June 28, 2012

'Not a Grilled' Cheese Sandwich

Bread with a few slices of cheese seems to be a go-to sambo. Whether you're a mature red cheddar, white cheddar, sliced, grated, brie or processed cheese, brown bread or white bread type of person it is safe to say: a cheese sambo never fails. It is what is it. It can be simple: bread, butter and cheese or slightly- slightly fancy with some chutney or piccalilli spread on.  

In my opinion a toasted or grilled cheese sambo is the bomb. It can't be beaten. It is so comforting. I just love what happens to cheese when it melts. It goes stringy, oozy and is just about the best thing in the world. No exaggeration.  

I have made (and eaten) a good few grilled cheese sandwiches. Normally, I would make a grilled cheese under the grill. However, our electricity hasn't been playing nice this week. So, we've had to come up with lunches and dinners that can be cooked on gas. This cheese sambo was cooked toasted and melted in a pan.

Boy, oh boy! Talk about life changing! I'm converted. There is something so satisfying about cooking in a pan over a flame. The crispy crusty golden exterior you get on the bread as it is cooking is mind blowing. Once you cut into the sandwich the cheese just oozes out in the most beautiful way possible! It really is art. 

I made my sambo with fresh bread, fresh mozzarella and fresh tomatoes. Go fresh for a Grade A sambo!

If you wanted to make a meal out of this sambo it would go so so so so well with this roasted spicy tomato soup I made the other week. 

Damn!! Why didn't I think of that!


Holly, x

Sandwich for one please: buttered bread, sliced mozzarella and sliced tomato.

Assembly: tomato on top of bread...

...cheese on top of tomato.

Close up your sandwich and butter the outside.

Lay the buttered side down in a hot pan, butter the other side.

Flip once golden brown. Continue flipping until the cheese is perfectly melted.

Recipe, makes 1 Sandwich

2 Slices Sourdough Bread/Fresh Bakes Bread, sliced
1 Tomato
3 Slices Mozzarella 

Slice two pieces of bread about 1/2 an inch thick.
Slice the tomato and mozzarella into three slices.
Butter the bread.
Lay on the tomato followed by the mozzarella. 
Lay the second piece of bread on top, buttered side down.
Once your sandwich is made, heat a small frying pan.
Once hot, butter the outside of the sandwich with butter-this helps to prevent it sticking to the pan and gives it a lovely crispy outside. 
Cook on one side for about 2 minutes or until golden and crispy brown, flip over and repeat on the other side. 
Flip the sandwich twice more to ensure the mozzarella is oozy and meltly!
Cut in half and enjoy!

June 24, 2012

Thai Red Curry with Perfect Fluffy Rice

My family and I, we were never 'big' into Sunday Roasts. Having roast beef, pork or chicken on a Sunday with all the trimmings...it was never really our thing. Don't get me wrong, now and then we enjoyed a roast dinner. However, never was a roast viewed as a Sunday necessity. Eating together as a family was traditional enough for us. 

I know some people might be horrified at the thought of this! 'No Sunday Roast?!' What can I say...we are a little unconventional, but it works perfectly for us. 

A delicious example of our unconventionality: Thai Red Curry on a Sunday! People might consider curry a chilled Friday night meal, with a few cold beers. A curry can be given a spicy sophistication that can impress the swankiest of eaters.

By making your own red curry paste you have already gotten major food points. You can control how spicy, zesty, lemony or aromatic your curry is going to be. You are the composer of this dish. I added two chillies to my curry paste, I probably could have added another one. I was overly cautious because between you and me, I'm a little scared of spicy food. 

I made my curry with chicken but you could totally change it up with pork or prawns. Even make it vegetarian with sweet potato, squash, cauliflower and aubergine. 

Curry anyone?



Fresh ginger, red onion, lemon grass, line and coriander for the paste.

Bruise the lemon grass with the back of a knife to release the zingy lemony aroma and...

...roughly chop with the chilli, red onion and grated ginger.

Add the juice of one lime.

Adding tomato purée gives a depth of flavour and a rich red colour. Fact. 

Blitz in a food processor until smooth. FYI, this smells amazing! 

Fry the curry paste with chicken. 

By frying the curry paste you are releasing all the flavours from the fresh blitzed vegetables. 

This stage is vital to ensure you reach flavour town.

Add the creamy coconut and reduce slightly. We've got lots of yummy sauce here.

Add the snap peas, so colourful and crispy. 

Rice, salt, pepper, ground cumin, coriander and a bay leaf.

Cover with hot stock, bring to the boil, simmer...

...remove from heat, cover with a tea towel and steam for a further two minutes.

All the liquid will have been absorbed by the rice and you should (will) have perfectly fluffy rice!

Recipe, Serves 5

Red Curry Paste, makes 3-4 tablespoons. 

1-2 Red Chillies
2cm Piece Ginger
2 Lemon Grass Stalks
1 Red Onion
1 Tablespoon Tomato Purée
1 Lime, juiced
Bunch of Coriander

Bruise the lemon grass with the back of a knife and peel the ginger.
Roughly chop the lemon grass, chili and onion.
Finely grate the ginger.
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. 
Add the tomato purée, lime juice and coriander.
Turn on the machine and blend to a smooth paste.
Set aside. 

5 Chicken Fillets
600ml Full Fat Coconut Milk
350g ( 2 Packets) Snap Peas
Vegetable Oil

Cut the chicken into strips.
Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the chicken.
Cook until the outside of the chicken turns white. 
Add the curry paste and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring. 
Add the coconut milk.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
Add the snap peas, turn off the heat, clamp on the lid and allow to steam-make sure the snap peas stay crisp and green.
Serve with the below rice recipe.

Perfect Fluffy Rice (Every time!!)

500g Long Grain Rice
1 Litre Hot Chicken/Vegetable Stock 
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper

Put everything in a pot.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, clamp on the lid and simmer slowly for 7 minutes.
Check rice.
Rice should have absorbed all the stock. 
Remove from heat, lay a tea towel over the pot and cover with the lid.
Allow to sit for 2 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve.

June 21, 2012

Butter Pecan Maple Ice Cream- Without an Ice-Cream Machine!

Ice-cream without an ice-cream churner? Absolutely. This method uses a food processor. I guarantee you that your ice-cream will be 100% creamy,  with no ice crystals.  

The goal with ice-cream, is that you want to freeze the liquid ice cream base so that no ice crystals form. An ice-cream churner ensures this by constantly churning the liquid, giving it no time to form the crystals. I have come across two other methods for making ice-cream without an ice-cream churner. 

1. Pour the liquid ice-cream base into a metal tray, place it in the freezer and every 20 minutes break up the ice crystals with a fork.
2. Pour the liquid ice-cream base into a freezer bag.  Place this inside another freezer bag that is full of ice cubes and shake. Both methods will leave you exhausted, broken hearted with icy ice-cream! But .....I have a solution!

By using a food processor, all the hard work gets done and your ice-cream will be lusciously creamy. The only downside, is that this method takes a little longer. No biggie. 

You begin by making a basic ice-cream base by cooking egg yolks, sugar, milk and cream. This then gets poured into a freezer bag and gets frozen into a block. Once frozen, remove it from the freezer and break it into chunks. Place the chunks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth. You may need to do batches, depending on how big your food processor is. At this point,  you can add whatever flavouring you like: vanilla, mint, chopped strawberries, cooled espresso. Pour the flavoured liquid into a bread tin, refreeze for 25-35 minutes and scoop! 

I decided to make Butter Pecan Maple Ice-Cream. Boy, am I happy I did! The caramelised buttery pecans are like little nuggets of deliciousness speckled throughout the super creamy maple ice-cream. 

Once you start making this ice-cream early enough during the day, it should be ready for eating on the same day. Obviously I didn't! I started making mine at 4pm-not optimum ice-cream making hour, without an ice-cream machine. So, I left my ice-cream base freeze over night. I also made it on a day that was pouring rain and thundering outside. 

Forget about the weather, it's summer. Make ice-cream whenever you god damn want!


Holly x

Pecans tossed with melted butter...

...add light brown sugar and return to heat.

Toast and cook the butter and sugar until it goes caramely. Cool on a sheet of baking parchment.

Once cooled, chop.

Beat egg yolks and caster sugar together until...

... voluminous and pale.

Clean down the edge of the bowl.

While whisking constantly, slowly add 100ml of hot milk and cream.

This is known as tempering.

Add the tempered egg yolks back into the pot with milk and cream.

Cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens.

Cook until the mixture coats the back of  the wooden spoon. Run your finger down the wooden spoon, it should leave a clean trail.

Pour the mixture into freezer bags and freeze.

Remove once frozen, break into chunks and place into the bowl of a food processor.

Turn on and blitz until you a have a creamy slush, with NO lumps or large chunks of ice crystals.

Pour into a bowl, add 125ml maple syrup (maybe more, to taste)...

...add chopped pecans and mix.

Pour into a bread tin and freeze. It should take about 25-35 minutes to harden up again.

Scoop and serve.

Recipe, Makes 1-2 Litres.

Butter Pecans

Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
15g Butter
100g Pecans

Melt butter in a frying pan. 
Add pecans and sugar.
Cook over a medium heat until the pecans are toasted and the butter and sugar has made a caramel.
Pour onto parchment, cool, chop.

Maple Ice-Cream

500ml Full Fat Milk
500l Cream
250ml Maple Syrup
5 Egg Yolks

In a pot heat together the milk, cream and 125ml of the maple syrup. Do not boil.
Using a hand held mixer, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and voluminous.
Whisk in 100ml of the heated cream mixture into the eggs.
Add back into the pot of cream and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon  until it thickens.
You know it is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Pour into a freezer bag sitting on a tray and freeze into a block.
Once frozen , break into chunks and blitz in a food processor until smooth with no lumps or ice crystals.
Pour into a bowl.
Add the rest of the maple syrup -or enough  to taste, and the chopped pecans. 
Mix, pour into a bread tin and refreeze for 30 minutes.

June 18, 2012

Raspberry and Blueberry Crumb Bars

Have you ever baked something that deserved a proper send off before you ate it? Well I have and I am here to share that very thing with you. These Raspberry and Blueberry Crumb Bars scream Afternoon Tea. Break out the china tea cups and fancy cake plates. Have  some friends over to honour these delish crumb bars. 

These crumb bars are a mix between a fruit tart, a fruit crumble, a jam tart and a lemon slice. Do I need to say anything more to make you wanna bake 'em?! Nope? I didn't think so. 

These are serenely easy to make and just as simple to eat (!!!). There is no over complicated pastry crust making. Let's be honest, making pastry can sometimes be a hardship. Fear not, nobody will be challenged by this pastry crust. I exaggerate not. There is some light weighing out of ingredients and cubing of butter before a machine gets turned on to finish the work. By all means, make this pastry crust by hand if you like (show off!).

I used a mixture of frozen raspberries and blueberries, that were thawed in a sieve over a bowl to catch their juices. If you can afford oodles of fresh berries well, then I insist that you do! Bask in your fresh berry-ness. Blackberries would be ace to use as well. No strawberries though, they go to squishy and lose all their vibrant red colour-sad times. 

This recipe is easily doubled and the bars keep really well for 2 days. But, as I have stated above they are really easy to eat. So, the latter comment probably will not apply. 


Holly x

Place flour, sugar and  butter in the bowl of a food mixer... 

...and work slowly until it comes together like the above picture. (Pretty easy!)

Tip 3/4 of the pastry crust into a buttered and lined tin.

Use your fingers to push the crust evenly over the base of the tin.

Mix the remaining 1/4 of crust in the food mixer with 25g of porridge oats.

Spread the crust with 2 tablespoons of lemon curd. (Delish)

Top with your filling of raspberries, blueberries, cornstarch, lemon zest and sugar. 

Aren't the colour just the prettiest?

Crumble over the remaining crumb that has been mixed with porridge and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Check out that crumble topping...mmm...

...so hard not to pick it off when these crumb bars are cooling! 

Recipe, makes 12 (depending on how large you cut them)

Pastry Crust

175g Butter, slightly softened
240g Plain Flour
150g Caster Sugar
25g Porridge Oats

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Butter and line a 10' square tin.
Cube the butter.
Place all the ingredient in the bowl of a food mixer fit with a paddle attachment.
Slowly mix the ingredients until they come together like pastry. See picture.
Tip 3/4 of the crust into the lined tin.
Use your fingers and push the crust evenly over the base.
Mix the remaining crust with the porridge oats.

Raspberry and Blackberry Filling

350-400g Berries, Fresh or Frozen, thawed and drained if frozen
50g Caster Sugar
1 Lemon, Zested
3 Teaspoon Cornstarch
2 Tablespoon Thick Lemon Curd 

Mix the berries (thawed and drained if frozen), sugar, lemon zest and cornstarch together in a bowl.
Spread the pastry crust with lemon curd.
Pour over the berry mixture.
Crumble over the remaining porridge crust.
Bake in the preheated for 45-55 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. 
Allow to cool for 2 hours before cutting.