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Why didn’t I ever try these before??? They are one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a long time, perhaps even ever! A little while back I did a post asking you how you eat your crumpets, and a couple of people mentioned grilling cheese or marmite and cheese on top of them – to be honest, I thought the idea of a savoury crumpet sounded a bit weird.
But today, with not much else around and pretty bored at the idea of eating crumpets with golden syrup on for lunch, I thought it was about time I gave them a go. I toasted my crumpets first – I am a bit particular about how I toast my crumpets, on my toaster I put them in on setting 6 first, then toast them again on setting 2 but on the bagel setting so only the tops get another toasting.
Comfort food here we come! This idea was given to us by friends on New Year’s Eve as we tucked into bowls of rice and slow cooked chilli con carne – they suggested that the best way to eat leftover chilli was on top of cheese on toast. It just had to be tried.
It didn’t disappoint. We used a crusty white loaf from Barbakan, topped with melted Cheddar for the cheese on toast. We reheated the slow cooked chilli (made with chunks of organic beef from Bryn Cocyn rather than mince) and added half a tin of baked beans to make it go further.
It was utterly delicious – from now on I’m going to make sure we always have leftover chilli after making it, just so we can have this the next day.
When it comes to pasta bakes, I’m usually pretty unadventurous – favouring a simple tomato sauce and lumps of fresh mozzarella or the grated version. Cooked until the cheese top is golden and crisp.
Last night I decided we needed a bit of a shake up. Still featuring lots of cheese, of course, I made a cheesy broccoli pasta bake. So simple, and yet it tasted nicer than I thought it would.
Heat your oven up to about 180 – 200°C. Cut the broccoli up into bite-sized pieces. Pop a pan of water onto boil and add your pasta.
You want to just undercook the pasta (it carries on cooking in the oven), and add the broccoli for the last few minutes to cook a little. Drain the pasta and the broccoli.
While the pasta is cooking, make a cheese sauce. I use equal amounts of butter and flour to make a roux, then add hot milk a bit at a time, and stir like mad with a whisk to keep it smooth. Bring to the boil and keep whisking – this was my job when I was growing up.
Add lots of grated mature Cheddar to the sauce and stir in until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the drained pasta and broccoli and mix together.
Put the whole lot into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over an extra bit of grated cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbling.
I would pop this firmly in the category of ‘Comfort Food’. Good for cold wintery nights or when you’re feeling low. This is food that hugs you.
I’ve made chopped salads before and love the simplicity of the concept – chop a whole load of salad ingredients together with a splash of dressing. Yup, that’s it. It appeals to me when I’m working at home and want a quick but healthy sort of lunch.
It may seem daft to sort of mush up all those lovely ingredients into one pile of finely chopped salad, but I think it actually does something to the flavour. By chopping things together the flavours begin to mingle to create something new and wonderful.
For this green salad, I started by chopping together lettuce (a crisp crunchy lettuce like cos or baby gem work best – soft leaved lettuce will just disappear into nothing), cucumber, spring onions, and parsley (but you could use herbs and a mixture would be lovely).
Then I chopped up an avocado and mixed everything together in a bowl. Next, I made a hollow in the salad and added my dressing ingredients – a place of mustard (I used Dijon), vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Then give everything a really good mix together so that all the ingredients and flavours can start to mingle.
At this point taste it and adjust the dressing flavourings to taste. You can also add in other bits and pieces – I crumbled in some Cheddar cheese.
Finally, I mounded it into my bowl and topped with a generous sprinkle of crumbled Cheddar. A fantastic way to eat a lot of vegetables – in this case a lot of green ones – and a different take on the salad.
What do you put into your chopped salad? Pieces of crispy bacon appeal to me.
It seems unlikely that I’ll be making cheese this year. Perhaps not one for my New Year’s Resolution list, with barely enough time to do all the things I’ve already committed myself to, I think cheese making will stay firmly as a long term ‘to do’.
I have, however, been enjoying reading this blog by somebody who does have the time to make homemade cheese – and I’m extremely jealous. I can also dream of the day when I might have the time…!
If, unlike me, you have plenty of time to spare, and cheesemaking takes your fancy, this blog is the place to start. They’ve been making everything from blue cheese to ricotta, Cheddar to halloumi, and even Camembert style cheese! Plus they give loads of details on how to do it yourself.
Image: the handyface blog
Sometimes, even on a weekend you can’t be bothered cooking or don’t have the energy. Having things lying around in the fridge or cupboards that can make a tasty meal is essential and ensures you can eat well without trying too hard.
So here you have it: