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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Vegetable Quiche with Parmesan and Rosemary Pastry

Vegetable Quiche with Parmesan and Rosemary Pastry

A slice of cheesy Vegetable Quiche with Parmesan and Rosemary Pastry

I’m part of a baking club who meet once a month; this month the theme was ‘From the Garden’. I baked a quiche that was packed with vegetables and herbs (and cheese!) that was basically a pimped-up version of the kind of thing my mum often bakes for big family parties. The great thing about quiche is that they’re delicious hot, warm or cold (generally I prefer warm or room temperature) and there’s no end to the kinds of fillings you can put in them, so let your imagination run riot. If you’re not feeding this to anyone vegetarians, the addition of a few chopped rashers of streaky bacon (added when cooking the onions) would be superb. Though my instructions seem lengthy, this isn’t a difficult thing to make, but it does have several stages and therefore take a bit of time. The rewards are worth it though – no shop-bought pastry is going to have anywhere near as much flavour.

Vegetable Quiche with Parmesan and Rosemary Pastry

For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 35g finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped as finely as possible
  • about 4 tbsp cold water

If you have a food processor, pulse the flour, butter and salt together until it resembles breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can do this by hand by lightly rubbing the butter and flour through the tips of your fingers and thumb; be as gentle and quick as possible as you don’t want the butter to melt. However you do it, once you have reached the breadcrumb stage, put the mixture in a large bowl and add the parmesan and rosemary. Use the tip of a dinner or butter knife to stir the cheese and herbs into the breadcrumb mix. Sprinkle over 3 tablespoons of the water and, still using the knife, make cutting motions through the mixture until it starts to come together – you may need to add more water, but be sparing – the less water you can use the better. Bring the dough together with your hands and as quickly as possible form it into a flat disc shape (this will help when rolling out later). Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Prepare your quiche or flan tin: you need an 8″ or 9″ tin and if you’re using a loose-bottomed tin so that you can remove and display it then give it a light greasing.  Lightly flour a board or clean work surface and rolling pin. Take the pastry out of the fridge, unwrap and place on the board. Roll the dough lightly but firmly, using small strokes of the rolling pin and giving a quarter turn every now and again – you’re aiming to get the pastry about as thick as a pound coin and about an inch wider all around than the quiche dish. Don’t worry too much if the pastry cracks towards the edges – you can patch it with any pastry that overhangs the edges of the dish. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry into the prepared dish and gently ease it into the corners with your finger tips. Use any over hanging pastry to patch up any gaps, pressing it in to seal the pastry together – don’t trim any excess from the rim of the dish yet. Prick the base all over with a fork, cover with clingfilm and put back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200C. Take the pastry-lined dish out of the fridge and remove the clingfilm. Trim the surplus pastry with a knife or by rolling your rolling pin over the top of the dish. Line with greaseproof paper and weigh it down – you can use baking beads, uncooked rice or beans or even coins. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the greaseproof paper and whatever is weighing it down, then bake for a further 10-15 minutes until pale golden and firm; this first blind-bake is what should help prevent a soggy bottom! Remove from the oven until you’re ready with the filling; it doesn’t matter if it cools down completely or is still warm when the filling goes in.

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, stalk and seed removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 1 punnet mushrooms, sliced
  • generous shake of dried oregano
  • handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • handful fresh basil, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 mugs full grated cheddar

In a large frying pan heat the oil and on a medium heat begin frying the onions, stirring occasionally . Add a good pinch of salt and pepper at this stage as this will help the onions to cook without browning. After about 5 minutes add the sliced pepper and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Next, add the courgette and cook for 5 minutes, then the mushrooms and dried oregano, cooking for another 5 minutes until everything is soft and cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir through the chopped fresh herbs.

In a large jug or bowl mix together the beaten egg and cream. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and about half the grated cheese and give it all a stir to combine. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the pastry case making sure it’s evenly spread. You want it to be generously filled but not overflowing. Slowly pour the cheesy egg mixture into the pastry case, making sure all the vegetables get covered – don’t let it overflow. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake at 200C for about 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Perfect with new potatoes, all kinds of salads and cold meats.

My Vegetable Quiche with Parmesan and Rosemary Pastry

Perfect for a party, packed with cheese and vegetables

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Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Deliciously chewy Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Another cookie recipe for you here, this time with the classic flavour pairing of chocolate and orange. As I’ve mentioned before, the key to a chewy centre in your cookie is to slightly under-bake them; take them out of the oven when the top is domed and cracked. I’ve used an ice cream scoop to portion these cookies as you get a very regular size and shape that way, but if you don’t have one then simply use your hands to roll the dough into balls about the size of golf ball. With a batch this size, I freeze half the raw mixture and then when I have a craving for something chocolaty it’s just a case of thawing for half an hour or so and baking – cookie craving quickly fixed!

Easy Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 orange
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 200g chocolate chopped into chunks (I used milk, but plain would go just as well)

Heat the oven to 175C and lightly grease a couple of baking trays. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, finely grated rind of the orange and juice of half of it; beat again until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and cocoa and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and give a final stir so the chunks are evenly distributed.

Using an ice cream scoop, put 4 or 5 scoops of mixture onto each baking tray, making sure they’re spaced well apart as they will spread. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes; remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes while they set, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (although eating one while it’s still warm wouldn’t be such a bad thing).

Easy Bread & Butter Pudding

Bread & Butter Pudding

Don’t waste bread left-overs – turn them into Easy Bread & Butter Pudding

I was over at my parents’ place yesterday, visiting them and my mum’s aunt who is staying with them at the moment. My mum had a stale loaf of French bread knocking about, so I volunteered to turn it into a Bread & Butter Pudding for them, knowing how much my dad and aunt love a traditional pud. This recipe isn’t terribly precise because I wasn’t measuring anything when I made it; the whole point of Bread & Butter Pudding is to use up left-over bread, so you’ll want to adapt it to how much bread you have and the size of the dish you make it in.

Easy Bread & Butter Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarters of a stale (but not mouldy!) French stick
  • about 50g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • About 1.5 pints whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • couple handfuls raisins/sultanas
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • scant grating nutmeg

Slice and butter the bread. Arrange the slices in an ovenproof dish that fits the slices snugly. In a bowl or large jug, beat the eggs then add the milk and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread; it should come nearly to the top of the bread slices, but not cover them – you may not need all the liquid at this stage. Leave to stand for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour while the liquid soaks into the bread. If you have any unused liquid remaining you can keep topping it up as it’s absorbed into the bread, but be sure to leave the tops of the slices sticking out – this way you’ll get a lovely soft, custardy underneath of the pudding, and a sweet, crunchy crust.

Heat the oven to 200C. Scatter the top of the pudding with the fruit, sugar and spices. Cook for around 25 – 35 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on how big your dish is). It’s done when the top is golden and crisp, and the centre is soufflé-like. Serve hot or warm on its own, or for extra indulgence with cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.

If you don’t have the spices you could grate some lemon or orange zest over the pudding instead.

Lemon Meringue Blondies

Lemon Meringue Blondies

Lemon Meringue Blondies

I know, I know; I’ve been using lemon in my bakes a lot recently. But it’s so gloriously hot and they lend such sunshine bright flavour that I just can’t help myself. So here’s my latest lemony lip-smacker – a spongy, gooey, chewy delight that isn’t too heavy in this heat.

Lemon Meringue Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter (plus a little for greasing)
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 lemons
  • 40g ready made meringue (I used shop bought mini meringues)
  • 3 tbsp lemon curd

Heat the oven to 170C and butter and line a tin (approx 25x22cm) with greaseproof paper. Gently melt the butter in medium saucepan (you don’t want it to brown, just to become liquid). Turn off the heat and add 100g of the white chocolate and stir until melted.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugars and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the flour and the melted butter/chocolate and fold in until well combined. Add the vanilla and finely grated zest and juice of the lemons and stir through. Chop the remaining 100g white chocolate into chunks, crumble the meringue and scatter both over the batter, giving a final stir before tipping the whole mixture into the prepared tin. Dollop the lemon curd on top in a few places then ripple through the uncooked blondie with a skewer or the end of a teaspoon.

I baked this for 50 minutes, but I covered it with foil after half an hour to stop it from browning too far. The top should crack, like a brownie does, and it should feel firm but with a little give as it should be very moist inside – a skewer inserted should come out mostly clean with just a little goo. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, uncovered, before cutting into portions to serve.

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Cherry Bakerwell Loaf Cake

Personally I’m not a fan of the well-known pastry this cake is inspired by, but my best friend is a bit of a cherry bakewell junkie (she ate them almost every day of her pregnancy – I reckon Mr Kipling was working round the clock to feed her habit). This recipe is what I’ve come up with for her birthday cake; a little nicer than the overly sweet treats consumed during her pregnancy, I’d like to think!

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 65g self-raising flour, plus 1 tbsp for dusting cherries
  • 65g ground almonds
  • half tsp almond extract or essence
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 150g glace cherries
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 15g flaked almonds, toasted

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg, then add the flour, mix again, add the second egg and beat again. Add the ground almonds, almond extract and baking powder and give a good mix, then stir in the milk. Put 100g of the glace cherries in a small bowl with the additional tablespoon of flour (reserving the remaining 50g of cherries for the top of the cake) and toss them around so they’re coated. Tip them into the cake batter and fold in so they’re evenly dispersed. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin, smoothing into the corners and levelling off the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes; it’s done when golden brown, springs back when lightly pressed or a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

If your flaked almonds aren’t toasted already, take advantage of your already hot oven and spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer, baking for about 5 minutes until golden brown; leave to cool. In a bowl mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together to form a thick paste. Once the cake is cooled, remove from the tin and smooth the icing over the top; it’s fine if it runs down the sides a little as it adds to the lovely homemade look. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds and add the remaining glace cherries. Let the icing set for half an hour or so before slicing and serving.

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

These are simple little two-bite morsels – great with a cuppa or pop a few in a pretty bag or box to give as gifts when visiting friends. You can use whatever jam you like – raspberry is always a winner when paired with lemon. I always use a bit of cornflour in shortbread as it makes them tender and crumbly, but you can make these with just plain flour. You can also make them gluten-free by using any plain gluten-free flour you wish.

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 190g butter, softened
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 70g cornflour
  • 1 lemon
  • half tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp blueberry jam

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the flours, finely grated zest of the lemon and 2 teaspoons of the juice, and the vanilla extract. Stir until well combined. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and put them on an un-greased baking tray then use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a little well in the biscuits. Loosely cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

Heat the oven to 175C. Remove the tray of uncooked biscuits from the fridge. Arrange them so they’re about an inch apart – you’ll probably need two baking trays or to cook in two batches as you need to have the biscuits spaced out as they’ll spread a little on cooking; if you make two batches leave the second batch in the fridge until ready to cook. Use a teaspoon to fill the holes in the biscuits with jam; you may not need all of it so don’t be tempted to overfill them. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until pale golden. Take them out of the oven and allow them to firm up on the tray for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Boozy Pineapple Turnovers

Boozy Pineapple Turnovers

Boozy Pineapple Turnovers

I got a bit of a bargain from the greengrocer yesterday – three ripe pineapples for a pound! I gave one to a friend, I’ve kept one for eating raw and decided I’d do some baking with the other. I’ve had an urge to make rough puff pastry for a little while so I came up with the idea of making pineapple turnovers. To take a short cut with this recipe you could either use ready made puff pastry or tinned pineapple, drained and cooked with the other ingredients for long enough to infuse the flavours.

Boozy Pineapple Turnovers

For the rough puff pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • pinch sea salt
  • 190g cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 125ml cold water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a spoon or fork to toss it around in the flour so it gets coated. Mix the water and lemon juice together and pour it in with the flour and butter mixture. Use a butter or dinner knife (something that isn’t sharp) to cut across the flour and butter; keep cutting and turning the bowl and eventually it will all come together.

Once the dough has formed into a big lump, tip it onto a well floured surface and form it into a rough brick shape (be as quick as possible to avoid the heat of your hands melting the butter). Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 30x20cm. Fold a third of the dough into the middle, then the other third over that. Turn 90 degrees and then roll out again to the same dimensions and repeat the folding process. Keep rolling, folding and turning until you’ve done this about 6-8 times. You should be left with a fairly soft dough that you can still see flecks of butter in. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for several hours (preferably overnight).

For the boozy pineapple filling

  • 1 medium/large pineapple
  • 4 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur
  • 2 tbsp vodka
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp caster sugar to finish

Heat the oven to 160C. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the pineapple, cut into quarters lengthways and remove the hard core. Chop into small chunks (about the same size as you’d get in a tin of pineapple) and put in an ovenproof bowl or dish. Add the remaining ingredients and give it a stir. Bake, uncovered, for an hour, stirring from time to time to ensure everything is coated and no bits of pineapple are drying out. Remove the cooked pineapple from the liquid and leave to cool completely.

When you’re ready to cook your turnovers, heat your oven to 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Take the pastry out of the fridge and on a floured surface roll out to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut into squares and put a heaped spoon of the pineapple in the middle of each square. Fold one corner to the opposite and press the sides down so they stick. Brush the top with a little milk or egg wash, sprinkle a pinch of sugar over each turnover and snip a couple of slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Place on the prepared baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes. They’re done when they’re golden and puffed up.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little if you’re serving warm; or cool on a wire rack if you’re planning to have them cold.

Any left over pineapple is delicious served with plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream, as is the liquid the fruit was cooked in. If you wanted to omit the booze, use a splash of orange juice as your cooking liquor.