! 

Yield: 6 - 8

Salted Caramel Pavlova

prep time: 25 minscook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 25 mins
A simple dessert that everyone loves with a soft billowing marshmallow meringue base, topped with a whipped cream filling and drizzled with salted caramel and dark chocolate.  Scrumptious.

ingredients:

4 large free range egg whites
190g caster sugar (1 cup, fine granulated sugar)
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp white vinegar


For the salted caramel sauce:
200g soft light brown sugar (1 cup packed)
115 ml single cream (1/2 cup half and half)
4 TBS butter
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp fleur de sel

For the almonds:
1 1/2 ounces flaked almonds (1/4 cup)
2 TBS caster sugar
You will also need:
50g dark chocolate, melted (2 ounces)
300ml double cream (1 1/3 cups)

instructions:

Make the meringue first. Preheat the oven to 130*C/260*F/ gas mark 1/2.  Trace out a 7 inch
circle on a sheet of baking paper.  Place the baking paper on top of a
baking sheet.  Set aside.

Place the egg whites into a clean,
grease free, glass or metal bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until
soft peaks form.  Add half of the sugar and continue to beat until the
egg whites are stiff and glossy.  Slowly beat in the remaining sugar
(reserving 1 TBS) until it is all amalgamated.  Stir the cornflour and
remaining sugar together and beat that in along with the vinegar,
beating it for about a minute.  Spoon the meringue mixture out onto the
baking paper, spreading it with a metal spoon to fill the circle and
scooping it somewhat hollow in the centre, creating a raised edge all
around.

Place into the heated oven and bake for about 1 hour,
until crisp on the outside and mallow like on the inside.  Set aside to
cool on the baking tray.  Once completely cooled, carefully peel off the
 baking paper and set the meringue onto a plate.
While
 the meringue is baking make your sugared almonds and caramel sauce.  To
 make the almonds, place  the almonds into a skillet along with the
sugar. (Have a sheet of
baking paper ready and waiting on the counter.)  Cook and stir over
medium high heat until the sugar melts and begins to coat the almonds,
some 2 to 3 minutes.  Take care not to burn the sugar.  Remove from the
heat immediately and pour the almonds out onto the baking paper,
spreading them out as much as you can.  Allow to cool completely.

To make the caramel  sauce, whisk the brown sugar, cream and butter together in a heavy bottomed
saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk constantly for about six minutes,
until the sugar and butter have melted and the mixture has thickened
somewhat.  Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Set aside.
Break your chocolate up and melt according to package directions in the microwave. Keep warm.

Beat
 the cream until it forms soft dollops. Pile it into the centre of your
meringue base.  Drizzle with the cold caramel sauce and melted
chocolate.  Break the almonds over top and serve.

Created using The Recipes Generator




Not only was this delicious but it was really very simple to make!  Seriously simple really!  If you look at each step individually, and then just bring them together at the end, you will find this is a real doddle.  Simple ingredients, simple methods  . . .  put together in a most delicious way!  Happy New Year! 



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Marie Rayner
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Banana & Golden Syrup Loaf



I wasn't allowed to work for the first few months that I lived in the UK.  Having arrived on a Fiance's visa, I had to wait for an employment visa before I could actually apply for a job.  We lived in a very small ground floor Maisonette apartment, which had a small kitchen, a bedroom, a lounge and a bathroom.  Cleaning and tidying that didn't take a lot of time, to say the least.  While Todd was at work, I used to enjoy a variety of cooking shows on the telly at the time.  One of those was Ready Steady Cook.  It involved a host (Ainsley Harriot), two celebrity chefs and two guests.  The guests would bring in a mystery bag of ingredients and the chef's would have to make as many dishes as they could from what was in the bag in an allotted length of time.  



That was exactly how I liked to cook . . .  take a pile of ingredients and then see what I could do with them!  Another show I enjoyed was Great British Classics, starring the chef Gary Rhodes.  I was really keen to learn what British food and cookery was all about and he epitomised the very best for me.  I liked his style so much that the first Christmas Todd and I spent together, I asked him for the same entitled cookery book by Gary Rhodes. 



Gary Rhodes and Delia Smith became my culinary mentors when I first moved to the UK.  I learnt a lot from them and from these basic books!!



This Banana Loaf recipe comes from Gary's book.  



I had bought in a bunch of fresh fruit prior to Christmas Day.  I wanted the Missionaries to have a bit of choice while we were all waiting for dinner to be ready for eating.  Needless to say, a lot of it didn't get eating and so today I found myself with some ripe bananas which needed using up. 



I remembered this Banana & Golden Syrup Loaf in Gary's book and decided to try it out. 



Its an all in one recipe where you just bung everything into a bowl, beat it all together and then pour the  batter into a pan and bake.


After having cooked two large meals this week, I wasn't much in the mood for cooking anything very involved, so it suited me to a "T". 



The end result was an incredibly squidgy, moist banana loaf! 



The golden syrup lends a bit of a caramel/butterscotch flavour to the loaf. If you can't find golden syrup, you can just use corn syrup. It will work well, but might not have the same flavour. 



 It doesn't have a lot of fat in it. The mashed bananas replace some of the fat in the recipe.  It doesn't rise really high either.  At first I though it has fallen, but when I cut into it I realised that it hadn't.  Its just a somewhat flattish squidgy loaf. 



We like to enjoy our banana breads warm and spread with cold butter . . .  doesn't everyone?? 



It was really quite a nice loaf.  My favourite banana loaf is still going to be my Sour Cream Banana Loaf, but this is one it not to shabby at all! 


Yield: 1 (2-lb) loaf

Banana & Golden Syrup Loaf

prep time: 10 minscook time: 55 minstotal time: 65 mins
A simple and delicious way to use up over-ripe bananas.

ingredients:


225g self - raising flour (1 1/2 cups +2 TBS)
100g butter, softened (1/2 cup)
4medium  ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
50g soft dark brown sugar (1/4 cup packed)
4 TBS golden syrup
4 large free range eggs, beaten lightly

instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180*C.350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a 2
 pound loaf tin and line it with baking paper. (I use the baking liners
that you can buy.)
Measure all of the ingredients into a bowl and beat together until well combined. Pour into the lined tin.

Bake
 in the pre-heated oven for 50 to 55 minutes.  The loaf should be golden
 brown, well risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre should come
out clean.

Let rest in the tin for 10 minutes before slipping out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Note - you can add 50g (1/2 cup) toasted chopped walnuts or pecans if you wish.
Created using The Recipes Generator



Over-ripe bananas in the fruit bowl always spell Banana Bread to me!  May it ever be so!  Bon Appetit! 



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Post Christmas Hash



Having prepared two fairly large roast dinners over Christmas, I found myself with a fair amount of leftover cooked vegetables. Recipes like this are a doddle, and a great way of using up some of that excess!


I had leftover roast potatoes, leftover cooked carrots, cooked Brussels Sprouts, cooked swede/rutabaga and cooked sweet potatoes. I also had a few leftover rolls and some Yorkshire puddings, plus a variety of meat.  We had ham on one day and beef on the next.



One of the great things about meals like this is that you can tailor them to however many people you are wanting to feed.


I plan on 1 small onion, peeled and chopped, one small Yorkshire pudding or 1/2 dinner roll and 1 cup of vegetables per person. 



I melt a knob of butter in a heavy skillet.  A knob of butter is butter about the size of a whole walnut, or a heaped TBS.  Once that is melted and is foaming hot, I drop in the chopped onion and the dinner roll which I have cubed.  I just stir them around until the bread starts to crisp up and the onion is beginning to soften.


That's when I throw in the rest of the vegetables that I have prepared.  I will cut the potato (s) into cubes, along with the parsnips, the carrots can be left the size they were when you cooked them, or if very large, also cubed. 



I quartered the sprouts . . . mmmm . . .  sprouts fried in butter, you can't go wrong! 



A smattering of seasoning to taste . .  . take it easy on the salt, and add as much pepper as you like.  We like pepper, so probably use a fair bit of that.



I also like to add some herbs.  Dried thyme, marjoram . . .  sage, rosemary . . .  they are all favourites, and go very well in things like this.  You don't need a lot, just a touch . . . 



You just cook and stir it all in the pan with the butter, onion and bread . . .  until the veg starts to gild a bit  . . .  crisp in spots here and there . . . 



You want it well heated through  . . .  but you don't want it over-cooked. I like to maintain a bit of the crispy crunch of the sprouts and carrots  . . .  it is a matter of taste I suppose! 



I had leftover ham, which I just sliced and cooked in a bit of butter on the side . . .  until golden edged.  I also had some mashed swede that I heated up.  Altogether this was deliciously satisfying! 


Yield: varies

Post Christmas Hash

prep time: 10 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 30 mins
Something tasty to do with your leftover holiday veg! Quantities vary according to how many people you are feeding.  I even use up leftover dinner rolls or Yorkshire puddings in this.

ingredients:

For each person you are feeding:
1 leftover dinner roll, sliced, buttered and cubed
(alternately you can use a leftover Yorkshire pudding, cubed)
1 large mug full of leftover cooked vegetables, cubed or quartered
(I used roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, roast parsnips
and a bit of mashed swede/rutabaga)

You will also need:
1 knob butter
small to medium onion, peeled and chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
a sprinkling each of thyme, marjoram and sage

instructions:


Melt the knob of butter in a large heavy skillet. 
Add the onion and the dinner roll (if using.) Cook, stirring
occasionally, until the onion has softened and the bread has crisped
up.  Add the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle with seasoning, and herbs.
Cook, stirring occasionally until well heated through and crisped on the
 edges.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  Serve hot. 
Note - I serve this with heated up sliced leftover roasted meats, and gravy, if desired.
Created using The Recipes Generator 




I think meals made with leftovers are my favourite kinds of meals.  I am the Queen of using up leftovers!  I took these photos with my new camera. Its a Canon. My very first Canon. The jury is still out at the moment on this.  Bon Appetit! 



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