Thursday, May 14, 2009

Luxury Cauliflower Cheese

If you are fed up with boring old cauliflower cheese, give this a try it is delic.........

  • 225 g (8 oz) leeks, sliced
  • 175 g (6 oz) carrots, diced
  • 450 g (1 lb) cauliflower florets (or you can use half cauli and half broccoli if you like)
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk
  • 50 g (2 oz) any type blue cheese
  • 25 g (1 oz) cornflour
  • 50 g (2 oz) grated cheese (whatever you have in the fridge)
  • 2 tsp chives
  • 1 tsp mustard (I use Dijon but use any you have)
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 25g (1oz) grated cheese
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
  1. Cook the leeks, carrots and cauliflower in a large saucepan of lightly salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, gently heat the milk, cornflour and cheese together, whisking all the time until smooth. When the milk and cheese mixture is almost boiling, turn heat down and cook, stirring, until you have a thick and smooth sauce. Add chives, mustard and seasoning and stir well.
  3. Transfer the drained vegetables to a flameproof dish and pour over the sauce. Mix together the grated cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top. Grill under a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the topping is bubbling and golden. Serve at once.

Home Made Barbeque Sauce Marinade

Home Made Barbeque Sauce - BBQ Marinade

Now is definitely the season for getting the old BBQ out of the shed, brushing off the cobwebs and getting some serious sizzling done.

I don't know about you but one thing I always miss when I go to a lot of other barbeques is the lack of any form of marinading of the various meats. More often than not by the time the grilling is done you can't really tell the difference between a banger (sausage), a burger or a drumstick... In fact I've been to some barbeques were the charcoal looked more appetising :O)

The bbq marinade recipe I'm about to share with you has evolved a lot over the years and it works very well with all types of meats for the grill. It not only adds a distinctive flavouring to the meat it also helps to keep the natural flavours in too and, as the sauce drips onto the hot coals below, creates a delicious smelling smoke that will have your neighbours turning up fork in hand!

Vegetarians take note, it also works brilliantly on veggie sausages and burgers not to mention corn on the cob, courgette and aubergine (egg plant) slices. It's quite an all rounder!

I find it is easiest to make the sauce in a jug and then pour it into an old squeezy ketchup or any sause bottle - wider neck bottles are best.


Ingredients. (excuse the lack of measurements, just chuck it in! you'll want to alter things to your own special recipe anyway - please post it here as a comment if you do!)

As a rough guide start with 2/3 tomato sauce and 1/3 brown sauce then just add the other stuff to taste (note the honey and brown sugar is important for glazing as well as flavour)
  • Tomato Ketchup - I'm not a brandname snob but for me it's got to be Heinz every time!
  • Brown Sauce - again not a brand snob but it has to be HP!
  • Honey - the pourable type
  • Brown Sugar - about 1 1/2tbsp per pint of sauce
  • Olive Oil - a good glug plus a bit
  • Mustard - eg a mild Dijon or the yellow stuff that's great on hot dogs
  • Hoi Sin Sauce - adds a delicious smokiness and thickness. (you could probably use mesquite liquid smoke flavouring)
  • Lemon Juice - a squirt
  • Balsamic Vinegar - an equal squirt/splash
  • Worcestershire Sauce - to taste but around the same as the lemon juice etc
  • Dark Soy Sauce - as above
  • Dried Herbs - I use Rosemary, Thyme & Parsley
  • Shallots - chopped very finely, this has to squirt through the nozzle of a sauce bottle. (If you're going to use the sauce brushed on from a tub then the herbs and shallots can be larger)
  • Garlic - chopped finely as above
I think that's it...

  1. Add the ingredients 1 at a time to a mixing bowl or jug (see TIP) giving it a stir in between additions.
  2. pour the sauce into a squeezy sauce bottle
  3. You're done.
If I'm using fresh meat I give a coating of the marinade at least an hour before I begin to cook although longer is better. If I am using frozen meat I coat it in the marinade in a tub as I remove it from the freezer and then allow it to defrost.

Just before you put the meat on the grill give it another squirt and brush it all over to ensure it's coated well.

Enjoy :O)

Moules (Mussels)

I have always been a big fan of seafood, as a child my Mum always encouraged me to try lots of delicious fish and shellfish that my Grandad and after he'd retired, my Grandads 'contacts' used to bring home from their fishing trips aboard Grimsby (UK) based trawlers (sadly these are few and far -if any remain - between these days).

I was quite a late convert to mussels however, in fact the first time I ate them - other than inadvertently discovered, and inquisitively nibbled a bit, in a seafood soup - was just last year.

Our French neighbour invited us around for Moules et Frites (Mussels & Chips) and not knowing what to expect, went round with a couple of bottles of wine and not a little nervous trepidation.

They were delicious! This recipe is just for the mussels, I'll leave the chips for you to do.

There is a simple rule of thumb to remember when using Mussels:
Before cooking the shells must be tightly closed - discard any with open shells (if they close when you tap them, they're ok).
After Cooking the shells must be open - discard any that remain closed.

Ingredients. (serves 4)

  • 1kg Mussels
  • Olive oil - a good slug of it
  • 3 or 4 golfball sized shallots - halved and thinly sliced - half moons.
  • 2 cloves garlic - crushed, don't bother peeling them
  • 5 or 6 sprigs of thyme (my favourite herb)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Flat leaf parsley - a good handful, roughly chopped.
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 75cl bottle white wine (My mussels are from the Charante Maritime department in France so I use a Charentaise white wine but just use one you like - if it isn't good enough to drink, it isn't good enough to cook with.)

  1. Leave the mussels to soak in cold water.
  2. Add the oil to a big, lidded pan (big!), throw in the sliced shallots and garlic and turn on the heat ( I always add garlic to cold oil and then heat it as it can quickly burn and go bitter if added to hot) and gently bring them to a sizzle. The shallots want to be translucent with a slight hint of browning but not browned.
  3. Add the thyme, bay and half of the parsley and throw around in the pan a bit. A couple of wooden spoons are useful for this, then add approximately 1/3 of the white wine and bring to the boil.
  4. Strain the mussels, discarding any with open shells (see TIP above) and tip them into the pan taking care not to splash yourself with the hot liquid. Place a lid on the pan and gently shake it to slosh that rich liquid around all the mussels.
  5. Add the rest of the wine, return to the boil then lower the heat and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes before gently shaking the pan again.
  6. Remove the lid, all the mussels should now be open (see TIP) so add the rest of the parsley and the salt.
  7. After a couple more minutes serve either into individual bowls or into a big central bowl along with the stock and allow everyone to tuck in along with some crispy chips (fries). The delicious stock can be mopped up with crusty bread or served separately as a soup.
Enjoy :O)

This meal can be served as a main course or as a starter (without the chips).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How To: Cocktail Lime (or Lemon) Wedges & Slices

Nothing sets off an ice cold, summer cocktail better than a Lemon or Lime wedge or slice. Quick and very easy to dmake, the only specialised piece of equipment you need is a Canelle Knife (Check out the Gustav Emil Ern, Tools, Canelle Knife, Right Handed)

Lime Wedges

Start at the top in the middle (near the stalk bit) and cut away a strip of the lime zest around the lime in a circular motion until you get to the bottom. It doesn't matter if the zest breaks part way through the cut but with a little practice you'll be able to peel a full zest strip in one go. You should end up with something like the photo below.

With a sharp knife cut the lime in half, cutting across the exposed white part of the lime as shown below.

Depending on the size of the wedges you want cut each half into two or three small wedges like so:

Easy... :O)

Lime Slices

This time start at the top of the lime with the canelle knife and cut vertically down to the bottom of the lime to remove a short strip of zest (by the way, keep the removed zest strips from wedges and slices, they are packed with flavourful oils and can also be used to add to cocktails or to wipe around the rim of your cocktail glasses).

Turn the lime around 180 degrees and make another vertical cut - opposite to the first cut. Then turn the lime 90 degrees and cut two more vertical strips between the first two cuts. Cut again between each of the first four cuts giving a total of eight vertical cuts. Your Lemon or Lime should look something like this...

Turn the lime on it's side and cut the end off, the end can be used turned inside out and filled with a liqueur to be floated on the top of some cocktails.

Slice the lime as shown below,

and you end up with a few of these.

If you want to sit the slice onto the edge of a cocktail glass, make a single cut from the edge to the centre like so...

The lime slice can then be easily and securely placed onto the rim of your glass.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Roasted Crushed Potatoes with Shallots, Garlic & Herbs

These delicious roasted spuds are an ideal accompaniment to a wide range of main course meals from simple sausages to roasted poultry, beef or even pan grilled steak or chicken breast. Excellent dished out onto a foil tray and popped onto a barbeque.

  • 1lb Unpeeled Potatoes - (Good roasters are Maris Piper or King Edward) - the smaller the better but bigger potatoes can be cut in half.
  • 8 to 10 Shallots, peeled but keep whole.
  • 3 or 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and gently crushed.
  • 5 or 6 Sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme (use dried if you wish)
  • 1 or 2 Sage leaves (be careful how much sage you use, it's a powerful herb and can easily smother the other flavours).
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Walnut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (two totally different flavours, olive oil is quite acceptable but use walnut if you can, the nutty flavour goes brilliantly with this dish).
  • Coarse ground salt and black pepper.

1) Begin to pre-heat your oven to 180C (gas mark 4-5) while you prepare the potatoes.

2) Put the potatoes, shallots, garlic and half of the herbs into a pan and cover with water.

3) Bring to the boil and simmer until a sharp knife just pierces the potatoes.

4) Leave to cool slightly in the hot water for five or ten minutes then strain in a colander and allow the potatoes etc to steam dry.

5) Oil a roasting tin with a little of the walnut/olive oil.

6) One at a time, crush the potatoes using a large spoon. They don't want to be mashed up but just kind of broken apart and add them to the roasting tin.

7) Place the remaining contents of the pan (shallots, herbs etc) in among the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining un-used herbs over the top.

8) Drizzle the walnut/olive oil all over the top of the potatoes and place in the oven for an hour (longer if needed) until the potatoes are golden and crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.
You can either serve them immediately or allow them to cool and re-heat them, quickly in a hot oven or on the barbeque in a foil tray.