Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Baked Goats Cheese with Red Onion, Cranberry and Red Wine Jam

I’m pleased to say this is all my own creation. I’d previously had goats cheese baked but the rest is mine, all mine.

If there any Jam Nazis out there who are at the point of commenting “that’s not a jam blah blah” then don’t, I didn’t know what else to call it, ok!

Right, so a lot of people don’t much like goats cheese and those that do would prefer it in small quantities. Who the hell would want a whole or half a cheese to themselves?

The secret you see is the baking. When cold, goats cheese can be very strong and almost feta like. However when you bake it, the texture changes to something silky and warm, that taste morphs into a creamy delightfully tasty, cheesy hit.

Couple this with the sweetness of the jam which takes on almost perfumed aroma of the wine and the erm cranberryness of the cranberries (help I’m running out of superlatives). Cheese and sweet fruitiness? A winner surely.

The Salad and dressing balance out the other two and the hazelnut topping brings the crunchy texture into the mix

Word of warning, make sure your cheese is cooked properly, it’s perfectly safe but if it’s not runny all the way through you’ll get that very strong goats cheese taste that people fear.

Usually this is a starter or light lunch

Goats Cheese
100g wheel of goats cheese per two people
Handful of hazelnuts crushed

One red onion, finely sliced
One handful of cranberries
3 Tbsp of soft light brown sugar
Good glug of red wine
1 Tbsp Olive oil

Handful of salad leaves each
1tbsp balsamic Vinegar
4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180o

To make the jam, fry the onion in the oil until soft. Add the cranberries wine and sugar, stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, taste, add more sugar if required plus salt and pepper.

Cut the goats cheese in half horizontally, place each half, skin side down on a greased baking tray, cover the top in chopped/crushed hazelnuts. Place in the centre of the oven for 10-15 mins until all of the cheese is soft and runny inside the skin. Test this by placing a sharp knife into the centre of the cheese, if the tip comes out hot then its done

Place the salad leaves in a bowl, put the oil, vinegar, mustard in  jar with a lid and shake until mixed. Alternatively whisk together in a separate bowl, add salt and pepper to taste

Dress the salad leaves in the bowl, put enough on each plate, add the cheese and a dollop of Jam.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is one of those dishes, that if you've never tried it, you’ve heard of it and when you do get to have a go you wonder why you’ve not had it before.

For the uninitiated it’s a very sumptuous, rich and you might venture, a decadent dish. If you’re counting the calories then get your abacus out, butter sauces don’t do fat free.

The Hollandaise, whilst it sounds tricky is actually not that difficult it just requires some manly whisking. You have to taste as well to ensure it has the right consistency and levels of acidity that you like.

Equally as important is the poached egg, there are lots of different methods each of them works, just make sure the yolk is runny and the white solid. My current (it changes) method is below; if you have a way that works for you then use that.

The Parma ham again is a preference other people prefer the greater saltiness and texture of crispy streaky bacon.

I think the spinach leaves are there balance to all the butter in the sauce, Ok it’s nod towards the healthy at least

Serves 2, the sauce will stretch to 3 maybe 4 if you’re not a glutton like me

Hollandaise Sauce
125g Melted Butter (I like my sauce fairly thick so increase the butter if you want it runnier)
2 Egg Yolks
1 tsp White wine vinegar
Pinch of Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

The Rest
1 Egg per person, fresh as you can get them
1 Muffin per person
3 Slices of Parma Ham
1 Handful of baby spinach leaves per person
1 Egg per person
Splash of white wine vinegar

I recommend getting everything out and measured before you start as it’s a bit go go go at the end

In a large pan put some water on to boil, about half full, turn down to simmer if it boils before you’re ready to poach

Put the grill on ready to toast the muffins

To make the hollandaise place a heatproof, glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water and that the water doesn’t boil

Into the glass bowl put the egg yolks, vinegar, salt and pepper, whisk like mad over the heat until you get a thick sauce like effect, apparently this is called a sabayon.

Take the bowl off the heat and either
  • Trickle the butter whisking as you go , this is a pain as pans are heavy man
  • Pour in a glug at a time then whisk the hell out of it until the butter is incorporated into the sauce

Keep doing this until the sauce has the consistency you want or the butter has gone

Next whisk in a small amount of lemon juice, taste and add more if you want to

Off the heat put the bowl back over the water and cover with cling film to keep warm

Break your eggs into something like ramekin dishes

Halve your muffins and toast under the grill

Place two halves on each plate and cover with spinach leaves, next layer on your ham

Add a good splash of white wine vinegar to the water, stir, make sure the water is simmering nicely, then gently slide each egg into the water. I find it best to place the ramekin into water and gently tip the egg out. If the eggs are fresh they should hold their shape. Mine weren’t and look a bit flat. Simmer for exactly 3 mins
Remove the eggs and dry on paper towels

Give your sauce a final good whisk

Place and egg in the middle of your muffin, spinach, ham arrangement

Drizzle over the hollandaise and add a twist of black pepper

Trust me if you’ve never had this before and you like poached eggs, you’ll love this

Cue Ubiquitous empty plate shot !

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Tea Eggs, with Prawn and Bean sprout Noodles

Apparently some people used to do something similar to eggs as children, making patterns etc. I however did not have such creative forces influencing my childhood so this is new to me.

The eggs do take on quite a lot of the flavour as well as the stunning patterns. The rest of the dish is standard Chinese fare of noodles and prawns, still very tasty though.

The pickle goes well, although too much and you’re straying into pickled eggs territory which is a different game altogether

I may or may not make this again, visually stunning , pleasant on the taste buds and fairly healthy, so actually, why not?

I saw this in this in this months Olive, very eye catching and I instantly wanted to have a crack, ahem 

Cucumber ¼ peeled, seeded and diced
½ Birds eye chilli finely sliced
Rice Vinegar 2 tbsp
Golden Caster sugar 2 tsp
Egg Noodles 200g
Rapeseed oil 2 tbsp
Garlic 2 cloves sliced
Spring onions 4 shredded
150g Cooked Prawns
Fish sauce 1 tbsp
Bean sprouts 1 handful per person

Tea Eggs
Light soy sauce 2 tbsp
Shaoxing rice wine  2btsp
Star anise 1
Golden Caster sugar 1 tbsp
Cinnamon stick 1
Ginger 2 thick slices
Chinese black tea 3 tbsp
Eggs 4

To make the tea eggs put all the ingredients, except for the eggs in a pan with 750 ml water and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 mins.

Bring another pan of water to the boil add the eggs and simmer for 4 mins. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle.

Carefully tap until the shell cracks, then gently crack roll the shell to get a crazy paving effect. Be very gentle as the egg is still runny inside, the first one I did smashed and caused much fuming. So I used a knife and tapped the shell gently all over to get the effect rather than rolling it

Place the eggs into the tea mixture and cook for an hour, then leave to cool in the mixture until ready to shell

Put the cucumber, chilli, rice vinegar and sugar in a bowl

If the noodles are uncooked, cook to packet instructions and drain

Heat the oil in a wok add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds then add the spring onions and stir fry for two mins.

Add the prawns, bean sprouts toss together, add the fish sauce

Add the noodles and toss together

Divide into bowls and place 2 shelled eggs onto each plate

Serve the pickled cucumber on the side

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Comte, Caramelised Red Onion and Tomato Tart

Comte cheese is made from unpasteurised cows milk and if you can get some quality cheese it has a firm but fairly soft texture with a nutty taste. One of the best qualities apart from the taste is the way it melts , delicious

The only comte cheese I’d had before was from the supermarket, it was at best ok and I couldn’t really see what all the fuss was about.

A couple of weeks ago I bought some more from Borough Market, this stuff was amazing and full of delicate flavours, it was a little expensive though

I’ve taken this recipe directly from the official UK comte cheese site and made a couple of minor adjustments

Serves 8 – 10
•    1 ½ tablespoons butter
•    2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
•    Pinch sugar
•    Salt and pepper
•    1 tablespoon water, plus additional for brushing pastry
•    1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus additional for serving
•    1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
•    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
•    4-6 ounces of grated Comte
•    2 tomatoes, very thinly sliced

1.    Preheat the oven to 200 degrees with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.    Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the onions with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until caramelised and golden, about 15 minutes. Add water and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan; cook until water is absorbed. Add thyme and transfer to a bowl.

3.    On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a large rectangle, roughly 16 by 13 inches. Cut in half lengthwise. Transfer both pieces to the prepared baking sheet. Brush edges with water and fold over to form a ½ inch border. Using the back of a fork, press edges to seal. Prick holes in the bottom of the tart (not on edges) with the fork.

4.    Brush the bottom of each tart with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Divide the caramelised onions among each tart, followed by the shredded Comté. Arrange slices of tomato in an overlapping line down the centre of each. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

5.    Bake in the upper third of the oven for 22-25 minutes, or until golden. Cool slightly and sprinkle thyme leaves over the top to garnish. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Mutton and Ale Stew

Never had mutton before? Always thought it cheap and tough? A poor mans Lamb?
Well you’d be wrong.

Mutton, whilst older and naturally tougher than young Lamb, if cooked properly,  has a really intense and deep flavour that I can only describe as Lamb2

If you get the chance, then please do give it a go. There’s no great mystery to cooking it, just treat it like you would Lamb, just for longer and at a lower temperature. You won’t be disappointed.

Mutton is fairly cheap and stewing it means you can chuck any old veg you've got knocking about the place. This made around 6 portions 

This recipe follows the basic Lamb stew principle and if you’ve seen my lamb stew post, will seem very familiar .


500g Diced Mutton
2 Medium Onions Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic Finely Chopped
3 Anchovies Finely Chopped
3 Large Carrots Cut into chunks or large discs
1 Small Swede cut into chunks
6 Shallots peeled, topped and tailed
Any other veg you want to chuck in
500ml of Lamb Stock
500ml of Ale (London Pride in this case)
Large Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Tablespoon of Tomato Puree
80g Plain Flour, seasoned
100g Pearl Barley
Sprig of Rosemary and a sprig of thyme

I found that preparing all the veg then putting in a bowl of water helped keep them fresher


Put the diced lamb into a bowl with the flour and ensure all pieces are covered
Pre-Heat the oven to 160
In a flame proof casserole dish brown pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil, and then brown the lamb in batches, put to one side for now

In the casserole dish fry the onions until soft then add the garlic and anchovies fry for one min.

Next add the Carrots, Shallots and Swede, stir fry for another min before adding the tomato puree and any remaining flour, make sure the flour is dispersed and stir well

Add in the Ale and deglaze the pan, one the liquid starts to boil add the lamb stock.

Bring to the boil, add the chilli flakes and herbs, cover and place in the oven for 2.5-3 hours. Add the pearl barley 30 mins before you're ready to serve stirring every 20 mins or so until  the mutton is beautifully tender. Season to taste and serve with bread or mash

The Timings for cooking aren't exact its depends on your oven, how cooked the meat is etc ...
Do keep an eye on it though, if its drying out add more water , but remember to keep tasting.