Category: Recipes

Savoury Tarts

Continuing with our new theme of Sweet & Savoury Tray Bakes & Tarts….these roasted cauliflower & mustard tarts with a walnut crumble as well as the red onion & brie tarts, went down very well at Thrapston Farmers Market this month.

Roasted Cauliflower & Mustard with Walnut Crumble Topping
Roasted Cauliflower & Mustard with Walnut Crumble Topping
Red Onion & Brie
Red Onion & Brie


Cinnamon Bun Tray Bake

Keeping up with the tray bake theme and cutting back on sugar for a weekend treat. Cinnamon bun tray bake, sweetened with honey and drizzled with date syrup.

Cinnamon Bun Tray Bake
Cinnamon Bun Tray Bake

Cauliflower Cheese & Onion Pie

It is summer and although this is a real winter warmer, it has been cold of late and really this dish is good all year round and is easy to make. I have used cauliflower and onion in this recipe, but I have also made it with leeks & fennel which works just as well. It’s a plate pie with the pastry bottom but there is no waste as the overlapping pastry is just folded on top!

Cauliflower Cheese & Onion Pie
Cauliflower Cheese & Onion Pie
You will need:
300g shortcrust pastry – homemade or shop bought
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced into cubes
30g butter
25g flour or cornflour
½ pint milk
2 tsp grain mustard (or any other mustard)
100g hard cheese such as a strong cheddar, grated – add more for extra cheesiness
1 egg
Salt & pepper to taste
Splash of oil for frying

You will need 1 oven proof dinner plate or dish. Pre-heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4. Cook the cauliflower florets in boiling salted water until just cooked, but still firm rather than falling apart. Drain well and let them steam dry without a lid. (TIP – if you put them back into the dry pan and place the pan over the heat for a few seconds, it will evaporate any excess water). To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan with a splash of oil and over a medium heat fry the onions for 5 minutes until softened. Add the flour or cornflour and stir until it is all mixed in and the onions are coated, cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring all the time to avoid any lumps. If there are some lumps of flour, whisk it until the lumps have gone (remember the onions will still be lumpy!) Once all the milk is added, gently simmer the sauce for 4 or 5 minutes to ensure the flour is cooked through and you have a thick sauce. Stir in the mustard then salt and pepper to taste. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in most of the grated cheese – keep a handful back to add on top. Mix the sauce in with the cauliflower and set aside to cool. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a round shape that is approximately 1/8 inch in thickness and hangs over the plate by a couple of inches or so all the way round – no need to trim it. Place the pastry over the plate. Pour the cauliflower mix onto the middle of the pastry. Lift the overhanging edges of the pastry and fold them over on top of the cauliflower. You should now have a half open pie, showing the cauliflower mix in the middle. Whisk the egg and brush it all over the pastry. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the cauliflower middle and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until it is nice and golden brown. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Cheese & Onion Pie
Cauliflower Cheese & Onion Pie

Rhubarb Sweet Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding with your Sunday roast is a great thing, but there’s probably more BBQ’s and alfresco dining rather than roast dinners through the summer months. So, how about a sweet Yorkshire pudding served with cream or ice cream?  This recipe is using seasonal rhubarb but it can be substituted for other fruits such as apples, blackberries or blueberries.

Sweet Yorkshire Pudding
Sweet Yorkshire Pudding
You will need:
2 eggs
200ml milk
Few drops of vanilla extract
140g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
120g Rhubarb – cut into small chunks
Sunflower oil for cooking

This will make 6 puddings or one large one.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C or gas mark 9 and put a teaspoon of oil into 6 holes of a deep Yorkshire pudding tin. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, milk & vanilla until well whisked up. Add the flour and the sugar and whisk until it is all mixed in and lump free. Stir in the rhubarb. Heat the pudding tin in the oven until the oil is very hot (as you would do with normal Yorkshires!)  Working quickly, so the oil doesn’t lose too much heat, ladle the mix into each of the greased holes and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until they have risen and are golden brown. Remove them from the tin and serve them warm with cream or ice cream!  

Back to Basics with Shortcrust Pastry

Shortcrust pastry may be one of the first and basic cookery lessons we learn, but even though there are few ingredients in it, it can easily go wrong and you can end up with a frustrating pile of pastry in the bin! The key to good pastry is the balance – not too wet so it shrinks and becomes hard & tough then on the other hand not to have it too dry so it ends up falling apart. Once you have cracked it – you will make it again and again. The most common errors that go wrong are;
– Not using the right flour, which should be plain flour. Self-raising will make it tougher and harder.
– Not using cold butter or other fats. Cold butter, cold water & cold hands!
– Over handling/mixing/kneading the pastry which can stretch the gluten in the flour and make it tough and hard. It’s not bread dough!
– Adding too much water which ends in a sticky wet mess and then more flour is added to compensate. Too much water will make it shrink while cooking.
Pastry works best at cooler temperatures with the minimum amount of handling – especially if you have warm hands. For my shortcrust pastry I use just 3 ingredients and I use this for both sweet and savoury dishes. I use slightly more than half fat to flour so for 200g flour I use 125g butter. Here are some of my tips to make delicious homemade shortcrust pastry every time;

• Use plain flour.
• Fat – I use salted butter, but you could use a mix of butter and lard. Whatever you use, use it straight out of the fridge, at its coldest.
• Use cold water to bring it all together.
• Don’t handle the fat too much with your hands as it will start to melt and you want to keep it cold and firm. Cut it into small chunks.
• If you have a food processor, use it to whizz up the flour and butter until the butter is broken up into the flour – about 10 to 15 seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, use your fingertips to lightly break the fat into the flour – don’t overdo it though!
• Continue using the food processor and pour in a little cold water at a time so the pastry starts coming together. Don’t add too much water – you want just enough for it to start coming away from the sides and start forming into one piece, but still be a bit crumbly. If you haven’t got a food processor use your hands or if you have warm hands use a knife to mix it to prevent the fat melting.
• Tip the mixture onto a work surface and gently use your hands to finish off bringing it all together. Don’t overwork it or be too rough with it! It should just come together into a smooth dough without being too dry and crumbly or too wet and sticky.
• Wrap the pastry in cling film and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
• Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and flour the rolling pin – adding too much flour at this stage will incorporate more flour into the pastry which can make it go dry and tough.
• Only roll out the pastry once or twice – anymore than that will make it tough and cause it to shrink as it has been stretched too much.
That’s it! You could add a tablespoon of icing sugar to the flour mix to make it sweet pastry or grate in an orange or lemon zest for a twist. Add a few herbs as a twist for savoury pastry.

Chicken & chorizo with cannellini beans

Chicken & Chorizo with Cannelli Beans
Chicken & Chorizo with Cannelli Beans

This is a great dish to share for 2 or can be for 4, depending on how big the appetites are! It can easily be adapted to suit all tastes – more chilli can be added for extra heat or can be taken out altogether if you don’t like it too spicy, then you just get the kick from the chorizo. If you don’t like chorizo, you could slice up your favourite flavour of sausages and add that instead.

You will need:
2 medium sized potatoes
2 skinless chicken breasts or legs
2 chorizo sausages or the equivalent of chorizo, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 small red pepper, de seeded and thinly sliced
1 chilli, finely chopped (depending on how you like your heat, add more or less)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g cannellini beans, drained
150ml chicken stock
150ml passata
Veg oil for frying (if needed)
Salt & pepper
Coriander for garnish (optional)

Method: This will serve 2 to 4 people. Peel the potatoes, cut into large pieces (so they can be sliced later) and boil in salted water until they are just cooked. Drain and leave to cool. Pre heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Heat a dry (no oil) oven proof large frying pan over a medium heat and add the chorizo slices. Brown on each side and remove from the pan onto a plate. Using the same oil from the chorizo, fry the chicken breasts or legs for 3 or 4 minutes until nicely browned and turn over and brown the other side. Place them on a plate and set aside (they don’t need to be fully cooked through at this stage). In the same pan over a medium to low heat fry the onions and pepper for a few minutes until softened. Add the chilli and garlic along with a pinch of salt & pepper and then stir the passata and stock into the onion mix. Put the chicken and chorizo back into the same pan, and stir so it’s all mixed in. Cover the pan with tin foil or an ovenproof lid if you have it and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Thinly slice the cooked potatoes. Take the pan from the oven, remove the lid or foil and stir in the cannellini beans. Add more stock/water or passata if it looks too dry. Arrange the potato slices on top and put the pan back into the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes have crisped up and the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle over some coriander and enjoy with some lovely fresh bread to mop up the juices!