Saturday, 5 January 2013

Spinach, ricotta and tomato filo tart

I bought a very similar tart like this once from a supermarket and to be honest, I didn't like it very much as I felt it was bland in tasting, so as I had some left over filo pastry hanging about I decided to knock up this up for myself, adding in all my favourite ingredients, it's so easy to make and the finished result are amazing.

5 sheets of filo pastry
250gms, 1 tub of ricotta cheese
3 tbsp of parmasen cheese.
3 balls of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 tsp of fresh nutmeg
50gms of melted butter
Salt and garlic pepper to season
4 fresh tomatoes finely chopped and seasoned.
5inch rounded foil tray

Preheat the oven to 180C

Take a large bowl and add the ricotta, parmesan, spinach, garlic and stir thoroughly until combined, season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Take your filo sheets and place into your foil tray, brush with the butter and add the cheese and spinach filling, top with the chopped tomatoes.

Bring together all sides of the filo together in the centre to seal the tart, brush with the remaining butter and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Portobello mushroom filled with cream cheese and topped with hazelnuts

It wont be any surprise to those that know me, that I like mushrooms, well in fact I LOVE them and usually every monday I make a stuffed mushroom, I called this ' Mushroom monday ' well on this particular monday I made this from leftovers I had in my fridge, it's a fairly healthy meal as I used low fat cream cheese. Serve it with salad or on its own  its also really good for those who are on a diet also.

1 large portobello mushroom. Stalk removed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp of low fat soft cheese
1 tbsp of parmesan cheese
1 tsp of garlic powder
1tsp of garlic pepper
1 tbsp of freshly chopped thyme
Handful of hazelnuts roughly chopped
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 200C

In a medium sized bowl, add the cream cheese, parmesan, garlic, thyme, mushroom stalk, salt, pepper and mix thoroughly.
Place the cheesy mixture into the mushroom, and top with the chopped hazelnuts.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Haslet pie.

Haslet is a pork meatloaf with herbs originally from Lincolnshire it's a meatloaf typically made from stale white bread, ground pork, sage, salt and black pepper. It is typically served cold with pickles and salad, or as a sandwich filling. I bought a pack of haslet thinking my daughter would like it for school in her sandwiches, but fussy as she is she didn't, so i improvised and came up with this dish, it worked fantastically well and everybody loved it, its fab with a rich thick gravy and served with vegetables, its so easy to make and good when on a budget.

5 medium potatoes, peeled and 1/2
200gms of haslet broken up into bits
4 spring onions finely sliced
1tbsp of garlic powder
50gms of butter
A little double cream
salt and pepper to season
1 beaten egg
10inch by 6inch casserole dish

Here is a link for the suet top

Start by making the pastry.

Place the potatoes into a saucepan with salted water, and boil until cooked through.
Drain the potatoes when ready and mash until silky with the butter and double cream. Add the haslet, garlic and spring onions and stir thoroughly until combined, season to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180C

 Place the mash mixture into a casserole dish and level down with a fork.

Roll out the suet crust to approx. 12 inches diameter and place on top of the mash mixture, folding the edges in to give a nice thick crust and brush with beaten egg and bake for 20-25 mins

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Banana and walnut loaf

As I had some very ripe ( black ) bananas in the fruit bowl, heading for the bin. I decided to make this loaf today, its moist, light and has a lovely nutty warmth and crunch to it. It's so easy to make and an all round pleaser.

100g softened butter
150g light brown muscavado sugar
2 beaten egg
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 very ripe bananas mashed
1tsp of mixed spice
100g chopped walnuts
Tbsp of milk

Preheat the oven to 180C

In a mixer ( I used my kitchen aid ), but a hand held mixer would do.

Cream together the butter, sugar, eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour and baking powder and beat again until combined. Add the mashed up bananas, walnuts, mixed spice and milk and beat until all combined.

Place the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin, and bake in the oven on the middle shelf for 1 hour.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Sausage and gnocchi bake

Seeing Dean Edward's pictures posted on twitter last week for this fantastic dish he came up with. I just had to try it out. I had all the basic ingredients in, the gnocchi, courgette etc, its something anyone can knock up for a quick tasty dinner,  so really after seeing the pictures and being a big fan of italian food, it was a no brainer for me, but to make it. The smells whilst it cooked were amazing coming from my kitchen, it's a good all round stable, comfort, and tasty dish, you can try the recipe out by visiting Dean's website here.

Sausages cooking with the balsamic, onions and courgettes.

Gnocchi added with the tomatoes

The assembled dish, topped with breadcrumbs and cheese

The finished gnocchi bake

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tortellini filled with spinach, cream cheese and tomato

I love pasta and this is my ALL time favourite pasta dish, it's a bit time consuming to make, and possibly a little fiddly, but as my recipes, as you know are user friendly. I will try to give ' Easy ' instructions on how to make this. The end result is so great and well worth the effort in my opinion, after making this, you just wouldn't want to pop to the local supermarket and buy ever again.  So fresh and tasty, it  packs a right punch on your tastebuds. I would tend to make this in advance, over the weekend or for a special dinner party. Once all the pasta is assembled you can leave it in the fridge until needed, cooking time is literally 4 minutes, so it's a great dish to have ready prepared to go and it wont keep your guests or yourself waiting to long.

Pasta ingredients and method

For the filling
300gms of cream cheese
100gms of cooked and thoroughly drained spinach
2 tomatos finely chopped
1 tsp of garlic powder
1tsp of oregano
Handful of grated parmesan cheese
season to taste

Pastry cutter
Little water
Plate with a dusting of flour on

In a large bowl add together all the above filling ingredients, and thoroughly mix, remember to season, according to your palate. Set aside.

Once the pasta has been rolled out into a long strip approximately 15inch long by 5inch on your floured work surface, with a small tsp add some of the filling to the middle of the pasta ( starting from right  working your way down the pasta) leave an inch gap, between each ball of filling !

In a small cup add a little water and brush the bottom half of the pasta, and also in between each ball of filling with the water, fold the pasta over the top of the filling, so it meets the bottom, gently press. Cupping your hands to seal.

With your pastry cutter out the parcels into half-circles.

Hold the half-circle with the flat edge down between your thumb and index finger. Take the outer edges and fold them around your thumb or finger, whichever is easier for you. Where the dough overlaps, give it a pinch with wet fingers to hold it together. 

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and gently add the tortellini and boil until it floats to the top. Drain. Serve with a freshly made pesto, drizzled over the top. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Vegetable samosas

I love vegetable samosas, but rarely find any good ones in the supermarket these days, so what better way than to make my own. These samosas I sell out of all the time and my friends and family rave about them, they are meal in themselves I find, but also a great accompaniment to any indian dish. This recipe makes 12 samosas. They are super yummy give them a go.

9oz plain flour
1tbsp oil
1 egg, separated, keeping the white for later on.
150mls of water

3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
2 large carrots, finely chopped and cubed
100gms of frozen peas
1tsp of butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp of dried chilli flakes, or more if you like heat.
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
handful fresh coriander leaves

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the pastry, mix the flour and salt together in a bowl then pour in the oil and egg yolk and mix together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. stir in enough water to form a smooth dough, alternatively you can do this in a food processor . Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour whilst you make he filling.

For the filling, boil the potatoes in a saucepan for 10 minutes, drain and set aside. 
Boil the carrots and peas together in a saucepan 10-12 minutes  drain and set aside.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat then add the onion, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, cumin, chilli, coriander, salt and black pepper and fry for about 8 minutes until the onions are softened and the spices aromatic.

Stir in the cooked potato and carrot and peas and cook for a further ten minutes. Season to taste with  the lemon juice, salt, pepper and stir in the fresh coriander, set aside to cool. I tend to leave the filling in a separate bowl for an hour or so, this because, you don't want to be putting the hot filling  into the chilled pastry.

You can make this recipe either way, be it the filling first and pastry afterwards :-) I tend to do it this way as I can have a little sit down  in-between ;-)

To assemble the samosas, cut the dough into six even-sized pieces and roll into balls. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a thin circle, about 9inches in diameter. Cut each circle in half to form two semicircles.

Take a semicircle and fold into a cone, brushing the edges with the reserved egg white to seal. Fill the samosa filling, just leaving 1/2 and inch at top, then brush the top edges with egg white and press tightly to seal with a fork. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

To cook the samosas half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with vegetable oil  or alternatively a deep fat fryer if you have one, to test the oil is up to temperature, heat up until a cube of bread dropped in sizzles and turns golden-brown . Do not leave the fryer or saucepan unattended. Fry the samosas in small batches for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.