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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

I made my own version of what we called ‘Cauli-mac’ some years ago but it wasn’t particularly exciting so we had it just once, twice at the most.  Cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese are both popular here but I was attracted to this version as it was just a bit different.  Finding a good recipe to make both at the same time was always going to be a hit and this is proving to be our favourite recipe from the Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals series and book.  It is simple comfort food at its best and I have lost count of the number of times I have made this or a variation.  Although it is a fairly standard mixture of cauliflower, macaroni and cheese I have changed the ingredient proportions in the original recipe to give a less stodgy version: more cauli and slightly less mac.  There are two brilliant ideas that lift this Cauli-mac out of the ordinary.  The first is the addition of crème fraîche along with the cheese, saving the need to make a time consuming flour based white sauce: simple but brilliant.  (Of course part of the 30 minute meals brief is the need for speed.)  The second idea was to add a breadcrumb topping which included bacon and rosemary, both delicious flavourings.  There is very little bacon – just enough to add a slight flavour – but if you are vegetarian never fear as I have included some information below, giving my still tasty but meat free version.  Adding chopped parsley to the cauli-mac mixture gives a pretty green flecked sauce and I saved some to scatter one top as well.  Recently I have been making a new variation of my own, which includes tomatoes.  This is still being ‘tested’ by my guinea pig team (aka family) and needs photographing, however it will make an appearance in due course.

As I have already said, this recipe comes from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals (by Jamie Oliver).  This is just one dish, part of a menu he suggests can be cooked within the half hour time limit and which also includes a mixed salad and a dessert.  I am afraid I have not cooked the complete menu and probably will not, but I have often served some salad on the side.

Vegetarian Variation: The bacon can, of course, simply be omitted but a similar smoked flavour can be obtained by using grated Applewood Smoked Cheese (or a similar variation – though possibly not the Bavarian Smoked log type cheese).  I replaced about half of the mature cheddar.  For a stronger flavour replace all the cheddar with smoked cheese.  A dusting of smoked paprika before cooking will also add to the smoky flavour and give a little heat as well.

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‘Cauli-mac’ – Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese
(Serves 4)

4-6 rashers of smoked bacon, or a similar quantity of bacon offcuts or leftover smoked ham
1 large head of cauliflower
250g dried macaroni
Olive oil as required
150g mature Cheddar cheese
2/3 thick slices of bread
large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 large clove of garlic
150g crème fraîche (about half a tub)
Parmesan cheese, to serve
2tbsp chopped parsley, to divide between mixture & to garnish
Salt & pepper

1.  Fill the kettle with water and bring to the boil. Preheat the oven on to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas 7.

2.  Lay the bacon in the dish you will eventually be using for the cauli-mac mixture and put on the top shelf of the oven to pre-cook.

3.  Trim off any very coarse or spoiled outer leaves from the cauliflower and remove the tough end of the stalk.  Quarter the head or break it up into large pieces. Place in a large saucepan, stalks downwards and add the pasta. Chop or crush the garlic well and add to the pan.

4.  Pour over the boiling water to cover the ingredients, season, add a little olive oil and place on a high heat. Stir well, and cook with the lid just askew.  I found it was worth stirring the mixture once or twice to help avoid the pasta sticking to the pan.

5.  Grate the cheddar cheese in the food processor and tip into a bowl.

6.  Remove the bacon from the oven.  Using a mini chopper or food processer, chop or process well with the bread and rosemary leaves.  Add a good drizzle of olive oil to bind the ingredients into a coarse breadcrumb consistency.

7.  When the cauliflower and the macaroni is just cooked (a knife inserted into the cauliflower stalk should slip in easily), reserving the cooking water, drain the cauli-mac through a colander into a large bowl.  Tip the cauli-mac into the dish the bacon was cooked in.

8.  Add about 300ml (about three quarters of a pint) of the reserved cooking water.  Stir in the crème fraîche, grated cheddar and most of the chopped parsley, breaking the cauliflower up with a fork or potato masher until you have bite size, but still recognisable, chunks.

9.  Taste the mixture and if required add more salt, plus a little ground pepper. The sauce should be loose and if necessary, add another splash of the reserved cooking water.

10. Spread the mixture out evenly in the dish and scatter over the breadcrumb topping. Cook on the top shelf of the oven for around 8-10 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the mixture bubbling.

11.  To serve grate over some Parmesan and scatter the top of the dish with the remaining parsley.  Serve with a simple side salad.  Crusty bread or garlic bread can be served alongside if required.

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A few weeks ago I made sweet scones as part of a special afternoon tea for Mum and Dad on Mothering Sunday and they were a great success.  So last weekend on Father’s Day, with Mum and Dad coming to tea again, I decided to make scones again, but this time Savoury ones: with cheese both in the mix and crusted on the top.  It is a lovely flavourful recipe with the strong cheese flavour enhanced by mustard and cayenne pepper giving a spicy bite, the strength of which of course can be adjusted to taste.  They would also be delicious with a little fried onion added to the mix or on top – or both.  These scones are perfect at tea time or in lunch boxes, at Summer picnics or served with a warming Winter soup in place of bread.

As with the sweet scones the source for this recipe was Delia Smith’s recipe Cheese Crusted Scones from the original version of her Book of Cakes. It is a straightforward fairly standard cheese scone recipe and I made it exactly as per the instructions, apart from slightly lessening the spices.  In particular I used less cayenne as the one I have from our local ethnic shop is rather fiery.  I didn’t want to spoil the scones by making them too hot!  The recipe below is a doubled version: somehow the eight smallish scones I made didn’t seem enough.  As with the sweet scones I have added a list of other savoury scones further down this page: recipes from books I own and from cookery sites online that I may well make at some point.  If I do make any and post them on this site I will add a link.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Cheese Crusted Scones
(Makes 12-16 scones)

12ozs/350g self raising flour
2ozs/60g butter
60zs/170g finely grated strong Cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
4-6tbsp milk (and a little more if needed)
½tsp salt
1tsp English mustard powder (or less if you wish)
2-4 large pinches cayenne pepper
A little extra milk

1.  Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas 7 and thoroughly grease a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones).

2.  Sift the flour into a bowl along with the mustard powder, salt and half of the cayenne pepper and mix together.

3.  Rub in the butter with finger tips until well combined.  Mix in most of the grated cheese leaving the remainder (around a generous 2 tbsp) to use later as a topping.

4.  Beat the eggs with 4tbsp milk and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix together to form a soft dough that leaves the bowl clean, adding a little more milk as required if the mixture seems dry.  Try to avoid working the mixture too much as this will make the scones hard.

5.  On a well floured surface, to avoid sticking, gently roll the dough as evenly as possible to a thickness of ¾inch/2cm.  I like to cut savoury scones into square shapes (using rounds for sweet scones) and this can be done with a knife.  If the dough is formed into an oblong shape it can be cut into the required number of equally sized pieces which will avoid it having to be reworked.  Depending on size required, bearing in mind they will rise in the oven, aim for 12-16 pieces.

6.  Brush the tops with a little more milk, sprinkle equally with the reserved cheese and, if you wish, very lightly dush with some more cayenne pepper.

7.  Place evenly spaced on the baking sheets, allowing a little room for rising.  Bake for 12-15 minutes (or a little longer if necessary) until the cheese has started to crust and the scones are browned.  Cool on a wire rack.

8.  Serve warm or cold with or without butter but the scones are best eaten the day they are cooked.  Next day reheating a little is recommended.  Fillings such as ham, tuna, chutney or tomato are also suggested, as is topping with a fried, poached or scrambled egg.

Alternative recipes for savoury scones (untried):
Cheese & Fried onion Scones (see my note above)
Cheese & Sweetcorn Scones – The Omniverous Bear/Good Food
Potato Scones – Delia Smith – Book of Cakes (original version)
Tattie (Potato) Scones – London Eats
Cheese & Marmite Scones – For Forks Sake
Buttermilk Scones with Cheshire Cheese & Chives – Delia Smith online
Feta, Olive & Sun Dried Tomato Scones – Delia Smith online
Savoury Herb Scones – Cook it Simply
Peppadew & Chive Scones – The Complete Cookbook
Cheese & Chive Scones – Lavender & Lovage
Cheese Scones with a Chilli kick –  Searching for Spice
Ham & Cheese Muffins (not quite scones but almost) – Slightly Domesticated Dad

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Lamb mince topped with mashed potato is, of course, Shepherd’s Pie and with Beef Mince it becomes Cottage Pie, so what if you use Pork Mince?  In our house we call it Swineherd’s Pie and the version I make has, in place of potato, an unusual mixture of mashed parsnip and cheese.  This makes for a sweetish flavoured but quite delicious topping that complements the pork mixture really well.

The basic recipe comes from a book of recipes for using mince that I have owned for nearly twenty years: Complete Mince Cookbook by Bridget Jones where it was called Pork & Parsnip Bake.  In its simplest form it is onion, mushroom and pork mince in a thickened sauce under a cheesy parsnip topping.  Over the years I have put in additional vegetables, usually courgette and red pepper (though these are not in the picture below), which not only makes the rather drab filling more colourful but turns it into a meal in one dish.  The original recipe suggests serving with baked or sautéed potatoes.  I rarely serve additional potato on the side, though doing this would mean it would feed more people as would adding an extra vegetable, such as peas.  It also advises that this can be prepared in advance and frozen, for several months if necessary, ready to defrost and brown in a hot oven before serving.  The instructions below are for my quick version of the recipe, which is finished under the grill, but in the original dish the meat mixture was cooked on the hob for a shorter time and then baked in an oven preheated to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 for 30-40 minutes.  Although I have not tried it, as with Lamb & Lentil Stew with Carrot & Rosemary Dumplings, this pork mixture could also be cooked with parsnip and cheese dumplings but would need additional liquid.

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Swineherd’s Pie – Pork & Cheesy Parsnip Bake
(Serves 4)

2tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
100g/4ozs mushrooms, quartered or sliced depending on size
450g/1lb minced pork
2tbsp cornflour
1tbsp chicken stock concentrate or ½ stock cube
450ml/¾pint water (aprox)
1 courgette, trimmed, quartered lengthways and chopped (optional)
1 red pepper, seeded & diced (optional)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the cheesy parsnip topping:
1kg/2lb parsnips
A little milk
A small knob of butter
100g/40zs mature Cheddar cheese, grated

1.  Peel the parsnips and cut them into chunks.  Cook in boiling salted water until they are tender – about 20 minutes.

2.  Meantime heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry gently until it is starting to soften.

3.  Add the mushrooms and cook gently for around an additional 5 minutes until the onion is softened but not browned.

4.  Stir in the pork mince and fry, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is lightly browned.

5.  Put the cornflour in a jug with the stock liquid (or crumbled cube), add a little water and mix to a smooth paste.  Top up to about ¼pint with water and mix well.  Carefully add to the meat mixture, stirring until it starts to thicken.  Add up to ½pint of extra water as needed.

6.  Stir in the diced courgette and red pepper, check seasoning and cover with a lid.  Turn the heat to low and cook gently while preparing the parsnip topping.

7.  When the parsnip is soft, mash it throughly: a potato ricer is ideal if you have one.  Stir in the butter and grated cheese plus a little milk to make a soft mixture.

8.  Check that the courgette is soft before spooning the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish.  Evenly spread the cheesy parsnip mixture on top.  Place under a preheated grill until the parsnip topping starts to brown.

9.  Serve immediately with a sprinkling of parsley if available.  Potato and extra vegetables can be served as well, if wished.

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Actually, I ought to start with a small confession…..  We ate Breton Chicken rather than Somerset Chicken, as I used a small bottle of cider from Brittany (it was what was in the cupboard and needed to be used).  I promise though that next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I will be authentic and put in the correct cider!  This chicken recipe is one of the best I have come across: with a delicious onion, apple and mushroom sauce including cider, cream and the piquancy of a very small amount of mustard.  One product that Somerset, a country in the West Country of England, is famed for is its cider.  Apart from being a popular and refreshing drink it can also be cooked into recipes in much the same way as wine or beer (think Coq au Vin or Steak & Ale Pie, for example) adding a delicious appley flavour.  I have previously posted a recipe for Sausage & Apple Cassoulet, with Pork Sausages cooked with a cider based sauce: Somerset chicken would I think also be good reinvented as Somerset pork.  This recipe also features a second product from Somerset.  Cheddar type cheeses are made widely across the world in places as far apart as Scotland, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand (and more besides) but Somerset is the home of real Cheddar cheese which originated in the town of the same name in the famous Cheddar Gorge.

The Hairy Bikers Somerset Chicken was one of the recipes that appealed to my whole family as soon as they saw it on the Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain television series.  I was very pleased to find the recipe at Good to Know.  It took me a while to get round to making it, partly because I hadn’t realised how easy it was, however having done it once and discovered its simplicity I shall make it more often.  It would be a good meal to serve visitors either for a simple midweek supper or for a more special meal.  My only comment is that this rich dish is unnecessarily enriched by the amount of butter and oil used especially as the recipe also includes cream and cheese.  I have reduced both of these, however the link to the original recipe is above for anyone who want to consult the original.  As usual, I also removed the skins from the chicken, because we prefer it and substituted reduced fat Elmlea single cream for the double cream, none of which I felt detracted from the finished dish.  As for the cider, I used half a small bottle of Breton cider and the other half is in the freezer for next time: I find that leftover alcoholic drinks store well in the freezer and are fine for use in cooking, though I’m sure they would be no good to drink.  (I’m sure that others would find fault with this but it works well for us and is a great way to have wine or cider to hand when there are small amounts left after a party.  You don’t always have to drink it up!)

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Somerset Chicken
(Serves 6)

6 large chicken thighs, boned or left whole, with or without skin
   or
6 chicken breasts, with or without skin (as per original recipe – skin left on)
2-3tbsp olive oil
5g butter
2 onions, sliced
4tbsp plain flour
2tbsp grain mustard
2 dessert apples, peeled & chopped small
125g/4ozs button mushrooms, sliced
250ml/9fl ozs chicken stock
300ml/10fl ozs cider
250ml/9fl ozs single cream
1tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves – be generous
300g/10½ozs Cheddar cheese, grated
6 baked potatoes

1.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. 

2.  Skin the chicken breasts or thighs, removing the bone and skin if you wish.  Season with salt and black pepper and set to one side.

3.  Place 2tbsp of oil and 10g of butter in a large frying pan and fry the chicken thighs or breasts for 1-2 mins on each side until they start to turn golden brown.

4.  Put them into a deep-sided oven tray and roast for 25 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

5.  Add the remaining oil to the pan, if necessary.  Cook the onions for about 5 mins until they have softened but are not coloured.  

6.  Stir the flour and mustard into the onions and cook gently for another 2 minutes.  Add the chopped apples and mushrooms.  Cook gently for 1 min. 

7.  Add the stock, blend in and bring to the boil stirring until thick before adding the cider.  Bring the sauce back to the boil, lower the heat and gently cook for 5 mins. 

8.  Add the cream and chopped sage.  Continue to cook the sauce for about 5 mins more before checking the seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as necessary.

9.  Preheat the grill to high. 

10.  Remove the chicken from the oven and place in a serving dish, pouring over the sauce so the meat is covered.

11.  Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the chicken.  Grill for 5 mins or until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbling. 

12.  Serve with jacket potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

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Ever since eating this recipe in our home last winter we had been looking forward to trying it at its home this summer in the mountains of France.  We found it on the menu of a pavement cafe just opposite the door of the church at Briançon, a fortified town high in the alps.  Briançon is actually the highest city in the European union, according to French statistics – about the same height as Ben Nevis in Scotland.  The Tartiflette did not disappoint and it was certainly authentic, containing the Reblochon cheese which is a regional speciality, with a slice actually melted on top.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable lunch in a lovely location.  When making my own version some months beforehand I had been unable to find Reblochon (or Taleggio which was suggested as an alternative) so I used grated Mozzarella.  I would look around a little harder though if I was making it for a special occasion (I have seen it since so now know where to go).  Although I used a recipe from a book, I did some research to find out about alternative cheeses.  Waitrose have two recipes.  The first is for a Tartiflette very similar to the one I made, where they suggest substituting Crémier de Chaumes, Epoisses or even mature Irish Ardrahan (unknown to me).  The second recipe is a variation on the basic recipe which uses ripe Brie: Tartiflette with Brie & Bacon.  I have read elsewhere that you can use Pont-l’Évêque.  Sounds as if anything goes, though preferably not too mild a flavour: most importantly, the cheese must melt well…!

My recipe comes from One Step Ahead by Mary Berry, a book from the library with so many lovely recipes that I am loth to return it.  She writes that the mixture can be prepared in advance – up to 12 hours if necessary – and kept in the fridge (though bring it to room temperature before cooking to avoid cracking the dish) but is not suitable for freezing. In the dish we ate on holiday a slice of Reblochon was laid on top of each individual portion dish, so reserve slices of cheese before you grate if you are going to do this.   Although we ate Tartiflette in the Alps during the summer months, it is perfect as a quick and simple winter TV supper eaten round the fire.  Be warned, though: it is not a dish for calorie counters!  Serve with green salad or green vegetable.

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Tartiflette
(Serves 4)

Butter for the dish
1lb/500g small potatoes, preferably new
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5ozs/125-150g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
4-5ozs/125-150g button mushrooms, halved or quartered
4ozs/125g Reblochon or Taleggio cheese, rind removed
   0r
substitute a similar melting cheese (see above) but the result will not be as authentic
¼pint/150ml single pouring cream (original used double) – I used Elmlea half fat
a little paprika
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1.  Butter a shallow ovenproof dish.  Preheat the oven to  200oC/400oF/Gas 6

2.  Boil the potatoes in salted ater until they are tender.  Drain well and, once they have cooled enough to handle, slice them thickly. 

3.  Arrange them in the base of the buttered dish.

4.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a few minutes over a high heat.  Add the bacon and fry for a few minutes more.  Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 20 minutes until it is tender, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the mushrooms to the mixture in the pan, raise the temperature and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes.

6.  Tip the mixture over the potatoes and stir in.

7.   Coarsely grate the cheese – or remaining cheese – over the top of the bacon and potato mixture.

8.  Pour the seasoned cream over the top of the potato mixture, sprinkle with paprika.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until crisp on top and piping hot.

9.  Serve hot sprinkled with parsley and with a green salad on the side.

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We inherited most of a bag of nacho tortilla chips that were left over after a party and I managed to persuade the family to let me make this rather than just finish them up.  Just a few days before I had seen versions of this recipe in two different places but as we don’t normally buy crisps it was an ingredient I did not have. 

There were two sources for this recipe, both from Sainsbury’s supermarket.  The first is the Summer 2010 leaflet titled ‘Try something new’, the recipe was called Cheesy Nachos.  The second source was from a free instore recipe card, which adds beans to the mixture.  One recipe used salsa dip, which is available from the supermarket, but the other had instructions for a sauce.  My own basic Simple Tomato Sauce could be substituted or alternatively it would be a good way to use home made Tomato Relish.  Chilli powder or sauce can be added if not already in the sauce or relish used or this could be replaced with another spice such as cumin.  No need to buy expensive branded tortilla chips, the supermarket own brand ones are just as good.  Once cooked the top layer of chips are mostly crunchy, but the lower layers are less so.  Do not make this dish too long in advance as the tortilla chips will lose their crispness.

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Cheese & Tomato Tortilla Bake
(Serves 4)

1 bag plain flavoured Tortilla chips/Nachos (about 100g/3½ozs)
1 125g ball Mozzarella cheese
2-3 chopped spring onions or ½ red onion
1 x 400g tin cannellini/red kidney/black eye beans or chick peas – optional
100g/3½ozs Salsa dip (approximate amount)
   or
100g/3½ozs Tomato Relish (approximate amount)
   or
1 portion Simple Tomato Sauce (approximate amount)
Chilli & or cumin powder or chilli sauce, unless relish/sauce already spiced, to taste

1.  Heat the oven to 200oC/Fan 180oC/400oF/Gas 6

2.  Finely chop the spring onions or red onion.

3.  Cut or tear the mozzarella ball into pieces.

4.   Reserving 6 unbroken tortilla triangles for the top of the dish, start to layer the Tortilla Bake nto an ovenproof serving dish.  Cover the bottom of the dish with about ⅓ tortilla chips and follow  with ½ beans (if using), ½ tomato sauce, ½ onions and ½ cheese.  Repeat (⅓ chips and remaining beans (if using), tomato sauce, onions and cheese). Finish with the remaining ⅓ chips placing the 6 reserved chips on top.

5.  Bake uncovered for 10minutes in the centre of the preheated oven.

6.  Serve warm as an accompaniment to a light supper, as part of a buffet or even as a starter.  Best eaten warm but could be served cold at a buffet as long as not made too far in advance.  It will be less crisp if cold.

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Sometimes a recipe that I just have to try pops into my Inbox from one of the sites that sends me regular updates.  A trip to the supermarket shortly after I first saw this recipe and I had a attractive jar full of feta cheese waiting for me to try.  I had to be patient and do as the recipe suggested, but as soon as the week was up I ‘dived in’ – and was not disappointed!

So, thank you to my UK Food Bloggers fellow member, Nic at Cherrapeno for her recipe: Make your own Marinated Feta.   Of course, we all adapt and amend recipes to suit our own tastes.  The ingredients below are for my own version, adjusted to complement the size of block of feta cheese available locally, but with some other ‘tweaks’ too.  I love olives so added some to the second jar I made and will definitely add them again.  I halved the number of chillis as I did not want to spicy a flavour.  The oil is delicious too so don’t forget to mop up the puddle on your plate with some of the crusty bread you serve alongside.  I would definitely serve this as a starter, along with some other marinaded items, such as mixed peppers.  I have tried making this with the cheaper feta type cheese you can buy, which is usually called something like ‘Greek style salad cheese’ and it is fine, though for entertaining I would definitely splash out and buy real Feta.  Only problem with this recipe is that the jar doesn’t last long enough!

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Marinaded Feta

200g packet Feta cheese
½tbsp dried oregano
½tsp coriander seeds, ground – ¼tsp ready ground powder if seeds unavailable
½tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, depending on size
1 small fresh red chilli (2 if you wish) – split lengthways, remove seeds for a milder taste
3-4 small sprigs fresh rosemary
25g/1oz green or black pitted olives, or a mixture (optional)
Olive oil

1.  Drain the whey from the packet of feta and pat dry with a paper towel to remove the maximum amount of liquid. 

2.  Cut into cubes: I cut the block into four long pieces lengthways and then crossways into cubes – around 36-40 pieces.  (Make the pieces larger if you wish by making 3 strips and then crossways into larger cubes.) 

3.  Place the cubes in a bowl.  Sprinkle with oregano, crushed coriander seeds and black pepper.

4.  Cut the tomatoes into three our four pieces each.

5.   Sterilise a jar (about 500-600ml) that is big enough to take all the ingredients by pouring in water from a boiling kettle, draining and filling immediately.  (Make sure the lid is sterlised in a similar way.)

6.  Gradually fill the jar with the cubes of cheese, the pieces of tomato and the olives, poking in the chilli and sprigs of rosemary from time to time so all the ingredients are fairly evenly spaced through the jar.  Make sure that all the herbs in the bowl are included as well.

7.  Pour in a little oil from the sun dried tomatoes (about 2-3tbsp) and top up with extra olive oil as needed.  The ingredients need to be fairly tightly packed with the oil filled to the brim.

8.  Seal the jar tightly.  Refrigerate for 1 week before using. (The marinaded feta will keep for 6-8 weeks in the fridge).

9.  Serve at room temperature for lunch or as an starter. This would also make a good culinary gift.  I have used the excess oil and chilli as a starter for the next jar and I think this could be done two or three times, before needing to start again from scratch.

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Welsh Rarebit is a traditional British dish.  It was recorded in an eighteenth century recipe book having been served as a supper or of snack food in taverns and alehouses. It is not clear why it has the name Welsh, which was  first recorded in 1725.  However it has been suggested that cheese was cheaper than the meat which the impoverished Welsh people of that time could not afford to eat.  Some traditional versions add a splash of Worcester Sauce, ale or mustard to the mixture as it is mixed for extra flavour.  Also a pinch of cayenne can be sprinkled on top.  I have a Welsh Recipe Tea Towel, which includes one for Welsh Rarebit (called Caws-Wedi-Pobi in the Welsh language).  The ingredients are 8ozs/225g cheese, 1tsp butter, 1tsp dry mustard, 2tsp Worcester Sauce and 2tsp flour mixed with 4tbsp milk or beer which are melted together in a saucepan before being spread onto 4 slices of toast and finished under the grill – a parsley garnish is suggested: so a much more complicated and highly flavoured version than mine below.  Buck Rarebit has a poached egg served on top. 

This is the way Welsh Rarebit is cooked by my mother but I think the recipe is a fairly standard one.  It is one of the simplest cooked lunch dishes I know and very popular with my family. In some ways it reminds me of a very simple version of Nigella Lawson’s Triple Cheese & Onion Strata, especially if I put a little more effort in when making it and add some fried onions, which make it delicious.  I have tried to give an idea of the quantities of ingredients, but mostly I do not weight what I use.  It is a good way to finish up the remains of a block of cheese and different types of cheese can be combined although it is usual to use hard rather than soft cheese.  Mostly a fairly strong cheddar or similar is recommended, but a milder flavour is fine if it is preferred.  A delicious addition is to spread the bread with some home made Tomato Relish or another relish or chutney – or even a scrape of Marmite (love it or hate it?) before grilling.  My family have been known to add a dollop of tomato sauce onto the finished rarebit, though I prefer it without.  However, the recipe given below is for my usual everyday version with no frills, apart from those I am likely to include. The mixture can be made a little in advance and stored in the fridge. It is usually eaten hot, but there is no reason why it could not be eaten cold.  Cheese on Toast is an even simpler version of this recipe and too simple to be a stand alone post.  It is quite literally cheese-on-toast: sliced (or grated) cheese, arranged on the untoasted side of a slice of bread and then gently grilled until golden and bubbling.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

 Welsh Rarebit
(Serves 4)

4 thick slices of bread (for toasting so 1 or 2 days old is fine)
2 eggs
8ozs/225g Cheddar or similar hard cheese, or a mixture of cheeses (aprox)
Seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped & fried (optional) or
1 tbsp tomato or other relish (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Break the eggs into a bowl and stir with a fork.

2.  Stir in the grated cheese.  Add the pre-fried onions at this point if using.  Season and mix together well.

3.  Toast the slices of bread on one side only.  If using relish, spread this over the untoasted side of the bread.

4.  Share the egg and cheese mixture equally between the four slices of bread, piling onto the untoasted side (on top of any relish if it has been spread on).  Gently spread over the slice but not quite to the edges as the mixture will melt and spread out slightly.  It can be gently spread more with a  knife while cooking if necessary.

5.  Sprinkle over the cayenne, if using.  Cook under a gentle grill until the mixture has melted and browned.  Do not cook too high or the crust will burn before the centre is cooked.

6.  Cut into half, or slices and serve with a small side salad while still hot.

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Following on from my original post about Pizza Bases last year, here is a good idea for a speedy pizza and one I will be using regularly.  It substitutes ready bought pitta breads as pizza bases.  The original recipe suggested that the pittas could be divided in two for an extra crispy pizza, layering toppings on rough side.  I found this proved too difficult.  I ended up with two halves of different thicknesses, one of which was far too thin.  An uncut pitta is perfectly adequate as a base.   The suggestion was that round pittas could be used if available, but I could not track any down: oval was fine.  Some supermarkets sell very small pitta breads which would be idea served at a buffet.

The original recipe came from Red magazine, August 2008 issue, in an article giving suggestions for picnic food.  It is ideal as a light snack, either cold as they suggest, or hot straight from the oven with salad for a summer light meal.  I used a simple mozzarella and tomato topping, adding slices of mushroom and red pepper, but any other favourite toppings could be used: fresh tomato, ham, tuna, prawns are all popular.  The original recipe first spread on a layer of tomato puree but I used my home made Tomato Relish – recipe to follow very soon.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pitta Pizzas
(Makes 6)

Olive oil, a little to brush over and to pour on top of each pitta pizza
6 pitta breads, white or brown
½tsp Tomato puree, evenly smeared, per pitta
   or
2tsp Tomato Relish (or similar) per pitta
Two pinches of Italian mixed herbs/pizza herbs per pizza
2 x 125g Mozzarella Balls cut into thin slices
Black pepper
Torn fresh Basil leaves
Slices of Mushroom, 2-4 per pitta pizza (optional)
Thin slices of Red Pepper, about 2 per pitta pizza (optional)

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.

2.  Place the breads on a baking tray and smear lightly with a little olive oil, going right to the edges.

3.  Smear on a layer of tomato puree (do not go right to the edge as it will blacken if not covered).  Alternatively spread on tomato relish.  Sprinkle lightly with Italian or pizza herbs.

4.  If using mushroom, red pepper or other ingredients equally divide these between the bases.

5.  Drain the cheese well and blot with some kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.  Cut into thin slices.

6.  Sprinkle lightly with more Italian or pizza herbs and a little black pepper.

7.  Drizzle with olive oil.

8.  Bake in the oven for 10mins and serve with salad

Alternative toppings:

Potato, Fontina & fresh Thyme
120g waxy new potato, cooked & sliced
80g fontina or taleggio cheese, thinly sliced
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt

Onion Chutney, Goat’s Cheese & Rosemary
2tbsp onion chutney
80g goat’s cheese, crumbled
1tbsp freshly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Sea salt

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I am always looking out for easy and unusual meat free recipes and I can thoroughly recommend this delicious vegetarian recipe.  I have a few vegetarian friends and it is good to have something a bit different to serve them.  I am fond of sweet potato and it is lovely in combination with melting cheese and sweet red pepper.  The next time we have a church lunch and I have to find a main course for vegetarians, this will be it!

I found a copy of Weightwatchers The Time to Eat Cookbook in a charity shop and this was the first recipe that caught my eye.  The original recipe used low fat Leicester cheese, but I used full fat cheese.  I had not used filo pastry before but I did not find it too difficult to handle as long as I followed a tip I had heard to keep unused pastry from drying out by covering with a damp tea towel.  When the pastry tore slightly it did not cause too many problems: I simply patched it with another piece of pastry.  Individual streudels could be served as a light lunch and not just for vegetarians – see below for more information.  It would also make an ideal starter to serve before a fish main course.  I served the streudel with salad and a Naan bread, although I felt the Naan not really necessary unless you were feeding someone who was very hungry.  Do not worry too much if the streudel splits open while cooking.

Sweet Potato & Red Leicester Streudel
(Serves 4)

450g (1lb) sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
75g (2¾oz) Red Leicester cheese, grated (half fat if you wish)
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 onion, chopped finely
4 sheets filo pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Boil the sweet potatoes in a panful of lightly salted water until they are tender – around 10minutes.

2.  Drain the sweet potatoes well and mash thoroughly.

3.  Stir in the cheese, red pepper, onion.  Season. Allow the mixture to cool for at least 10 minutes.

4.  Preheat the oven to 190oC/370oF/Gas 5.

5.  Dip a tea towel in cold water and squeeze out very well.  Use this to cover the unused sheets of filo pastry to stop them from drying out. 

6.  Remove a sheet of filo pastry, covering the remainder with the damp tea towel.  Lightly brush the pastry sheet with some of the olive oil.  Do this with each sheet, stacking them on on top of each other once they have been prepared.  Put any remaining pastry sheets away as soon as possible.
 
7.  Spread the sweet potato mixture over the top of the pile of pastry sheets to within 7cm/¾inch of the edges. Carefully roll up the pastry so that the filling is enclosed.

8. Carefully lift the roll of pastry onto a lightly greased non-stick baking tray.   Brush the streudel with the remaining oil and carefully make some diagonal cuts in the top with a sharp knife. 

9.  Bake for around 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

10.  Cut the strudel into four slices and serve with a mixed salad.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

 
Individual Streudels
 
Make the mixture exactly as above, dividing the sweet potato mixture into four equal portions in the saucepan.  Peel off one sheet of filo pastry and cover the remainder with a damp tea towel.  Lightly oil one half of the filo sheet and fold in half.  Spoon the mixture onto the pastry sheet and roll up, tucking the ends in slightly as you go.

 

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