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Mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme, garlic and roasted bone marrow

This is without doubt one of the most deliciously mouth watering recipes I’ve ever devised, for obvious reasons I guess. Roasted bone marrow spooned over garlicky mushrooms and salty jewels of bacon and perfumed woody thyme… what’s not to love? These mushroom toasts would be ideal for a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner party. Just go easy on the garlic so as not to knock your guests side ways with your garlic breath.

This recipe really packs a punch in terms of flavour and it’s just so simple. Aside from waiting for the bone marrow to cook it only takes about 10 minutes to throw together, so even when you’ve still got some last minute wrapping to do you can find 10 minutes right?

Bring some restaurant elegance into your home

It is easy to bring a little bit of restaurant into your own kitchen. In fact, Christmas has to be the ideal time. Your guests will really appreciate the touch of elegance it brings to the dinner table, plus you’ll look extra chefy. All you have to do is ask your butcher for some femur bone cut into small discs and pop it into the oven. Job done! Well almost…

The inspiration for the recipe

The inspiration for this recipe came from a book I recently bought for a friend. It’s a book I feel compelled to share with all foodies I know. ‘The Flavour Thesaurus’ is always on hand in my kitchen. If you’re a foodie and you’ve not heard of it or read it I urge you to pop out and grab a copy. As the title suggests, the book is set out like a thesaurus and is a bible of parings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. On many an occasion I’ve taken inspiration from the book, perhaps when I have a random ingredient left over and I’m not sure what to pair it with. I can always count on The Flavour Thesaurus to come up with the goods.

The recipe

Garlic mushroom toasts with bacon, thyme and roasted bone marrow
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter, Main, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g mushrooms (I used Chestnut and Shiitake), roughly chopped
  • 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
  • Splash of white wine
  • 2 disks of femur bone (bone marrow) - ask your butcher for this
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Turn the oven on to the highest temperature and pop in the bone marrow (in a roasting tin). It will take about 35-40 minutes.
  2. When the marrow has only 10 minutes from being done heat the butter and olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then add a splash of wine and allow to cook until reduced. Season to taste.
  5. Pop the slices of sourdough bread under the grill. Remove when lightly toasted and whilst still hot rub them with a garlic clove.
  6. Remove the bone marrow from the oven and carefully spoon out the soft marrow from the middle - stir this through the mushroom mix.
  7. Pile the mushroom mix on to the toasts and garnish with a little fresh thyme.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

 

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Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters are like Marmite – they divide option the world over. You either love them or hate them. Personally I like them, but until last week I’d only ever tried them raw, which I’m guessing is the same for most people who have either tried them or eat them on a regular basis. Richard (the boyfriend) adores oysters and we were talking about baked oysters and both had to confess to never having tried them like this. Ridiculous for a foodie I know. So we went straight out and bought some so we could try a little recipe development.

If you’ve only ever tried oysters raw (even if you hated them) you have to try this recipe before ruling them out completely. They are totally different when cooked, both in texture and flavour.

The name Oysters Rockefeller is more of a method of cooking oysters rather than a recipe as such, the term Rockefeller actually means having oysters on the half-shell and topping them with various ingredients (often parsley and other herbs, butter, garlic and bread crumbs) they are then usually baked in the oven until cooked through.

We decided that the simpler the better, we went with seasoned parmesan and parsley breadcrumbs, garlic, spring onion and a little fried bacon. In my option they are not all that different to baked parmesan crusted mussels, if you’ve ever had them, just a little more moist and meaty.

This is going to become a definite staple for dinner parties, I figure that oysters are always a talking point anyway purely because they divide opinion so much, and perhaps even more so when you do something completely different that people haven’t tried.

This one probably doesn’t warrant an actual recipe to be typed up because it’s simple a case of shucking your oysters, popping them into a baking tray and topping them with a few delicious ingredients, but in case you want to do them exactly as I did I’ve included the ingredients and method below.

oysters 1

5.0 from 1 reviews
Oysters Rockefeller
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Starter
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 20 oysters, shucked
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 2 slices of bread, whizzed into bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 rashers of bacon
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your fan oven to 200 degrees
  2. Open the oyster shells with a shucker. Discard the top shell and loosen each oyster from the base of its shell, place them into a large roasting tin ensuring you keep as much liquid inside them as possible
  3. Blitz together the bread crumbs, parmesan and parsley. Set aside.
  4. Add the oil and butter to a pan and add the bacon, fry for 4 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the spring onions and garlic to the pan and fry until softened and cooked through, about 3 minutes - set aside with the bacon. Crumble the bacon and mix into the spring onions.
  6. Top each oyster with a teaspoon full of the spring onion and bacon mixture, followed by the bread crumbs.
  7. Carefully place the roasting tin into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the tray from the oven - the shells will be very hot so you will need to allow then to cool for a minute or so before handling.
  9. Serve immediately with lemon wedges

oysters

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Chicken

I’m not often annoyed, as in really annoyed, but today is an exception. My blog has become subject to spam links from a disgusting website, and it’s mucking up my stats left right and centre. I won’t name ‘said’ website as I don’t want to encourage any more links to the offending page. I just wish these people would bog off! And that’s the edited, slightly politer version of what I wanted to say. I have worked hard at establishing Miss Friday’s Feast and I’ll be dammed if some repulsive website wants to get in the way of it. Has anyone else been experiencing these issues lately? Oh so irritating. Anyway, on with today’s post…

Spaghetti alla Carbonara… with Chicken

Pasta has got to be one of my favourite midweek meals; much like the potato it’s just so versatile. I mean, I could probably share at least 10 recipes off the top of my head, and I’m sure that goes for most of us. The point is that you can pretty much add anything to a pasta sauce; I enjoy experimenting with different flavours and textures. Although, there is one pasta dish that stands the test of time for me, and always seems to make its way on to my dinner plate: Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Perhaps it’s the creamy texture, the salty bacon and yes, the stacks of parmesan I grate on top; it’s such a simple meal to throw together, and in so little time. What’s not to love?
This particular recipe is by the Hairy Bikers , although I did make a few alterations, for instance they suggested using 100g of butter. Now, you know I’m not shy of a bit of butter, and carbonara is perhaps one of the most indulgent recipes anyway. However, I did feel this amount of butter was a little unnecessary. I mean no disrespect to Si and Dave, but even the thought of putting that much butter into a dish that is already so rich made me feel a little uneasy. I have to fit into my bikini in 3 weeks time. The original recipe doesn’t call for chicken, but I quite fancied it. Having made many variations of Spaghetti all Carbonara in the past I’m always keen to try a different method or recipe so the white wine in this one was a great addition that I’d never tried. But, I’ll certainly be making it this way again.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is always at risk of looking a little boring, I put this down to the pasta, the sauce and the cheese all looking the same colour. You want you food to look as appetising as it tastes so reserve some of the crispy pancetta for garnish and sprinkle over a little flat leaf parsley – in terms of presentation this will make the world of difference.
Serve with my quick garlic bread recipe

Serves 4
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 chicken breasts
250g pancetta, diced
40g unsalted butter
150ml dry white wine
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
100g parmesan, grated
plus extra for serving
400g spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper
Warm the oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken, once cooked set aside and keep warm. Add the pancetta to the pan and cook slowly until golden. Add half of the butter, then the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes. In a bowl, beat the whole eggs with the egg yolks and add the parmesan, season with black pepper.
Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Drain the pasta and add to the warm pancetta. Add the chicken. Mix until the pasta is nicely coated. Stir in the eggs and cheese – the heat from the pasta will cook the egg.
Stir in the remaining butter, check the seasoning and serve immediately with a sprinkling of chopped flat leaf parsley and extra parmesan. 
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Bacon & Cabbage Pasta with Chilli

Hurrah for Friday. It’s been a slow but eventful week, with a few too many late nights, so I feel as though I need to catch up on plenty of sleep this weekend. And, considering I don’t have many plans, I think that’s just what I’ll do, amongst the cooking and packing of course.
Speaking of packing, I feel I may be focusing on many quick and easy meals over the coming weeks. Today’s recipe is pasta; perhaps the king of all comfort foods, who doesn’t love a big bowl of it whilst watching TV on a lazy evening in? This recipe really is absurdly simple to prepare, and with just a few inexpensive ingredients it’s a budget friendly family meal that will keep everyone happy. The sweetness of the smoked bacon against the bitterness of the Savoy cabbage works wonderfully, and in true Nicole fashion I loaded this dish with fiery red chillies. And, yes I did just refer to myself in the third person. Now, if you’re making it for the kiddywinkles, perhaps just use a few (and I mean a few) chilli flakes instead of a whole chilli.
You may be thinking that bacon and cabbage pasta sounds dreadfully boring, or unexciting even, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. As well as the delicious flavours, I adore the ensemble of colours in this dish. With plenty of black pepper and just the right amount of parmesan and you’ll have found yourself a firm family favourite for years to come. Honestly, I believe you’ll love it as much as I do.


150g dried fusilli
6 smoked rashers of bacon, roughly sliced
½ head of Savoy cabbage, roughly sliced
1 Red chilli, finely sliced
1 large red onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
50g parmesan, grated
½ Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
Start by weighing out your pasta. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile add the onion, garlic, chilli and bacon to a pan with a tablespoon of oil and fry for about 7 minutes, or until the onion has softened and the bacon has become a little crispy.
When the pasta has 5 minutes cooking time left add the cabbage to the pasta water and continue cooking. After the 5 minutes drain the pasta and cabbage and add it to the onions. Stir in the parmesan ensuring the pasta is well coated and add a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately. 
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Oven Baked Bacon & Leek Risotto

I don’t know about you, but when I think of comfort food, risotto is definitely up there on my list. Nothing beats a big bowl of delicious oven baked risotto, laden with cheese and a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Sounds good huh?

The perfect risotto should be smooth and creamy in texture. Granted, it’s not easy to achieve the right consistency, but the trick is to never take your eye off it and keep stirring. Although, this recipe is an oven baked risotto so there isn’t much stirring involved, and the fact that it’s oven baked means it’s a little thicker anyway. Think of it as a cheat’s risotto if you like, the perfect place to begin if you’ve never made one before. And the best bit? There is a minimal amount of prep work involved, so once it’s in the oven you can kick back with a nice glass of wine.
It’s no secret that the foundation to any good risotto is a generous dollop of butter, a chopped onion and, of course, a very good dry white wine (or indeed red, depending upon the recipe). You’ll often find, with most recipes, that the same basic ingredients are used, to which your own flavours can be built upon. This particular recipe works beautifully, the saltiness of the bacon and wonderful subtle flavour of the leeks make for something quite special. You’ll notice that I don’t add extra salt, the bacon and stock provide the perfect amount, adding more would ruin the balance.
It’s a good idea to serve the risotto immediately in a warm bowl. If you let it sit for a while the rice will continue to cook and it will become dry.


180g oak smoked bacon lardons
400g leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
175ml Arborio (risotto) rice
60g butter
1 white onion diced
75ml white wine
510ml vegetable stock
40g sage, chopped plus extra to garnish
60g Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 150⁰C. Place a small baking dish in the oven to warm through.
In a large saucepan melt the butter; add the lardons, onion and black pepper. Let them cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden.
Add the leeks and rice, stir well to ensure the butter coats all of the ingredients; do not allow the rice to stick to the pan. Immediately add the wine, stock and sage leaves, bring to a gentle simmer then transfer the contents of the pan into your baking dish. Place in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes remove the risotto from the oven and stir through the Romano cheese, ensure that you give it a really good stir. Place the risotto back in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve immediately in a warm bowl, garnished with a sprinkling of Romano cheese and a few sage leaves.
Remember to serve it immediately – risottos don’t like to wait! 
FINAL-gammon

Boiled Bacon in Ginger Ale (smoked gammon joint)

This is the perfect lazy Sunday lunch. Given that my boyfriend and I are both from Irish descent; it’s no surprise that we love this recipe. It’s my take on boiled bacon, cabbage and spuds, I replace the cabbage for carrots and cook the gammon slowly in ginger ale for at least an hour. The carrots soak up the sweet flavour of the ginger ale; it really is so simple, yet incredibly delicious. 





Ingredients
750g smoked gammon joint
2 litres of dry ginger ale or ginger beer
6 large carrots
2 large onions
15 cloves
10 black peppercorns
2lbs / 900g Mozart potatoes (the red skinned ones)
A splash of milk or single cream and a knob of butter
Pinch of salt and pepper


Preparation

  1. Make 15 small incisions in the gammon joint and pop the cloves into the holes. Place the gammon into a large pot (about twice the depth of the joint). Add the peppercorns and cover with ginger ale. The liquid should cover all of the meat; if the meat isn’t covered just top it up with cold water, even if you use equal parts ginger ale and water that is fine.
  2. Peel the carrots and chop in half. If you are using smaller carrots keep them whole, they cook for long enough so don’t need to be too small. Cut the onions into quarters and add them to the pot with the carrots slotting them in around the gammon.
  3. Set the pot on a medium heat and cover, cook this for 1 hour at least. I find 1 hour 15 minutes is perfect, but the smell of it cooking makes you impatient, trust me!
  4. Meanwhile peel the potatoes and chop into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes, run them under cold water to rid of the surface starch. When the gammon has 20 minutes to go, heat a large pan of water and boil the potatoes until tender, not until they fall apart in the water.
  5. Drain the potatoes, adding the milk or cream and butter; mash quickly until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, the gammon will be salty enough.
  6. Remove the gammon joint form the ginger ale, don’t tip the ale away! Remove the cloves and serve the gammon sliced with the carrot and onion and a generous dollop of mashed potato. Spoon on the ginger ale as gravy.

Tips

Gammon joints can be very salty which is why this recipe doesn’t call for any extra salt to be added. Ideally, soak the gammon in a large pot of cold water over night, drain before cooking.

I use Mozart potatoes from Waitrose (the red skinned ones) they make perfect mashed potatoes every time.

If the thought of cooking your gammon in ginger ale doesn’t make you run to the supermarket don’t panic! Gammon can be boiled in many things, dry cinder, apple or orange juice, fanta or the Nigella Lawson way of boiling it in Coca Cola. Yes Really!