Tag Archives: bake

The Tart, the Party, and the Christmas Tree Dress (Caramelised Onions, Peppers and Chorizo Tart)

 Last weekend, I had a work Christmas party to go to. I know a lot of people would rather gouge their own eyes out rather than attend the work party, but this is not the case here. I am lucky enough to be working with great people who are really, really fun to be around. We all decided a few weeks ago that we would go out and make the most of the happy hour, then head back to our manager’s place for food and a lot more drinks. We also decided that we would be wearing Christmas-themed costumes… it sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

Well, in any case it explains how I ended up going out in Newcastle on a Saturday night wearing a Christmas tree dress. Yes, that’s right, a Christmas tree dress. In my defence, it actually looks a lot better than it sounds. And after a few drinks I thought it was hilarious that I seemed to be leaving a trail of tinsel behind me everywhere I went… 

But anyway, the point of this post is the food, not my sparkly sartorial adventures. I needed to come up with the perfect recipe to bring along to the party. It had to be freezer-friendly, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to make it on the day; I wanted it to appeal to a wide audience, and be easy to transport. A savoury tart seemed like a good option, and after much deliberation I finally settled on a caramelised onions and peppers filling, and added chorizo for some extra flavour.

This tart went down a treat and it was eaten in no time at all. In fact I wish I had made two! Unfortunately, when the tart was served I was a bit tipsy busy, and didn’t get to take a picture. Sorry…

Don’t be put off by the anchovies in the ingredients list if you don’t like them; they are only there to balance out the sweetness of the peppers and onions, and you won’t be able to taste them (Mr Greedy Frog hates anchovies, so I didn’t tell him they featured in this recipe, and he happily ate up the produce of my test runs without noticing a thing…)

You will need (for 6-8 people):

For the pastry:

300 g plain flour
150 g butter
Pinch salt
cold water

For the filling:

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 anchovy fillets in olive oil
4 red onions
8 bell peppers (a mix of red and yellow looks best but green is fine too)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150g chorizo
salt, pepper

Method:

Make the pastry. In a large bowl, add a pinch of salt and the butter to the flour. Work the flour into the butter between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to bind, knead briefly then form into a ball (you can of course use a food processor instead if you prefer). Wrap in cling film then chill for 20 min.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ fan 180C/ gas 6.

Roll out the pastry to line a 28 cm, loose-bottom, fluted tart tin (re-form any leftover pastry into a ball and freeze for another time). Chill again for 10 min, then line with foil, add baking beans, and bake blind for 15 min. Remove the foil and beans, and return to the oven for 5 min. Reserve.

Make the filling. De-seed and slice the peppers, slice the onions, peel and crush the garlic.
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In a large frying pan with a lid, heat up the olive oil. Finely chop the anchovies, and fry for a minute or two until they start breaking down. Add the tomato puree, cool for 1 minute more.
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Add the onions, peppers and garlic, toss to coat, and fry gently for 2 to 3 min. After this time, add the balsamic vinegar and oregano, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook gently, stirring every once in a while, until soft (about 10-15 min depending on the size of your pan). If you end up with cooking juices, cook uncovered for a further 2 min to dry out. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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Meanwhile, cut the chorizo into small pieces (about the size of chickpeas), and dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan until cooked (about 10 min). Set aside.

Assemble the tart: If serving straight away, scatter the pieces of chorizo evenly over the pastry case, and top with the onion and pepper filling. Bake for 15 min until piping hot. If you want to freeze it for later, cool all the elements separately then assemble when cold. Wrap in foil and cling film and freeze for up to a month. Bake from frozen at  200C/ fan 180C/ gas 6 for 30 min or until piping hot in the middle.

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Filed under Bakes, Buffet, Christmas, Mains, Savoury Tarts, Starters

Pasta Bake With Goat’s Cheese and Turkey Meatballs

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I do not run for anyone. Not only do most of my shoes not allow it, but if I am totally honest I also find it rather tedious, and let’s face it, exhausting.

I am always happy however, to support friends running for charity in any way I can. Which is why this weekend I was delighted to welcome at Greedy Frog Towers two dear friends brave (and fit) enough to tackle the Great North Run.

The night before the race, I prepared this dish for them, with pasta for energy, plenty of vegetable goodness and lean protein in the form of turkey meatballs. It went down a treat!

They both finished the race and did amazingly well, raising a lot of money for Cancer Research in the process, and I am very proud of them.

You will need (for 6):

For the meatballs:
400 g turkey mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp dried sage
salt, pepper

For the sauce:
olive oil
2 large peppers
a handful mushrooms, chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic

To finish:
500g pack pasta
1 small log goat’s cheese
1 tsp dried sage

Method:

Preheat your grill to medium-high. Grill the peppers on all sides until black and blistered, then place inside a plastic bag. Wrap this plastic bag into another one, then reserve until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, mix all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and form into golf-ball size meatballs.
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Heat up the olive oil in a large, deep pan. Gently fry the meatballs until golden on all sides. While the meatballs are cooking, peel, de-seed and dice the peppers. When the meatballs are well coloured, add the peppers and mushrooms to the pan, stir gently (taking care not to break the meatballs), and cook for 2 min more.

Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 min.

Preheat your oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ Gas 6. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain. Butter a large ceramic or glass baking dish.

Spread a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish, and top with a layer of pasta. Repeat until you have used up all the ingredients. Slice the goat’s cheese, and distribute evenly on the dish. Sprinkle the sage, then bake for 15 to 20 min, or until the cheese slices start to take colour.image

Serve with some fresh crusty bread.

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Filed under Mains, Meat dishes, Pasta

If Al Pacino were a cake…(Chocolate Cake With A Crunchy Almond Crust)

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This cake is quite a bit like Al Pacino: at first glance, it doesn’t look like much. You wouldn’t really notice it on a cake stall, next to all the cupcakes and layer cakes, all tarted up in their rainbow-coloured frosting and sprinkles.

This cake is what you would call the underdog. But take a bite, and you will realise that it is every bit as bad ass as the star of “Scarface”.

And this is where the comparison ends, because adjectives such as moist, delicious, or moreish wouldn’t really apply to Mr Pacino. But you get the idea.

The beauty of this cake is that you get the crunchy almonds on top, which contrast wonderfully with the soft chocolate cake.

You will need:

125 g dark chocolate (ideally at least 70% cocoa solids)
125 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g self-raising flour
250 g sugar
5 eggs
50 g flaked almonds
A few drops natural almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 C/ fan 190 C/ gas 6. Butter a metal cake tin (I use a rectangular one of 31×18 cm), and scatter the flaked almonds over the bottom.image

Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a pan on a low heat, with a drop of milk. When melted, mix with the butter in a large bowl.

Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, mix thoroughly, then add the sugar. Mix energetically for a few minutes, to ensure your cake is light and fluffy. Add the flour and the almond extract.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, and add gradually to the chocolate mixture, mixing very delicately.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 20 to 30 min or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (the cooking time will depend on the depth of your cake tin).image

Have a slice with a cup of tea or coffee. Then another one. And I guarantee you that you will want a slice for breakfast, too!

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Filed under Bakes, Breakfast, Cakes, Desserts

My Breakfast Granola

Quick and easy to make, you can substitute any type of seeds, nuts or fruit to suit your taste. It is also a great way to use up open packets of baking supplies.

You will need:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
125 ml maple syrup
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
300 g porridge oats
50 g sunflower seeds
50 g pieces of mixed nuts
4 tbsp sesame seeds
100 g flaked almonds
100 g mixed dried fruit (apricots, raisins, etc)
50 g dessicated coconut

Method:

Preheat your oven to 150C fan /160C electric / Gas 3.

 
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, except the dried fruit and coconut.

 
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper, and split the mixture evenly between them. Spread in an even layer and bake for 10 min.

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Add the fruit and coconut to the mixture, and return to the oven for another 10 min.

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When done, remove from the oven straight away, cool on the trays, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 
It is delicious with yoghurt and/or fresh fruit, compotes, etc.image

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Filed under Bakes, Breakfast