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Pumpkin and Chorizo Soup

19 Oct

This is a brilliant autumn soup for when it starts to get darker and cold each night! The chorizo adds something new and exciting to the gentle flavour of pumpkin giving you a warming soup suitable for everyone in the family!

Pumpkin_Chorizo_Soup

Ingredients:
1500g Chopped pumpkin, roughly 1 pumpkin
4tbsp Olive oil
1 Large onion
2 Garlic cloves
250g Chorizo
1ltr Chicken stock

Estimated time: 60 minutes

Directions:

Peel and chop your pumpkin into rough cubes. Weigh the cubes into a bowl with 2tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper, mix these together so all of it is well covered. Lightly oil two baking trays and roast your pumpkin pieces at 180c for 10-15 minutes until they have just started to colour and are soft. Leave these to one side to cool.

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While the pumpkin is cooking peel and dice your onion and garlic cloves before putting them into a large pan and gently cooking them down in the left over olive oil. This will take roughly 10 minutes on a medium heat.

Chop the chorizo into bite size chunks and then half the pieces and add them to the onion and garlic. Cook these all together for about 10minutes until the oils have been released from the chorizo giving everything an awesome red colour!

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Now stir in your pumpkin pieces and cook for a few minutes before pouring in your chicken stock. Once all the stock is added bring the soup up to the boil and then simmer for a further 10 minutes. This will make sure that all of the pumpkin is completely cooked and soft.

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Take two thirds of the soup and blend it to a smooth thick soup before stirring it back into the soup. This means that your soup will be nice and thick with chunks of pumpkin and chorizo throughout it. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste!

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Serve this soup with croutons on top to add a bit of crunch to this beautiful soup 🙂 and there you have it, a nice hot thick soup just what you need for a cold evening, especially good in front of a nice hot fire! Hope you all love this soup as much as I do!

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Quiche Lorraine

31 Aug

Quiche is such an odd thing, often people are unsure of eating it, let alone making it! It is in fact one of the easiest things to make, very misleading :p this quiche has been a family favourite for years! Everyone would fight for the most quiche at lunch, no one wanted to miss out! That was just for normal quiche Lorraine, this one has extra bits in it as well, all of which can be changed to your taste and preference 🙂

Quiche

Ingredients:
1 onion
1 Leek
1 pack Smoked back bacon
50g Mushrooms
Shortcrust pastry
5 Eggs
100ml Milk
200ml Double cream
100g Cheddar

Estimated time: 60 minutes

Directions:

With that pastry you want a nice layer around the edges, not too thick but not too thin either. I used my pastry recipe from my previous post (shortcrust) which gave me roughly 250g which was enough for me!! Roll out your pastry on a clean floured surface until it is big enough to line your quiche tin(loose bottomed tins are the best to use). Grease your tin before you even measure to see if the pastry will fit!! Once greased place your pastry carefully into the tin and gently push into the edges and up the sides.

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Layer two layers of cling film together on the table, big enough to cover you tin. Place these into the tin so they’re resting on the pastry, making sure it goes over each side. Fill the entire tart case with baking beans, raw pasta or rice, right to the top, this will stop the pastry rising oddly. Fold the cling film back over it to make a bag before putting it all in the oven at 170c for 10-15 minutes.

Once the time is up take your tart case out of the oven and remove the cling film bag, be careful though the beans (or pasta/rice) will be really really deceptively hot! Once they’re removed prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork all over and put back in the oven to finish cooking. This will take about another 5-10 minutes, when its cooked it will be golden brown and crisp. Leave to cool for a few minutes before carefully trimming the edges of the pastry. I find the easiest way to do this is to hold the pastry gently with one hand and using a sharp knife carefully cut along the edge making sure you don’t put too much pressure on the pastry! Once trimmed brush with an egg wash, I use egg yolk with a tiny bit of milk, this is just to seal the pastry so it won’t get soggy later on.

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Firstly we’ll start with the onion, simply because this is the only part that will make your cry! Dice up your onion into what ever sized chunks you want, scrape these into a frying pan and slowly bring to heat. You want to cook the onion off in a small amount of olive oil(or veg, what ever you have!) until they start to go soft and translucent. You don’t want to over cook them now as they will go mushy in the quiche. Once cooked put them onto a plate or in a bowl to one side.

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Now chop up your bacon, you do not have to use a whole pack of bacon as this does make a very full quiche, but bacon is a must in my family 🙂 like the onions cook off your bacon, no need for oil this time. I’d say you want your bacon to start crisping at the edges, so you can see that the fat is cooking down…no one likes squishy fat in quiche 😦 put your bacon to one side with the onions.

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Leeks next, slice the leek down the middle, leaving about an inch at the root end and wash thoroughly. With the leek still intact chop it up into slices and start these cooking too, in oil this time 🙂

While the leeks are cooking dice up your mushrooms into whatever size pieces you want. Remember that mushrooms shrink a lot when they’re cooked. Once your mushrooms are cooked and the leeks are half cooked add them and start them cooking too. This won’t take long as mushrooms are quick to cook 🙂

Once they’re cooked spread them over the pastry base and mix in the onions and bacon bits. You want an even mix over the quiche so no one will fight over the bits!

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Now in a bowl beat your five eggs with the milk and cream, add about a teaspoon of salt and pepper to season before pouring into the quiche. Try to fill the tart as much as possible without going over the sides 🙂 sprinkle the grated cheddar, or cheese of your choice :p over the top of the tart.

Carefully place the tart in the oven and bake at 160c for roughly 40 minutes. I would check the quiche after half an hour to judge timings. When the quiches is cooked it will be firm all over, no wobble in the middle!

Once cooked allow to cool before removing from the tin make sure you go round the edges first in case they have stuck! Once the quiche is free and cooled slightly cut into portions and enjoy!!

Quiche

This is a very filling quiche and can definitely be used for a main meal with some extra veg!! The flavours all go so nicely together, the best parts of quiche Lorraine but with extra bits added 🙂 I hope you all love this as much as I do, it’s such a versatile thing to make and change to suit your mood or guests 🙂

Insalata Caprese Salad with a French Twist

5 Jun

This is my favourite salad!!! I love this salad, I fell in love with it two years ago on a family holiday to France, we stayed in Erdeven in a beautiful house big enough for all 10 of us! Anyway we went to some amazing restaurants and in one I had this as a starter, it was so fresh and amazingly tasty! Since then I have tried to incorporate aspects of France into this Italian salad, finally I have done it!

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Ingredients:
5-10 Tomatoes
750g Mozzarella
Handful of Basil
8tbsp Olive oil
4tbsp White wine vinegar
1 Clove of garlic
Salt and pepper

Estimated time: 10

Directions:

This is such an easy salad, just what you want to go with an evening meal or a nice BBQ on the weekend! We’ll start off with the hard bit, the French style dressing!

Start off by measuring your olive oil and white wine vinegar into a bowl. You can make as much as you want, or as little as long as you remember the ratio of the olive oil to vinegar. If you work in table spoons it is easier, just remember twice as much oil to vinegar!

Now peel your clove of garlic. Carefully slice and chop your garlic, you want quite small chunks as no one really wants a mouthful of garlic, especially as its raw!! Once chopped add this to the oil and vinegar.

To this now add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir it together with a fork until combined. Make sure you taste the dressing so you can decide whether more salt or pepper is needed! Once you have the flavour that you want leave the dressing to one side while you get everything else ready!

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Tomatoes, I’ve given a rough idea because it simply depends how many people its for. The idea is to have rows of tomato and mozzarella creating a nice pattern 🙂 so slice your tomatoes and leave to one side.

Now slice the mozzarella into similar thickness as the tomatoes. If the mozzarella is too big you can cut them in half.

Once all of these are sliced you can start placing them in your serving dish. Place these in turn until the dish is filled and you have used all of you tomato and mozzarella.

Now mix your dressing again and pour over the tomatoes, try to get an even covering so that everyone will get some! Now sprinkle with some roughly chopped basil!

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Ta-daa!!!! There you have a wonderful summery tomato and mozzarella salad that everyone will love. This is such a fresh salad it will go with anything! Simple salads are often the best and this one certainly is. Enjoy everyone and lest hope this weather lasts!! 🙂

Leek and Potato Soup

22 May

This is a perfect soup for dreary and chilly weather, which we all know recently has come back…summer seems to be unsure as to whether it should bother turning up! This soup has been made by my mum all through the winter for as long as I can remember and is the family favourite!

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Ingredients:
5 Large potatoes
10 Leeks
1 Large onion
570ml Chicken stock
2tbsp Cornflour

Estimated time:120 minutes

Directions:

Peel and dice your onion, I would say 1cm squares but really who the hell measures their chopping?!? It’s ridiculous, you want them to be bite size pieces but not to small or they will just cook down to nothing! Scrape the onion into a large saucepan/pot…anything that is big enough to hold a lot of liquid in.

Now peel and dice your potatoes to around the same size as the onion and put them ingot eh pan as well. To this add about a tablespoon of olive oil and start to heat gently. You want to start the potatoes cooking as well as the onions.

LeekandPotatoSoup

While the onions are starting to cook, make up your chicken stock. If you want this to be vegetarian then simply use vegetable stock instead 🙂 If you’re using home made stock then you might have to add some more water if it is quite a thick stock.

Once your onions have become translucent pour in enough stock to cover your onions and potatoes. Allow this to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. This will be enough time for the potatoes to start to cook and soften. Make sure you stir this often as those potatoes will try their hardest to stick!!

While these are simmering you can start on the leeks. I find it easiest to cut the leeks down the middle, starting about a cm away from the root end so that they stay together. This just means that it is easier to wash them as you can make sure the water gets between the leaves, as no one likes gritty soup!

Now that your leeks are squeaky clean you can start to chop them. The size is completely up to you as the leeks won’t cook down to mush, unless you try really hard!! But once the are chopped you can scrape them into your soup as the potatoes should be half cooked by now, if you’re not sure simply pierce some potato with a fork, if it is rock solid then they need to be cooked longer.

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Stir in the leeks and add the rest of the stock, this should now give you quite a thin soup. Allow this all to simmer together for another 5-10minutes as this should finish the potatoes and start the leeks cooking.

In a small bowl weigh your Cornflour with a small amount of water. Ideally you want to make a paste with it first and then slowly mix in more water, make us the water is cold or it will thicken before it is even in the soup.

Stir this liquid into the soup, keep stirring the soup to stop anything from sticking. This will also enable you to judge how thick you want the soup to be, the soup will continue to thicken until it comes to the boil.

Once the soul has boiled, test the potatoes again to see if they are cooked, this is also a great time to season the soup. As the main ingredient is potato the soup will take a lot of salt and pepper. Add some a bit at a time, mixing them in each time before tasting again. Keep seasoning until the flavour is right, do not be scared by the amount it takes, potatoes do just absorb so much flavour before adding flavour to the rest of the soup!!

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Now that its all seasoned you can serve and enjoy it. If you’re in a fancy mood then you can serve it with a small swirl of cream to make it look pretty. Another thing that goes well is smoked sausage chopped in the bottom of the bowl, it’s so good 🙂

There you go an amazingly tasty and warming soup, perfect for lunch and dinner! Admittedly it’s not the summery soup I want to be making now, but it isn’t warm enough yet!! I hope this soup becomes your family favourite too, enjoy everyone 🙂

Cheese and Mustard Straws

15 May

These are always the best things at the start of a party, everyone likes cheese straws. They are so tasty and light for what they are; the perfect snack for any occasion!!! They are a favourite of my families and are always found around Christmas and any special occasion, sadly though they don’t seem to last long :/ sometimes barely 5 minutes!!

Cheese and Mustard Straws2

Ingredients:
300g Plain flour
150g Butter
150g Cheddar cheese grated
2tsp Wholegrain mustard
3-4 egg yolks
Milk for glazing.

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Directions:

These are surprisingly easy and quick. Start off by weighing your flour and butter into a bowl and rub together until it resembles bread crumbs. If using a standing mixer be careful not to mix for too long otherwise it will form a dough!!

Once the mix resembles crumbs stir in the grated cheese and the 2tsp of mustard. Try to mix this as evenly as possible, simply because it will make the next part easier 🙂

Now I said 3-4 egg yolks, helpful I know! Start off with 3 egg yolks and stir it into the mix, you want the mix to come together and form a dough. If that happens with the 3 yolks then don’t worry about the 4th. If it doesn’t come together even with the 4th then add a tiny bit of water until the dough does form.

Cheese and Mustard Straws

Turn the dough out onto a floured table and knead it together, this shouldn’t take long but will help you to roll it out without it cracking! Once you have kneaded the dough together carefully start rolling it out to about 5mm thick. If you want them a bit thicker be my guest it won’t make any difference 🙂

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Once rolled out cut the cheese straws into what ever shape you want…me being boring and at this point in time slightly ill 😦 I have chosen to make simple rectangles, if you roll it thin enough you can even carefully plait it!!!!

Once all the shapes are cut place them on a lined tray with some space in between them. Now pour a small amount of milk into a bowl and using a pastry brush glaze each straw with the milk, this will help to make them shiny once cooked. To finish these off cover each straw with some more grated cheese. This cheese can either be normal cheddar, or if you’re feeling really fancy you can use Parmesan or any other cheese of your choice!!

Bake these in the oven at 180c for roughly 10-15 minutes. When they re done they will be a lovely golden colour and will have risen slightly. They will be firm to touch and smell amazing!!!! Be careful not to over cook them as they get slightly firmer as they cool 🙂

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There you have it, nice and easy but super tasty!!!! And now that theses are baked you just need the rest of the party and away you go :p of course you don’t need to have a party! Enjoy guys, hope you like them 🙂

Sausage Rolls with a Twist

1 May

So everyone loves sausage rolls, they are such tasty snacks, or if big enough a good lunch for all. These are amazingly tasty and a nice change from the usual, who knew that such a small change can make so much difference?! So for these I add my apple chutney and they are amazing!

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Ingredients:
1 batch of rough puff pastry
500g Sausage meat
500g Apple chutney (roughly)
100ml Milk

Estimated time: 40 minutes

Directions:

Using the rough puff pastry (the recipe can be found by clicking here) roll it out to a large rectangle, roughly 3mm thick. If this isn’t thick enough then roll it out until you are happy with the thickness 🙂 once the preferred thickness is achieved cut the pastry in half width ways and then into smaller sections which will make your sausage rolls. You should be able to cut it into at least 6 sections.

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In a bowl weigh your sausage meat and mix up. Add a small amount of salt and pepper to this and mix well.

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Once mixed place a spoonful of the sausage meat into the middle of each rectangle, try to make the amounts as equal as can be. If the is any mix left add it to the smallest one!

Now using your hands mush the sausage meat into a sausage shape length ways in the rectangles. Don’t worry if they aren’t the same shape or amounts no one will notice once they’re cooked 🙂

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I’ve been vague on the amount of chutney (the recipe can be found in my previous posts) because to be honest I don’t have a clue!! It really depends on how much chutney you want. I used a teaspoon and placed a spoonful all down the sausage so that it looked like an eclair. You can have as much chutney as you want.

Once you have decided your amount of chutney you need to brush the edges of the pastry with the milk. This will help seal the pastry together. Carefully bring one side over the sausage meat to the other one and carefully press the edges together.

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Place the sealed sausage rolls onto a lined tray, using a fork press the edges together (not only does this help, but it looks pretty!). Using the pastry brush and milk cover the sausage rolls with milk, this will work as a glaze and make them nice and gold.

Bake these in the oven at 190c for roughly 20 minutes, be sure to check them at around 15 minutes just to check that they aren’t burning! They will be a nice golden colour when they’re cooked and the sausage meat will be nice and pink, if not too sure about the meat cut a small bit off and try it 🙂

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And there you have the tastiest sausage rolls that I’ve had in possibly my entire life!!!! These really do make a lunchtime 🙂 hope you all enjoy these as much as I do!!!

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