Asparagus, Leek and Feta Cheese Tart.

Soft leeks and crumbled feta cheese go together beautifully. I also had some asparagus to use up. All together it made an easy vegetarian tart good enough for a party or for a midweek dinner.

Cheese and Leek Quiche

ASPARAGUS, LEEK AND FETA CHEESE TART

(Adapted from Delicious magazine)

Ingredients:

500g shortcrust pastry

knob of butter

2 leeks, sliced

100g feta

100g asparagus tips

200ml double cream

100ml whole milk

3 large free-range eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. To bake the pastry shell first, prick the base of the pastry case all over with a fork. Line the tart tin with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking beans or dried pulses. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is firm, then remove the beans and cook for about 5 minutes more, until golden brown and biscuity. Let it cool.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 170C.
  4. Blanch the asparagus by adding to a pan of boiling water (a frying pan is best as the spears will fit easily.) Cook for 2 minutes or until bright green. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain on the paper towel and set aside.
  5. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan, then add 2 sliced leeks and cook over a medium heat until softened and golden. Season, then arrange the leeks in a blind-baked tart case, arrange the asparagus spears on top and scatter over 100g crumbled feta.
  6. In a jug, mix together double cream, whole milk and eggs. Season, then pour into the case.
  7. Bake in the oven at 170C for 25-30 minutes or until set with a slight wobble. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then serve.

Cornbread

The texture is soft and tender, the taste is savoury and slightly sweet, with an earthy corn flavour. These cornbread muffins are a perfect pairing to sticky sweet barbecue ribs, a nice warm bowl of stew or your favourite bowl of chilli. You can make it any shape you like, a round or square tin, as muffins, with any topping or additions. I recommend chopped chives, feta cheese, jalapeño, roasted peppers or bacon. The variations are endless but this is a great base recipe.

This is Ina Garten’s recipe and although I’m always keen on trying new things, in this case it is my addiction. I keep coming back to the same recipe again and again.
So if you haven’t tried it yet, here it is.

Cornbread

CORNBREAD

(Ina Garten’s recipe)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
200g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
200g extra-strong Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped spring onion/chives, optional
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeño peppers, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170C. Grease any preferred shape baking tin.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped chives/spring onions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cornbread

Cornbread Muffins

 

 

Zucchini & Cheese Savoury Cake

This is something different from the usual sweet zucchini bread. Serve as an accompaniment to a main-dish soup or salad, or just on its own it’s delicious.

Don’t expect a high rise of the cake. Although it rises high in the oven, as soon as it comes out of it, it drops down. It is normal because the ingredients are heavy and moist, however, it doesn’t make cake soggy.

Recipe came from here.

I only changed the title, as in my mind, bread would always have some sort of yeast component. Also, original recipe asks to cut the cheese in cubes, but I prefer to grate it.

Savoury Zucchini Cake

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Empanadas

Empanadas

If you think about, this is another food you can find almost in every country around the world with its own version of a pastry or dough stuffed with sweet or savory fillings: Cornish pasties, pirogi, samosas, dumplings, turnovers, pastels, etc. They can be served alone or as a side dish. Empanadas are a very versatile, once you know the basic method, you can try different fillings. It is a great way to use seasonal veg and fruits. This version is always a hit in our household and amongst our friends.

EMPANADAS

Ingredients:

For the pastry

450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

85g butter, chilled and diced

2 eggs, beaten, plus extra for glaze

4-6 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato purée

1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes/powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 can tuna, drained

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

salt & pepper

Method:

1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Add the beaten eggs and the water, a little at a time, mixing them with the knife, then your fingertips, until a ball of dough is formed. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in a fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes, or until soft.

4. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli, cumin, paprika, tuna and  parsley, mix well, season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set the mixture aside to cool.

5. Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 3mm thick. Use a 9cm (or close to) pastry cutter to cut out circles.

6. Put a heaped teaspoon of the filling inside each circle, then brush the edges with water. Fold the pastry over to form a half-moon shape, then firmly crimp the edges to seal.

7. Place the empanadas on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. We had them on a side with Gaspacho.

Empanadas

P.S Unfortunately, I can not remember which book the recipe came from. I had a black & white copy of it without any references on it for ages. I treasure it very much and now would like to share it with you, as this recipe is excellent and works every time.

Soda Bread with Pesto and Olives

Soda Bread with Pesto & Olives

This a modern take on old fashion classic. I was so pleased with the result. You can make this bread in 40 minutes from start to finish. It is wonderful when still warm with a good helping of butter, but is also good even a day or three later, (If there’s any left of course). With its nobly crust and shapeless look, it is not the prettiest looking bread I’ve ever seen, but the taste will  compensates its’ look.

SODA BREAD WITH PESTO AND GREEN OLIVES

Ingredients:

Olive oil, for greasing

250 g plain flour

250 g wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons pesto

300 ml buttermilk

50 g (approx) pitted green olives, roughly chopped

milk for glazing

Method:

1. Preheat the oven at 200C.
2. Grease a baking tray with olive oil or use parchment paper instead.
3. Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl. Mix the buttermilk, pesto and chopped olives in a smaller bowl, then pour into dry mixture and bring all together. Add a splash of milk if needed. Do not knead.
4. Dust the working surface with some flour, tip out the dough on it and make a ball.
5. Transfer the dough ball onto the baking tray, flatten the ball lightly and apply milk wash. Cut a cross lightly on the top.
6. Bake till golden brown. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Stout and Honey Dinner Rolls

As I’ve mentioned before, yeast and I, we are not the best pals. In the past I did put all my effort in making yeast dough but on too many occasions I fell flat as the dough refused to rise. I wanted to make some rolls to go with my Cheesy Potato Soup I made and although, I’m not giving up on the yeast bakes (one day I still hope to conquer it), but for now, I decided to go for a ‘short-cut’, like these Buns or Dinner Rolls, however you prefer to call them. Their dough is based on stout and honey which gives them a lovely colour and depth of flavour. Adding buttermilk and soda to the recipe is like magic, it results in a delicate soft texture. The whole process of making these rolls, minus baking, takes no more then 15 minutes and the best thing about them there is no kneading required, just mix it all in and stir (which is fine by me). 🙂

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STOUT AND HONEY DINNER ROLLS

(Makes about 12)

Ingredients:

400g wholemeal bread flour

100g rolled oats (not instant)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

300ml any favourite stout or Guinness

150ml buttermilk

60ml vegetable oil

60ml runny honey

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a tray with parchment paper.

2. In one bowl mix the dry ingredients together. In another bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Combine the two. Initially, the mixture will seem very wet and sloppy, but do not panic, keep stirring and very soon bicarb will do its magic and the mixture will thicken up and become more pliable.

3. Using the soon or just your hands, shape the mixture into rough bun shapes, sprinkle with some oats on top. Bake it for about 20 minutes or until the rolls come away easily from the baking sheet and are shiny underneath. Transfer them from the tray to a wire rack just to cool a little.

These rolls are equally good hot or cold, but you simply can not resist eating them when they are still hot with lashings of butter 🙂

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Cauliflower Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart

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I’ve had cauliflower cheese on my mind for a while, but haven’t got around to make it simply because I’m getting bored from cooking the same recipes, even if I like it a lot. Most of the time I’m coming back to the same ‘repertoire’ when I’m either short on time or need some comfort food. On this occasion I had spare time and was up for trying something new.

I like quiches a lot but some times I find them a bit too eggy for my liking. I prefer tarts instead, which are essentially dryer than quiches and with a little bit more character. Here is what I came up with:

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE & CARAMELISED ONION TART

Ingredients:

For the crust:

250 g plain flour

125 cold butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon salt

3-4 tablespoon cold water

For the filling:

Olive oil

1 big or 2 small cauliflower heads, cut into florets (about 500 g)

2 white onions, sliced

1-2 tablespoon whole grain mustard

2 eggs

220/1 tub cream cheese

120 soured cream

150 g strong Cheddar

parsley or chives to decorate

salt & pepper

Method:

1. Start with roasting the cauliflower florets in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper at 220C for about 40 minutes, turning halfway throughout cooking.

2. To make the pastry crumble together by hand the butter into the flour, add salt, mix in the egg and few tablespoons of cold water or milk to form a soft dough, make a ball and chill in a fridge for minimum 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile cook the onions in a large flying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a moderate heat, for about 30 minutes or until onion is deep golden and caramelised.
(Everything up to this stage can be made in advance.)

4. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it up on a well floured surface, arrange it into the prepared buttered and floured flan dish or spring form tin.  Preheat the oven to 180C. Meanwhile brush the inside of the pastry with whole grain mustard and layer over the caramelised onions followed by the cauliflower.

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4. Whisk together the eggs, cream cheese and soured cream, stir in the grated cheese, leaving some for the topping, fresh herbs and season well with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the tart filling and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.

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5. Bake in the oven (180C) for about 50 minutes until crust and topping are nicely golden. Leave it to cool 15 minutes before serving. Serve with simple green or tomato salad, good for a picnic.

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