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Classic Grilled Cheese with Marinated Onions



We don't always have days when we are wanting a big meal to eat for our suppers in this house.  I think as you get older, your appetites change and you don't eat quite so much as you did when you were younger. 



I can remember back when I was first married, some many years ago, having a full supper and then cooking a box of Kraft Dinner or making a boxed pizza mix with my husband to snack on in the evening.  My how things have changed! 



Not only would I not be hungry enough to eat such a hearty snack before bed these days, but I also would end up suffering all night with acid reflux if I did!  No, ageing is not for the weak!  It comes accompanied with all sorts of delights to experience!


Anyways, I digress.  We don't always want a big meal. Sometimes we only want a sandwich.  There is no need for it to be a boring sandwich however!  (As if I could ever make a boring sandwich!)



This tasty sandwich takes the concept of a simple grilled cheese and infuses it with the flavours of Alsace . . .


You begin with marinating onions in a mix of vinegar, olive oil and seasoning  . . . it doesn't take long to do this, only 15 minutes.  You will want to slice your onions as thinly as you can.  I used my  Essential 5-in-1 vegetable shredder to slice my onions. It is  a really handy tool to have in the kitchen.  Easy to use, clean, store and maintain.  I love it and use it a lot.  You can find out more here.


Once you have the onions marinating, you can slice your cheese.  I like Gruyere cheese, which is a lovely melting cheese.  Gruyere is a melty type of Swiss cheese, with a lovely nutty flavour.  I adore it.


If you can't get it, you can substitute it with Emmenthal, Beaufort, Jarsberg, Comte or Raclette cheese, but do try to get the Gruyere if you can.  Don't use processed Swiss cheese slices.  There is really no comparison.  NO comparison.


You will also need some grainy mustard.  I adore grainy mustard  . . .  with its robust texture and slight heat, it is lovely in any sandwich.


Sour dough bread is best, but any good white loaf will work well.  You do want a sturdy one that will stand up to the filling.


I like to cut my slices about 3/4 of an inch thick . . .



Buttered on the outside with softened butter and spread on the inside with the grainy mustard  . . .


Then topped with half of the cheese, and the marinated onions . . .  and finally the remaining cheese, and then closed in with the other slice of bread . . .



It is then toasted or griddled in a hot skillet, on a grill pan,  or pressed in a panini press, until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is oozingly melty.  Yum!  These are so tasty! 


Yield: 4

Grilled Cheese with Marinated Onions

prep time: 15 minscook time: 15 minstotal time: 30 mins
A very different kind of grilled cheese sandwich.  Simple ingredients put together easily to give  sandwich with real WOW factor!

ingredients:

  • 70ml extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
  • 2 - 3 TBS sherry vinegar
  • (can use white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar)
  • 2 TBS Kosher salt
  • 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medim brown onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 8 slices of white or whole wheat sour dough bread
  • 62g of whole grain mustard (1/4 cup)
  • 230g Gruyere cheese (8 ounces) cut into very thin slices
  • softened butter

instructions:

  1. First prepare the marinated onions.  Put the onions into a bowl along with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper  Rub together to combine and then sit aside for about 15 minutes to pickle.
  2. To assemble the sandwiches,  butter each slice of bread on one side only.  Place four slices, buttered side down  and spread the unbuttered side with the grainy mustard.  Top with half of the sliced cheese, trying to keep as much of it inside the edges of the bread as possible. Divide the pickled onions evenly amongst the sandwiches.  Top with the remaining cheese and then the other four slices of bread, buttered sides up.
  3. Toast the sandwiches in a large skillet, or in a panini press until the bread is toasted completely and the cheese has melted.  Cut on the diagonal to serve.  Serve hot.
Created using The Recipes Generator



I served them with a bit of rocket on the side and a garnish of some of the pickled onions we have leftover from Christmas.  This was pure and utter comfort.  There is no other word for it.  I can imagine that if you are the drinking sort it would go down really lovely with a sparkling lager or cider, and maybe even a few potato crisps/chips on the side.  Simple flavours done well and done simply.  You can't beat it!  Bon Appetit! 



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Marie Rayner
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Shepherd's Pie



Keeping things fairly simple around here.  To be honest, I am not really all that hungry, but my hubby still has to eat. I found a small package of lamb mince in the freezer and so today I did him a shepherd's pie.


People often confuse Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie, using the terms interchangeably.  In reality, although quite similar, they are actually two very different things, with one using minced lamb and the other minced beef.


The clues are in the names  . . .  a Cottage Pie, uses beef, and is so called because of the "thatch" of mashed potatoes on top . . .  said to resemble a thatched roof cottage. 



There is certainly a "Thatch" of mash on both casseroles  . . .


"Shepherd's" Pie is so called because it uses minced lamb . . .  and it is shepherds who have traditionally cared for flocks of sheep/lambs. 



My Todd really loves a dinner like this.  Meat and potatoes are his favourite of all food combinations, and you can't get more meat and potatoes than this!



I have sized it down to generously serve two people.  (There being only two of us in the home, and me only really wanting to serve it to Todd.)  There are quantities in the recipe for both two and four servings. 



Its a fairly simple and classic recipe.  Some recipes call for the addition of veggies, some don't.  I choose to add in some grated carrot, and a layer of peas.


The carrot gets grated into the meat mixture, where it flavours the gravy nicely  . . .



The peas I add in a layer between the meat and gravy and the potato thatch on top  . . . 



I also add a smattering of grated strong white cheddar cheese to the top of the potato  . . .



It tastes really good and  helps to get a really nice golden brown colour to the finished dish. 



Todd was one very happy camper when I set this down in front of him. You would have thought all of his Christmas's had come at once. 



Yield: 2

Shepherd's Pie for Two

prep time: 25 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 55 mins
A classic family favourite perfectly sized for two. Ingredient measurements for 4 are in the brackets.

ingredients:

  • 2 tsp sunflower oil (1 TBS)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped (1 medium onion)
  • 1/2 medium carrot peeled and grated (1 medium carrot)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced (1 clove)
  • 1/2 pound lean minced lamb (1 pound)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs (1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp plain flour (1 TBS)
  • 150ml (generous half cup) lamb or vegetable stock (300ml/1 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (1 TBS)
  • frozen peas (Optional)
  • 1 pound floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (2 pounds)
  • 2 TBS milk (4 TBS)
  • 1 1/2 TBS butter (3 TBS)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 40g (1 1/2 oz) strong white cheddar cheese (50g/2 ounces)

instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Fry the onion and garlic in it until softened. Add the minced lamb and cook, breaking up the lamb with a wooden spoon, until browned. Stir in the carrot and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the flour and herbs. Gradually whisk in the stock and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until it bubbles and begins to thicken. Leave to simmer while you do the mash.
  2. Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender, about 12 - 15 minutes. Drain well. (Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5) Return to the pot and shake over the residual heat of the burner to dry out. Mash well with a potato masher. Stir in the butter and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the lamb mixture. Pour into the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover with a layer of frozen peas. Spoon the mash over top to cover, roughing the surface up with the back of a spoon or a fork. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are crisp and golden brown. Spoon out onto heated plates to serve.
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Pâté Chinois is the French Canadian version of a Cottage or Shepherd's Pie.  My father always loved it and still does.  I hope you will give this "English" version a go and enjoy it!  Bon Appetit! 

Note - the herbs I used were dried parsley, thyme, rosemary and marjoram


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Marie Rayner
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Overnight Cinnamon Roll Oats



I have to admit that on weekdays I am pretty lazy when I get up in the morning. I don't really want to go to a lot of faffing about when it comes to having breakfast.  I'm usually really really starving and more often than not will naughtily eat a piece of cake or some cookies. Not the healthiest way to start your day I know! 



I think one of the reasons I am so hungry when I get up is because I don't eat anything in the evenings at all, nada, nothing . . .  zip . . . at least not past about 6 PM.  Its not that I am not hungry past that time.  I occasionally am.  But when you have gastric disease, you learn quickly that eating past a certain time of night is a necessary evil which can help to prevent a lot of discomfort later on.



I am a huge fan of overnight oats.  Overnight oats  . . .  a bit of  fad with some perhaps, but they are one thing which helps me to behave better in the morning, and to eat much healthier.



With a little prep the night before, I have a delicious and healthy breakfast waiting for me in the refrigerator.  Its win/win all round.


I am particularly fond of this recipe, which tastes almost like one of my favourite things  . . . Cinnamon Rolls  . . . oh boy, who doesn't love those!


Okay so, yes  . . .  it is a bit of a stretch to compare the two . . .  perhaps the only thing they have in common is that lovely cinnamon flavour, and perhaps that cream cheese topping, but you have to pick your battles don't you, and this to me feels like a win.

Yield: 2

Overnight Cinnamon Roll Oats

prep time: cook time: total time:
Your favourite bread in a simple and delicious overnight oat combination, ready to eat in the morning.

ingredients:

  • 80g old fashioned oats (1 cup)
  • 2 TBS vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBS Vanilla flavoured Greek yogurt
  • 240ml milk (1 cup)
  • 3 tsp soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
For the optional frosting and garnish:
  • 2 TBS cream cheese
  • 1 tsp icing sugar
  • few drops vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp milk
  • 2 TBS chopped toasted pecans

instructions:

  1. Stir together all of the ingredients for the oat mixture in a bowl.  Divide between two medium coffee mugs, cover tightly with cling film or wax wrappers and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next morning when you are ready to serve, whisk together all of the ingredients for the frosting (if using), bar the nuts.  Drizzle over the tops of the oats in the mugs, and then scatter with the toasted pecans.  Serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator



I often enjoy this with a handful of berries on top, both blueberries and raspberries are very good.  I do recommend toasting the nuts first.  They are just somehow nuttier and tastier if you do!  Good morning! 



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Marie Rayner
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Roasted Chicken Banh Mi



Viet Nam has become somewhat of a "Go To"destination for many in these modern times.  I have to say that its never been a place that I have wanted to go.  Mostly because I am not overly fond of high humidity or extremely high temperatures, and I am totally not fond of the two combined! 



And so for countries like Viet Nam I am more of an armchair traveller, preferring to enjoy it from a distance and the comfort of my chair in my own home.  I used to be adventurous when I was younger, but not so much these days.



Last year Todd and I watched and enjoyed  a program on Netflix entitled Travels with My Father, with Jack Whitehall and his dad.  (Minus the bad language. You just can't get away from it today it seems.)  Anyways in the first series they ended up in Viet Nam and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a side of Viet Nam that I was quite un-acquainted with, having only really known it from the conflict in the latter part of the last century. It was nice to be able to see it in another light.


One of the things food wise which is enjoyed now throughout the world is the Banh Mi, or a sandwich served on a French Baguette and stuffed with greens and a choice of fillings. In fact it is considered to be amongst the top 10 culinary experiences of the country.  Who doesn't love a good sandwich!


This version of the classic sandwich includes a deliciously fiery spiced mayo spread  . . . 



Shredded roasted chicken  . . . 



A layer of sweet pickled carrot . . .


Thinly sliced English cucumber  . . .


And fresh coriander leaf (or cilantro as it is also known)  . . .


All tucked into a lightly toasted French baguette  . . .


I was able to make use of my  Essential 5-in-1 vegetable shredder to do my carrots for the salad.  It is so easy to use and comes with a handy bowl that you can shred your vegetables into.  

 

I used it to slice my cucumber to just the right thin-ness and I made my carrot pickle in that bowl that I had grated it into.  It is  a really handy tool to have in the kitchen.  Easy to use, clean, store and maintain.  I love it and use it a lot.  You can find out more here.


Todd and I really enjoyed these sandwiches.  You can adjust the heat of the mayo by the amount of Srirachi sauce you add.  Todd quite enjoyed the heat.  He likes thing spicy.



I really enjoyed the contrast of flavours and textures  . . .  the soft bun, the tangy pickle, the crisp cucumber, that spicy mayo, and of course the chicken.  Altogether this was really lovely and I didn't have to go very far to enjoy it!


Yield: 4

Roast Chicken Bahn Mi

prep time: 30 minscook time: total time: 30 mins
A French-Vietnamese fusion sandwich which originated in Viet Nam during the French Colonial rule.  They are easy to make and quite delicious! They are also a fabulous way to use up leftover roasted chicken or some of a rotisserie bird!

ingredients:

  • 75ml white vinegar (1/3 cup)
  • 30g white sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 55g light mayonnaise (1/4 cup)
  • 1 to 2 tsp Sriracha sauce (depending on how hot and spicy you like things)
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • large pinch sugar
  • 1 (12 inch) French style baguette, split horizontally
  • 1/2 pound cooked roast chicken, shredded
  • 1/3 of a seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • 1 thinly sliced jalapeno pepper (optional)

instructions:

  1. First make the carrot relish.  Heat the vinegar, salt and  larger amount of sugar together gently, stirring to melt the sugar.  Put the carrots into a bowl. Add the sweet vinegar and toss to coat.  Leave to set for 15 minutes.
  2. To make the spicy mayonnaise, whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, soy sauce and pinch of sugar.  Set aside.
  3. Toast the split baguette under the grill just until lightly browned.  Spread both cut sides with some of the spicy mayonnaise.  Top  the bottom half with the shredded roast chicken.
  4. Drain the carrot relish well and pat dry with paper towels.  Scatter over top of the chicken.  Top with the cucumber slices and then the jalapeno, if using. Finally scatter the coriander leaf over top and then place the top of the bun over all, pressing down gently. Cut into 4 portions to serve.
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I think some of the best adventures you can take food-wise at times can be the ones enjoyed within the comfort of your own home. Call me lazy but this works for me!  Bon Appetit! 



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Marie Rayner
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