Cheese – topped Dauphinois Potatoes

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This is the potato dish I made to go with the Hot mustard Spiced Beef. Best to make this a day ahead. Serves six.

Serves six

What you will need

18cm (7in) square shallow metal tin lined with non-stick paper and greased

750grams (1lb 10oz) large King Edward potatoes of other floury potatoes
150ml (5fl oz) chicken stock or vegetable stock
100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Knob of butter
25g (scant1oz) mature cheddar cheese

How to make your potato dish

1. Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/425f/Gas7.

2. Peel the potatoes and rinse under cold water, then dry and slice thinly. Put the stock into a large jug and mix with the cream.

3. Arrange a layer of potato over the base of the tin, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then pour over a little of the stock mixture. Continue in the same way until the potato and the liquid are used up. Dot the butter over the top and cover tightly with foil.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until soft around the edges but still firm in the middle. Remove the foil and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and tender. Leave to cool then chill -overnight is best.

4. Choose a lipped board or tray that’s bigger than the roasting tin (so it will catch any juices)and place on the worktop. Carefully tip the roasting tin upside down onto it and remove the paper. Cut the potatoes into even-sized servings, arrange on a greased paper-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle the cheese on top.

5. Reheat in an oven preheated to 200°C /190°c/400 F/gas 6 for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and piping hot.

This dish can be made up to the end of step 3 up to a day ahead or up to the end of stage 4 up to 8 hrs ahead. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Feel-good Muffins

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What you will need

170g (6ozs) self raising Flour (or same amount in wholemeal flour but add 2tsp baking powder).
50g (2ozs) porridge oats
140g (5ozs) light muscovado sugar or just light brown sugar ( I reduced this amount a little as I didn’t want them too sweet)
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1 egg beaten
150ml (1/4 pint) buttermilk
1tsp vanilla extract
6 tablespoons of sunflower oil ( I used olive oil)
175g (6ozs) stoned prunes, chopped
85g (3ozs)of pecans

How to make the muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas 6/ 350f.

2. Line the muffin tins with paper cases.

3. Place the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl, then rub everything through your fingers as if making pastry. Ensure the mix is well blended.

4. Beat the egg, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla and oil, lightly stir in the egg mixture into the dried ingredients.

5. Fold the prunes and nuts into the mixture.

6. Divide the mix between the paper cases and sprinkle with a few oats. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.

Serve warm or cold. Remember you can freeze and serve warm for a delicious weekend breakfast. ( that’s what I shall be doing when I have to go to work on a Saturday).

Penne alla parmigiana (aka macaroni cheese)

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Maisie and I made this for our supper the other night it was so delicious. I have to admit I am not a huge fan of macaroni cheese, mainly because I sometimes find it a bit stodgy. This recipe is light and using the two different cheeses adds a more complex flavour which we both agreed made it much tastier. I think next time we make it we will sprinkle some breadcrumbs along with the cheese for the topping. Anyway, have ago and see what you think.

What you will need

1.5 litre (2 and 3/4) pint shallow dish (serves six)

350grams (12ozs) penne pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50grams (1 1/2 ozs) butter
50grams (1 1/2 ozs) plain flour
1.2 litres (2pints) hot milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
50grams (1 1/2 ozs) butter
100g (3 1/2 ozs) strong cheddar cheese, grated
100g (3 1/2 ozs) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
6 tomatoes halved, deseeded and roughly chopped

1. Preheat the Oven to 200c, 180c fan, 400f or gas mark 6

2. Cook the penne pasta as per instructions on packet. Drain and refresh in cold water.

3. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the flour, and stir over the heat for one minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking all the time, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Take off the heat.

4. Add the mustard and two thirds of the Cheddar and Parmesan, then add the penne and some salt and freshly ground pepper.

5. Spoon into the ovenproof dish, arrange the tomatoes on top, and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy.

From Mary berry and Lucy young cook book.

Pea And Mint Soup

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What I absolutely love about this recipe is the fact that most of us have some frozen peas in the freezer and mint in the garden, so you will just about always have the ingredients to make some homemade soup. If you are lucky enough to be basking in sunshine then serve this soup cold with a dash of lemon juice, equally delicious.

You will need

2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 medium onions
2 gloves of garlic
Olive oil
2 chicken of vegetable stock cubes
800g (1lb 12 ozs) of frozen peas
A small bunch of fresh mint
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional 300g (10ozs) cooked ham

How to make your soup

1. Peel and roughly slice the carrots.
2. Slice the celery.
3. Pell and roughly chop the onions.
4. Peel and slice the garlic.
5. Put a large pan on a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients to the pan and mix together with a wooden spoon.
6.cook for about 10 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.
7.Put the stock cubes into a jug and pour in 1.8 litres (3pints) of boiling water from the kettle.
8. Stir until the stock cubes have dissolved and then pour into the vegetables.
9. Add the peas. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile pick your mint leaves.
10. When the peas have softened, remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the mint leaves..
11. Using a hand blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth.
12. If using ham chop it up and stir it in.

Really lovely served toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil or some warm garlic bread. Don’t forget you can freeze this soup in portions ready for all those winter lunches where you need some warmth in your belly.

Originates from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of food cook book.

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup

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What you will need

2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
800g (28ozs) sweet potato
200g (7ozs) chorizo sausage
A small bunch of fresh parsley
Olive oil
1 heaped tsp curry powder
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 fresh red chilli

How to make your soup

1. Peel and roughly slice the carrots.
2. Slice the celery.
3. Peel and slice the garlic.
4. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes.
5. Slice the chorizo.
6. Finally chop the parsley leaves and stalks.
7. Place a pan on a high heat and add 2 tblsp s of olive oil.
8. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients with the curry powder and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 mins with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape and the onion is lightly golden.
9. Put the stock cubes into a a jug or pan and pour in 1.8 litres (3pints) of boiling water from the kettle. Stir until the stock cubes are dissolved, then add to the vegetables.
10. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sweet potato is cooked through.
11. Season with salt and pepper. Then using a stick blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth. Serve with a scattering of chopped chilli and parsley if desired.
12. This makes quite a big batch, I freeze portions in small freezer bags and then use for my lunches during the week. Delicious with oatcakes.

Originates from Jamie Oliver’s ministry of food cook book.

Leek and Cheese Flan

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This is a wonderful winter savoury flan that can be eaten hot or cold. The wholemeal, nutty texture of the pastry makes for a really wholesome and tasty meal. Enjoy.

YOU WILL NEED

Wholemeal shortcrust pastry

6ozs wholemeal flour, 3ozs butter, 3ozs white fat (trex, cookeen of white flora) cold water. Make as you would short crust. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling
2 large leeks
Knob of butter
Cayenne, large pinch
Ground Nutmeg, large pinch
3 eggs
Milk 3fl.oz (75ml)
Soured cream or crème fràiche 3fl.oz (75ml)
Salt, large pinch
Cheddar cheese, grated 6oz (175g)

Preheat the oven to 200c, fan assisted 180c, 400f or gas mark 6.

1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and line a 9inch (23cm) metal flan tin.
2. Slice the leeks and clean them thoroughly.
3. Melt the butter and sauté the leeks until just tender. Be careful not to brown them.take off the heat.
4. Season the leeks generously with cayenne and nutmeg. Grate in the cheese, leaving a little aside for the top.
5. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, soured cream and salt together.
6. Add the cheese and leek mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.
7. Pour into the flan case.
8. Top with the remaining grated cheese and bake in the oven for about half an hour until well risen and golden.

Serve warm or cold.

The Best Yorkshires

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What you will need

140g (5 ozs) plain flour
4 eggs
200ml (7 fl ozs) milk
sunflower oil , for cooking

How to make your Yorkshires

1. Heat oven to 230C/fan 210C/gas 8. Drizzle a little sunflower oil evenly into 2 x 4-hole Yorkshire pudding tins or a 12-hole non-stick muffin tin and place in the oven to heat through.

2. To make the batter, tip 140g plain flour into a bowl and beat in four eggs until smooth. Gradually add 200ml milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the batter into a jug, then remove the hot tins from the oven. Carefully and evenly pour the batter into the holes.

4. Place the tins back in the oven and leave undisturbed for 20-25 mins until the puddings have puffed up and browned. Serve immediately.

5.If you have too many, you can cool them and freeze for up to 1 month.

Watercress Soup

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This is a very simple and truly delicious soup, that also happens to be very good for you. Fine enough to serve at any dinner party.

1 medium onion
1 small potato
25g butter or marg
1 bunch watercress
1/2 pint milk
1/2 pint stock
salt & pepper to taste
60ml double cream (or you can use creme fraiche)

1. Chop onion and potato.
2. Melt butter in saucepan and saute onion until transparent. Add potato, watercress, milk and stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 mins.
3. Allow to cool slightly then blend (in pan with stick blender is best way).
.2.Adjust seasoning to taste, stir in cream/creme fraiche and reheat to serving temperature.

Rachel’s Homemade Mincemeat

If you have never made your own mincemeat, then this is the recipe to change your mind about homemade versus shop bought. My lovely friend Rachel makes this every year and sells it at the school Christmas. Children will love mixing this all up and then bottling it. I also think it makes a great gift, I love getting food presents…one of my favourite things!

You will need

350g (12oz) raisins
225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) currants
115g (4oz) chopped mixed peel
115g (4oz) chopped blanched almonds
225g (8oz) shredded suet (beef or vegetarian)
450g (1 lb) dark muscovado sugar
350g (12oz) apples, cored and chopped (eg Cox’s)
Grated zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 orange
115ml (4 fl oz) brandy
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded tsp grated nutmeg
1 rounded tsp ground allspice

To make your Mincemeat

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large, non-metallic bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave for a week, giving the occasional stir.
  2. After a week, pot into cooled, sterilised jars and cover. Keep for a further 2 weeks before using.

Variations – try apricots or red/green glace cherries for a more festive look! You could also add cranberries in place of some of the apple.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

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This is without any doubt the best Sticky Toffee Pudding I have ever made or eaten. I usually cook this for my bonfire night parties, I make huge trays of it and there is rarely any left. This picture was taken by my son Miles, he gave this recipe a go after being unimpressed with the other ones he’d tried. As you can see it turned out perfectly, he now makes it for a restaurant on the Gold Coast, Australia. This is such a wonderful winter dessert, you can’t fail to please your diners with this one.

What you will need for your Sticky Toffee Pudding

For the pudding:

  • 230 ml (8 fl ozs)water
  • 200 g (7ozs) pitted dates
  • 110 g (4ozs) butter, cubed
  • 170 g (6ozs) caster sugar
  • 2½ tsp coffee granules
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds removed
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 g (7ozs) self-raising flour
  • Butter for greasing
  • A sprinkling of plain flour

For the sauce:

  • 200 g (7ozs) cubed butter
  • 450 g (16ozs) dark brown sugar
  • 400 ml (14 fl ozs) single cream

How to make your Sticky Toffee Pudding

1. For the pudding, preheat the oven to 160C (or 150C if using a fan oven).
2. Pour the water into a pan, add the pitted dates and place over the heat for 7-9 minutes to allow the dates to break down and fall apart. Watch the dates, don’t boil the water away completely-move the pan away from the heat to avoid this.
3. In another pan, melt the cubed butter. Once the butter is melted add the caster sugar and stir in.
4. Melt the coffee granules in a very small amount of warm water. Add the seeds from the vanilla pod ( or you can use vanilla paste).
5. Whisk the eggs and egg yolk so the whites and the yolks are just combined.
6.Once the dates are cooked, stir in the bicarbonate of soda and take off the heat immediately. Pour the date mixture into a mixing bowl then add the sugar/butter mix followed by the flour, coffee paste and finally the eggs so they are gently presented to the heat (avoiding any curdling).
7. Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk then pour the mixture into a 23cm x 30cm dish. Place in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
10.10 minutes before the pudding is ready, start to make the sauce. First melt the cubed butter, again bringing it off the heat so it doesn’t burn. Slowly add the dark brown sugar while mixing. Place back on the heat and stir well, not allowing the sauce to sit still. Stir whilst boiling until the sugar crystals have broken down.
8. Take off the heat and keep stirring while you slowly add the cream. Stir until the cream is well-mixed into the sauce. Pour into a jug.
9. Serve the sticky toffee pudding in squares drizzled with the sauce, I like to serve with cream or a good ice-cream.
This freezes and then reheats in the microwave really well. Perfect for nights when you really need a dessert, but haven’t got the time or energy to make one.