Ricotta and Pea Tart

Homemade Ricotta and Pea Tart

I chose this Homemade Ricotta and Pea Tart to make this month for my Secret Recipe Club assignment.   With a base of crisp puff pastry and topped with homemade ricotta, peas and herbs, it is a recipe that is just as good to make for guests as it is to enjoy with your family.

Ricotta and Pea Tart

This month my assignment was the blog, Well Dined, written by Sarah, a stay at home foodie wife.  As soon as I received my assignment I was excited as Sarah had my blog last month and I’d enjoyed reading her post about making my bulgogi so I was delighted to have the opportunity to make one of her recipes.

I looked at quite a lot of recipes but as so often happens it was the very first one I checked that I ended up making.   I think it was partly the fact that I really wanted to make my own ricotta but mainly that her tart looked and sounded so zesty and green.  It was full of fresh herbs, peas, lemon and ricotta.  I wanted a slice and the only way I was going to get one was to make it myself!

Of course, I was spoilt for choice by so many more recipes as well.  I absolutely love eating pastry and I have never even considered the idea of making a crustless quiche before but I was still tempted by her Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche.   Another great healthy weeknight meal would be her Poached Chicken with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables.  So simple but really tasty. I also like the sound of the Lamb Stew with dried plums.  It’s full of veggies as well as a lovely mix of North African spices.  It might take a bit longer to make but I’m sure the final dish would be worth it.

I have to admit now that I have had a cheesemaking kit sitting in the back of one of my cupboards for quite some time.  A whole 2 years I’m ashamed to say.   I was given it for my birthday just before Master Spice was born and with all the preoccupations of looking after a new baby and a toddler it somehow got a bit forgotten about.

Big Cheese Making Kit

Well, recently when I was tidying out my cupboards I found it again and promised myself to use it soon.  So when I saw that this recipe used homemade ricotta, I knew I could make excuses no longer!

I will write more about it in another post as I am planning to make some more cheese as well but I will just say that it was so easy it really should not have taken me two years to use.

As well as the chance to make homemade ricotta, what really caught my attention with this recipe was how green and fresh the topping looked.  By itself ricotta is a bit plain.   It needs something to give it some flavour and as soon as the peas, lemon juice and herbs were added it was absolutely delicious.   I didn’t use all of the ricotta on the tart and the leftovers made a fantastic dip for celery, cucumber and carrot sticks.   And even spread on toast for breakfast!

And what if you’re too lazy, time-pressed or, controversially, feel you have better things to do with your time than making cheese?   Well, you could just buy a tub from the supermarket.  It would just be 45p more expensive (based on Tesco prices) than the 2 pints of milk I made this with!   But seriously, don’t feel you have to make your own ricotta to make this.  Although if you want to, follow the instructions on Sarah’s blog.

Ricotta and Pea Tart

Homemade Ricotta and Pea Tart

Yield: Serves 8

A tasty ricotta and pea tart with lemon and fresh herbs.

Ingredients

  • 320g puff pastry (I used ready rolled)
  • 250g ricotta
  • 240g peas (I used defrosted but uncooked frozen peas)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Score a rectangle into the puff pastry to make a border about 2cm inside from the outside edge.
  2. Bake in the oven at 200C for 10 minutes. Push the middle of the tart down and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Put the ricotta, half the peas, half the basil, half the mint, the lemon juice and a little black pepper in the food processor. Blitz until fairly smooth.
  4. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the tart.
  5. Mix the remaining peas and herbs together. Scatter on top of the tart.
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This tart is perfect for spring so I am linking it to Cooking with Herbs at Lavender and Lovage and to Eat Your Greens, hosted this month by The Veg Hog and on alternate months by Allotment 2 Kitchen. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Meat Free Mondays at Tinned Tomatoes, Cook Blog Share, hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes and Fiesta Friday hosted by Julie @ Hostess At Heart and Ashley @ Too Zesty .

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Schwartz Pulled Pork Soup

Pulled Pork and Pulled Pork Soup

I may have mentioned before that I love pulled pork.   What could be better than throwing a piece of pork and a few spices in the slow cooker, waiting  a few hours and then pulling it all apart?

A few years ago I probably hadn’t even heard of pulled pork.   These days, pulled pork is one our regular meals.   Or perhaps I should say ingredients in some of our regular meals.   Just like this pulled pork soup.

Schwartz Pulled Pork Soup

This time the pork was cooked in the slow cooker with the Schwartz Slow Cookers Bbq Pork Recipe Mix.   After being pulled apart with a couple of forks, the pork was made into a soup with lot of veggies, lime, crushed chillies and coriander to really bring it alive.

If you’re looking for something easy, healthy and tasty then you can’t go wrong with this pulled pork soup. You can make enough for just one meal or make a big batch and eat it up over the coming days. If you read or take park in my #CookOnceEatTwice challenge then you’ll know I always love meals that can be served up more than once, which is why this is my contribution for April.

You can find the recipe for this soup in a new e-book available to download free from the Schwartz website.   The ebook is a compilation of 20 Food Blogger’s Flavour Favourites and the recipes all look amazing!  For more recipes ideas using herbs and spices you can follow Schwartz on Twitter and Facebook.

As I said above, I love pulled pork as it’s so versatile and with very little effort you can create so many delicious meals with it.  It’s great for cooking at the beginning of the week and then eating up over the next few days.

Pulled Pork Schwartz

As well as pulled pork soup I also put some in  bread rolls to have simple pulled pork burgers one night.

Pulled pork sandwich

The rest was made into quesadillas with jalapenos, red onions, sliced tomatoes and of course grated cheese!

Pulled Pork Quesadillas

I am linking this to my own food blogging challenge, #CookOnceEatTwice.

Cook Once Eat Twice

The pulled pork soup recipe was commissioned by Schwartz

Tuscan lemon chicken

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

This Tuscan lemon chicken recipe is so easy to make and certainly doesn’t lack taste.   It doesn’t have many ingredients and it doesn’t take much effort but it is definitely a dish worth having up your sleeve whenever you need an easy chicken recipe.   It’s perfect as an everyday meal but delicious enough to serve to guests too.

Tuscan lemon chicken

The recipe is all thanks to Kate at A Spoonful of Thyme who was my Secret Recipe Club assignment for March.   Kate has been cooking for many years, inspired by her family and friends and loves cooking for and entertaining them.  Like the chicken recipe I chose, many of her recipes are simple but still really delicious such as Five Spiced Glazed Salmon, Spicy Chipotle Turkey Chilli and many more.  I loved the fact that she has such a range of recipes on her blog and as I love spicy food, there was certainly no shortage of recipes to inspire me.

I am currently training for a half marathon so finding time to go running as well as cook, eat, blog and all the other things I want to do in the evenings is hard work.  I really appreciate simple recipes that don’t need too much attention as they are cooking.   This Tuscan lemon chicken is exactly that.   As long as you make a really tasty lemony garlic marinade and give the chicken enough time to marinate then you can’t really go wrong.

Tuscan lemon chicken

If you are really organised you could made the marinade the day before and then the flavours would have even more time to sink into the meat.   It may be no surprise to you that I was not that organised but I did make it a few hours in advance and I couldn’t complain.

I used chicken thighs with the skin on.  The skin keeps the meat underneath really moist and I’ve recently discovered I do actually like crispy chicken skin.   In the original recipe the chicken was cooked outside on the barbecue but as there was no chance of that here in February  I baked the thighs in the oven instead.   The chicken skin still went delightfully crispy and the meat underneath the skin was really tender and moist so I’d definitely cook the chicken like that again.   Although I’d omitted the lemon zest from the original recipe, the chicken was still deliciously lemony and with the lemon squeezed over the top there was plenty of lemon for me.

Tuscan lemon chicken

The recipe is slightly adapted from A Spoonful of Thyme.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Yield: Serves 4

Baked chicken thighs flavoured with lemon, garlic and rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken thighs (or a mixture of legs and thighs)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • For the Marinade
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or use about 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary)
  • Pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Coat the chicken in the marinade and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  2. Spray a little oil on a baking tray and place the chicken and the lemon quarters on the tray.
  3. Bake in the oven at 200C for 30-40 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through and the skin crisp. If you think your oven will burn the outside of the chicken then cover it in some foil and take it off halfway through the cooking time.
  4. Let the chicken rest for five minutes after taking it out of the oven.

Notes

For a stronger lemon flavour grate some of the lemon zest and add it to the marinade.

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I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Cook Blog Share hosted this week by Sneaky Veg and to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

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Apple Cinnamon and Caramel Cake

Apple Cinnamon and Caramel Cake

If you’ve never tasted an apple cinnamon and caramel cake before then trust me, you are missing out!  I know there are lots of delicious cakes out there, many of them involving apple, but if you add cinnamon to the apple it is just so much better and if you go one step further and add some smooth dulce de leche you will get the most yummy cake you have eaten in quite some time.   Trust me.

Apple Cinnamon and Caramel Cake

Apple and cinnamon is a combination I love and even though most of my recipes are savoury, there are quite few apple and cinnamon recipes on this blog.   Just take a look at Cinnamon Apple Cake, Apple, Sultana and Cinnamon Scones, Apple and Cinnamon Crumble and yes, there are more, but I won’t go on.

Although I have a lot of apple and cinnamon recipes on here, I think this is the first time I have added caramel into the mix too.  Caramel is the perfect partner for an apple and cinnamon cake.  It also makes the cake just that little bit more indulgent than it would otherwise have been.  And I guess I should apologise here too because this apple cinnamon and caramel cake really is indulgent.   It isn’t a cake to make in diet week.   Unless you slice it very thinly and that is hard because you will definitely want a generous slice.

Apple cake.   Buttercream.   Dulce de leche.  The combination is sinfully good.   The cake is moist and light with a lovely cinnamon flavour.   The buttercream is smooth and cinnamony and the caramel is sweet and sticky.  It’s a cake you won’t want to share but also a cake that you won’t be able to eat all to yourself.

Unless you intend to eat this apple cinnamon and caramel cake all at once, it will keep for about 3 days.   Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon and Caramel Cake

The recipe is adapted from Food Network.

Cinnamon and Apple Caramel Cake

Yield: 12-16 servings

Ingredients

    For the Apple Cinnamon Cake:
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 300g white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 375g plain flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml milk, room temperature
  • 2 apples
  • Juice of a lemon
  • For the Filling and Topping
  • 4 tbsp caramel/dulce de leche
  • For the Cinnamon Buttercream:
  • 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
  2. Peel and chop the apples then mix the lemon juice into the chopped apple so it doesn't go brown
  3. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and leave till later.
  4. Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla.
  5. Mix the flour and baking powder together then sift them into the bowl with the egg mixture. Stir in gently until fully incorporated. Mix in the milk until smooth.
  6. Put a quarter of the mixture into each tin. Sprinkle on a layer of apple then add the rest of the cake mixture. Top with the rest of the apple and the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Bake the cakes for about 40-50 minutes at 160C.
  8. Test they are ready by inserting a skewer which should come out clean.
  9. Turn the cakes out of the tins and leave them to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Spread a layer of caramel on one of the cakes.
  11. Make the buttercream by beating together all the buttercream ingredients. Spread the buttercream on top of the caramel. Top with the second cake.
  12. Heat some of the caramel in a bowl in the microwave. Drizzle it over the top of the cake.
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This is my Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and I am linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Bake of the Week at Casa Costello and Cook Blog Share at Hijacked by Twins. I am also linking to Alphabakes hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and on alternate months by Caroline Makes.

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bircher muesli

Bircher Muesli

Bircher Muesli with blueberries and banana

For years I’ve avoided bircher muesli.  Why anyone would want to mix juice, milk and oats was beyond me.   I don’t like milk and the only thing worse than milk would be the idea of juice and milk together.  As a child I would eat an orange for breakfast and then wash out my bowl before getting my cereal.  I couldn’t stand even the slightest trace of acidity ruining my breakfast.

I’ll admit that my breakfasts are pretty boring normally.  I love breakfast but I’m  happy to just eat toast, porridge or muesli.  Ordinary muesli with just a splash of milk to stop it from being uncomfortably dry.

So there I was happily eating my favourite three breakfasts when I checked the Recipe Redux theme for February: Break out of Breakfast Boredom.  But I’m not bored I said.   Unfortunately no one was listening and any amount of excuses could not change what I read on that screen.

I considered making overnight oats (without juice) and warming them up the next day so I could feel I was still eating porridge but in the end I decided to face my fears and have a go at a more traditional bircher muesli.   After all, if it was as unpleasant as I suspected, I could simply make another recipe.   No one would be any the wiser.   And maybe I could l persuade my children to eat it.

One evening I reluctantly mixed the oats, apple juice, lemon juice and milk together and went to bed wondering if I might even forget to eat them.  The next morning I grated an apple (which I am not keen on raw either!)and added vanilla yoghurt, honey and cinnamon.  I topped it with sliced banana and blueberries and sat down ready to tolerate my breakfast.

Of course, if I’d only tolerated it you wouldn’t be reading this as I’d have made something else the next day.  I found it creamy and tangy.  The apple juice was subtle and went really well.   I polished off a whole bowlful.   I offered it to my children but they refused to try it.   Did I mind?   Not at all.   More for me the next day.

The recipe was very slightly adapted from My Little Gourmet.

Bircher Muesli

Bircher Muesli

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 75g porridge oats
  • 210ml milk
  • 30ml apple juice
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 apple, grated (I peeled it first)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp low-fat vanilla yoghurt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of blueberries

Instructions

  1. Put the oats, milk, apple juice and lemon juice into a bowl and stir together. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning add the grated apple, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon. Stir and divide between 2 bowls.
  3. Top eat bowl with a sliced banana and a handful of blueberries.

Notes

After step 2 the muesli can be kept for another day in the fridge if you are just making it for one person.

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I am linking up with #CookBlogShare hosted this week by Sneaky Veg , to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Cook Blog ShareRecipe of the weekTasty Tuesdays

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Green herb sauce

Sea Bass with a Simple Green Herb Salsa

Sea Bass with Simple Green Herb Sauce

Sometimes the simplest ways of eating fish are the best.   It may be a clichee used to excuse a lack of imagination.  But not always.  Sometimes it’s really true.   This simple green herb salsa served with sea bass is one of the times when simple really is the best and not just a popular catchphrase.

To make the simplest things taste great it really helps to have the best quality ingredients.   In this case fresh herbs and garlic, good vinegar and of course a tasty extra virgin olive oil.  I had been sent some Italian Antichi Frantoi Francescani extra virgin olive oil and I wanted to use it in a recipe where a good olive oil would make all the difference.

Once I’d made up the green herb salsa with the oil I had a fiery, garlic and herb paste that was a perfect match for the fish but it could be so versatile.   I think it would also be great with halloumi or chicken, drizzled or dotted on a salad, or even used as a marinade.  The Antichi Frantoi Francescani olive oil has a strong green olive taste and would also be lovely for dipping bread in.   You could imagine you were on holiday in Italy even if you weren’t.

Simple Green Herb Sauce

Sea Bass with a Simple Green Herb Salsa

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Large handful of coriander
  • Small handful of parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 green chilli pepper
  • 2 tbsp white wine vineger
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 2 fillets of sea bass (or another white fish)

Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients except the fish into a food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Taste. Add a little extra oil, vinegar or seasoning if necessary.
  3. Cook the fish and serve the salsa with it.
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I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Cook Blog Share at Hijacked by Twins.

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Kabocha Squash stuffed with black quinoa

Kabocha Squash Stuffed with Black Quinoa

Kabocha Squash stuffed with black quinoa

Welcome to this month’s Recipe Redux post.   As the new year kicked off we were challenged to create a recipe using an ingredient we’d never tried before.   Well, to begin with this seemed like a difficult challenge as I have a whole cupboard full of different grains and pulses which I don’t use nearly as often as I should, but I couldn’t use any of them as I had at least used all of them once.

I have however been hearing a lot about black quinoa recently and even though my cupboard doesn’t need another half used bag of grain, I decided that this one would be worth it.   After all, quinoa is apparently a supergrain: gluten-free, high in b vitamins, fibre and minerals, as well as being a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids.

One of the lovely thing about quinoa is its texture and the slight crunchiness as you eat it.   If you haven’t tried black quinoa then the difference is that it’s even more crunchy than white quinoa.   And of course it looks great.   Colourful food is always that little bit more enticing than white food.

I decided to make aroasted kabocha squash black quinoa salad and use it to stuff a .   I have to admit that the kabocha squash had been in the bottom of my fridge for a few weeks and really needed to be eaten up.  The great thing about squashes is that they last really well but even so, this one was ready to be eaten.

The bright orange flesh of the squash contrasted beautifully with the black quinoa salad dotted with pine nuts, cucumber, tomato and fresh mint leaves.   It made a delicious vegan meal, although I did have to cut the squash in half to serve as a whole half for one person would have been just too much of a good thing.

Kabocha Squash stuffed with black quinoa

Kabocha Squash Stuffed with Black Quinoa

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 kabocha squash
  • 200g black quinoa
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 10cm piece of cucumber, diced
  • Handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 50g pine nuts
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slice the kabocha squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft
  2. Boil the quinoa for 20 minutes then drain.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix together all the ingredients except the squash. Add a little extra lemon juice or olive oil if necessary.
  5. Scoop the salad into the squash halves and serve.
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I am linking this to Extra Veg, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy, the #FoodYearLinkUp at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

ExtraVeg-Badge-225x300Food-Year-Linkup-January-2016Recipe of the week

 

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wild rice and pea salad

Spiced Wild Rice and Pea Salad

Spiced Wild Rice and Pea Salad

January is definitely the time to eat healthily but some salads just don’t suit cold wintery weather.   The good news is that there are plenty of salads which are just right at any time of year and this spiced wild rice and pea salad is one of them.

The beauty of this salad is that it is so versatile.   You can serve it as a main meal or it can just be a side.   It keeps well in the fridge so you can make a big batch and then eat it up over the next few days.  Like many people, I need to try and save time in the kitchen and this is a perfect #CookOnceEatTwice meal.  If you’re looking for more ideas for meals that are great eaten as leftovers then do take a look at my #CookOnceEatTwice posts.

The most important thing is that it is healthy and healthy is exactly what I’m looking for right now.  I adapted it from A Salad for All Seasons by Harry Eastwood and it’s an easy salad to adapt.    You could use any long grain rice or a grain such as spelt would be lovely too.  Diced peppers could replace the carrot and sunflower or pumpkin seeds could be used in place of the pine nuts.

I always think a few spices and fresh herbs do so much to add flavour to a dish and although you could use dried herbs instead, the fresh parsley goes really well.  Coriander would also be lovely.

Although I didn’t consciously realise it when I made this spiced wild rice and pea salad, it’s also a vegan salad and although I am not following Veganuary like some food bloggers this month, it’s always healthy to eat more plant based meals.

spiced wild rice and pea salad

Spiced Wild Rice and Pea Salad

Serving Size: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250g rice (I used Red Camargue and Wild Rice)
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 250g frozen peas
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice with the cardamom pods and bay leaves.
  2. Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and toast them gently until they are golden. Set them aside.
  3. Put a little oil in the frying pan, cook the carrots gently for about 5 minutes then stir in the ground spices
  4. Add the peas to the rice a couple of minutes before the rice has finished cooking then drain the rice and put it in the pan with the carrots. Stir the carrot and spices into the rice
  5. Chop the parsley and finely dice the red onion. Stir them into the rice too.
  6. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add a little extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top when serving.
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This is my #CookOnceEatTwice post. I am also linking to  the #FoodYearLinkup at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, Cooking With Herbs hosted by Lavender and Lovage and No Croutons Required hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and on alternate months by Tinned Tomatoes.

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Whole roasted celeriac with pearl barley and curried mushrooms

Whole Roasted Celeriac

Whole Roasted Celeriac with pearl barley and curried mushroom sauce

Welcome to this month’s Recipe ReDux post and my whole roasted celeriac.   You could even call it Zombie Brain!  As it’s Christmas and as the Recipe ReDux has been around for 54 months now, we were challenged to play a little party game and ‘redux’ the recipe on page 54 or 154 of one of our cookbooks.   I have a lot of cookbooks and I looked in quite a few before I found a recipe I could redux on the right page.   It’s not that page 54 seems reserved for dishes I don’t like but rather page 54 already seems to be dedicated to delicious healthy recipes that need no reduxing.

Luckily it wasn’t long before I turned to Save with Jamie and there on page 54 was, Zombie Brain, a recipe I’d looked at before and considered making but never had.   It was perfect for this challenge: a real vegetable showstopper of a dish with a delicious sounding creamy mustard sauce that certainly could be made a little healthier.   The zombie brain is actually a whole roasted celeriac served with pearl barley and mushrooms.

I stuck closely to Jamie’s method for most of this recipe but changed the flavours of the sauce to make a curried yoghurt sauce rather than a cream-based sauce.   The yoghurt meant the sauce was still creamy but it was a healthier substitute for the cream.  I also omitted the butter.

The recipe redux is all about creating healthy dishes and making healthier versions of already delicious dishes.   I’m sure Jamie’s whole roasted celeriac is amazing but I was more than happy with the way my take on it turned out.  From now on it won’t just to squash that I roast whole.

Whole roasted celeriac

Whole Roasted Celeriac

Ingredients

  • 1 whole celeriac
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or use a sprig of fresh thyme
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, in their skins but crushed slightly with the back of a knife.
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 200ml stock
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Scrub the celeriac to make sure it's really well cleaned as you don't peel it.
  2. Take a large piece of aluminium foil. Put the celeriac in the middle, drizzle with the olive oil, season with a little salt and pepper and sprinkle over the thyme and the 2 whole cloves of garlic. Wrap the celeriac up well.
  3. Cook it for 2 hours in the oven at 180C until it is soft all the way through.
  4. While the celeriac is cooking, cook the pearl barley.
  5. About 30 minutes before the celeriac is ready, cook the onions gently with a little olive oil until they are soft then add the crushed garlic. Cook for about a minute before adding the mushrooms and the curry powder. Add the stock and turn up the heat a little. Let it simmer until the liquid has almost disappeared. Stir in the yoghurt at the end.
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Filo Venison Wellington

Individual Filo Wellingtons

Individual Filo Wellingtons - Filo Venison Wellington

A few years ago I made beef wellington for the first time and loved it.   It’s the perfect meal for a special day as it looks as well as tastes great and who doesn’t want to impress their guests?  This time I decided to make individual wellingtons and to make them a little lighter I used filo pastry rather than shortcrust or puff.   If you’re looking for an alternative to turkey for Christmas dinner then these individual filo wellingtons would be just the thing.

Wellingtons are normally made with beef but as Christmas is coming and it was a special day, I went for venison, although I had to make a beef one for my husband!  I’ll let you choose.  The beef and venison steaks were wrapped in  crisp filo pastry, parma ham and a layer of chicken and mushroom pâté.   They were easy to put together but certainly didn’t lack anything in flavour.

The pastry was deliciously crisp and the pâté added extra richness to the meat and the sauce.  I experimented for the first time by making a red wine jus and actually going to the effort of reducing the sauce properly.   It was worth it.

Although I could have used any wine for the jus, I wanted it to be worthy of the Wellingtons and so I used Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon.   Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favourite reds.  It’s perfect with red meat and rich hearty dishes, such as these individual wellingtons.  Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon is a Pays d’Oc certified wine with rounded tanins along with mocha and forest fruit aromas.  Luckily I had two bottles and only needed a little for the sauce.  The wellingtons are very rich and the French red wine was perfect both for the sauce and for drinking with the meal.

Individual filo wellingtons - Filo venison Wellington

Individual Filo Wellingtons

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 venison steaks (or substitute for beef fillet steak)
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry
  • 60g butter
  • 8 slices of parma ham
  • 100g pâté (I used chicken forestier)
  • For the Red Wine Jus
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 500ml beef stock (you could use venison stock if you have it)
  • 25g butter
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the venison for about 30 seconds on each side to seal in the juices. Leave to cool.
  2. Heat the butter until melted. Lay a piece of filo pastry on the work surface, using a pastry brush, brush it with the melted butter. Lay another piece on top and repeat with a third piece.
  3. Repeat with the other three sheets of filo. Using a sharp knife, cut each stack of filo sheets in half so you have 4 smaller filo rectangles.
  4. Lay 2 pieces of parma ham in the middle of each filo rectangle. Divide the pâté into 4 equal amounts and spread on top of the parma ham.
  5. Put a venison steak on top of each piece of parma ham and pâté and wrap the filo pastry around. Use a little more melted butter to stick the ends of the pastry together and tuck them underneath the filo parcel. Brush the top with melted butter.
  6. Bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes.
  7. Make the red wine jus while the wellingtons are cooking. Put a little oil in a saucepan and cook the onions and garlic gently for 10 minutes. Add the bay leaf, rosemary and red wine.
  8. Turn up the heat until the sauce has reduced by about half. Add the stock and continue to cook vigorously until it has reduced again by about half.
  9. Strain to remove the onion and herbs.
  10. Return to the pan and stir in the butter. Add extra seasoning if necessary.
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You can buy Domaines Paul Mas – Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon at Olivers Wine Warehouse.   For more information about French wine then go to http://www.paysdoc-wines.com/ and you can also follow @paysdocigpwines on Twitter.

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Disclosure: This post is for a competition. I was sent two bottle of Astelia Cabernet Sauvignon and invited to create a twist on a traditional Christmas dish to serve alongside.