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Category Archives: Savoury Bakes

Pimped-Up Cheese Straws

Pimped-Up Cheese and Bacon Straws - perfect served warm with a frosty drink

Pimped-Up Cheese Straws

I love a cheese straw. These are dead easy – you could make them with just pastry, cheese and an egg – but with a few simple additions (obviously leave out the ham if you want them vegetarian) they’re extra tasty.

Not the most exact recipe – measurements are all going to depend how big your pastry is rolled out and how finely you grate your cheese. My top tip is to grate the cheese finely as you use less and actually get more flavour.

 

Pimped-up Cheese Straws

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry, chilled
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2-3 tsp of mustard – your favourite type
  • About 8 tbsp grated cheese – I used a mix of parmesan and strong cheddar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pack (about 6 slices) Parma ham or similar
  • 1 egg

Pre heat the oven to 220C and get a couple of baking sheets ready. Flour a clean, dry surface and spread out the chilled pastry. Roll it out a little thinner – you should have a fairly large rectangle. With the longest side of the rectangle closest to you, smear the mustard in a thin layer over half the sheet of pastry, like a page of a book. Sprinkle about two thirds of the cheese over the mustard, followed by most of the rosemary – keep about a teaspoon back. Lay the Parma ham over the cheese, covering as much of the area as possible, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the ham.

 

Fold the uncovered half of the pastry over the top, like you’re closing a book. Press the outer edges together to seal it a bit, then use the rolling pin to flatten it all out a bit more and squidge it all together. You should still have a rectangle shape, so with the longest side towards you again, use a very sharp knife to cut from top to bottom in strips about an inch wide. Give each strip a couple of twists and place on your baking sheets, leaving some room between each one as they’ll puff up when cooked. Beat up the egg and brush each twist, then sprinkle with the remaining chopped rosemary (and any cheese crumbs left over). Bake for 10-15 minutes – they’re done when golden and delicious smelling (check the underside also looks cooked). These are at their best still warm.

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones, delicious warm and buttered

Cheese scones are my favourite kind and remind me of my childhood when I’d ask my mum to bake them pretty frequently. I made some to take to my bake club meet up last week, but completely forgot to take photos of them. My fellow bake clubbers enjoyed them so I thought I’d recreate them for the blog as they’re ridiculously easy. And then it struck me. What makes everything better? Bacon! These are delicious, even if I do say so myself. They’re so simple to make, and you can have them ready and on the plate in little over half an hour from start to finish. I think cheese scones are best just a few minutes after they’re out of the oven, slathered in butter, but all scones should be eaten the day they’re made or they’re just a bit disappointing. If you’re a vegetarian or just don’t like bacon (what’s wrong with you?!) then just leave the bacon out and you’ve still got yourself the easiest, tastiest cheese scones ever.

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones

Ingredients:

  • 4 rashers of bacon (I used smoked, streaky bacon)
  • 230g self raising flour
  • 115g strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • scant pinch salt
  • 150g full fat milk (a little over a quarter of a pint), plus a drop extra for glazing
  • 1 tsp English mustard

Heat your oven to 220C and lightly grease a baking tray. Fry or grill your bacon rashers until becoming crisp, then transfer to some kitchen paper to cool and drain the excess fat. When cool enough to handle, chop up into small pieces.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, cheese and salt. My top tip here is to finely grate the cheese as you’ll get more intense flavour. Measure your milk and mix in the teaspoon of mustard so it disperses into the dry ingredients a bit better. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and use a blunt ended (butter or dinner) knife to make cutting motions across the ingredients, turning the bowl as you go – the less the mixture is worked to bring it together, the lighter your scones will be. As the mixture starts to begin to clump together, add in your bacon bits and continue to mix, bringing together with your hands at the end if you need to.

Lightly flour a clean surface and roll or pat out your dough to about 1.5cm thick. If you use any kind of cutter to shape, don’t twist, just push down firmly – twisting can stop your scones from rising as much as they should. Or you can simply cut the dough into squares – scones don’t have to be circular. Either way, keep reforming any excess dough to make more scones until it’s all used up. Place your scones on the prepared baking tray and brush the tops with a little milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and firm. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool (or just split in half, butter and eat!). These are great on their own, with cheese and chutney or to accompany a hearty and smooth winter soup.

Cheese and Bacon Scones

Just a few ingredients and simple to make; give them a try

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