Garlic Bread Vegetable Bake

I did the thing I normally do when I go to a farmer’s market. I bought way too much random stuff because I thought it looked good. I got it home and then had to think what I was going to do with it.

Note to self, stop buying too much stuff at the market.

This is a scrummy mix of colours and textures. Delicious Autumn vegetables in a creamy sauce, with a little bit of heat from smoked paprika, topped with crunchy, cheesy garlic bread.

Who doesn’t like garlic bread (weirdos, that’s who). You can use any combination of vegetables you like, pumpkin, butternut squash, or green beans also work well.

Crunchy Cheesy Perfection

I tried this recipe on one of my oldest friends. I was nervous because she owns a steak restaurant and is a confirmed carnivore and got two enthusiastic thumbs up (still sorry I forgot to send you home with a doggy bag Mags, but here is the recipe as promised). Go get your comfort food on.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Olive oil

250 Grams Brussels sprouts

150 Grams Cavelo Nero (or Kale)

1 Pepper

1 Onion

175 Grams Mushrooms

2 Courgettes

400 Grams Cream cheese

250ml Vegetable stock

1/2 Tsp Smoked paprika

Handful of parsley

25 Grams Butter

2 Cloves of garlic

50 Grams Cheddar Cheese

1 Baguette

Method

  1. Cut the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts and halve. Remove the stalks from the cavelo nero and slice. Cook the sprouts and cavelo nero in the vegetable stock for 5 minutes, until just tender
  2. Slice the courgettes, onions, mushrooms and pepper, and fry in the olive oil in a large frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft
  3. Add the sprouts, cavelo nero and vegetable stock to the frying pan. Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the vegetables, and add finely chopped parsley and cream cheese
  4. Mix until thoroughly combined
  5. Crush or mince the garlic and combine with butter
  6. Slice the baguette into 2cm slices, and spread with the garlic butter
  7. Put the vegetable mix into an oven proof dish and top with the slices of buttered baguette
  8. Top with grated cheese and bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees, for 30 minutes until golden brown

Sunnyside Supper Club?

A friend recently suggested that I start a supper club in Belfast.

I’ve been to a couple over the years and honestly a great time at each. It was cheaper than eating in a restaurant. I met really interesting people from different walks of life and got to eat some great food.

Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. Have you been to other supper clubs, and what you thought of them. What worked, what didn’t? What you liked and what I should avoid. Maybe you run your own supper club, and if so I’d welcome any insights you might have.

I’m hoping you’ll be my focus group. So let me know what you think, and what you might like to see if I take the plunge.

Thanks

Seaneen

Ditch the Diet Chicken Pie

I know what you’re thinking, big woo chicken pie, but trust me this is delicious. Yes, there is a lot of wine and cream, but it also has a lot of vegetables (in my mind that sort of balances it out).

This is a pie to make when you have plenty of people to feed, and it is really satisfying. Serve it with salad in the Summer, or if you’re making it in colder weather it’s fantastic with buttery mashed potatoes and greens. I used shop bought pastry (there I’ve said it, and I’m not even sorry, sometimes life is just too short)

Rich and unctuous, you’re definitely going to want a big slice if this.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet ready made short crust pastry (you can also use puff pastry if you prefer_

500 Grams Butternut squash

2 Tbsps Vegetable oil

500 Grams Chicken thighs (bones and skins removed)

2 Red peppers

1 Green pepper

2 Sticks of celery

150 Grams Green beans

150 Grams Sweet Corn

Half bottle of white wine ( this was the amount of wine I had hanging around the kitchen, you can reduce this, or remove it and add 250 ml of chicken stock if you would rather not use wine)

2 Tsps Dijon mustard

1 Egg

2 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)

Salt and Pepper

The pie filling is so delicious, you’ll have to stop yourself eating it all before you top it with pastry.

Method

  1. Chop the butternut squash into 3-4cm chunks add to a baking tray and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil before baking for 20 mins in an oven preheated to 200 degree
  2. While the butternut squash is roasting, chop your chicken, peppers, celery, and onion into 3-4 cm pieces (I like the filing fairly chunky)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan, and on a high heat cook your chicken until its sealed. Remove the chicken from the pan, reduce the heat and add the onions, peppers and celery and cook for 5 minutes
  4. Add the green beans, corn, butternut squash and chicken to the pan and add the white wine
  5. Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes until the alcohol has burned of the wine (you can tell this by having a could sniff of the pan, and if it doesn’t make your nose tingle the alcohol has burned off)
  6. Now add the cream and mustard and stir well, it will seem like there is a lot of liquid, but trust me if you continue to cook over a medium heat for another 15 minutes it will thicken into a really delicious sauce
  7. Once the sauce has thickened check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Transfer the contents of the pan into a large baking dish, and allow to cool
  8. When the pie filling is cool, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and drape your sheet of pastry over the filling. Brush with a beaten egg to get a nice glaze. I also sprinkled mine with sesame seeds because I love them, but don’t stress if you don’t have them, the pie will still be delicious. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is a deep golden brown

Mushroom, hazelnut and gorgonzla tart

A bit more “rustic” than I planned, but I put it down to me trying to make pastry with nuts in it. Save yourself the time and energy and use shop bought short crust pastry. It’s what I plan to do next time.  This recipe might be best saved for the weekend, as it’s a bit more labour intensive, but it’s well worth the trouble, (I had to stop myself eating half of it).

If you’re a vegetarian cooking for meat eaters, they’ll love this. The rich and unctuous filling feels really meaty, and unlike a lot of tarts isn’t too eggy.  This is delicious hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet of ready made short crust pastry

2 Onions (thinly sliced)

1 Tbsp Chopped rosemary

3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

25 Grams Dried porcini mushrooms, (soaked in 50 ml of hot water)

200 Grams Button mushrooms (sliced)

50 Grams Gorgonzola (sliced)

50 Grams Hazelnuts (chopped)

2 Eggs

150 Ml Double Cream

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Grease a 23 cm loose based flan tin, roll you pastry until thin and line the tin, (chill in the fridge for 30 minutes)
  2. Put the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 50ml of warm water and allow to soak
  3. Take your flan tin out of the fridge and over the base with grease proof paper and add baking beans on top, (I use old lentils that had been hanging about). Bake blind in an oven heated to 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, and bake for a further 5 minutes, before removing from the oven
  4. While the pastry is baking add the olive oil and onions to a large heated frying pan. Turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes
  5. Add the button mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they were soaking in to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated, and leave to cool
  7. Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat (the temperature should be 180 degrees again)
  8. When the mushroom mix is completely cool, spread it evenly across the pastry base
  9. Distribute the gorgonzola on top of the mushroom mix
  10. Beat 2 Eggs, and add to the cream, season with salt and pepper, pour into the tart case and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts across the top
  11. Put the filled tart tin on to the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the centre is set
  12. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting

Gnocchi with bacon and broccoli

My little sister made this for me, and now I have to stop myself making it more than once a week.

A quick and easy starter or midweek dinner. This recipe makes enough for four people as a starter or two hungry people for dinner.

Serves 2

500 gram Pack of gnocchi

4 Slices of bacon

1 Small head of broccoli

2 Tbsp Olive oil

150 grams Crème fraiche

2 Cloves of garlic

Method

  1. Chop the broccoli into bite sized pieces, blanch in boiling for two minutes, and then drain
  2. Chop the the bacon into pieces (about 2cm, but bigger if you prefer)
  3. Cook the bacon in large frying pan (without oil) until crispy, and set to on side
  4. In the same pan and the olive oil and heat before adding the gnocchi, and allow the to cook until they start go golden brown
  5. Add minced garlic to the gnocchi and cook for a further minute
  6. Add the bacon and broccoli and stir in the crème fraiche. Stir until all the all the ingredients are coated and then serve

Quail’s eggs with rock salt and roasted cumin

These beautiful speckled little eggs may sound posh, but they can be bought pretty cheaply (I get mine from an Asian supermarket).

This is a really simple canapé if you want to impress dinner guests, or go down pretty well with a few cold beers. They can also be made well in advance so that you’re not running around like a crazy person. (Just remember to leave an extra dish out for your guests to throw their discarded egg shells in).

Method

  1. Put a medium sized pan of water on to boil
  2. Put a small frying pan on to heat
  3. When the water is boiling, add the quail’s eggs and boil for 4 minutes. 
  4. After the 4 minutes, take the eggs out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking
  5. In the frying pan add the cumin seeds and toast until you can smell the cumin, remove from the heat and mix with the salt
  6. Serve with eggs in a dish, with the cumin and salt alongside to dip the eggs in

Arancini (Risotto Balls)

I had these for the first time in New York, with a cocktail in an air conditioned bar which felt like I’d arrived in heaven after pounding the streets on a hellishly warm day. 

These make a great little starter, or are divine with a glass of wine or a cold beer.

If you are organised enough to have made the mushroom risotto a day or two before then these are pretty quick and easy.  Some people like these with a marinara sauce, but I think these are delicious enough on their own.

 500 grams Mushroom risotto

100 grams Mozzarella (dolcelatte also works really well)

2 Tbsp. Plain flour

2 Eggs

*100 grams White breadcrumbs (See food hack)

Olive oil for deep frying

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

  1. Cut the mozzarella into 1.5 cm cubes, or you can use the little mozzarella “pearls” you can buy in some super markets
  2. Take a tablespoon of the cold risotto mixture in your hand and flatten it.  Add a small piece of cheese and form the risotto around it to make a ball.  Do this until you have used up all the risotto (it’s useful to have a bowl of water handy to wet your hands and stop the risotto sticking. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat oil on a large heavy based pan or deep fat fryer.
  4. Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper, which the eggs in a separate bowl, and add the breadcrumbs to another dish
  5. Heat oil on a large heavy based pan or deep fat fryer.
  6. Role the risotto balls in flour, then beaten egg, and finally the breadcrumbs
  • Add the breaded risotto balls to oil and fry until golden brown, remember to drain any excess oil on kitchen paper and season with salt and pepper.

* Food Hack  – When you’re shopping pick up bead that has been reduced because it’s going stale.  When you get home, take 5 minutes and whizz the bread up in a food processor until it’s crumbs.  Put these breadcrumbs into a large freezer bag and keep in your freezer.  Bread crumbs are an amazingly versatile ingredient, that you can use in everything from gratins, deep fried crusts, stuffing or even thickening sauces.