Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

r o a s t b e e t s & a s p a r a g u s s a l a d

June 9, 2011

This is one of my favourite recipes – adapted from Bill Granger’s ‘Bill’s Sydney Food’ book – and I’ve been making it for years. It’s a great veggie option to impress your friends with at a dinner party in the warmer months. For a vegan alternative, swap the goats cheese for some griddled polenta. Easy to make and fuss free, but looks impressive and tastes amazing. I can’t think of a better combination than beetroot, asparagus, and goats cheese.

 

 

L E N T I L S A L A D

500g dried puy lentils

extra virgin olive oil

lemon juice

6-8 vine tomatoes

1 large red onion

2 cloves garlic

bunch fresh mint leaves

maldon sea salt

cracked black pepper

 

R O A S T E D B E E T R O O T

6-9 raw beetroot

balsamic vinegar

maldon sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

 

A N D

2 bunches asparagus

2 rounds of goats cheese

small handful fresh mint leaves

 

Firstly, get your oven nice and H O T , about 210°C.

Wash your beetroot, and top and tail them to get rid of the stalk and straggly bits. Halve each beetroot. Drizzle a R O A S T I N G tray with plenty of olive oil. Then place the beetroot in the tray and brush with enough oil to make sure they’re covered. Sprinkle with maldon, and drizzle a bit of balsamic over them. Put in the oven for 40-60 minutes, turning them over half way through. If they look like they’re shriveling up a bit, or drying out, just cover the tray in foil for the last 20 minutes and that will prevent them burning and it keeps the moisture in. Once cooked, remove from oven and leave on the side til needed.

M E A N W H I L E , dice your tomatoes, chop your onions finely and chuck both into a large bowl. Chop a handful of mint leaves and add to the bowl.

Wash your lentils in a sieve or colander and them chuck them in a saucepan with cold water, enough to cover them a few inches. Put on a medium/high heat and get to the boil. Then S I M M E R for roughly 20 minutes. You don’t want them to be soft or mashable, they need to be tender enough, but still keeping a firm shape. Once cooked, strain, rinse and add to the large bowl.

In a jug make a dressing with lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil. I generally use 1 parts lemon to 2 or 3 parts oil. Say, 50ml lemon juice and 150ml olive oil. Add finely diced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Give it a good W H I S K with a fork and pour enough dressing over the lentils to coat the salad well (pretty much all of it!). Mix well with a big spoon!

Prepare your asparagus, by snapping off the woody ends. Cook your asparagus however you fancy. I prefer to steam mine for about 3-4 minutes over some boiling water. Once cooked, run some cold water over them to prevent them wilting.

You’re almost there! It’s just the A S S E M B L Y part from here.

Line up your plates and put a good couple of S P O O N F U L S of the lentil salad on the center of each plate. Place some asparagus (3-5) on the salad; then arrange about 3 slices of goats cheese across the asparagus in a line. Top with 3 pieces of roasted beetroot (it becomes a balancing exercise at this point!) and decorate with a few fresh mint leaves.

It’s nice when the beetroot is still warm and starts to melt the goats cheese underneath. I always make enough lentil salad and beetroot so there’s some leftover, it’s great for lunch the next day.

Serves 4

 

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s p a n a k o p i t a

February 20, 2011

 

This is a family recipe and one that I remember from my very early childhood. If you want your kids to eat spinach, this is the way forward. When I was a kid, my mum would ask me and my brother what we wanted for dinner on our respective birthdays, and 9 times out of 10 we’d shout “cheese and spinach pie please!”. It’s probably evolved over the years, but this is the version I have scribbled in my notebook at the moment. A seriously tasty dish, it’s about time I shared it on here.

 

cheese and spinach pie

 

 

S P A N A K O P I T A

500-600g fresh spinach leaves

5 large free range eggs, beaten

2 packs feta cheese, crumbled

2 packs filo pastry (about 8 sheets)

5 spring onions, chopped

450ml sour cream

butter, melted

nutmeg

salt & pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Firstly, W I L T the spinach with a tiny splash of water in a big pot on a medium/high heat. Keep the lid on, and turn the leaves over once or twice to wilt them evenly. As soon as they’re wilted, remove from the heat and leave to cool in a drainer. Once cooled sufficiently, squeeze out the excess liquid as much as you can and then chop roughly.

Prepare the F I L L I N G by combining the beaten eggs, feta, sourcream, chopped wilted spinach,  and spring onions in a large bowl. Using a fine grater, grate a good 1/2 tsp of nutmeg over the mixture. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, but not too much as the feta is quite salty. Mix well.

B R U S H a large square or rectangular overproof dish with some melted butter, just enough to coat the base and sides. Take one sheet of filo, brush it all over with butter, and layer it into the base of the dish, with a good third to half of the pastry hanging over the side of the dish. Repeat with another sheet of pastry, but position it so it hangs over the other side. Use about 5 or 6 sheets for the base, positioning them so every edge has some pastry hanging over. Remember to brush each layer with butter as you go!

F I L L the dish with the mixture. Then, one edge at a time, fold the overhanging layers of pastry over the top of the dish, like a parcel. Get one more sheet of pastry, butter half of it width-ways, and fold in half so the butter sticks it together. Butter it again and lay it on top of the pie to give it a tidy surface. Using the pastry brush, poke the edges into the side of the dish. If one sheet halved is not enough to cover the top of the pie, just repeat. Drizzle a little butter onto the top, and brush it all over. this will give the pie a lovely crackly golden top.

Put in the oven and B A K E for about 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, turn the oven off and leave for a further 10 minutes. This will help the filling to set a bit.

Makes enough for about 4-6 people, depending on how greedy you are…. Serve with a big fresh salad.

 

cheese and spinach pie 2

 

s t i l t o n a n d w a l n u t b i s c u i t s

December 18, 2009

 

These are becoming a December staple, and are a great alternative to the seasonal mince pie if your taste buds are more inclined towards nibbles of the savoury nature. They’re also a great addition to your festive cheese board; no need to get the cheese knife out, it’s already in the biscuit! They’re based on a pastry recipe so they’re light, flaky…. and packed full of flavour!

 

 

B I S C U I T P A S T R Y

2 cups plain flour

120g butter

130g stilton cheese

50g walnuts

2 egg yolks

 

T O P P I N G

1 egg, beaten

40g stilton cheese

50g walnuts

maldon sea salt


Preheat the oven to 175°C. To make the B I S C U I T P A S T R Y put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter in small dice. With your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour to form very fine crumbs. This takes a little patience! Chop the walnuts finely and add to the bowl along with the stilton, crumbled. Mix them into the crumbs with your fingertips. Add the two egg yolks and combine well to form a slightly crumbly dough mixture. It will fall apart easily, but should hold together enough for the purposes of rolling it out!

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry (this can be done in small batches) to approx 5mm thick. Using a round cutter or a glass which is about 5cm in diameter, press into the pastry to stamp out small rounds. Pop these onto a baking tray that’s lined with greaseproof paper.

For the T O P P I N G , firstly prick each biscuit gently twice with a fork. Brush them with the beaten egg. Chop the remaining 50g of walnuts, but not quite as fine as before. With your fingers, just crumble a small amount of stilton and walnuts over each biscuit, and then give a light sprinkling of maldon salt on top. Don’t bother crushing the sea salt too much between your fingers, it’s nice to see the larger crystals sitting on top of the biscuits.

To B A K E them, put them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Place on a wire rack to cool, then store in airtight containers. They should last a few days, but that’s only if they’re not eaten first! Makes ~ 30.

 

 

v a n i l l a b e a n c h e e s e c a k e

December 3, 2009

 

I’ve only made cheesecake once before… and let’s just say it wasn’t perfect! When Andrew was reminiscing about it the other day he remembered it to be raspberry cheesecake with a chocolate base. I had to sadly correct him that it was in fact a burnt base, not chocolate. I can imagine how he might have been mistaken, a similar colour no? But Andrew REALLY wanted one for his birthday so I thought it was time to have a real proper go at it. Inspired by my NYC visit earlier this year, I opted for the big classic vanilla cheesecake. Most recipes floating about have similar ingredients. I think the difference in result, is really in the preparation, cooking technique and patience. You have to be committed to the cheesecake cause! So this recipe is with particular thanks to my Grandma, the internet, and a couple of books!

 

 

B I S C U I T B A S E

13 digestive biscuits, crushed finely

3 Tbsp salted butter, melted

 

C H E E S E C A K E F I L L I N G

1 kg full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1  1/2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

250ml sour cream

185 ml milk

1 level Tbsp plain flour

 

T O S E R V E :

1 punnet raspberries

 

So the most important thing to know before you start, is that whilst this only takes an hour to cook in the oven, the overall process can take the better part of  a day. I would suggest you bake it the day before you need it, and then you won’t be rushing around frantically cussing at cheese and other inanimate objects!

Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan assisted). Now, you’ll need a 9″ diameter, non-stick springform C A K E T I N . It would be a nightmare to get it out of anything else! With a bit of butter, grease the inside of the tin thoroughly. Grease the base, and all the way up the sides. This will help to remove the cake from the tin, but it will also help prevent the cake from splitting across the top (As it cools down, the sides of the cake will pull away from the tin; so greasing it will ensure it doesn’t split during this process).

To make the B I S C U I T B A S E all you need to do is combine the biscuit crumbs in a bowl with the melted butter until it is mixed well. Now I really must stress using salted butter for this base, because it tastes especially sublime against the smooth sweet creaminess of the filling. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the tin.

To make the C R E A M C H E E S E F I L L I N G firstly ensure that all ingredients are room temperature. I remove my cheese, eggs, and sour cream from the fridge several hours before I start. It prevents lumps, which in turn prevents the cake from splitting! In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the sugar and mix this in. Take the vanilla bean and split it lengthways, then run a knife down it to scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds to the mixture and stir them through, along with the milk and vanilla extract. Gradually stir the beaten eggs in, mixing to combine. Beat the sour cream til smooth in a small bowl first, then add to the mixture. Sift in the flour. Try not to over stir the mixture, just stir enough to ensure everything is combined and it’s smooth.

To A S S E M B L E, pour the filling over the biscuit base in the tin. Give the tin a little tap on the work surface, to help any bubbles rise to the surface. You want the filling to be as smooth as possible!

To B A K E the cheesecake, place it in the lower middle shelf of the preheated oven. Bake it for 60 minutes and then turn the oven off. It might look like it hasn’t finished after the 60 minutes baking time, or it hasn’t risen evenly, but trust me that’s all it needs! Take it out very briefly to run a knife carefully around the edge of the cake, gently loosening the sides from the tin. Put it back in the oven with the door closed for at least 2-3 hours. Longer if you can! It will set, settle, and cool in the oven during this post-baking period. This V I T A L step will help to prevent cracking of the surface, so please be patient! Once it is sufficiently cooled, chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, or overnight if serving the next day.

Now get those raspberries out and  scatter them all over a big massive slice and tuck in! Birthday candles optional…