Craving

My dinner was all planned for last night.  There was parsley on the windowsill, cherry tomatoes in the veggie box, anchovies in the fridge and some juicy black olives in the cupboard all ready to be turned into a light and healthy pasta puttanesca.  Yet as I drove home from work through the wind and rain I could think of only one thing – cheese.

Must… Eat… Cheese…

It’s perhaps my most common craving, cheese, and it takes many forms.  Sometimes a chunk of cheddar is all I need to tame the beast.  Other times it’s a leafy Edam baguette or some Camembert on oatcakes or even some Dairylea on toast I need to be satisfied.  This time, last night, it had to be blue cheese and it had to be paired with pasta.

What follows is a bit vague in amounts as I don’t ever follow a recipe when I make this.  Sometimes I use onion or omit the garlic.  Often I eat it topped with a handful of rocket or mixed with some green beans.  Last night I made it in the following way and served it with some roasted asparagus (which I cannot get enough of right now). 

The cheese monster has been appeased.  For now.

P.S.  It was rather fortunate D was away camping in Alladale last night.  He loathes blue cheese and won’t come anywhere near me for hours after I’ve eaten it!

P.P.S.  Out of interest – what do you crave most often?

 

Creamy Blue Cheese Pasta

Serves 1

Splash of olive oil

1 small leek, white part only (reserve green bit for stock making)

1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped

75ml single cream

30 g stinky blue cheese (more or less to taste and dependant on strength of cheese)

A little chopped parsley

Seasoning

Pasta (whatever shape takes your fancy but it must be white as Whole-wheat just doesn’t work here

  • Chop the leek roughly and fry gently in the olive oil until silky soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.  Add the cream and heat through before adding the blue cheese and stirring until melted through the sauce.
  • Meanwhile, boil the pasta in plenty of salted water until cooked through.  Drain and toss with the creamy sauce and chopped parsley.

Strawberry Shortcake

I finally got around to organising my recipe index the other night.  Though it’s still a work in progress, I’m much happier now that the more than 150 (!!!!!) recipes are catalogued under various headings, from Starters to Veggie Mains.

One thing that struck me whilst I was busy cutting and pasting links was the lack of dessert recipes on this site. There’s only three posts.  Three out of a hundred and fifty.  Wow.   It makes sense though: I’m a savoury girl and when we have company I often just buy in choc ices or Fruit Pastilles ice lollies to round off the meal.  Nowt wrong with that, I say, but I do feel that I should perhaps try my hand at a few more sweets and puddings.  In particular, it’d be nice to have a few special desserts up my sleeve for ummmm… special occasions. 

So here’s my first offering – Strawberry Shortcake.  It’s very simple but it’s beautiful and it tastes like a dream.  For the best results, whip the cream and add the strawberries and icing sugar just before serving. 

Thanks to Sophie for the cream/yogurt idea.  It lightens up this dish perfectly.

 

Strawberry Shortcake

175g soft unsalted butter, cut into chunks

225g plain flour

50g caster sugar

Finely grated zest of one lemon

200 ml double cream

1 tblspn honey

100 ml Greek yogurt

750g strawberries, hulled

Icing sugar

  • Add the butter, flour and sugar to a blender and whizz until the ingredients form a rough ball. 
  • Place mixture in a 22cm springform cake tin and press down to cover bottom.  Prick with a fork and bake in a 180oC oven for 45 minutes until golden.  Cool in tin.
  • Whisk the double cream and honey until just whipped.  Fold in the yogurt until just combined.
  • Spoon the cream mixture onto the shortbread and pile the strawberries on top.  
  • Dust with icing sugar and serve.

 

Sweetcorn and Green Pepper Fritters

Quite often when I am making something a bit different for a weekend lunch D does his own thing and makes a sandwich for himself.  He likes his sandwiches does my D.  On many of these occasions we have sat opposite each other eating our respective lunches and I am consumed by jealousy.  His roast beef and mustard toastie or cheese and ham bap have frequently looked much better than the botched tofu stir fry or sunken, stodgy souffle that sits before me and I have often regretted my sandwich rejection.

Well, not this time.

This time it was D who looked longingly across the table at my perfect plate of fritters.  And it was D who shoved his own plate away in digust.  And it was D who begged for just a “wee taste, just to see what it tastes like. Go on. Go on.  Go on!”   And it was me who chuckled smugly at the reversed rolls.

Of course, being the magnanimous girlfriend that I am, I did let him have one.  But just one.  That’s as much sharing of these little lovelies as I was willing to do!  ;)

Sweetcorn and Green Pepper Fritters

(serves 2)

100g self raising flour

Pinch of salt

130ml ml milk

1 egg

1 tblspn olive oil

1/2 onion

1/2 green pepper

1 stick of celery

1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup sweetcorn (i used frozen)

1 tblspn chopped parsley

  • First of all make the batter.  Sift together the flour and salt.  Add the milk and egg and whisk until a smooth batter the consistency of double cream is formed.   Add a little extra milk or flour if too thick or too runny.   Set aside to rest.
  • Meanwhile, chop the onion, green pepper and celery to approximately sweetcorn size.  Heat 1/2 tblspn of oil in a non-stick frying pan and ;et the latter vegetables sweat in the pan for a few minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the sweetcorn and cooking until sweetcorn is heated through but onion etc still have a little crunch.  Set aside to cool for five minutes.
  • Add the vegetables and parsley to the batter and stir well.  Season carefully.
  • Wipe the non-stick pan clean then add the remaining 1/2 tblspn of oil to it.  Smear the oil around the pan with kitchen roll.  The frying pan needs only to be lightly greased. 
  • Get the pan very hot then add the batter to the pan 1 tblspn at a time, ensuring fritters do not touch.
  • Cook fritters for 2-3 minutes on one side until little bubbles appear around the edges then flip over and cook for another 3 minutes on that side. 
  • Keep in a warm oven until all of the fritters are cooked and you are ready to dig into them.

I served this with a  dill, garlic and fromage frais dip.  Nam nam.

Malt and Maple Loaf

Mention “malt loaf” to a Brit and they will generally think of Soreen.  Dense, dark and fudgy, Soreen is the kind of cake my nana used to have in her bread tin to eat alongside her afternoon coffee.  It’s good stuff but it’s nothing like the tea-bread I’ve been making recently.

Lighter, less chewy and less treacley, my own version of the malt loaf is more like a fruit-loaf but with a very distinctive malted flavour.  It’s lovely sliced with some strawberry jam but is spectacular toasted and smeared generously with butter.

P.S.  In the past I’ve used honey or treacle or plain syrup instead of the maple syrup and the loaf has still been very good.  Think the maple flavour does add a little something though.  :)

Malt and Maple Loaf

15g dried yeast

15g caster sugar

150ml warm water

400g plain flour

200g sultanas

2 tblspn maple syrup

3 tblspn malt extract

25g butter

1/2 tspn salt

(Extra warm water may be required)

  • Whisk together the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl.  Cover and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat along with the maple sugar, malt extract and salt.  Do not boil.  Remove liquid from the heat once the butter has melted and combined with the syrups.
  • Sift the flour into the yeast liquid.  Add the sultanas and contents of the pan.  Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and create a dough. 
  • Remove dough from the bowl and knead on a floured surface for a good 5 minutes.  You may need to add a little extra water if dough is too tough.
  • Shape dough into a loaf shape and place in a buttered 1kg loaf tin.  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 4 – 6 hours or until the dough has risen to the top of the pan or doubled in size.
  • Bake in a 180 oC oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and cool thoroughly before slicing and enjoying.