Wednesday, 29 September 2010

French Onion Soup

Today for me really was the first day of autumn, so with some onions I had left over from making chutney I decided to indulge myself and make a french onion soup for lunch. I had forgotten how delicious, cheap and easy this recipe is and it really should be made more often. The most expensive ingredient is the brandy but I tend to buy one bottle that lasts me a year and is used for everything from champagne cocktails to chicken liver pate.

3 large onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp butter
800ml beef stock
1 tsp Marmite (ok i'm cheating here but if you use proper beef stock you wont need the Marmite..)
1 shot brandy
1 glass red wine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste.

Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter slowly until they have turned a rich brown (about 20mins, this part is important as the onions will help colour and add a rich flavour to your soup). Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 -15 minutes.
Make large cheese croutons with some good bread and Gruyere cheese. Float on top of the soup and serve with a glass of wine ( a good excuse to use a good cooking wine!)

Tuscan Bean Salad

This is an all time favorite of mine and one I learnt whilst living in Florence.

Any beans can go into this salad as long as you have a mixture of 3-4 types though the Italian types are best...

To the beans add:
- red and yellow peppers, sliced
- Black olives, halved 
- red onion, finely diced
- oregano
- parsley
- capers.
- sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- courgettes, finely sliced

I use sun dried tomatoess instead of fresh ones as they add a tangy flavour that helps season the beans. Using courgettes instead of cucumber also helps make the salad last longer as they retain their colour and crunch better.
Season well and dress with good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

(Any leftovers can also be baked in the oven with chicken thighs or sausages and panchetta)

Friday, 24 September 2010

60th Birthday Party

A Kentish gathering in style:


Chicken liver Pate with Loganberry jam, Thai pork balls with a sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce, Smoked Salmon Blinis, Billo's Mexican Dip.
Whole Sirloin of Beef Baked with Rosemary & Coriander, Honey roast ham, Salmon & Spring Onion Tart, Chicken with Saffron & Hazelnuts, Green Beans with Orange & Almonds, Tuscan Bean Salad, Tricolore Salad, Carrot Salad with Sesame Dressing, Beetroot Baked with Mint & Balsamic Vinegar, Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs, Potato Salad with Dill & Capers, Green Salad.
Ultimate Chocolate Cake, Mini Cupcakes, Plum & Custard Tarts, Lemon Possets, Meringues.

Chicken liver pate

Thai Pork balls

Sirloin of beef

Tricolore salad

Green Beans & Mangetout with Orange & Almonds 

Lemon Possets (get the recipe here, Though I increased the cream to 600ml, the sugar to 150g and used two whole lemons instead of one, which made a slightly punchier version)

Ultimate Chocolate Cake (from the bbc good food)

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Big Bake

A fund raiser cake sale for The Nicaragua Kitchen project. Providing the community of Balgue with a communal kitchen to help abolish malnutrition in the area.

Victoria sponge cake

Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with Italian butter icing and sparkles.

Mini Coconut fancies.
 (Learnt during my time working at Rosie's Deli Cafe, you can get the recipe from her book Spooning with Rosie)