Thursday 29 December 2016

Baked Camembert Cranberry Burst

Baked Camembert Cranberry Burst
  • 2 packs ready rolled puff pastry 
  • Tub of freshly made cranberry sauce
  • 1 Camembert for baking
  • Pack of bacon lardons
  • 1 beaten egg

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan assisted) line a baking tray with foil and grease the foil with some olive oil.  

In a small frying pan heat some oil and fry the bacon lardons until crisp.  Place one sheet of the pastry onto the baking tray.  Line up the Camembert in the middle of the sheet and spread the cranberry sauce around the cheese and place the bacon lardons on top.  Remove the cheese and place the second sheet of pastry on top of the first then place the Camembert back in the centre and cut around the base with a sharp knife.  Remove the pastry from  beneath the cheese and return the Camembert to the centre.  Make cuts across the top of the cheese just to break through the top layer of the skin.

Working around the cheese, using a sharp knife cut down from the centre to the edge of the pastry (start the cut about an inch from the cheese) leaving a gap of about two fingers between each cut.  Twist each piece of the cut pastry around in a spiral.  Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and place into the oven for around 20 minutes until the pastry is nice and crisp and golden.

This recipe makes full use of the square of pastry, I don't like to waste unless really necessary, hence mine doesn't resemble the snowflake version that is doing the rounds. The end result is perfect for an informal buffet get together with friends and family and looks pretty stunning to boot.  Just tear off each segment of the pastry and dip into the molten gooey cheese and enjoy.  

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Creamy Cassata Cheesecake

Creamy Cassata Cheesecake
  • 140g soft amaretti biscuits
  • 40g digestive biscuits
  • 60g melted unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
  • 250g ricotta
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Seeds from 1 split vanilla pod
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp clear honey, plus extra to drizzle
  • 6 gelatine sheets
  • 6 tbsp golden rum
  • 425ml double cream
  • 75g candied fruit and citrus peel, chopped
  • 150g red glacĂ© cherries and Angelica, roughly chopped
  • 75g nibbled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, 160 fan.  Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.  Crush the biscuits in a food processor then mix with the melted butter.  Spoon into the tin then press down in an even layer using the back of a metal spoon.  Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool completely.

Using a free standing or hand mixer, beat the ricotta, mascarpone, egg yolks, vanilla seeds, sugar and honey for 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.  Soak the gelatine sheets in a small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the rum in a small pan until almost boiling, then remove from the heat.  Squeeze any excess water from the gelatine, add to the warm rum, stirring until dissolved, then strain through a sieve into the cheesecake mixture, mix well.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks, then fold through the cheesecake mix.  Leave to stand in a cool place for 25 minutes.  Fold through most of the fruit, peel, cherries, angelica and pistachios, then spoon into the cake tin.  Smooth the top, then scatter over the remaining fruit and nuts.  Cover loosely with foil and chill for 3 hours or overnight.  Remove from the tin and serve with extra honey drizzled over.

This is one of my go to recipes when I have people round for dinner, it serves 10-12 so it is ideal when you have a large gathering and it looks great when you bring it out.  Tastes amazing and is a real crowd pleaser.

Recipe courtesy of delicious magazine

Saturday 24 December 2016

Sage, Chilli and Feta Sausage Rolls

Sage, chilli and feta sausage rolls

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 6 sage leaves finely chopped
  • Kankun habanero sauce 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (plus extra for dusting)
  • 200g crumbled feta
  • 450g sausagemeat
  • 2 X 320g packs ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade or 180 for fan assisted.  Heat a glug of oil in a frying pan and fry the onions for around 5 minutes over a medium heat.  Add the garlic and fry for a further 3 minutes and tip out into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool.  

Add the sage, oregano, feta and a good few glugs of the Kankun habanero sauce and sausagemeat to the onion mix.  Season with salt and pepper and then mix it all together, combining all of the ingredients with the sausagemeat.  Unroll one of the sheets of pastry and cut in half lengthways. Place a quarter of the sausage mixture down each length of pastry, just off centre.  Lightly brush the wide edge of the pastry with the egg glaze, then fold over to encase the filling, leaving a small lip of pastry.  Press down along the pastry lip to seal, using the back of a fork.  Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle some oregano over the top.  Cut the roll into the size you wish and place onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper, repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.  Bake for around 30 minutes until risen and golden and the meat is cooked through.  

For the last few years it has become a tradition to make sausage rolls on Christmas Eve and certainly something my partner looks forward to, he does love to eat them pretty much out of the oven! This is the first time I have tried this recipe, to say I was impressed is an understatement, the flavour is awesome and you get a good kick of heat from the kankun habanero sauce, I think this is a new found favourite in our household and certainly one that my partner Scott enjoyed, given the amount he has already eaten!  Luckily I was able to take some photographs before they all vanished!

Recipe adapted from Delicious Magazine

Thursday 22 December 2016

Greek on the Street

Whilst I have eaten at a number of the restaurants, by far my favourite (so far) has been Greek on the Street, so this is where my Boxpark culinary adventure will begin.

I have had takeout from Greek on the Street 3 times and today went to eat in along with a couple of my friends.  Arriving early I grabbed a table and the waitress came over promptly, after explaining I was waiting for friends she came back with a carafe of water with mint leaves and left me to peruse the menu whilst I waited, this was a nice touch and much appreciated.   
The interior of Greek on the Street is great; funky artwork adorning the counter, olive oil bottles and cans dotted around, it had a good vibe.  I got there just before midday and there were a few other people there, however by the time we left at 1pm the place was packed with customers and a long queue of people ordering take out, definitely a good sign! 

When my friends arrived, after checking out the menu which had plenty to offer, we placed our order.  I opted for the pork belly Greek plate which came with toasted Greek flatbread, spicy feta sauce, tomato and red pepper dip and some salad, for the side I went for the feta fries.  When our orders arrived we were all impressed, well presented and good portions.   
Well, all I can say is I was in heaven, my pork belly was soft and tender and full of flavour, the dips that came with it were a perfect accompaniment and oh my days, feta fries, where have you been all my life!!  
Feta Fries from Greek on the Street 

These slender strips of potato goodness were tossed in dried oregano and topped with crumbled feta, I have never enjoyed chips so much in all my life, these are a must have and enough to make me just want to come back for them alone, but there are enough other tempting dishes on the menu as well so don't worry if you are not a chip fan, you will find something to please the old tastebuds, trust me.

The vibe in Greek on the street was good, busy, noisy (but in a good way) and top notch food and service, I have had several souvlaki wraps previously, the chicken gyros, loukaniko (beef and pork Greek sausage) and halloumi with tzatziki and mixed grilled vegetables, all of which tasted amazing, I really can't wait to try out the other dishes on the menu, there are enough to keep you going for quite a few visits!!!  

I have to say the food is good value for money, my lunch cost £8.95 for the Greek plate including a side, good variety and super tasty, great service and definitely Greek on the Street gets a huge yes from me, you need to pay them a visit, it is just like being on holiday, except you are in Croydon!  

Saturday 10 December 2016

Linguine alle Vongole

Linguine alle Vongole
  • 350g linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 tsp deseeded and finely sliced red chilli
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 500g clams, cleaned and rinsed
  • Splash of dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Chunk of chorizo, sliced 

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the linguine according to the packet instructions.  Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the chilli and garlic and cook for around 4 minutes, keep an eye on the garlic, you don't want it to burn! Add the chorizo and cook for a few more minutes by which time the chorizo should start to crisp and also release plenty of oil (which will add to the flavour of the dish).  Add the clams, wine and tomatoes to the pan, cover and cook on a high heat for 2-3 minutes until the clams have opened.  Remove the pan from the heat and remove and discard any clams that have not opened (do not crack into the shell to get to the clam, it will make you sick!!!).  Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the clams, turn gently to combine and stir in the chopped parsley and drizzle over a little olive oil it it looks a bit dry.

This is yet another quick and easy recipe and perfect for any time of the year.  If you can't get hold of fresh clams, don't be afraid to buy frozen, they are just as good and will have been cleaned and prepped already so saves you some of the hassle.  If buying fresh clams, soak them in salted iced water for 30 minutes before rinsing and cooking.  Before you cook the clams, discard any broken ones or clams that remain open when gently tapped, you do not want to eat these, trust me!  This can be served alongside a nice fresh garden salad and garlic bread, trust me, this is a winner...