RECIPE: Loaded Potato Skins with Soured Cream and Chive Dip

skins 1

Pre-recipe warning, this one is not good for the waistline. However, it is absolutely delicious! This is the sort of comfort food that you can serve at any time of the year and as either a starter or a main meal, depending on the size of the portion. Here is an easy recipe for loaded potato skins that makes 24 skins. 

Ingredients for Loaded Potato Skins

  • 6 large white potatoes
  • 250g hard cheese, such as Cheddar, grated
  • 6 rashers of bacon
  • To serve- soured cream and chives

How to Make Loaded Potato Skins

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Wash and dry the potatoes and put on a baking tray.
  3. Put the tray in the oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the skins are beginning to brown and the potatoes feel soft when you squeeze them (using an oven glove). 
  4. 10 minutes before the potatoes are cooked, add the rashers of bacon to another baking tray and put in the oven so they are cooked and ready to remove at the same time as the potatoes.Turn off the oven.
  5. Leave the potatoes on the side to cool and break your bacon into small pieces. 
  6. When the potatoes are cooled, cut in half.
  7. Scoop out most of the soft potato flesh to leave hollow skins with just a thin layer of potato. (See tip for ways to use the leftover potato).
  8. Turn on your deep fat fryer and set to around 180C.
  9. While this is heating, cut the potatoes lengthways so that each potato skin is a quarter of a potato. 
  10. Fry the potato skins in batches for five minutes until browned and crispy and then transfer onto the baking tray. 
  11. Sprinkle over the cheese and pieces of bacon.
  12. Turn on the grill and place the loaded potato skins under for long enough to melt the cheese.
  13. Serve the skins with a dollop of soured cream sprinkled with chopped chives. 

TIPS

Don’t waste the potato filling! There are plenty of things you can do with it. Since cooking the loaded potato skins yesterday, I have made crunchy tuna fishcakes for tea tonight. You can also mash it up to serve with meat or as a topping for a fish pie or cottage pie. 

 

Advertisements

RECIPE: Macaroni Cheese

macaroni-cheese.jpg

The other day, my eldest son was supposed to make macaroni cheese in his food tech lesson. According to his version of events, the teacher told him to just throw all the ingredients together in a pan and the result was raw pasta and a coagulated burnt mixture at the bottom of the pan. I am sure that the teacher did not tell him to do this, but she had a class of 30+ teens to deal with in her class, so may not have had the time to spend teaching him how to do it properly.

I decided to teach him how to do it properly, making a rue for a cheese sauce and the order in which you add the ingredients. I think it is important to get children involved in cooking as it is an important life skill for them to learn. I suppose there are many variations on how to macaroni cheese, but this is how I have taught my son to make it using just pasta and a basic cheese sauce. Here is a simple recipe for macaroni cheese.

Ingredients for Macaroni Cheese

  • 18 oz/ 500 g dried pasta (macaroni or a similar variety of pasta)
  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for the sauce
  • 2 oz/ 50g cheese for the topping
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • 2 tsp English mustard (optional)
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make Macaroni Cheese

  1. Measure your ingredients first and preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Cook the pasta in a saucepan according to pack instructions. I would remove a few minutes from the cooking time so it is al dente as the pasta will continue to cook in the cheese sauce. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  4. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  5. Cook for two minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  7. Season with the salt and white pepper, add the mustard (optional) and stir through.
  8. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  10. Drain the pasta when cooked and transfer to either a large ovenproof dish or individual ovenproof dishes.
  11. Using a ladle, spoon over the cheese sauce evenly.
  12. Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top of the dishes. 
  13. Transfer to the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.
  14. If you have cooked one large macaroni cheese, spoon onto plates. If you have cooked individual portions, transfer the individual bowls to plates. 
  15. Serve with salad, vegetables, or garlic bread. 

RECIPE: Cauliflower Cheese

cauliflower

Cauliflower cheese is a delicious accompaniment to a meal and works particularly well with roasted meats, pies, and fish. It is also a tasty meal in its own right for vegetarians. Some people are deterred from making cauliflower cheese at home as they are worried that the cheese sauce is complicated to make. However, this is not the case as this recipe is quick and easy to make. Here is how to make cauliflower cheese.

Ingredients for Cauliflower Cheese

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 oz/ 50 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 50 g plain flour
  • 6 oz/ 160 g cheese for the sauce
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for topping
  • 1200 ml/ 2-pint milk
  • Black pepper and salt

How to Make Cauliflower Cheese

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Remove the leaves and main stem from the cauliflower, then break into florets.
  3. Add the cauliflower to a pan of salted boiling water.
  4. While the cauliflower is cooking, start the cheese sauce.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  6. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  7. Cook for two minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  9. Season with the salt and black pepper .
  10. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  11. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  12. Drain the cauliflower before adding to a large, oven-proof dish. Any excess water will cause the sauce to split, so dabbing with kitchen paper can help to make sure the broccoli and cauliflower are thoroughly dry.
  13. Pour over the cheese sauce so it is evenly distributed.
  14. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the dish.
  15. Cook on a high heat in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top of the dish is golden brown. 

TIPS

Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin– Adding broccoli, mustard, and breadcrumbs to this dish makes a great vegetarian meal. Read the recipe here.

Meat Lovers– Add some leftover ham to the cauliflower cheese before transferring to the oven if you prefer meat dishes.

Using Local Lancashire Ingredients

fruit and veg

I am a big believer in using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. It is something that I try to do at home and is also something I look for when I am eating out at a restaurant. Not only does buying local ingredients support local businesses, the quality of the produce is so much better than buying processed and manufactured alternatives. The meats are fresher and the fruit and vegetables are in season and taste so much better.

lancs map

I am lucky in terms of the location where I live. I live in a semi-rural village in Lancashire, just across from the coastal towns of Fleetwood and Morecambe and at a mid-point between Blackpool and Lancaster. This means my village is surrounded on one side by the sea and on the other side by farmland. Both are fantastic sources of delicious ingredients.

The coastal location means there is a fresh supply of fish and seafood available and I usually shop at a seafood shop on the docks at Fleetwood.

Two of the best cheese manufacturers in the company are located within driving distance of my home; Dewlay and Butler’s. They both produce delicious ranges of cheese from their farm factories. These are sold directly from their own shops, local farm shops and many other retailers locally. My personal favourite is Lancashire crumbly.

Pork, beef, chicken and lamb are all available from local sources and sold in local butchers. There is also one of the biggest game hatcheries in the country, Hi-Fly, just one mile from my house and there are even ostrich farms in the surrounding area. 

The area in which I live is fantastic for anyone who enjoys farmers markets as these are held regularly in many locations in the local area. Not only are these a good place to buy the produce that is raised and grown locally, it is also a great place to sample foods created using locally sourced produce. This includes everything from pies to chutneys. Similarly, there are amazing farm shops in Lancashire and there are events that cater to food lovers throughout the year.

 

 

5 of the Best Varieties of French Cheese

Image result for french cheese

France is famous for many things including its wine production, the Eiffel tower and its beautiful countryside.  However, it is also famous for its diverse production of cheeses.  In fact, France produces over four hundred different cheeses which are generally categorised into eight different groups.  To review all the cheeses that are produced in France would require extensive knowledge, research and time.  However, here is a summary of five of the most famous and delicious varieties of cheese that are produced in France and enjoyed around the world.

Brie

brie

This is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is generally produced in the Île-de-France region, specifically Brie after which it is named.  The cheese is encased in a soft dough crust and has a creamy and smooth consistency and flavour.  Variations of this cheese are Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.  Brie is made in large, round discs and the buyer will normally purchase just a slice of this.

Camembert

camembert

Another soft cheese that is most associated with the Normandy region of France, also from cow’s milk.  Similarly to Brie, the cheese is encased in a soft, edible crust and has a smooth and creamy taste and texture.  In contrast to Brie, Camembert is ripened in smaller cases which give it a slightly different flavour and it is often sold still in its small, wooden casings.

Munster

munster

This is a strong flavoured soft cheese that was named after the town in which it was originally produced.  This cheese was also originally conserved and preserved in monk’s cellars.  There are also several different variations of this cheese which are produced industrially oversees, some of which have a milder flavour.

Roquefort

Roquefort_Cheese_Grenoble

The thing that makes this cheese unique is that it is produced from sheep’s milk and is linked to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France.  This is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, alongside stilton and Gorgonzola.  Although it is referred to as a blue cheese, the veins of mould which run through it are actually green.  Roquefort can be described as being crumbly and moist, with a slightly tangy and salty flavour.  In English, this cheese is sometimes spelled as Rochefort.

Langres 

langres

Langres is a cheese made from cow’s milk in the Champagne region of France. It is a brine-coated cheese that is creamy and oozing in the centre. This makes it perfect for mopping up with chunks of fresh bread. It has quite a strong aroma but is certainly not in the league of ‘smelly feet’ cheese. 

RECIPE: Savoury Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Pancakes

pancakes

Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Often, people associate pancakes with desserts. However, they are also fantastic as a savoury dish. There are many different fillings you can add to a pancake, but cheese, ham and mushroom is a great combination. Here is how to make savoury pancakes with a cheese, bacon and mushroom filling.

NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes, and will serve six people if you each have two savoury pancakes.

Pancake Batter Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable, plus extra oil for frying
  • A pinch of salt

Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Filling Ingredients

  • 2 x 180g tubs of soft cheese
  • 8 rashers of smoked bacon
  • 4 oz/ 100g chopped button mushrooms
  • Black pepper

How to Make Pancake Batter

  • Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
  • Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
  • Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.

How to Make the Savoury Filling 

  1. Make the savoury filling before starting to make your crepes.
  2. Cook the rashers of smoked bacon in a frying pan on a medium heat. 
  3. When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan in which the bacon was cooked and fry until brown.
  5. Add the two tubs of soft cheese and turn down to a low heat.
  6. Season with black pepper and stir mixture.
  7. Chop the cooked bacon into small pieces before returning to the pan.
  8. Stir well for even distribution.
  9. Keep the filling on a low heat while making the pancakes. 

Cooking Pancakes

  1. Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  2. Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  3. Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
  4. Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
  5. Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.
  6. To serve, lie a pancake on a plate and add some of the filling in a line down the centre of the pancake. 
  7. Fold the pancake over the top of the filling and then roll.

RECIPE: Easy Cheese Sauce

cheese sauce

A cheese sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make. You will need to learn how to make this if you want to make cauliflower cheese, fish pie, and many pasta dishes. There is just one more ingredient in this than in a simple white sauce, so it is not complicated to follow. Here is how to make an easy cheese sauce.

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce

  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make a Cheese Sauce

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  3. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  4. Cook for two minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  6. Season with the salt and white pepper.
  7. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

TIPS

  • Cheese- I use mature cheddar cheese as it has a good consistency and the perfect flavour for a sauce. Good alternatives are gruyere or Gouda.