Tag Archives: Cheese

All Things Baked And Beautiful

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Continuing with my baking for Xan’s party (which is today) here are the last yummies I put together to take along for everyone to enjoy.

First off, I thought I’d cater specifically for the vegetarians (my sister is a demi-veg and is going to be there today) and thought I’d offer an alternative to the sausage rolls we’ll no doubt be having. My vegetarian (not vegan, I’m afraid) version is cheese and tomato rolls.

I’m afraid I didn’t make my own puff pastry. Rather than leave it to chance, I bought some ready-made stuff (also, I was fast running out of time, so I really needed to go down the route of convenience here!), rolled it out and trimmed off the edges so they were nice and straight and even. Then I painted on a load of tomato puree, grated some cheese on top of that, and finally sprinkled on some mixed herbs. Then all I had to do was roll them up, cut them up and bake them in the oven till they were crisp and golden. Delish!

Then it was the turn of the brownies! I’ve only made these once before, so it was a bit of a risk, but they turned out so good last time I just had to try it again. They certainly look good and while I was cutting them into little bite-sized squares, I tried a little crumb that fell off and it tasted gorgeous, so I’m hopeful these will go down well. I’ve left them in the trays for easy transport so I hope they come out easily and don’t fall apart!

Last, but not least, I made some flapjacks. Chocolate chip flapjacks. Except I mucked them up a little bit. See, you have to melt the syrup, butter and sugar then stir in the oats, and I didn’t leave them to cool long enough before stirring in the chocolate chips so they got sort of, well, melty. Still, judging by the bit I licked off the spoon after smooshing the mixture into the trays, they should still taste pretty good (at least, I hope they will!). They’re all cut into squares, ready to pop out of the trays, so here’s hoping they hold together rather than crumbling – I guess we’ll see when we get them out at the party!

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Focaccia col Formaggio

I saw THIS recipe a little while ago and resolved to try it, but then forgot all about it till this morning, when I suddenly thought, “Ooh, yes, I think I’ll give that a try today!”  However, when I checked it out again,  I decided that a) I didn’t want to make one quite so big, and b)  I was going to change things around slightly to suit my tastes and what I have in the kitchen, so here’s what I ended up with:

Focaccia col Forno (Serves 2)
Ingredients:
200g plain strong flour
pinch of salt (and a little extra for sprinkling)
pinch of mixed herbs
1.5 tbsp olive oil (and a little extra for sprinkling)
100mls warm water
150g grated cheese

Directions:

  1. Sieve flour into large bowl, add salt and oil, stir in water to form a stick dough.
  2. Cover with cloth and leave somewhere warm for half an hour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for a few minutes till smooth and elastic.
  4. Divide into two equal parts and put into a bowl. Cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 230C
  6. Roll out half the dough very thinly, place on a floured baking tray and sprinkle the cheese over it.
  7. Roll out the other half of the dough and place on top of the cheese, pressing the edges firmly together.
  8. Drizzle on a little extra oil and sprinkle a little salt on top, then pop it in the oven for around 25 minutes till its golden.
  9. Cut into wedges and eat while still warm.

The changes I made:
The only olive oil I had was lemon and dill infused, but I thought “what the hell?” and used it, figuring it would give a nice flavour to it. I also added a generous pinch of mixed herbs to the dough for some extra kick, just because I like them.

On top of that, even though I was essentially halving the original recipe, I thought 250g was an awful lot of cheese, so I ended up only using 150g and it was, in my opinion, more than enough. I used Cheddar because that’s what we had in the fridge, but I think this would also work really nicely with crumbled feta. I also sprinkled a little more mixed herbs on the cheese before putting on the top layer of dough.

The results:
Overall, this was a really easy recipe to make, but the original recipe lies about preparation time – it states a prep time of only 5 minutes, leading you to believe you could have this on the table in half an hour, but it neglects to mention the 45 minutes of waiting time, so with that and the actual prep, it takes the best part of an hour before you can stick it in the oven.

But is it worth the wait?

Well, in an attempt to actually get mine golden, I popped mine back into the oven a while, which meant it went just a bit too crispy, but it was pretty tasty anyway. The thermostat for our oven is a bit dodgy, so I’ll fiddle with the timing a bit when I try it again.

We had ours as an accompaniment to the rest of our Fridge Soup from yesterday. There was enough for all three of us with some left over!

I think this is a really versatile recipe and you could play around with it a lot to suit your own tastes. I think that next time I’ll try making it like an inverted pizza, spreading a little tomato sauce, then adding the cheese, and perhaps some other pizza toppings too (pepperoni sounds great to me!).

Recipe: Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Broccoli and Stilton Soup
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 2 x super-large / 3 x generous / 4 x dinner party starter

Ingredients:
250g broccoli florets
1 small onion
Tsp olive oil
500mls water
1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
200mls skimmed milk
100g stilton
Pinch salt and black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Remove the thickest stalks and steam the broccoli florets for 10-15 minutes till tender
  2. Dice the onion and lightly fry in the olive oil till softened but not browned
  3. Add the stock cube and a pinch of salt and black pepper to the water used for steaming the broccoli and top up to 500mls, add the milk
  4. Add the broccoli and onion to the stock and milk
  5. Heat till it begins to simmer
  6. Add the stilton and simmer for 10 minutes till melted DO NOT BOIL OR THE CHEESE WILL GO STRINGY
  7. Use a hand blender or put in a food processor and blend till smooth
  8. Serve garnished with a little crumbled stilton and some freshly-ground black pepper

The Verdict:
Oh. My. Word. I’ve never tasted broccoli and stilton soup before, but this is my new favourite soup!

I did a little research and looked at various recipes online, but cobbled together my own recipe based on what I had in my kitchen (I go grocery shopping on a Sunday, so here we are on Friday and my stocks are starting to run low!). Because I used skimmed milk rather than the cream that many recipes call for, this soup was lovely and light, and despite the large quantity of cheese I added (I love the stuff, so I couldn’t resist), it has quite a delicate flavour and isn’t overpoweringly “cheesy”. I don’t like blue cheeses, so I used creamy white stilton and it worked beautifully

Lightly steaming the broccoli meant it retained its lovely, fresh colour, rather than going dingy as it sometimes does if boiled for too long.

The recipe will make two super-large, full-on dinner-sized portions; three regular, fine-for-lunch sized portions; or four dinner party starter-sized servings, and I really do believe that if I served this at a dinner party I’d be asked for the recipe, as it really is delicious.

I don’t usually blow my own trumpet but “toot-toot-toot!” A resounding 5/5 recipe that I’ll be making regularly.