Cheese and Broccoli Soup

Serve with chunky croutons for some crunch

I don’t make soup that often (some soups are a little dull).

Anything with cheese in it gets my vote, and this is rich and satisfying.

Ideal for anyone following a low carb diet, this is also delicious with crusty bread.  I made this with vegetable stock so it’s suitable for vegetarians but you can use chicken stock if you prefer.

You’ll need cream cheese and a stronger flavoured cheese.  I used a mix of mature cheddar and parmigiana, blue cheese works really well too, but use what you have.

This rich creamy soup is even tastier topped with crunchy croutons, or crispy bacon (if you’re not vegetarian)

Ingredients

1 Large head of broccoli (roughly chopped)

1 Small onion, or 3-4 spring onions/scallions (chopped)

1 Tbsp Oil

750 ml Vegetable stock (I used a stock cube)

200 Grams Cream cheese

50 Grams Strong flavour cheese (grated)

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot, and add the onion. Fry over a medium heat until soft but don’t brown
  2. Add the broccoli and vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes or until the broccoli is soft
  3. Add the cream cheese and stir until it has melted. Using a blender or hand held blender, blitz until the the soup it is smooth (how smooth you make it is up to you)
  4. Return the soup to the pot and add the stronger flavoured cheese. Heat for a further 5 minutes and stir well to make sure all the cheese has melted. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed

Cheesy Mushroom Galette

Cheesy, mushroomy deliciousness

I think we’ve established I love a galette. What’s better than a galette, a galette with my two other great loves cheese and mushrooms.

This is definately a pure filth recipe, yes it’s rich but it’s not the type of thing you’re going to make every day.

Don’t be tempted to fry too many mushrooms at once, and don’t move them about too much

When cooking for vegetarians I often feel bad that the main course can look a bit lacklustre. This looks good when you bring it to the table and tastes amazing.

Cover the top of your cheese sauce with cling film so it does not form a skin

If you are making this, it’s really important that the filling is totally cold before you assemble the galette (otherwise you’ll end up with pastry that will melt and be impossible to handle).

Add the cold cheese sauce and mushrooms to the centre of the pastry, leaving a 3-4 cm border

The good thing is that if you are making this for a special occasion you can prepare all the elements in advance and assemble the elements just before baking.

Brush the pastry with egg yolk, and sprinkle grated cheese over the mushrooms

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

1 Egg yolk

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)

Additional egg yolk to brush the galette with before baking

For the filling

500 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

25 Grams Butter

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Salt and pepper

25 Grams Grated cheese

Cheese Sauce

25 Grams Butter

25 Grams Plain flour

250ml Milk

25 Grams Grated cheese (I used Cheddar but you can use other cheeses)

Method

  1. To make the pastry, and the flour, butter, salt, egg yolk and Cayenne to a food processor and whizz until the mix resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Gradually add some small amounts of very cold water until the mix starts to come together
  3. Turn the mix onto a floured surface and form into a ball before wrapping in cling film and chilling for at least 30 minutes
  4. For the cheese filling, melt the butter over an even heat and stir in the flour to create a soft paste
  5. Add the milk and stir continuously until the paste in combined and the sauce starts to thicken.
  6. Cook over a low heat stirring regularly for another 10 minutes until the sauce no longer tastes floury. Stir in the cheese, once it has melted remove from the heat and place a sheet of cling film on the surface to stop a skin forming
  7. In a large frying pan’ heat the oil and butter together, and half the mushrooms (if you add all the mushrooms in one go they steam not fry). One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a chef is not to stir mushrooms too often, as it makes them release water which makes them soggy. So fry for 5 minutes each side without stirring too much, set to one side and allow to cool
  8. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface in a circle that is about 1cm thick. Transfer to a sheet of baking paper and place on a baking sheet
  9. Spread the thick cheese sauce in the centre of the pastry leaving a 3-4cm border around the edge of the pastry
  10. Place the fried mushrooms on top of the cheese sauce. Brush edges of the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and pleating the edges inward
  11. Brush the outside of the galette with egg yolk and sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the mushrooms
  12. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown

French Onion Roast Potatoes

Roast potatoes topped with sweet caramelised onions and melted cheese.

Good roast potatoes are one of life’s simple pleasures. But it is possible to improve on perfection. This is a recipe that I used to make when I student and constantly broke. It’s made from simple cheap ingredients, and tastes fantastic.

Straight out of the oven.

You can eat it as a side dish, but I’m more than happy to eat a big bowl of it just on its own. You can also make this with mashed potatoes and it’s still a totally amazing comfort food, but do yourself a favour and try it with roast potatoes.

Onions caramelised, cooked low and slow.

Ingredients

1Kg Potatoes (Scrubbed with skins left on)

4-5 Large onions (Chopped)

2 Tbsp Oil

25 Grams Butter

Salt and pepper

100 Grams Cheddar Cheese (Grated), you can also use any cheese you find in the fridge.

Cover with grated cheese, before popping in the oven.

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. Cut the potatoes into 3-4 cm cubes, and toss with 1 Tbsp of oil and spread across a baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes (or until soft)
  2. Cut the onions, I don’t cut them too finely. Heat the remaining oil and butter to a large frying pan. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes until dark brown (not burnt) and caramalised
  3. Spread the onions over the potatoes, and then cover with the grated cheese. Return to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly

Halloumi Fajitas

It’s not totally authentic, but it is totally delicious.

Like everyone else I’m trying to go out as little as possible at the moment. I took a craving for fajitas and didn’t have the chicken I would normally use, or tortillas.

What I did find in the fridge was halloumi, which worked brilliantly. The saltiness of the cheese is yummy with the sweet peppers and onions, with little kick of chilli heat. I didn’t have tortillas, but I substituted these with Carribbean flat breads, I made using a recipe provided by the fantastic Debbie at D Rum Pot. Fusion cooking by accident rather than design.

The fajitas take 5 minutes to prepare, before popping in the oven. You have a delicious meal in less than 30 minutes.

Mmm Melting cheesy goodness

Ingredients

200 Grams Halloumi (cut into 1,1/2 cm strips)

1 Onion (sliced)

1 Red pepper (sliced)

1 Yellow pepper (sliced)

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1/2 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Smoked paprika (I used the hot version, but if you are using sweet paprika then use a 1/2 teaspoon, and add a 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder

Method

  1. Add the spices and oil in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined
  2. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and halloumi, to the oil and spices and mix until coated
  4. Transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes (or until the halloumi is golden brown)

Damned Delicious White Mushroom Pizza

Mushroom Pizza

I was inspired by another food blogger, Damned Delicious in this recipe, I prefer to use rosemary as a seasoning because I think it works well with mushrooms, but use what herbs you like the taste of.

I liked this recipe because it used a premade pizza base. This was a relief, I have a bit a chequered past trying to make pizza bases from scratch. Using a premade base also makes this recipe probably as quick as calling a pizza, and significantly cheaper (most take away pizzas have a 900% mark up).

Cheese, garlic and mushrooms are one the best flavour combinations ever and the only problem with this pizza is that fights over the last piece can get mean.

Makes 1, 12 inch Pizza

Ingredients

1 x 12 inch Pizza base

125 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

2 Cloves of garlic (minced)

200 grams Mozzarella

50 Grams Ricotta

1/2 Tsp Rosemary (Rosemary can overwhelm everything else if you use too much, if you’re going to use other herbs you can use a bit more)

1 Tbsp Butter

Salt

Method

Add toppings before baking
  1. Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees
  2. Melt butter in a pan, and add the mushrooms rosemary and garlic and cook for 5 minutes (don’t stir too often)
  3. Put the pizza base on a baking tray and top with slices of mozzarella, the mushrooms and garlic, and dollops of ricotta. Give the pizza a light sprinkling of salt
  4. Bake for 15-20 minute, until golden brown and damned delicious

Cheese and Wine -The perfect way to spend a cold wet Saturday

A great Friday night spent at Direct Wine Shipments “walking wine tour” sharing gorgeous wines with friends and probably spending much more than I intended.

Direct Wine Shipments, in Corporation Square in Belfast is an institution. For 65 years it has been bringing great wines from around the world to Northern Ireland. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the owners have their own wine Crua Celta from their vineyard in Spain. Their historic premises have been everything over the years from a grain store to a brothel, and are reportedly haunted.

I enjoy wine, but what I love even more is cheese. The Artisan Cheese Monger from Holywood brought some brilliant samples for pairing with wine. It turns out brie and the right Champagne are a marriage made in heaven.

I arrived home, a little tipsy and with a bag full of cheese. Saturday turned out to suck, a day full of house cleaning, laundry and sh*tty weather. However, the upside was being able to settle down with my purchases from the night before. Brunost cheese from Norway is amazingly delicious. It’s made from boiling the whey after cheese making. It’s like fudgey, caramely cheese, it sounds wrong but it’s fabulous. Go try some!