Caramelised beetroot and onion tarte tatin

Caramelised beetroot and onion tarte tatin

Tarte tatin always sounded like such a lovely thing and they always look so very pretty! But I have a real aversion to cooked fruit. I don’t like apple pie, fruit crumbles… Or tarte tatin.

But I’ve found a solution in the form of savoury tarte tatin! Beetroot and red onion caramelised with balsamic vinegar, then fanned out and topped with pastry. There are walnuts for crunch and a little bit of cheese to make the whole thing ooze together.

They’re perfect dinner party food as an elegant appetiser, but they’re also great as a main meal with couscous and a green salad. Enjoy!

Beetroot tarte tatin (8)

Ingredients (makes 4 small tarts)
– roughly 180g shortcrust pastry, rolled out
– 200g cooked beetroot
– 1 small red onion
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 80g mozzarella
– 40g roughly chopped walnuts
Optional – 4 tablespoons of soured cream mixed with a handful of chopped parsley

You will also need what we call a Yorkshire pudding tin – a baking tray with four large, shallow indents for making individual tarts.
Beetroot tarte tatin (1)

Method
1. Peel and thinly slice the red onion into half moons. Cut the beetroot into thin wedges. Grease the baking tray well with oil or butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Melt the brown sugar in a large frying pan, then add the butter. Add the beetroot wedges and onion slices and cook for about 10 minutes, until they begin to caramelise.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a few more minutes, until the vinegar is reduced and thick.
4. Arrange the beetroot wedges in fan shapes in the baking tray. Remember, you will tip them out and the bottom will become the top, so aim for a nice pattern! Spoon the onion slices and sauce over the top.
5. Divide the walnuts between the four tarts. Cut the mozzarella into four slices and place on top of the beetroot, onion and walnuts.
6. Finally, use a cup, glass or cookie cutter to cut circles of pastry. Aim for them to be slightly larger than the size of the tart cases. Prick the circles with a fork.
7. Place the pastry circles on top of each tart case and tuck in the edges.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven until the pastry is cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
9. Turn them out gently and serve with a tablespoon of the soured cream and parsley mix (optional)

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Beetroot tarte tatin (1)

Cheesy mushroom and quails’ egg breakfast cups – Vegetarian

Cheesy mushroom and quails’ egg breakfast cups

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These breakfast cups are really easy to make and so tasty! They’re great for a vegetarian brunch or breakfast… you could also try them with a bit of bacon mixed in with the mushrooms if you’re not veggie!

You don’t need any special equipment, just a standard muffin tin.

Serve warm with a dab of spicy ketchup – you can either buy chilli ketchup or mix regular with a small amount of Sriracha.

Ingredients (made 6)
– 2 flour tortillas
– 1 cup mushrooms
– half a cup of grated cheddar cheese
– 6 quails’ eggs
– freshly ground black pepper
– chilli ketchup to serve (optional)

Method
File_000 (1)1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Lightly grease six holes in a muffin tin. Use a glass to cut six circles out of the tortillas – the glass works like a cookie cutter. Push each circle into a hole in the muffin tin.

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3. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Saute in a little oil (or I used roasted garlic butter) for 3 or 4 minutes until they are starting to colour. Divide the mushrooms between the six tortillas circles.

File_0024. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the mushrooms.

File_0035. Crack a quail’s egg on top of the grated cheese. (It helps if you push the centre of the cheese down to make a dip first, so they egg stays in the middle. Guess which one I didn’t do this with!)
Top with black pepper.

File_0046. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Keep an eye on them, as the yolk goes from runny to set very quickly! Serve with the spicy ketchup and enjoy.


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Star shaped tortilla bites and tangy tomato dip

Star shaped tortilla bits and tango tomato dip

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Want an impressive looking appetiser that is really easy to make?

Look no further!

These star shaped tortilla bites are delicious but are made in just minutes. You can also make them a few hours in advance – just store in a sealed container so they don’t go soft. They are baked so are healthier than most fried chips or crisps, and the accompanying tomato dip is packed with fresh flavours.

You make the star shape using a standard cookie cutter. I have this nest of star shapes, so you choose a variety of different sizes. You can also experiment with different shapes of cookie cutters. They’d be perfect for a children’s party! What about animal shapes or even Christmas tortillas?

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Ingredients
– Flour tortillas
– Zest of one lime mixed with a teaspoon of sea salt
– Star shaped cookie cutter

For the dip (serves 6)
– 1 tomato
– 200g cherry tomatoes
– half a red onion
– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
2. Use the cookie cutter to cut out star shapes from the tortillas. If you press down firmly, you can cut through several tortillas at once.
3. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may need to do more than one batch) and bake for 4-6 minutes until crisp but not brown.
4. Sprinkle immediately with the lime zest and sea salt.

To make the dip, finely chop the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and onion. Mix with the vinegar and ketchup. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Lasagne cupcakes – Individual sun-dried tomato and three cheese lasagnes

Lasagne cupcakes

When I made these, one of the first things I did was send an excited message to my brother saying, “Just made lasagne cupcakes!!” and he replied “Gross.” I think he thought I’d made cupcakes with cheese and tomato in, or some awful cake-pasta hybrid. Thankfully, the only thing “cupcake” about these individual lasagnes is that they are cooked in a muffin tin, making delicious baby lasagnes that cook really quickly.

There are lots of versions of these on the internet at the moment, but I love the combination here of sun-dried tomatoes with the bolognese sauce. Also, mine use an actual bolognese sauce, rather that buying a ready-made jar of “pasta sauce”. It maybe takes slightly longer to make your own, but it is much tastier and there’s less of the hidden salts and sugars you get in shop-bought tomato sauce.
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This recipe also uses my current favourite trick of re-purposing the oil in jars of sun-dried tomatoes. That oil is full of flavour, so use it in place of your regular olive oil. It’s great as a salad dressing. I wouldn’t normally use olive oil to cook with but I made an exception in this case.

The recipe makes 12 individual lasagnes and we found that two was enough per person along with a nice salad or even just some garden peas. They reheat really well in a microwave so are fabulous for work lunches, and they also freeze easily.

The final test will be if my brother agrees now that these are as amazing as I think they are!

File_001Ingredients (makes 12 individual lasagnes)
– 400g beef mince
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 1 pack wanton wrappers
– 75g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
– 125g ricotta cheese
– 125g mozzarella cheese
– 100g parmesan cheese
– 200g tomato paste

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Method
1. Heat a tablespoon of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large pan. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until softening. Add the mince and Worchestershire sauce and cook until the mince is brown.
2. Stir in the tomato paste and oregano. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into halves or thirds and add them to the sauce as well. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin (I used the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes again). Place two wanton wrappers in the bottom of each hole. Overlap them at an angle make a star shape.
4. Season the Bolognese sauce to taste, but remember not to add too much salt because the Parmesan also adds a saltiness. Take half of the sauce mixture and divide between the muffin holes.
5. Top with a little of the ricotta, the mozzarella and grate some Parmesan over the top.
6. Place two more overlapping wanton wrappers on top and then repeat the layers with the remaining sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and finally Parmesan. Finish off with freshly cracked black pepper.
7. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is melted and bubbling.
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Note – You can cut the wanton wrappers into circle shapes with a glass or cookie cutter to make more elegant shapes, but I prefer the rustic overlapping edges!
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Chicken and vegetable gyoza – photo step by step for easy potsticker dumplings

Chicken and vegetable gyoza – photo step by step for easy potsticker dumplings

IMAG2726_1These gyoza are really easy to make and taste delicious! You can play around with the fillings and try different combinations, but the method stays the same.
IMAG2734_1These are also convenient because you can freeze the filling once you’ve made it, or you can even make the gyoza, freeze them and cook them from frozen*. It’s definitely worth making up a batch to always have in the freezer for when you have dumpling cravings. (I have those most days…)

*If you are cooking from frozen add an extra 1-2 minutes to each cooking time. Always check food is completely cooked through before consuming.
IMAG2730_1Ingredients
– ready-made gyoza wrappers (buy from Asian supermarkets)
– 200g chicken, finely chopped (or use chicken mince)
– 100 g baby sweetcorn
– 200 g Chinese cabbage
– 4 spring onions
– 2 cloves garlic
– 2cm piece of ginger
– 1 teaspoon sesame oil
– 1 teaspoon soy sauce

Serve with soy sauce for dipping (add a squeeze of lime juice for a really tasty dipping sauce).

Method

1. Chop the chicken, sweetcorn, cabbage, garlic, ginger and spring onions really finely. You may want to process them in a food processor to get a really fine mix. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, then season with salt and white pepper.
IMAG2720_12. Put one of the gyoza skins on a flat surface. Place a small tablespoon of the filling mixture in the middle of the gyoza skin. Leave a gap around the edge and DON’T overfill. The skins tear really easily if you try to close them around too much mixture.

IMAG2722_13. Wet your finger and run it around the edge of the gyoza skin. This will make the edges of the skin stick together.

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4. Fold the gyoza skin over gently.

5. Pinch the edges together so that the filling is sealed inside.

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6. Repeat until you have used up all of the filling. I made 24 with this amount of mixture.

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7. At this point you can freeze the gyoza. Place them on a baking tray and freeze. Once they are frozen, transfer them to a ziplock bag.

8. To cook, take a large frying pan (with a lid) and coat the bottom with a thin layer of oil. Heat the oil, then place the gyoza in the pan so that they aren’t touching. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes, until the bottoms are starting to turn golden brown.IMAG2729_19. Pour 2cm of boiling water into the pan, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes as the water evaporates.

10. Serve hot with dipping sauce.
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Crunchy coconut prawns – A great use for pre-cooked frozen shrimps

Crunchy coconut prawns

Coconut prawns with Thai red curry (2)
Until three years ago, I never ate fish or shellfish. I was in my late twenties before I started eating it. When I arrived in Spain, my new employers took the new staff out for a meal, and ordered a huge seafood paella. At that point I thought, “Well there’s nothing else. I’m going to have to at least try it.” And I discovered it wasn’t too bad… then I discovered I really liked it! Recently, I’ve even started eating “fishy” fish like tuna and salmon.

Prawns are one of my real favourites (although I discovered this week that you should avoid tiger prawns because farming them harms seahorse habitats). I do hate peeling them though. It is gross and time-consuming. My boyfriend is very good at doing it for me, but I only like asking him for special occasions, as it is gross and time-consuming for him too. Unfortunately in Spain, we could only buy unpeeled prawns… or pre-cooked frozen ones. They’re convenient, but tend to go mushy when you cook them.

I found a way to avoid the mushiness though! I rarely fry anything, but I made an exception and this was a great way to make the prawns juicy, crunchy and full of texture. I paired the cooked prawns with a vegetable Thai red curry and rice.

To make the curry, I cooked some vegetables in a tablespoon of red curry paste until slightly softened (I used onion, carrot and baby sweetcorn but use whatever you like) then added a tin of coconut milk and a splash of fish sauce to taste. Let it simmer gently while you cook the prawns – done!

Coconut prawns with Thai red curry (1)
Ingredients (serves 2)

– 200 grams cooked frozen prawns, defrosted
– 1 beaten egg
– 4 tablespoons desiccated coconut

Method
1. Tip the beaten egg into a shallow bowl, and the desiccated coconut into another shallow bowl. Press the defrosted prawns on both sides into the egg, then the coconut to coat them.
3. Take a large frying pan and pour a line layer of your favourite cooking oil into the pan. Heat the oil, then cook the prawns for 1-2 minutes on each side until the coconut is golden brown and the prawns are cooked through.

Coconut prawns with Thai red curry (2)

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Stuffed zucchini rolls

Stuffed zucchini rolls

Courgette rolls (6)

A lot of my recipes have involved things being stuffed in the last week. I made these bread rolls stuffed with antipasti, that have provided delicious lunches for us this week. I stuffed fat tubes of paccheri pasta with beef mince and topped it with a creamy spinach sauce. I even harked back to an old favourite, artichoke-stuffed chicken. This was yet another way to stuff something delicious into something else delicious!

I felt like Jamie Oliver when I served this, because I didn’t plate it up, but just served it in the dish on the table for people to help themselves. Livin’ on the edge… Speaking of Jamie Oliver, try his great 3-in-1 speedy peeler. It’ll make prepping the zucchini ribbons so easy.
I think it would make a great sharing starter for vegetarians and carnivores alike, or it it a great main course for two people.

It is also a fab way to use up leftover pre-cooked rice.

Courgette rolls (5)
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course)
– One large zucchini
– 400g can of chopped tomatoes
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 gloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegetarians)
– 100g uncooked rice, or 200g pre-cooked rice
– 200g ricotta cheese
– 75g Gruyere cheese, grated
– salt and pepper
Courgette rolls (3)

Method
1. If you are using uncooked rice, cook according to packet instructions. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C.
2. In a small saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil and saute the onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes on a low heat. Add the chopped tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce (if using) and leave to simmer whilst you complete the rest of the prep.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel long strips of the zucchini. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly even. You will need about 24 strips. If you get down to the seeds in the middle, turn the zucchini and from peeling from a different side.
4. Mix the cooked rice with the ricotta and Gruyere. Season to taste.
5. Take a large baking dish. Taste and season the tomato mixture, then spread it over the base of the baking dish.
Courgette rolls (1)6. Place a spoonful of the rice-cheese mixture at one end of a zucchini strip. Tightly roll the strip then place it upright on top of the bed of tomato mixture.
7. Repeat with all of the courgette strips!
8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese mixture has flecks of golden brown on it. If you over cook it, the zucchini will lose all of its texture and bite.
Courgette rolls (2)9. Remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!

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Courgette rolls (6)