Saturday, 19 July 2014

Flowery Food

Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I like to use a drier ricotta in this recipe as it seems to hold together better while cooking. If yours is more liquid, perhaps strain it for a few minutes before mixing in the other ingredients. I also like to use only one egg, but if you want a smoother texture, you may want to use two eggs. Many people use a tempura batter for these as well, but although tasty, it seems to overpower the filling, This little "breading" treatment results in a nice crispy exterior without all the hassle of true deep frying.
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer, 2 as a meal

8 large squash blossoms
1 cup ricotta cheese (dry and slightly crumbly texture is good)
1 large whole egg + 1 egg white
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup minced herbs (parsley and basil are nice)
ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
olive oil

1. Gently ease open the blossoms and remove stamen, trying not to damage petals (although it is sure to happen, so don't worry too much!)
2. Heat an inch or two of oil in a cast iron pan or pot over medium heat.
3. Combine ricotta, 1 whole egg, parmesan, herbs and pepper in a small bowl until smooth.
4. Opening blossoms, place approximately 2 tbsp of filling into each blossom. Twist end of blossom to keep it closed. Repeat with remainging blossoms.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and 1 tbsp water until foamy. In another small bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. 
6. Dip each blossom into the egg mixture and turn to coat entire blossom. Gently roll in flour mixture. Repeat.
7. When oil is shimmering and hot (drop a small piece of flour into oil or end of wooden spoon in to see if it sizzles), gently ease blossoms into the hot oil. If it begins to burn, reduce heat before adding more blossoms. Working in a batch of 3 or 4, cook until golden and turn to cook other side for a total of approximately 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining. Hold in low oven if desired for a few minutes. Sprinkle with just a hint of sea salt before serving.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Savoury and Sweet Snacks

Spiced butternut squash whoopie pies with maple cream cheese filling

Makes about 16 small pies


For the sponges:

- 1 butternut squash (recipe requires 200ml squash purée)
- 120ml sunflower oil
- 200g soft dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 large egg (free-range please)
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the maple cream cheese filling:

- 60g unsalted butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 120g full-fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and bake, flesh-side up, for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft. Tip: If a fork goes in easily, it’s good to go.

When the squash is cooked, set aside to cool and turn the oven down to 170°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roughly cut the squash into chunks and blend until you have a smooth purée. Tip: There is no need to peel the squash as the skin goes really soft and is full of goodness but you can if you don’t fancy it!

Using the beater attachment of your food mixer, beat together the oil, sugar, vanilla and maple syrup. Beat in the egg and then 200ml squash purée, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt and mix until any lumps have disappeared.

Drop blobs of the batter onto your baking tray (you’ll probably have enough for three batches), about 3cm apart. Tip: I used a heaped teaspoon per blob but you could go bigger and increase the cooking time.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until slightly springy when gently poked. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the cream cheese and maple syrup until you have a smooth mixture. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (this will set it a bit).

To make the whoopie pies, sandwich spoonfuls of the maple cream cheese filling between pairs of sponge biscuits. Tip: Depending on how much filling you like in your pies, you may have some filling leftover – what can I say? There are worse leftovers!

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Feta, courgette & chilli savoury muffins

Makes about 16 muffins


- 300g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- seasoning
- 2 large eggs (free range please)
- 250ml milk
- 70g unsalted butter, melted
- 200g courgette, coarsely grated
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (do you want a hint or a kick?)
- 150g feta, crumbled
- 20g pine nuts
- generous bunch basil leaves, chopped


Preheat the oven to 190°C and pop your muffin cases into the tin. Tip: If you’re using a silicone muffin tray, you can do away with the paper cases if you like.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, a generous pinch of salt and a good few grinds of black pepper into a bowl.

Beat the eggs and milk together in a jug. Add to the dry mixture, a little at a time, whilst mixing all the ingredients together (I use the paddle attachment on my food mixer on a low setting).

Add the melted butter and mix until smooth (I increase the speed of my mixer here), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure nothing escapes. Stir in the courgette, chilli flakes, 4/5th of the feta (that’s 120g if you’re retentive), pine nuts and basil and stir briefly to combine.

Spoon into the muffin cases and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Tip: Only fill your cases to about 2/3 full otherwise you’ll end up with conjoined muffins…Bake for 25-30 minutes until the muffins are set and golden brown on top.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Sticky lemon thyme cakes

Makes 8 mini 10cm cakes (or one large 18cm round cake / loaf)


For the sponge:

- zest 1 unwaxed lemon
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (or normal thyme) leaves
- 175g caster sugar
- 175g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 3 large eggs (free-range please)
- 175g self-raising flour, sifted

For the syrup:

- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme (or thyme) leaves, plus extra sprigs to decorate
- 80g caster sugar
- 50ml water
- juice 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line the base of your tins.

Bash the lemon zest, thyme leaves and a tablespoon of sugar about with a pestle and mortar to release the oils. Using a food processor with the paddle attachment (or mixing bowl and wooden spoon…), cream the butter, (rest of the) sugar and lemon and thyme mixture until pale and fluffy.

Whisk in the vanilla essence and eggs (one at a time), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is incorporated. Tip: If you’re worried about the mixture curdling, add a spoonful of flour with the addition of each egg.

Fold in the (rest of the) flour and divide the batter between the tins. Level the top and bake for about 20 minutes, or until light golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Tip: If you’ve opted to make one large cake, it will take longer to bake – about 35 minutes.

To make the syrup, bash the thyme and a tablespoon of sugar about with a pestle and mortar. Add to the rest of the ingredients and stir over a medium heat, simmering gently until it has reduced by about half. Tip: If the syrup is getting too gloopy, add a splash of water or turn the heat down.

Discard the thyme (you can sieve the mixture and feel like Martha Stewart or fish the leaves out with a spoon / finger like me…), poke a few holes in the top of the warm cakes with a skewer and feed the cakes with the syrup.

Allow to cool fully in the tins and top with the remaining sprigs of thyme.

Recipes from Pip and Little Blue

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Bruschetta - Beginning to End

Quick and Easy Breakfast Bruschetta

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min


8 (1-inch-thick) slices French bread
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper
3/4 cup mashed avocado
1 cup diced tomatoes


Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and brush it on both cut sides of each slice of French bread. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, then flip them and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes until toasted. Remove the bread from the oven and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, chives and pepper.

Heat a medium nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan, and once it has melted, pour in the eggs. Cook the eggs, stirring as needed, until they’re scrambled to your desired consistency.

Spread a portion of the mashed avocado on one side of each slice of toasted bread. Top the avocado with the scrambled eggs and garnish with the diced tomatoes.

See the recipe and more pics at Just a Taste

Friday, 27 June 2014

Fourth of July Fete

Raspberry Lemonade


1 cup rinsed fresh raspberries (6 oz.)
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups water


In a small bowl, with a potato masher or spoon, mash 1 cup rinsed fresh raspberries (6 oz.) with 2/3 cup sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Press through a fine strainer into a pitcher (at least 1 1/2 qt.); discard seeds. Stir in 1 cup lemon juice and 2 cups water. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses.

Root Beer Baked Beans


3 bacon slices
1 small onion, diced
2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans
1/2 cup root beer (not diet)
1/4 cup hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce


Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
Sauté diced onion in hot bacon drippings in skillet over high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir together onion, crumbled bacon, beans, and remaining ingredients in a lightly greased 1-quart baking dish.
Bake beans, uncovered, at 400° for 55 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Frogmore Stew


5 quarts water
1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
4 pounds small red potatoes
2 pounds kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
6 ears fresh corn, halved
4 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
Old Bay seasoning
Cocktail sauce

Bring 5 quarts water and 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning to a rolling boil in a large covered stockpot.
Add potatoes; return to a boil, and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes.
Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with Old Bay seasoning and cocktail sauce.

Peach-Cinnamon Ice Cream


4 cups peeled, diced fresh peaches (about 3 pounds)
1 cup peach nectar
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
4 cups milk
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Garnish: sliced fresh peaches 


Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl.
Process peach mixture, in batches, in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Set aside.
Whisk together yolks and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, 20 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Do not boil.
Remove from heat; whisk in peach mixture, half-and-half, lemon juice, and ground cinnamon. Cover and chill 4 hours.
Pour mixture into freezer container of a 6-quart electric ice-cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times will vary.) Garnish, if desired.
Note: For testing purposes only, we used a White Mountain 6-Quart Electric Ice Cream Freezer.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

For Football Foodies - Recipes for the World Cup

Spanish Tortilla

Serves 6
2pounds white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1medium onion, chopped
3tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2tablespoon unsalted butter

Place the potatoes in a medium pot. Cover with water, season with about a tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender when prodded with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool, then cut into 1/8-inch slices and put them in a large mixing bowl.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Warm 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook until translucent and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Scrape the onions into the bowl with the potatoes.
Lightly whisk the eggs until smooth, then add them to the potatoes and onions, and gently fold everything together. The potatoes should not be sticking together -- make sure the egg separates each slice. Season with salt and pepper and fold once more.
Set a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and the butter. When the butter foams, pour in the potato-and-egg mixture and pat it down so it's even on the top. Sprinkle the cheese on top, let the eggs set around the edges, and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the eggs are almost set in the middle and the tortilla is browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on the stovetop. Run a thin spatula or knife around the edge of the tortilla to loosen it, then invert it onto a plate (this may be a 2-person job). If you'd like to serve the tortilla warm, invert it while it's still warm. Slice and serve. If you'd like to serve it with garlic mayonnaise, I won't argue

Caul-do Verde (Portuguese Caldo Verde with Cauliflower)

Serves 6 to 8
2pounds cauliflower florets (from 1 medium head)
1/2 to 1teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
1/2tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
2tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for roasting)
1Spanish onion, chopped
4large garlic cloves, minced
1/2teaspoon red pepper flakes
8cups chicken stock
1/2pound smoked turkey kielbasa, sliced (Wellshire Farms brand is particularly good)
1bunch mustard greens, shredded
1/4cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2lemon, juiced

Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss cauliflower florets with cumin, smoked paprika, and liberal amounts of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer in a roasting pan or baking dish and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove florets and set aside. Deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup of the chicken stock, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Mix in with the remaining stock.
Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-medium high heat until tender and translucent and beginning to brown. Add garlic and pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Remove from heat and purée.
Return the puréed soup to low heat. Add sausage and cook about 10 minutes. (You can brown the sausage beforehand if you like.) Add the mustard greens and parsley and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes until the greens soften a bit. Remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro and the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.

Naughty Rhubarb Scones

Serves 12-16 scones
3stalks rhubarb
2 1/2cups flour
1tablespoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon salt
8tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2cup vanilla sugar
2/3--3/4cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425.
Slice rhubarb stalks 1/4 " thick. Toss with 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl or bowl of food processor.
Cut butter into flour mixture by hand (or whiz with food processor) until butter is the size of small peas.
Blend in 1/4 cup of the sugar.
Blend in sliced rhubarb. (If using the food processor, just pulse -- you want the slices left mostly intact.)
Blend in cream until a soft dough forms. (note: you may need to add more than 2/3 cup depending on the weather,etc.)
Transfer dough to floured surface and divide in half. To make triangular scones, flatten into 6-inch disks and cut each circle into 6-8 scones. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until reddish-brown on top

Blackberry Caipirinha

Serves one
6-8plump blackberries
1teaspoon white sugar
1/2lime, cut into 3 wedges
2ounces cachaça (or substitute white rum)
3/4cups ice cubes

In a shaker or pint glass, muddle/mash up the blackberries and the sugar with two of the lime wedges.
Add the cachaça or rum and the ice. Cover well and shake vigorously.
Remove and discard the crushed lime wedges. Pour the mixture into a rocks glass and use the remaining wedge of lime as a garnish.

Get 10 recipes for the World Cup from Food52 blog