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Cheesy Chipotle Stars

STARS  Copy of STARS

I figured that this recipe was rather apt. I recently won an award, earning myself a place amongst 23 other ‘Rising Stars’ as we are now known. The award was given by Strategic Proposals is for up-and-coming talent the bid and proposal profession. This week saw the completion of the training sessions for the award, and I sat an exam last week (which I passed – yay!). I’ve been travelling about a lot for work this week too, so it’s been one of those ridiculously busy weeks. Hurrah for the weekend!

These golden cheesy treats are a deliciously spicy savoury snack. They are the perfect balance of smoky Chipotle and yummy mature cheddar. It doesn’t get much better that that, right?

Just looking at these little golden wonders makes me excited that autumn is officially upon us. Amongst the many reasons I celebrate the return of autumn, are the leaves starting to fall, woolly socks, the smell of rain in the morning and of course pumpkins, roasted parsnip soup and gingerbread lattes. It’s is my favourite season for sure. So much so that I’ve decided to dedicate a whole blog post to ‘The Reasons I Love Autumn’… coming soon!

These cheesy delights are the perfect little snack alongside a delicious autumnal soup, or as my sister-in-law (which I can now call her as Rich and I got married 3 weeks ago, yay us!) suggested, these would be great washed down with a glass or two of sangria. She’s in Spain, jealous much?

The recipe makes a whole bunch. Forgive me because I didn’t count exactly how many, and I guess it all depends on the size and shape of your cookie cutter anyhow. Of course, you could use any shaped cutter, but I opted for ‘Rising Stars’ (ahem,  I make no apology for the shameless plug to my recent success).

The base of this recipe will serve you well for other varieties of snack. If you don’t like spicy food, or Chipotle – you’re odd. No, but seriously, you could try cheddar and rosemary, or poppy seed, or maybe some sunflower seeds for crunch. Experiment. It’s the best thing about cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 115g plain flour
  • 50g salted butter (cold)
  • 1tbsp Chipotle paste (less if you don’t like it too spicy)
  • 4-6 tbsp cold water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan)
  2. Tip the ingredients into a blender with a dough hook and blend adding a tablespoon at a time of water until a soft dough forms. If mixing by hand, combine and bring the mixture together by hand, knead on a floured work surface.
  3. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface to 3mm thick.
  4. Using a cookie cutter stamp out your stars. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 15-18 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
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Tex Mex: Feed a Crowd Chilli Con Carne

Cooking for a crowd is great fun; the prospect of getting creative and offering up a huge variety of dishes that will really impress your friends and family excites me, but it often sends me into a whirlwind of energy and pressure. I’ve come to learn the secret of stress free entertaining, base many dishes around one recipe – a huge pot of smokin’ chilli con carne. It’s super easy to cook and oh so good to eat – serve it with jacket potatoes, rice, nachos or in a toasted pitta bread topped with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, fresh salsa and some fresh coriander, all washed down with an ice cold beer. Move over Chimichanga, I think I’ve died and gone to homemade Tex Mex heaven.

It’s great fun to base meals for a large number of people on a particular theme, you can simply throw together various dishes and people love getting stuck in to food they can eat with their hands. Nachos and stuffed pitta breads are great for this.

I won’t take all the credit for the scrummy looking food, Rich (the fiancé) made the loaded potato skins (look out for his guest recipe coming soon) and we kind of just threw the rest together whilst drinking with my brother Kelv and his girlfriend JoJo.

Now, i’m totally guilty of saying I can’t find the time to cook for myself, let alone to entertain, but if your guests happen to be relaxed family who also have a baby it’s all quite good fun. We managed to feed, entertain and put the babies to bed, have a drink and a laugh ourselves and we still managed to pull together this delicious feast and photograph it for the blog. A pretty successful evening all round.

The Recipe

I’ve included the recipe using my new recipe plug in below, so if you want to make this recipe for more or less people, just use the handy scroll bar and decide how many you want to cook for. The ingredient quantities will automatically update. Impressive I know! Also, don’t forget you can print the recipe using the small blue print icon. Happy cooking!

Chilli in PittaLoaded skinsChilli PotCold beerNachos

Print Recipe
Chilli Con Carne
This is a recipe for a rich smokey chilli con carne. This dish is so versatile it can be served with plain rice, on a jacket potato, in a pitta bread, or on top of nachos - however you choose to serve it though, be sure not to forget the essential condiments, grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, freshly chopped coriander and most importantly an ice cold beer. This recipe is great for feeding a crowd and it freezes well, so don't worry about leftovers - all the more for you.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan, add the mince and cook until browned.
  2. Remove the mince from the pan and set aside, leaving a little oil in the pan, then add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, mushrooms, carrot, red pepper and then return the mince to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the oregano and spices, chopped tomatoes and water. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Cook on a medium to low heat for one hour. The chilli will thicken and become rich. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.
  6. 10 minutes before the chilli is cooked, add the kidney beans and freshly chopped coriander.
  7. Serve either straight away, or after sitting for up to 20 minutes (I prefer it when it's not piping hot).
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Steak with Gruyere and Chive Croquette Potatoes, Red Cabbage and a Mustard Sauce with Shiitake Mushrooms



This recipe is my entry for the Maille Culinary Challenge. I was invited to participate in the challenge to create a mouth-watering recipe including at least one Maille product. They were kind enough to send me two of their delicious products free of charge and I was able to pick from a rather extensive list including many delicious ingredients. Rather than just including one of the ingredients, I decided to use both; I figured this would ensure I really thought hard about a recipe with different components. I quite often create recipes with one star piece, either the meat or fish and the sides will be fairly simple – such is my style of cooking. However, seeing as this was a culinary challenge it was only right that I challenged myself and created a dish where each element bought something special to the recipe. I chose the following ingredients:
The red cabbage worked beautifully with the balsamic glaze; it brought an intense sweetness to the dish that truly was delicious, whilst the mustard has a woody earthy flavour that compliments the shitake mushrooms wonderfully.
Fingers crossed my recipe goes down well. The first prize for the Maille Culinary Challenge is a “Food Lover London Tour” worth £390, and two runners up will receive a luxury Maille Gift Box with accessories valued at £150. Yes please!


Serves 4

Ingredients
* Half a red cabbage, finely sliced
* Half a red onion, finely sliced
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large potatoes
2 tbsp chives, snipped
90g Gruyere cheese, grated
Pinch white pepper
100g plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g golden breadcrumbs (preferably not fresh)
1 litre of vegetable oil
100g fresh shiitake mushrooms
200ml double cream
4 Sirloin Steaks
Method
Start by finely slicing the red cabbage and red onion. Place in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of butter, the garlic, balsamic glaze and water; season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium heat for about 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes, boil for 25-30 minutes, until soft. Remove from the heat and drain well, return the potatoes to the pan. Add 2 tbsp butter, chives, cheese, white pepper and a splash of cream, roughly mash. Don’t worry if they are a little lumpy, a bit of texture works well in the croquettes. Allow the mashed potato to cool slightly.
Whilst the mash is cooling, line up three bowls, fill one with the flour, one with the egg and a tbsp of water and the other with the bread crumbs. Take a small amount of the mashed potato in your hands and roll into a small ball, slightly smaller than a golf ball, roll in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then roll the ball in the egg and finally the bread crumbs. Place aside and repeat until you have used all of the mash, set these aside while you prepare the sauce.
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Slice the shiitake mushrooms, place in a pan with the remaining butter and season, fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes, once softened add the mustard and cream; heat through while you cook the steak and fry the croquettes as below.
Season the steak and fry in a little oil for the desired length of time, depending on how you like your steak cooked. I had fairly thick Sirloin that I like rare, so I fried for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once cooked, set the steak aside and allow to rest. This is very important as it lets the fibres in the meat relax and allows the juices to flow, meaning you’ll end up with a much tastier steak.
Fry the croquettes in batches for about 30 seconds, they will brown very quickly. Remove from the oil and place on kitchen towel to drain off any excess oil.

Slice and serve the steak, topped with the mustard sauce and some snipped chives, three croquettes and some red cabbage.
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Halloumi Salad

This vibrant salad is bursting with flavours; the peppery salad leaves and red onion are delicious with the cool herby yoghurt and salty halloumi. I’m going to be honest, I quite often find salads the most boring thing to eat, but a well thought out salad with balanced flavours is actually quite a delicious little dinner.
I’m trying my hardest to be good at the moment, and failing quite miserably for the most part. You may or may not have seen my previous post on indulgent chocolate buttons. I’m constantly torn between my love of food and not wanting to be fat, a battle I fear I’ll always face. But, when I am disciplined enough to be healthy, I feel quite chuffed with myself, especially when a healthy dinner turns out to be so tasty. So, if you are like me and practically turn your nose up at the thought of having a salad for dinner, just give this a go, it’s truly delicious.
It’s hard to beat grilled halloumi, but if you’re not a fan feta would work well too; essentially, it’s the salty element of this salad that I love the most. Even my meat eating carnivore of a boyfriend was happy to have a supper without meat, for once! This dish would make a wonderful side for a BBQ too now that we are coming into Spring.
  
* 250g Halloumi
* 100g Watercress, spinach and rocket salad
* 225g vine tomatoes
* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
* 50g croutons (either bought or homemade)
* 150g low fat natural yoghurt
* Handful chopped basil
* Handful chopped dill
Preheat the oven to 160⁰C.
Mix the chopped basil and dill into the yoghurt and set aside.
Remove the tomatoes from the vine, cut in half and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, assemble the salad; place the salad leaves, red onion and croutons in a large salad bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and yoghurt dressing.

Place a griddle over the heat and add the halloumi and fry for about 4-5 minutes on each side ensure both sides are lightly browned. Pop the halloumi on top of the salad and serve immediately. 
Fish-Stew

Tuscan Inspired Fish Stew with Cheesy Croutons



“That’s the best thing you’ve ever made for me” said the boyfriend to the girlfriend – WOW – what a statement! Obviously I’m more than happy with that. Hopefully you’ll love this recipe as much as Richard did. I must say I rather enjoyed it myself. It’s a tomato based fish stew with delicious cheesy garlic croutons. If you’re watching your weight (it is January after all), then you can have this stew without the croutons, but I’m sure one wouldn’t hurt.
I absolutely love seafood, especially mussels and prawns, but you really could make this with any fish, monkfish would work very well as it’s about as robust as fish comes, making it perfect for stew. This is a Tuscan recipe, inspired by a recipe I found in my Italian Cookery Course book and resembles many fish stews. I decided to make it using a cooked seafood selection, which makes it super quick and fuss free; no shelling and pre-cooking necessary.
There is something quite wonderful about a crispy, cheesy garlic crouton to mop up your deliciously fresh fish stew. I popped in a couple of finely chopped green finger chillies too, which isn’t typically Italian, but it really works. You get a devilishly spicy note which makes this dish perfect for a cold evening. If you don’t like very spicy food then you can omit the chillies, or take the seeds out – but I simply love spicy food.
Cooked seafood selection (mussels, prawns and squid)
3 tbsp olive oil
Red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml white wine (preferably something Italian)
400g chopped tomatoes
750ml fish stock
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
Parsley to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped in half
A handful of grated cheese (such as parmesan or pecorino)
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion until softened – around 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli and cook for 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile lightly toast the Ciabatta slices on both sides, and then rub them with the sliced clove of garlic, pressing down firmly on the bread to flavour it with garlic. Top each slice with a little cheese and return to the grill to melt.

Meanwhile add the seafood and parsley leave for a few minutes then serve in warmed bowls with the cheesy garlic croutons.