Beetroot Hummus

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I love colourful food, it always stirs an interest and makes it so much more fun to eat. Anything seems more edible when it looks good and who doesn’t love a good dip? Experimenting with hummus is really easy, there are so many different flavours you can add to this much loved dip the options are endless. I had a couple of beetroots knocking about in my veg draw so decided to put them to good use. I couldn’t decide what to do with them at first as the colour they give off can give anything a beety twist, but as I was doing a deli board style dinner on Saturday night I decided to go for a hummus. Since purchasing a real food processor a couple of months ago (I had a small hand held thing before) I’ve been mixing together all different kinds of things, making pesto’s and sauces and soups. I keep it on the work top so it’s ready to have something thrown into it. I’m not sure whether the novelty will wear off soon but it’s been helping me make some lovely meals! Here’s the latest…

You will need:

  • 2 medium sized cooked beetroots – I bought mine raw and steamed them for about 50 minutes until soft, then allowed them to cool, topped and tailed, peeled them carefully so as not to colour myself purple and roughly chopped
  • 400g tin of chick peas (drained, rinsed and skins removed)
  • 1 Clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 100ml olive oil plus a little extra for drizzling

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Transfer to a serving dish and make a swirl in the top before pouring over the extra olive oil. Chill until serving. We enjoyed eating this with the Crispy Crackers I had made a day earlier and it went down a treat!

SCC Beetroot Dip with Sea Salt Crackers

SCC Beetroot Hummus Blurred Wine

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Crispy Crackers

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Crackers are something we always like to have in the cupboard. They’re so versatile, you can eat them with cheese, salads, pate, soups and dips. A few  weekends ago, I really felt like baking but was begged not to bake more cakes as a large amount of chocolate and salt caramel cupcakes had been devoured over the last couple of days. I decided to give making crackers a go out of a basic flour, water, salt, sugar, oil mixture and this was the end result. I did a couple of versions. The first batch were slightly soft and the second batch were nice and crispy. The second batch went down a treat so they’ll be the ones I’m making from now on but you can easily make softer crackers by simply cooking for less time. You can give them more taste and texture by adding seeds, nuts or some Maldon Sea Salt just before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celcius

Yield: About 35 crackers

  • 180g Plain Flour
  • 180g Wholegrain Bread Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 75ml Olive Oil
  • 200ml Cold water
  • Your choice of toppings, here I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Maldon sea salt and coursely ground black pepper

Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Next add the olive oil and and mix using a table knife, gradually add the water until you have a ball of dough, you may not need all of the water. Cut the ball of dough into two pieces and place one on a well floured surface. Roll out the dough as thin as you can and cut into cracker sized rectangles. Transfer onto a baking sheet and brush with a little water, this will help to make the topping stick. Scatter the toppings over the top and lightly press into the crackers. Before placing in the oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them as when they start to brown, they will finish soon after. We like ours really golden, almost burned, but if you like yours a bit paler than just reduce the cooking time. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack, as soon as they have cooled down transfer them to an air tight container and eat within 3 – 5 days. If they last that long! This recipe is quite flexible, you can adjust the flour to use whatever you have in your kitchen cupboard.

SCC Close Up Crackers

Sea salt and cracked black pepper crackers with a spiced pumpkin soup

Delicious served with soup

Serve with hummus
Serve with hummus

Sea salt and cracked black pepper with spiced pumpkin soup

Sea salt and cracked black pepper with spiced pumpkin soup

Parmesan and Belper Knolle Crisps

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Another cheesy recipe, I just can’t get enough! A regular Saturday night for us this time of year in Geneva would be to get some cheeses from the markets and a couple of bottles of wine, sitting in front of the X Factor whilst munching our way through our goodies. There are such a wide variety of cheeses available in Geneva we were always trying new ones. It was there that I found one of my favorite cheeses. Tête de Moine is a tasty swiss cheese that has an A.O.C. so you know you are eating the real deal. If you speak french you may know that Tête de Moine means Monks head. It was originally made by monks, just our side of the rosti border . I was surprised to find that you can buy Tête in a number of places here in Singapore. I was also surprised to try a new cheese in Singapore, not just a new cheese but a new swiss cheese we had never heard of. I did a bit of research and found that Belper Knolle is made near Bern, the other side of the rosti border and Switzerland’s capital city. I found that belper should be used as a topping on pastas and risottos rather than as a table cheese. To get the flavors out, it is best thinly sliced or grated and allowed to air for a couple of minutes before crumbling over your dish. I made a pea and mint pesto the other week and it was delicious stirred through some spaghetti along with the pesto. We only used a tiny amount and the flavors really came through. I was thinking of a new way to use it rather than just sprinkled over some pasta and I decided I would make some Parmesan crisps with a little Belper Knolle. They turned out great and really tasty! Parmesan crisps can be used to top salads, soups, risottos or even eaten with dips. Here’s how I did it.

What you need to make 5 crisps…

50g Fresh grated parmesan – this won’t work with the pre-grated stuff you get in the dry goods section of the supermarket

1 Thin slice of belper knolle

SCC Parmesan and Belper Knolle SCC Uncooked Cheese Crisp

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by covering with grease proof paper (I used a silicone mat) and cover with parmesan shapes. Don’t stack the parmesan too thickly, it’s nice to get that webbed effect on the crisps.

SCC Close up Parmesan Crisp

Leave an inch between each shape and gently slide your tray into the oven so as to not shake the cheese and make your shapes wonky! Cook for about 5 minutes, until golden and crisp. Allow to cool and place in an airtight container with a peice of grease proof paper between each layer. You can leave out the Belper if you can’t get your hands on it or add your own herbs and spices to the parmesan before cooking. I’ve added cooked bacon lardons before and they were yummy! Another way to serve them is to mould them around the bottom of a small container or glass whilst they are still warm and serve dips in them – well that’ll save the washing up later!

SCC Uncooked Heart Crisp

SCC Bacon Heart Cooked CrispsSCC Parmesan Crisp with Soup

Cheese and Onion Dip

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It’s been a busy week in the kitchen for me, I haven’t been able to stop! It has also been a busy week in the kitchen for Bryan, as long as I am handling food, all he can see is an opportunity to eat anything I drop. To be fair I am pretty clumsy so he has a good chance of getting some tasty human food!

Bryan trying to look all innocent whilst at the same time standing as close to my feet as possible to catch anything I drop!

Bryan trying to look all innocent whilst at the same time standing as close to my feet as possible to catch anything I drop!

After not baking much since we arrived in Singapore I feel like I’ve started to make up for it the last few days. Earlier this week I made some chocolate cupcakes, they were so soft and moist I decided to make some salt caramel sauce to squeeze into the middle of them. Unfortunately the cupcakes didn’t last long enough for me to get to that stage so I am going to have to make another batch. I will definitely be posting the recipe for those! I’m not a huge chocolate fan and even I found them irresistible. I also made a couple of soups, parmesan and belper knolle crisps, some tomato pesto using the semi dried tomatoes I had left over from a couple of weeks ago and this dip. This is such an easy dip to make when entertaining and can easily be thrown together last minute with three simple ingredients. Cheddar, onion and salad cream. Simply grate the cheese, finely chop the onion and squeeze in enough salad cream to make it a ‘dip’ consistency. Then all you need to do is scoop it up with some crudités or smother on some cheese biscuits. I have a friend who has an intolerance to onion and still finds this dip irresistible!

50g Cheddar cheese

50g Onion (approx half a medium onion)

75g Salad Cream

Just grate the cheese, blitz the onion in a food processor and mix together with the salad cream.

SCC Onion Dip With Onion

A Pug can dream!

A Pug can dream!

Low and Slow Semi Dried Tomatoes

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This recipe goes with my obsession for ‘picky’ food. I love anything that can be grazed on, they also double up as a cooking ingredient – these tomatoes have become a store cupboard essential in my kitchen.  After seeing a recipe in a magazine recently, I thought I would give my own a go, it looked so easy and I found it really was.  As long as you have a couple of hours spare as you need to cook them low and slow. It’s also a great way of using up the remaining few in a pack of softening tomatoes.

You will need…

6 Tomatoes, sliced in half

2 tsp Olive Oil

2 pinches of dried herbs, I used Mccormick Garlic and Herb Seasoning, mixed with one pinch of salt

1 Sterilised glass jar

Additional olive oil, for topping up the jar afterwards, use the best you can afford as this will add to the end flavour of your tomatoes

SCC Raw Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celcius. Place the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet and brush each one with a little olive oil.

SCC Tomatoes brused with olive oil

Sparingly season each piece of tomato with the herbs and place in the oven for two and a half hours. SCC Herbed tomatoes

Remove and cool before placing in a jar and topping up with olive oil.

SCC Tomatoes in Jar

You can use them in salads, sauces, pizza, pasta or straight from the jar. Any tomatoes can be used for this recipe but you’ll need to alter the cooking time according to size. I have used cherry tomatoes before and they are equally as yummy and took just over an hour at the same temperature.

Cheesy potato skins

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Finger food really is great, you can have so many of your favorite things in one sitting without feeling like you’ve been sat at an all you can eat Las Vegas buffet. I regularly do these if we have guests coming round for nibbles as all the prep work can be done beforehand and then you can just bung them in the oven to heat through once you’re getting hungry, leaving you to enjoy a nice cold glass of wine. I digress, back to the food! In this case, we fired up the BBQ for the first time in our new home and I just had to make some of these yummy gooey potato skins to pop on the coals.

 

All you’ll need is

 

Baked potatoes (enough to serve everyone who’s eating)

Butter (you’ll need a small chunk to help blend the ingredients)

Cheese, grated, I used 50g with 3 small potatoes but use as much or as little as you like, it all depends on how much you like cheese!

Onion, roughly chopped, I used half for the two of us but again, it depends how much you like it

Bacon lardon, I used about 40g for two servings

Salt and pepper

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Clean and pierce the potatoes and bake in the oven as you would a baked potatoes. Leave until cool enough to handle. This next bit is easier to do if the potatoes are still slightly warm. Cut in half and scoop out the filling taking care not to tear the skins. Roughly mash the potatoes with the other ingredients and spoon it all back into the skins. At this point you can either leave to cool and refrigerate over night or wrap and pop them in the freezer but if you want them now, stick them straight into the oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the tops go golden, or, as we did last night, wrap them individually in foil and pop them on the BBQ until they’re nice and hot.

 

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Cheddar and onion is one my favorite flavor combinations but it’s so easy to experiment, last night I did a mix of Cheddar, onion and bacon and Stilton, bacon and onion, you could also try adding spring onions, salad peppers, sweet corn or even baked beans for the kids!