Category Archives for Recipes

Summer Party Food – Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

Doesn’t that title just lure you in? I really love a summer party.  It summons images of warm evenings, lively chatter, soft music, fruity Pimms and of course, wonderful food. Light and colourful, packed with flavour and to allow for mingling, in nibble form. 

Just the word ‘nibble’ fills me with a kind of girlish glee. I love the guilt free abandon of it all.  Nothing that can be described as a ‘nibble’ can possibly be bad for you for goodness sake! Plus, nibbles tend to come in groups and I’m all for variety in my food.  I love nuts for sure, but I also enjoy a good olive, perhaps some blini or even a crostini. Perhaps a Cheesy Prosciutto Puff?

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

So read on my little vol-au-vents and I shall share with you the secret (or now, not so secret) recipe for Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs (squeee!) They’re bite-sized pieces of puffy heaven that really pack a Mediterranean punch.  Flaky pastry; as light as air, a slight tang of pesto with beautiful Prosciutto adding depth and Grana Padano cheese, an extra richness that makes them really elegant and completely indulgent.

I’m confident that you’ll want to make some of these little babies for your next summer gathering…and that your guests will thank you for it!

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

Ingredients

1 x 320 g packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
4 tbs pesto
1 pack of prosciutto
75 g grated Grana Padano Cheese
1 egg, beaten

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 C Fan
  • Line a couple of baking trays with grease proof paper
  • Now, carefully lay out the pastry and roll it gently until it is more of a square shape (approx 35cm per side)
  • Spoon the pesto on to the pastry and spread it out so it covers it completely – right to the edges!
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 16 squares (so, start by cutting into quarters and then cut each quarter into quarters.)
  • Cut the prosciutto so you have 16 pieces and a bit on each square
  • Now sprinkle over the grated cheese and season well. Go steady with the salt as the Prosciutto and Grana Padano are both quite salty. Plenty of black pepper though!
  • Gently roll each square into a sausage shape and then brush the fold with the beaten egg to help seal it
  • Cover them all in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 10 mins
  • Remove from the fridge and using a sharp knife, slice each sausage into 8 small discs and place them on the baking trays, allowing enough space for them to puff up a little when cooked
  • Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, until golden brown.

 Recipe Inspiration

Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs

I was recently sent some beautiful samples of Grana Padano cheese and Prosciutto di San Daniele. To be honest, they were both so good that very little would beat just eating them au naturel (no, I’m not being paid to say that – promise!) but that would have made for rather a dull post so I tried to come up with a recipe that would show off the beautiful flavours and allow them to compliment each other.  I hope that’s what I’ve done… 🙂

I also had help from Mary Berry and her fantastic book Mary Berry Absolute Favourites, where her Cheesy Cheese Spirals gave me the idea for the recipe above.

What are your favourite summer party nibbles? Let me know in the comments below!

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

Beef, cooked in red wine, with a touch of rosemary until it’s meltingly soft. Simple ingredients but flavours that are rich and deep… 

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe since before Christmas but I  kept making it and then eating it all before I remembered to take a photo! 

It’s one of those magical dishes which requires minimum preparation (if you can even call chucking all the ingredients into your slow cooker and giving them a quick stir, ‘preparation’) but which, when left for a few hours of gentle heating, transforms into something so special, so truly treatsome (yes, that’s a word!) that it both comforts and revives at the end of a wearisome day.

Slow Cooker Beef in Red Wine

[yumprint-recipe id=’22’] If you’re still not convinced that you need to make this stew, then just do one last thing for me…  

Imagine yourself outside your front door.  It’s dark. It’s freezing. I mean freezing. You’ve been rushed off your feet all day and you think you can feel the first signs of a cold.  What’s worse, you can’t find your keys.  You’re scrabbling about in your bag but it’s too dark to see anything properly and your hands are so numb you can’t make your fingers work.  

Slow cooker beef and red wine

After what feels like about an hour of bag scrabbling, you finally find the elusive keys and put them triumphantly into the lock. One quick turn and you’re in.  

Suddenly, the cold of the day is behind you.  The warmth of your home greets you like the welcoming smile of an old friend and the smell?  Well, the smell of tender beef, red wine and rosemary  fills your nostrils and drives out the tiredness, the cold and the problems of the day.

All that’s left to do is to grab yourself a bowl and greedily ladle it in.  Then settle into your favourite chair and with a big sigh, enjoy….

After more winter warmers?

Try these for size…

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Winter Vegetable Soup

Cheese & Rosemary Toasts

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks

Chinese Salmon and Crispy Kale

Sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will..

Chinese Salmon & Crispy Kale

I’ve always loved the Crispy Seaweed that you get at the Chinese.  I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty along with that satisfying crunch – plus hey, it’s one of your five a day right? So when  I recently discovered that, for the most part, it isn’t actually seaweed at all, but rather, cabbage or kale, I’ve got to say I felt a bit let down.

Once I got over my initial indignation, I realised that this could actually be a good thing! It meant I could recreate one of my favourite takeaway treats in my very own kitchen (without having to take a trip to the beach first…)

Chinese Salmon Crispy Kale

Now the good thing about this dish (other than the whole ‘no need for waders’ thing above and aside from the fact that it’s bloomin’ tasty) is that it’s unbelievably easy to make. You are no more than 10 minutes away from tucking into a mound of sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will…

Crispy Kale, Chinese Salmon

[yumprint-recipe id=’21’] The recipe for Crispy Kale is based on one I found in my trusty Abel & Cole book (nope – this isn’t a sponsored post – but credit where credit’s due right!?)

For the fish, I use my George Foreman grill, thanks to my lovely Mother-in-Law who recently served us some perfectly cooked salmon using her’s and so inspired me to dig mine out of a cupboard and dust it off after months (ok, years…) of neglect.  If you don’t have one, then a frying or griddle pan will do just fine.

Recipe: Apple Flapjacks

Oats, apple, golden syrup and just the smallest hint of cinnamon. What’s not to love about these meltingly soft, sweet apple flapjacks?

The great thing about flapjacks is that despite the fact that they’re clearly a yummy little treat; sweet and gooey like a slice of cake, they’re made from oats and so they somehow seem really rather healthy. To be clear, I’m not saying that they are (in fact, to do so would be to completely ignore the artery clogging amounts of butter and the tooth rotting levels of sugar and syrup..) – but it’s certainly easier to maintain the illusion with flapjack than with a big slab of chocolate cake.

apple flapjack

Apple flapjacks are frankly even more virtuous. They’ve got one of your five a day in them for goodness sakes! They’re practically a health food. So what I’m saying is, in this month of over-indulgence, these flapjacks are a little something which you can enjoy without too much guilt.  It’s nearly Christmas after all!

apple flapjacks

Gotta taste for apples?  I’m here for you…

Salted caramel apple crumble

Apple & Blackberry Cheesecake

Spiced Apple Butter

Apple & Pear Turnovers

[yumprint-recipe id=’20’] Now, these are fab for breakfast, for pudding or just as a little something sweet with a nice cup of tea.  

Crispy Baked Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries

That satisfying crunch, through the crispy, golden breadcrumb coating, into succulent bites of chicken…

This recipe is a slightly more grown-up, much tastier and healthier version of the kids classic, chicken nuggets and chips.  It’s for those days when you yearn for childish food. You want something simple and comforting. Something that can be eaten with your fingers, dipped into your condiment of choice and happily scoffed with guilt-free abandon.

crispy baked chicken nuggets

Pretty perfect as it is, but add the tiniest hint of rosemary and the occasional hit of chilli and suddenly this crispy baked chicken gets even more exciting. Oh, an one more thing.  This is baked chicken so you get all of the crunch but none of the grease!

Fan of Crispy Chicken?  Try this too…

Pesto Breadcrumb Chicken

Crispy baked chicken

Now as you know, I’m certainly not one to be bossy, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making this rather fabulous crispy chicken, then it seems a shame not to enjoy it with its natural bedfellow, the gorgeously gooey sweet potato fry (or rather, a whole bowl for them if possible).

Crispy baked chicken

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Autumn Cottage Pie

This Cottage Pie has all the colours and tastes of autumn. A filling of minced beef, squash, herbs and just a heady touch of cinnamon. All with a bronzed crown of cheesey sweet potato…

You know that saying about how dogs start to look like their owners? Well, have you ever noticed that foods often tend to look like the seasons they belong to?

Cottage Pie

Not sure what I’m on about? Stay with me for a second… Think about the foods that you eat in summer. Vibrant, bright colours that match the world around them. Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes… 

See what I mean? Well in autumn, the season of golds, coppers and orange, the food very kindly obliges again. Butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin all reflecting this cold season of warm, burnished colours.

Cottage Pie

This recipe is a celebration of some of my favourite autumn foods.  It’s actually inspired by Delia’s Special Cottage Pie from her Complete Cookery Course but with a few seasonal twists which add a subtle, but oh-so comforting sweetness.

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Chicken & Vegetable Broth

Get your glow back with a bowlful of this Chicken & Vegetable Broth. Bitefuls of carrot and swede, the occasional satisfying pop of a pea, chicken that’s fallen from the bone and glistening pearl barley… 

You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sunshine all day and you feel all glowing and full of life? It can be hard to recreate that at this time of year. The combination of grey skies, dark mornings and rainy days can leave you feeling pretty lack lustre and, if things get really bad, downright depressed.

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

That’s when I turn to food for a spot of comfort.  I’m not talking cakes and chocolate here (although I certainly wouldn’t discount them!) No, instead, why not try to replace what’s missing in sunshine and vitamin D with food that fills you with goodness and warmth on the inside?

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

This Chicken and Vegetable Broth is full to the brim with wholesome comfort and goodness.  A steaming bowlful slurped with a hunk of crusty bread, a good book and if possible, some sort of roaring fire, cannot fail to give you that glow of satisfaction that’s so often missing around this time of year.

For more words of wisdom regarding comfort food try this…

Chicken & Vegetable Broth

PS – I’m currently lucky enough to be on hols in the very lovely village of Ringstead in Norfolk and can confirm that a brisk walk along the beach is another great way to get a healthy, happy glow.  Said walk, followed by this Broth is pretty close to perfect.

[yumprint-recipe id=’17’] For more recipes to warm your cockles, take a look at these…

Slow cooker lamb shanks

Winter vegetable soup

Quick and easy chilli

Recipe: Smoked Haddock Quiche

Smoked Haddock Quiche. A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley.  

This isn’t a recipe to attempt after work when the evening is rushed and full of chores to complete.  Make this instead on those luxuriously relaxed weekends where you can afford to spend some equally luxuriously relaxed time in the kitchen.

smoked haddock quiche

I recommend some music (Michael Bublé is my personal favourite for this sort of activity), a mug of tea or coffee (to be substituted with a glass of wine if it’s past midday) and a couple of hours of blissfully free time to spend happily slicing, rolling and whisking…

smoked haddock quiche

The result? This golden, autumnal beauty! A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley.  The recipe is for 6-8 people because if you’re going to put all that effort in, then you may as well make something which will serve a crowd or last for a couple of sittings!

If you love smoked haddock, then why not try my Smoked Haddock & Prawn Chowder too?

smoked haddock quiche

[yumprint-recipe id=’16’] Serve as a light lunch for friends, still warm and accompanied by a pile of sweetcorn, slicked in butter. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, then scoff cold the next day (or later the same day…) with a simple dressed salad.

Chilli & Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

For those days when the world feels a little cold and too much, this Chilli & Butternut Squash Soup will bring comfort, calm and just the right amount of heat…

It could be argued that October is really the month of the pumpkin but if, like me, you can’t really be bothered with all the carving and general icky preparation, then the Butternut Squash is an excellent alternative.

Butternut Squash Soup

What other month could this beautiful vegetable belong to with its pale gold skin revealing a brilliant orange core when cut? How welcome, the warmth of those colours as the crisp chill of Autumn creeps in, frosting our breath and reddening our noses?

In need of more meals to make you feel better? Try some of these!

Winter Vegetable Soup

Mum’s Macaroni Cheese

Herby Yoghurt Chicken

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

With this soup, the butternut squash (with the help of a fiery kick of chilli) delivers on those colours’ warming promise.

Butternut Squash Soup

Now, I don’t want to be bossy but the best way to enjoy this soup is curled up on the sofa with a blanket, a steaming bowl clutched greedily in your hands and an old film on the television.

It’s for those days when you think you may feel the onset of the sniffles and frankly the rest of the world can wait. All you need is a comfy little nest, something (or someone) to snuggle up with and a bowl of Chilli & Butternut Squash Soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

[yumprint-recipe id=’15’] Not to  push the whole bossiness thing too far but I also highly recommend serving the soup with some Cheese & Rosemary Toasts

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