Cheddar and Leek Muffins

leek and cheddar muffins

 

I’d never made savoury muffins before, but I had actually been planning to make them for a different challenge each month for the last three months.   Typically, it’s only now, third time lucky, that I’ve managed to get around to it.

I love muffins, although normally the sweet kind.   I have a particular fondness for blueberry ones and I would never say no to a chocolate one either.  You could say that I am a bit of a novice where savoury muffins are concerned, as I have to admit to not being able to remember ever even eating a savoury one before making and eating these.  Of course, that means I have nothing to compare these to.   I wasn’t completely sure if they had turned out exactly as they should.   That doesn’t mean they are not good.   Oh no, they are very tasty indeed, but just how much should a savoury muffin rise?   You see, they didn’t rise much at all, yet they weren’t heavy.   They still tasted light and moist, cheesy and leeky.

So what was I to do?  A search for pictures of savoury muffins of course and after trawling through Pinterest I am happy to conclude that savoury muffins are supposed to look a bit messy and unrisen.   Feeling reassured, I think these muffins have turned out as muffins should after all.   They are adaped from a recipe at the Cheese Warehouse.

Ingredients – Makes 18 small muffins

225g self-raising flour

1 leek, diced

1/2 tsp paprika

Salt

Black pepper

1/2 tsp mustard

120g mature cheddar

180ml milk

60ml olive oil

1 egg

How to Make Cheddar and Leek Muffins

1. In a large bowl add the chopped leek, grated cheese, paprika, flour, salt and pepper.  Stir so all the ingredients are coated in the flour and mixed evenly together.

2. In a measuring jug add the olive oil and milk, mustard and egg.   Beat together.

3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.   Mix together until just combined.

4. Spoon the mixture into a muffin tin, lined with muffin cases.   Place in a preheated oven at 200c for about 20 minutes.

5. Best served when warm and freshly baked

leek and cheddar muffin open

I am linking these to Love Cake, hosted by JibberJabberUk.   The theme this month is savoury.  As savoury muffins are a great way of using up vegetables that might otherwise go to waste (the leek was beginning to go a little bendy), I am also linking these to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary’s No Waste Food Challenge, hosted this month by I’d Much Rather Bake Than…

LoveCakelinklogono-waste-food- NEW

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Roule

After Christmas I was left with a fridge drawer full of cheese and a box full of savoury biscuits.   I’m still eating up the cheese now and the biscuits may well go stale before they get eaten, unless I can find a way of using them up.   I used to love roule cheese on toast for breakfast but I found it a bit too garlicy this year.  I just blame the pregnancy, but then I think maybe this is the way things should taste.    Maybe my love of garlic at any time normally is not quite as normal as I would like to think.

Anyway, this post isn’t about breakfast or about roule on toast.  I might not want to eat it for breakfast at the moment but I have no problem eating it later in the day, and I am even considering making this again.   I’ll write out the recipe, but really you don’t need one.   Two ingredients is all you need and if you fancy an easy cheesy but tasty dinner, you can’t go wrong.

You’ll see from the picture that there is cheesy sauce all over the plate.   I think this is partly due to the fact that I really overstuffed the chicken and partly due to the way I stuck the cocktail sticks in to hold the breasts together.   It wasn’t a problem for me – there was still cheese inside the breasts and the sauce was delicious with a jacket potato and some broccoli.

I am linking this to January’s Cheese, Please!, hosted by Fromage Homage.   The theme is comfort food.  I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays, hosted by Honest Mum.

roule stuffed chicken (500x301)

Ingredients – serves 2

Roule Cheese (or another soft cheese)

2 chicken breasts

How to Make Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Roule

1. Slice part-way through the chicken breasts and open them up to make them thinner and flatter.     Then put them between two layers of cling film and bash them with a rolling pin to flatten them further.

2. Put however much Roule you want in the middle of the chicken breasts and then roll them up and secure with cocktail sticks.

3. Put the chicken breasts in an oven-proof dish and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180C.

4. Serve the chicken with potatoes and vegetables.

Fromage Homage
TastyTuesdays

Seedy Couscous Salad

No, not seedy in that sense!  I’m making a lot of salads for lunch at the moment and I usually just throw in whatever I can find in the fridge.  I tend to use a carbohydrate base – couscous, pasta, rice or another grain along with some sort of protein such as nuts, cheese, beans or cold meat, whatever salad type vegetables I have and then a dressing of oil and lemon juice, soy sauce or vinegar, depending on the style I fancy that day.  The picture below is my salad bowl before I’d tossed it so some of the ingredients are rather hidden.  I did take a picture afterwards but I seem to have deleted it by accident and can’t find it any more. No, I’m not very computer literate!  At the moment my favourite addition to salads is toasted sunflower seeds and they are going in almost every salad I make.   I just can’t get enough of them so it’s lucky they’re healthy.

Ingredients – serves 1

50g couscous (needs 70ml water)

1 tomato, chopped

Handful of rocket leaves (argula)

1 inch piece of cucumber, cubed

Matchbox sized piece of cheese, cubed

Handful of sunflower or mixed seeds (I added a few pumpkin seeds)

Black pepper

Salt

Lemon juice

Extra virgin olive oil

How to Make Seedy Couscous Salad

1. Cover the couscous with boiling water and leave to stand for 5 minutes.  Then remove the lid, separate the grains with a fork and leave to cool.

2. Put the seeds in a dry frying pan and toast until browned.   Keep shaking the pan to check that they aren’t burning.  Chop all the vegetables.

3. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then serve or take to work as a packed lunch or to the park for a picnic.

Cheese Scones with a Chilli Kick

My favourite scones are savoury cheese ones.   My mum used to make them when I was little and I loved them straight out of the aga with butter melting in.  I also like the sweet ones with jam and a little cream, but I can take them or leave them and would rather have a piece of cake if I had a choice.   But cheese scones, if you make me fresh cheese scones with melting butter, I will be a very happy woman.   Today, I didn’t want to make scones with just cheese, I wanted to add a little extra flavour, and so I chose to add thyme and chilli flakes, probably a few too many chilli flakes (next time I’ll stick with just one teaspoon full).  If you don’t like chillies you could miss it out, and you could also vary the herbs. But the most important thing is to eat these warm, and trust me, they won’t last long.

Ingredients – makes 7-8

200g self-raising flour

40g butter

100g cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

100ml milk

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp chilli flakes

How to make Cheese Scones

1. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

2. Chop the butter into cubes and add to the flour.   Rub together with your fingertips until it is like fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add most of the cheese, the herbs and chilli flakes.   Mix together then begin adding the milk.   Add a little at a time and mix in with a knife.  It should form a dough.

4. Sprinkle a bit more flour on the work surface.   Turn the dough out and knead gently for about a minute.

5. Press the dough down until it is about 2-3 cm thick.

6. Using a dough cutter or  a cup/glass, press down on the dough to cut out circles.   Put onto a greased baking sheet.

7. Sprinkle the reserved cheese onto the top of the scones and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at about 200C.

8. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then slice in half, spread with butter and serve immediately.

 

 

Salmon Pasta Bake

Sometimes you want to try and recreate a favourite childhood dish – but with a few twists – and this is exactly what I did here.   The dish in question is my mum’s macaroni fish pie, a dish made with a mixture of fish, pasta and mushrooms, baked in the oven in a cheesy sauce.   Even today I like it when she makes it for me, which unfortunately is not very often as I usually have my husband with me, who doesn’t share my love of cheesy fish pies.   He would say he has more sophisticated tastes.   I would say I have an appreciation of a wider range of foods.   In my mum’s dish, the mushrooms are a more recent addition.   An addition I’m happy with.  When I’m not there, she likes to use smoked haddock too,  but I find it a little strong and so prefer white fish, salmon or a mixture.  This time, I chose to add layer of spinach to the bottom of the dish as the vegetable component, but in retrospect,  I think I prefer mushrooms and would miss out the spinach layer next time, or maybe just have a spinach salad on the side.

So, given the choice, would I choose mine or my mum’s pie?   For now, my mum’s.   But with a few mushrooms instead of spinach, I’d be spoilt for choice.

I used Dreamfields’ rotini pasta which was once again successful.  I am also submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, this week hosted by HoneyB of The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch.

Ingredients – Serves 1-2 (depending how hungry you are)

1 small piece of salmon

50g pasta

1 tbsp plain flour

250ml milk

2 tbsp Oil

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp wilted spinach

2 handfuls grated cheese approx (I forgot to measure it, but taste the sauce and add more to get the right level of cheesiness)

Salt

Black Pepper

How to Make Salmon Pasta Bake

1. Cook the pasta for about 5 minutes then drain.

2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan.   Add the flour and keep stirring for at least 2 minutes, being careful that it doesn’t burn.

3. Start adding the milk. Add a little at a time and keep stirring so it makes a smooth sauce.   If you add too much at once it will go lumpy.

4. Add the nutmeg, season and stir in the grated cheese.  Then stir in the pasta.

5. Spread the wilted spinach on the bottom of the dish.   Cut the fish into cubes.   Put on top of the spinach.   Top with the pasta and sauce.

6. Bake in the oven at about 190C for about 25 minutes.   The dish should be piping hot and bubbling when it is ready.

7. Serve with lots of salad.

Shredded Pork Quesadillas

This is my second month taking part in the Secret Recipe Club.   I enjoyed it so much last month I definitely want to keep taking part, even though things are quite hectic at the moment and I’m not managing to blog as much as I’d like and am also way behind on reading other people’s blogs.   Anyway, this month I was paired with Melissa from Melissa’s Cuisine.   She has some great recipes and I couldn’t decide at first whether to try one of her steak or chicken marinades or to go with this.   In the end, as pulled pork is something I’ve been meaning to make for a long time, I decided that this should be the month to try it. Melissa used pork ribs, which I love, but I decided to get a small shoulder of pork and cook it in the slow cooker and then shred it.   This meant I had lots of pork leftover for more meals.   Always a good thing.    The barbecue sauce was really easy to make and the quesadillas were then really simple to put together.  The only thing I would change would be to make the barbecue sauce slightly less sweet, but this might just be a personal thing as I don’t normally like to mix sweet and savoury together.   Although I didn’t use the exact same proportions as Melissa, she did warn that it makes quite a sweet sauce and so next time I would use even less sugar – maybe just a teaspoon.   Apart from that, this was definitely a success and something that I will make again.   For the Melissa’s original recipe have a look here.

I am also linking this to Family Fresh Cooking.

Ingredients – serves 2

2 flour tortillas

Approx 300g shredded pork

Approx 80g grated cheese

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

1 tbsp brown sugar

100ml ketchup
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 red chilli, finely diced
How to make Shredded Pork Quesadillas and Barbecue Sauce
1. I put some pork shoulder in the slow cooker in the morning and in the evening it was ready.   I removed all the fat and used two forks to shred it.   You could also roast it in the oven if you prefer.
2. To make the barbecue sauce, add all the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan.   Bring to the boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes.   Mix the pork into the sauce and heat through.
3. Put a tortilla in the bottom of a frying pan.    Cover with the shredded pork then the cheese.  Put another tortilla on top.   Leave to cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
4. Turn the tortilla.    Slide it onto a plate.   Put another plate on top.    Flip it over quickly then slide it back into the pan.   Cook for another 5 minutes.
To see what other Secret Recipe Club members have made, click on the link below:

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes Skins

These were just incredibly delicious.   Some food combinations cannot be beaten and this is one: bacon, cheese, potato, onion.   All on one plate = nice.    All mixed up together = incredible.   If you don’t agree with that, come back for my next blog post, but today, I’m focusing firmly on  soft, comforting, cheesy potatoey gooiness with a salty bacony kick.    Yes, there are hundreds of possible fillings for potatoes, but right now, I can’t think of another filling I would rather have than this.   If you know of any better ones, not involving the two key ingredients of cheese and bacon, please tell me, and I will gladly widen my repertoire.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main meal

2 baking potatoes

2 rashers bacon

3 spring onions, finely sliced

3 tbsp grated red leicester or other hard cheese

1 tbsp cream cheese

Salt

Black pepper

Olive oil

How to make Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

1. Coat the potatoes in olive oil and season.    Bake in the oven for an hour.

2. Put the bacon in a dry frying pan and fry until crispy.   When cool, cut into small pieces.

3. When the potatoes are ready, cut in half and scoop out the soft potato into a bowl.

4. Add the cream cheese and mash into the potato with a fork.   Mix in the chopped spring onions, hard cheese and bacon.   Mash together and season.

5. Put the filling back into the potato skins and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Spaetzle with Caramelised Onions, Bacon and Cheese

Don’t you just love it when you haven’t thought of something for a while and then you get reminded of it and the opportunity to make it.   That’s exactly what happened with this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge.   The task was to make homemade pasta without using any motorized machinery.   One of the suggestions was spaetzle.   Spaetzle. Now, why hadn’t I ever thought of making it before.   The last time I ate spaetzle was back the nineties  in my year abroad in Germany.    It was in a restaurant and as far as I remember it was served with loads of cheese, bacon and leeks.   It was heavy but delicious.  The melting cheese and leeks clinging to the spaetzle.   A really hearty meal.   With that in mind,   I wanted to make a dish similar,  but if possible, not quite as heavy.   Well, I’m not sure if I managed that but I did add some peas and serve it with a huge spinach salad.

A recipe was provided for the spaetzle but it didn’t look anything like the spaetzle I remembered.   I searched around online and came across another site with very clear pictures and step by step instructions. The only hiccup was that the recipes required you to have a spaetzle press, but looking at it, it looked remarkably similar to my new potato ricer.  I wonder…   A little more searching revealed that you can use a potato ricer to make spaetzle, as long as you use the attachment with the large holes.    Any if you don’t have a potato ricer, you can even use a colander.   And if you don’t have a colander, well,  I don’t suppose you’d be trying to make spaetzle anyway.

When I first pushed the spaetzle through the ricer into the water I was a little worried as a lot of them seemed to stick together,   but as they cooked I prodded them a bit and most of them separated again.   Spaetzle is supposed to be very irregular with thinner and thicker strands and knobbly bits so don’t worry if it appears to be going wrong, it will almost certainly turn out ok.    I was really pleased with the end result and it was much easier than I would have expected before starting.

Blog-checking lines: Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g plain flour

2 eggs

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 rashers bacon

Handful grated parmesan

3 tbsp peas

3 onions

Breadcrumbs

Olive oil

Salt

Black Pepper

How to Make Spatzle with Caramelised Onions, Bacon and Cheese

1. Make the batter.  Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg to the flour.    Break the eggs into the flour and mix with a wooden spoon.

2. Add 100ml of water, a little at a time.   Stir well so you have a wet dough/thick batter.   Don’t worry about one or two lumps.

3. Put the batter in the fridge to rest.

4. Slice the onions into strips and begin to fry in a frying pan over a low heat.   Stir every so often to stop them from sticking and burning.  Add a little salt.   If you want you can also add sugar but I don’t like the onions to be too sweet and they are sweet anyway.

5. While the onions are cooking fry the bacon in a separate pan until crispy.   When cool, use a pair of scissors to snip it into small pieces.

6. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Position a potato ricer or colander above the pan.  Add half the dough and squeeze through.     When it rises to the top and has been in the pan for about two minutes,  lift out with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl of cold water. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

7. Add a little extra oil to the pan with the caramelised onions in. Drain the spatzle and add it to the frying pan with the onion.   Add the bacon too and the peas.   Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring so it is completely heated through.

8. Just before serving, stir in the grated parmesan.   Divide between two plates and sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top.

Cheese and Mushroom Pasties and The Cookery School at Little Portland Street

I was very lucky last weekend.    I got to spend almost five hours cooking and eating.    Heaven.   Absolute heaven.   I realise that may not be everyone’s idea of the perfect Saturday, the cooking part at least, but for me it most definitely is.

For the last few years I have done at least one cookery class a year as I get my gorgeous husband to buy me a class for my birthday or Christmas.   It always makes me very happy and I come  home full of new ideas and things to make.    Although my husband’s workmates joke that he should get me an ironing course next, I remain a domestic goddess only as far as cooking goes, and I’m sure Nigella would agree that that’s the way it should be.

Anyway, this year’s class was at the Cookery School at Little Portland Street.     There were just 7 of us in the class and we were divided into three groups which meant it was nice and small and everyone had lots of opportunity to be fully involved in the cooking.    Altogether we made about 14 dishes, with each group making about 5 each.   We kept stopping to see what the other groups were doing so that we would be able to make all the dishes ourselves later.    The title of the class was outdoor eating and included dishes such as:

Spinach, rice and herb flan

Homemade mayonnaise and coleslaw

Asparagus and pea salad

Pasta pesto salad

Grilled prawns

Terrine

Spatchcocked grilled poussin

Potato, cheese and herb pasties

Granary Bread

Shortbread

Lemon cake

Chocolate Brownies

I took lots of photos and they can be seen at the bottom of this post.     I especially liked the pasties and the spatchcocked poussin but everything was good.   I was also impressed by how easy it was to make the terrine, something I’d never considered making before.   By the time I left at about 2:45 I was so full I could hardly move.    In fact, I had eaten so much that I couldn’t eat anything when I was out with friends in the evening and the only food I ate for the rest of the day was a slice of toast before going to bed at about midnight.

So would I do another course at Little Portland Street?  Definitely, but probably a more advanced one.    Although I love doing cookery classes and courses, I feel I’ve reached the stage where I need a more advanced class.   As I said above, the class was fantastic and I’d thoroughly recommend it, especially for relatively inexperienced cooks.  Also, because of the amount of dishes made in relation to the time spent in the class,  I feel that this course compares well to other similar courses.

There was one thing I didn’t do quite as well as I wanted on the course.   It’s a long time since I’ve made proper pastry and mine was a little too crumbly and dry when making the pasties.   As a result, ever since last Saturday I’ve been wanting to make pastry again, and to make pasties, which I just love.   However, I didn’t want to make exactly the same ones, so I’ve fiddled with the recipe and adapted it almost completely and ended up with the cheese and mushroom pasties you see below.

Ingredients – Makes 4

220g flour

100g butter or margarine

Iced water

Salt

150g mushrooms

1 onion

100g raw potato, cubed

60g cheese, grated

Egg yolk (optional)

How to make Cheese and Mushroom Pasties

1. Add a pinch of salt to the flour.    Mix the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it is like breadcrumbs.

2. Add a small dash of iced water.   Bring the mixture together with your fingers so that it forms a ball.

3. Put it in the fridge for at least half an hour.

4. Fry the onions in a saucepan until soft.    Add the mushrooms.    Cook until the mushrooms have reduced in size and any liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated.    Leave to cool.

5. Mix together the potato, mushrooms and onions and cheese.   Season.

6. Roll the pastry until about 1/2 cm thick.    Put a small plate or saucer onto the pastry and cut around it with a knife.

7. Put a spoonful of the filling  into the middle of the pastry circle and bring the opposite sides together.   Pinch both sides of the pastry together so it forms a small parcel with no gaps.

8. I forgot this stage, but ideally brush a little egg yolk onto the pasty so it turns golden as it cooks.

9. Bake in the oven at about 190 for 40 minutes.

Pitta Bread Pizza

I’ve been making this for a couple of years and was first inspired by Nigella Lawson who makes a naan pizza in Nigella Express.   They make a great Saturday lunch, especially as I always have pitta breads in the freezer but often run out of fresh bread.    As the base is smeared with tomato puree rather than the butter or margarine I would use if I was doing cheese on toast I also feel that these are not too unhealthy, or at least healthier than using toast.  The toppings can of course be varied but this is the way I usually prefer to make them.

Ingredients – serves 2

4 pitta breads

1 tomato, sliced

1 green or red pepper, sliced

1 chilli pepper

1/4 red onion or spring onion

2 tbsp tomato puree

Red Leicester cheese, sliced then torn up

How to make Pitta Bread Pizza

1. Toast the pitta breads.

2. Spread the pittas with the tomato puree.  Top with the vegetables and then the cheese.

3. Grill until the cheese melts.