Category Archives: Party Food

Chicken Satay Sticks

Chicken Satay

Jacques tucking into his ‘chicken lollipops’ with zeal

I’ve been meaning to make satay sticks for the kids for so long now, and it’s taken me to host the Four Seasons Food barbecue event to actually get around to it. And predictably they were a huge hit. With both the littlies and myself, plus some friends I also trialled them out on with an additional chilli kick. It’s funny how food on sticks is always so appealing? And now, predictably also, I’m wondering why oh why it took me so long! Prepped in minutes, left to marinade for a few hours then barbied or grilled in a flash.

PAC_Logo_L-300x300Having travelled extensively in SE Asia in my twenties I must have gobbled my way through an inordinate amount of pork and chicken satay sticks through Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, each with their national and regional twists. Always an exceptionally tasty, cheap and highly addictive street food snack on the hoof.

Pig A Chic @ FBC5

Pig A Chic @ FBC5

I was recently reminded and inspired of the wonders of satay by the highly authentic Pig A Chic who were dishing out Thai satay sticks and papaya salad (plus a range of hot sauces) a plenty to hungry delegates all weekend at Food Blogger Connect. If you get a chance to sample their food then you really MUST, please do check out their site at www.pigachic.com or follow them on Twitter @Pigachic.

Even Little Miss F LOVED them, devouring three!

Even Little Miss F LOVED them, devouring three!

Now on to my own considerably less authentic but nevertheless pretty tasty Satay Sticks. I made them first minus any chilli with the kids in mind and the ‘chicken lollipops’ proved very popular. I think Jacques managed five and Little Miss F three. And served with barbecued Halloumi & Roasted Veggie Kebabs and a Child-Friendly Salad that was an impressive eat. Yes, salad….I’ve FINALLY found a salad they’ll eat, but more on that in a later post. Whilst the chilli-less ones were fragrantly tasty I have to admit to personally preferring my grown-up version with a couple of finely minced hot chillies thrown into the marinade mix.

Naturally I shall be entering my post to this month’s Four Seasons fsf-summerFood, hosted by myself and with the seasonal theme of Barbecues and Barbecue Side DishesAnd if you have your own barbecue dish then please do join in, there’s even a prize this month of the Pitt Cue Co Cookbook.

Chicken Satay Sticks

Chicken Satay Sticks

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Appetisers, Starters, Mains, Barbecues (or Grilling)

Special Equipment: Pre-soaked bamboo skewers or metal skewers

Notes: How about substituting the chicken for pork or tofu?

3 free range chicken breasts

2 heaped tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

2 tablespoons thick coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 dessertspoon Thai fish sauce

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 heaped teaspoon soft brown sugar

1 – 2 hot chillies, finely minced (optional)

1. Flatten the chicken breasts a little. I usually bash mine with a rolling pin on a chopping board. Pretty therapeutic actually. Cut the flattened chicken into narrow long strips, about six per breast.

2. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium sized bowl to make the marinade.

3. Stir the chicken strips into the marinade. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two. Or even over night.

4. Cut in half and soak your bamboo skewers (if using) in water for 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook.

5. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers.

6. Heat up your barbecue or grill. When very hot cook the chicken on each side for 5 minutes until a little charred and cooked through. Serve immediately.

Chicken Satay Sticks

My grown-up chillied version served up as part of a Tapas night with the gals. Inclusive of sangria.

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Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Blue Cheese Burgers

Blue Cheese Barbecue Burgers

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Strawberry and Banana Yoghurt Pops

Francesca: strawberry & banana yogurt pops

Wowsers things are busy round here. Packing and organising for the BIG move to the UK, working on a migration to a new blog (more on my exciting venture soon!), a trip to London for Food Blogger Connect last weekend (again more on this wonderful weekend shortly), snippets of time visiting friends for good byes AND it’s the big ten week school holidays here so have two kids desperate for some holiday action!. Needless to say there’s been many a trip to various water parks, swimming pools and lakes. So I offer my sincere apologies for the sporadic blogging now and over the next few weeks.  The simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all I have to do!.

In view of my extreme state of busyness here’s a real quickie of a recipe today, Strawberry and Banana Yoghurt Pops which could probably be made and bobbed in the freezer in less than two minutes flat. And they’re good, really good. More importantly the kids LOVE them, and since they’re considerably healthier than any lolly you could possibly buy, containing only fresh fruit, natural yogurt and a weeny bit of honey to sweeten, that’s a very good thing in this baking hot weather we’re currently having!. Homemade lollies are definitely the way forward, and if you don’t have any lolly makers why not invest in a set or two, mine cost a mere two euros! And if you don’t want to use fresh fruit you could always just fill and freeze them with fruit juice (which is actually what I do more often than not!).

Feel free to vary your fresh fruit, a few days ago I also made a batch with raspberries and peaches (though admittedly I did add a little more honey), just use up whatever you have lurking. A great way to get your kids eating plenty of fruit, and to quickly use up any gluts.

Strawberry & Banana Lolly

Credit-Crunch-MunchBeing notably cheaper than bought lollies I shall be entering this post to Credit Crunch Munch’s event, co-hosted by Camila of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Strawberry-FundasFlavours, and this month by Sian of Fishfingers for Tea. I recently happened to notice a new challenge on the block called Strawberry Preservation Fundas, hosted by Techie Cookie Freaky calling for bloggers to submit their strawberry preservation recipes, so naturally I thought of entering my lollies!.

Yogurt Lollies

Strawberry and Banana Yogurt Pops

Great For: Toddlers and Pre-schoolers, Big Kids, Grown Ups, Summer, Parties, Snacks, After School Treats, Fruit Gluts

Serves: Makes 6 Lollies (though this will depend on the size of your lolly maker)

Special Equipment: a hand held stick blender OR food processor or liquidiser, lolly makers

125g strawberries, washed and hulled

a large banana

125g plain yogurt, greek, cows, sheeps, goats are all fine (I’ve tried them all!)

dessertspoon of runny honey

1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whiz with a stick blender until the consistency of a smoothie. Or place in a processor or liquidiser and blitz.

2. Pour into your lolly moulds and place in a freezer for a few hours or overnight until they’re set.

And that really is all there is to it!. Off to do some packing…..

Strawberry & Banana Yogurt Pops

Strawberry & Banana Yogurt Pops

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Minted Pea and Feta Dip

Pea & Feta Dip

I make a lot of dips at Chez Foti. The kids love them, usually, and they strike me as one of the best and easiest ways to pump lots of raw veggies into little tums. They’ll happily munch away on pepper, carrot and cucumber sticks with a tasty dip but rarely touch them otherwise. Especially not in a form of salad. Oh no, not a salad. It’s funny now kids just don’t ‘do’ salad eh? I wonder at what age they’ll happily tuck into a plate of dressed leaves, 10?, 18?. Please do let me know what tricks you deploy, or at what age they’ll get salad?. I fear we’re a long way off from reaching that milestone.

So dips and sticks it is for a while. But dips are good anyway, and can be made from pretty wholesome ingredients. And they’re so conveniently quick, a couple of minutes of assembly followed by a further couple of whizzing and dolloping and hey presto a homemade dip in probably less time than you’ve take to select a supermarket ready-made one. Here’s a couple of my previously dippy posts: A Couple of Fishy Dippy Dip Dips and A Trio of Dips for Babies, Toddlers & Big People.

And this is a goodie of a dip, and could even be made from store cupboard ingreds. Simply peas (fresh or frozen) whizzed up with feta, lemon zest & juice, fresh mint and a little olive oil and black pepper. Very very tasty. And met with 50% approval from the kids. Jacques wolfed it down, and Francesca reluctantly tried after several minutes of complaining that she didn’t like ‘green sauce’ (meaning pesto which she has a weird and inexplicable fear of!) and ate some. Not too bad a result. And I’ll be happily polishing off the rest for my own dinner of dips and sticks later. Though possibly with wine.

Pea and Feta Dip

Dips also give me an excuse to bring out my new and very gorgeous Oogaa divider bowls. Thanks so much to my friend Sam for sending them over, and indeed for designing such wonderful products in the first place!. Pretty fab I think you’ll agree. And my kids LOVE them, such fun and vibrant colours and designs.

fsf-summerJust a couple of challenges to enter. Firstly my very own co-hosted Four Seasons Food challenge, this month hosted by Anneli over at (award winning!) Delicieux with the theme of Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. Would you believe this’ll be entry numero 48?. Cooking-with-HerbsNot bad for our first month! And secondly to the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge. And finally for my first ever time to Anyonita Nibbles’ Tasty Tuesdays

Minted Pea & Feta Dip

Minted Pea & Feta Dip

Great for: Finger Foods, Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Picnics, Lunches, Nibbles, Snacks

200g fresh or frozen peas

75g feta, crumbled

½ lemon, zest & juice

1 dessertspoon finely chopped fresh mint

black pepper, to taste

1. Steam or boil the peas for a couple of minutes. Drain and cool in cold water.

2. Place the cooled peas together with all the other ingredients in a bowl and whiz with a stick blender OR in a food processor.

Easy as that!. Hardly a recipe today I’m afraid, but busy, busy times.

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Homemade Fish Fingers

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Spinach and Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

I feel I should start this post by way of an apology. It’s an awful photo. I know. It shall be replaced next time I make this pie, and being such a tasty pie as it is this won’t be long. But as time is most definitely in short supply right now I’m going with the shameful shot in order to make another entry to this month’s Four Seasons Food challenge.

I’d also like to take to take the opportunity to offer huge and well deserved congratulations to my friend and partner in foodie crime for the Four Seasons Food challenge, Anneli! If you haven’t already heard she won the glittering Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Food award on Friday night for her gorgeous and inspiring Delicieux blog. I believe she’s still getting over the hangover and on her way back to rural SW France as I write. Well done Anneli, so can’t wait to help you celebrate!

So on to the Pie. I’ve been intending to bake this pie for a long long time, and despite the sad photos it was stunningly tasty. And took me right back to many a happy Greek joliday of yonder year. Though also made me a little sad, sad in the sense it was made with shop bought spinach and not Chez Foti spinach which until recently has been growing in huge abundance. As my garden winds up there’s very little greenery out there any more, bar a barrage of weeds and lots of (overgrown) herbs. In case you didn’t know I’m moving back to the UK this summer, back with the littlies to be nearer my family in gorgeous and foodie Herefordshire. Which funnily enough is very similar and gentle countryside to where I live now, minus the Pyrenees obviously!. And one day very soon I’ll be very excited to start another veggie plot on English soil. But more on my new venture in another blog soon.

Anyway, I digress again. Back to the pie, which was a real doddle to make. And makes for a wonderful cold or warm picnic, lunch or dinner munch. Don’t be put off by the filo, it’s so easy to use and very forgiving in any shape or form!. The pie’s assembled in a flash, simply a matter of sweating a little onion and garlic, followed by a seemingly monstrous amount of fresh spinach. A stirring in of lightly beaten eggs flavoured with nutmeg and a little Dijon mustard, pine kernels, parsley and feta. Then spooning into a filo pastry shell, topped with more filo and baked for a mere 30 minutes.

fsf-summerNaturally I shall be entering my picnic-perfect pie to the Four Cooking-with-HerbsSeasons Food challenge, a new monthly event hosted by myself and (award winning!) Anneli at Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s aptly Picnics and Outdoor Nibbles. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event,Simple and in Season Ren Behans Simple and in Season and Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.Made with Love Mondays

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

Spinach & Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Great For: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers (if they’re not green adverse!), Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Week-end Slowies, Picnics, Nibbles, Mains, Lunches, Dinners, Dinner Parties, Parties, Spinach Growers (sob, sob)

Notes: Substitute fresh spinach for the same weight in frozen spinach which has defrosted (no need to wilt)

Serves: 4-6 large slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, medium sized, medium dice

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

500g fresh spinach, washed & dried and roughly shredded

2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley

200g Feta cheese, crumbled

50g pine kernels

3 free range eggs

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

pepper

4 large or 8 small sheets filo pastry

40ml olive oil

Special Equipment: a small ovenproof baking tray, pie dish or tart tin (roughly 20 x 20), round square or oblong! A pastry brush.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan on a low to medium heat. Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

3. With the pan still on the heat stir in the spinach, in batches, until it’s all wilted. It helps to have a saucepan lid. Once wilted take off the heat and set aside.

4. Stir into the spinach the parsley, Feta and pine kernels. Lightly whisk together the eggs with the nutmeg and Dijon mustard. Stir the eggs into the spinach along with a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Ensure everything’s very well combined.

5. Grease your chosen dish or tin liberally with olive oil. Line it with a small sheet of filo pastry or half a large sheet (letting the other half of a larger sheet hang over one side – it will form the top once the filling’s been added). Brush the sheet with olive oil before adding another layer. Continue until you have 4 base layers of filo.

6. Spoon in the spinach mix and evenly spread. Layer 4 small sheets of filo pastry on the top, brushing on oil between each and tucking the edges into the sides to seal the pie. I like to scrunch them up for effect. If using the larger sheets turn them over and scrunch them onto to the top of the pie and tuck into the sides. It might look messy but filo pies are very forgiving!.

7. Brush the top with olive oil if you haven’t already done so. Place in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until set, golden and crispy. Turn out of the dish, if you dare, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Lovely warm or cold.

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Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce


A Couple of Summer Crostini for the Four Seasons Food Challenge!

Summer Crostini Recipes

I’m a huge fan of Crostini and Bruschetta, well anything tasty on toast to be honest. Little niblets of loveliness to gobble down between sups of vin blanc on balmy summer evenings (of which admittedly we’ve had precisely one so far this year!). And they don’t just have to be for grown ups, Jacques in particularly gets very excited about crostini, though Francesca’s a little more cautious, as ever. Whenever we have friends over I can’t resist a few toasty offerings and these are my favourite toppings of the moment.

Firstly a Wild Garlic and Cannellini Bean Crostini, a simple mix of cannellini beans, lemon zest and juice, a small bunch of wild garlic leaves and bulbs , a little green chili, olive oil and seasoning. Plus a sprinkling of parsley to finish. No cooking (bar the crostini toasts) just a simple assembly job. And it so happens to double as a deliciously morish dip, which I find requires considerable restraint to not polish off in a single session.

Secondly there’s my now-favourite topping of all time. Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini. Admittedly this is a little more faffy, but so so worth the effort. And exceptionally crowd pleasing to all ages and tastes. And since all the elements (like the Cannellini Crostini) can be made in advance you don’t have to be faffing when your guests arrive.

fsf-summerI shall, of course, be entering this post to my brand new Four Seasons Food blogging Simple and in Seasonchallenge, co-hosted my myself and Anneli of Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s Summer Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. Cooking-with-HerbsAnd as the ingredients are all in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And last but most certainly not least to Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Cannellini Beans & Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic & Cannellini Bean Crostini

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, wild garlic foragers, dipping

Notes: Substitute the wild garlic for a crushed clove of cultivated garlic if you can’t forage or source

1 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, plus a generous squeeze of juice

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 small bunch of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped or 1 clove of cultivated garlic, crushed

½ green chili, finely chopped, optional

salt and pepper

1 dessertspoon finely chopped parsley for the top

crostini toasts – see recipe here

1. Simply mix together the beans, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, chili (if using) and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. If you’re making for little people avoid the chili (unless they like it) and salt.

2. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to suit.

3. Serve spooned onto crostini with a little chopped parsley on top or as a dip with crudités or breadsticks.

Summer Crostini Toppings

Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini:

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though Jacques at three adores these!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, courgette growers, pesto fiends

Notes: This recipe makes enough for about 12 crostini, feel free to substitute the homemade pesto with shop bought, but homemade is a cinch to make and truly sublime on this recipe, particularly parsley pesto (made with any sort of nut)

Special Equipment: A griddle pan or heavy based frying pan

1 large or 2 small courgettes, washed

2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

salt and pepper

12 crostini toasts – see recipe here

2 – 3 tablespoons of homemade parsley pesto, or you could make your own recipe using these mix ‘n match ideas

100g of feta cheese, crumbled

1. Slice across the courgettes into diagonal 2mm thick strips

2. Heat a griddle pan or heavy frying pan until very hot

3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

4. Fill the hot pan with a single layer of courgette slices and cook for a minute or two on each side until char-grilled. Remove the slices from the pan and place in the bowl with the oil and lemon mix.

5. Continue with more courgette slices until they’re all fully cooked and charred. Stir them all around in the bowl with the olive oil and lemon, cover and set aside to marinate until you’re ready to assemble the crostini.

6. When you’re ready for crostini assembly take each crostini and spread on a generous layer of pesto. Top with a small pile of the courgettes and finish with a crumbling of feta.

7. Serve. Eat. Divine with vin blanc.

Summer Crostini Recipes

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade


A Super-Healthy Carrot, Pineapple and Coconut Oil Cake dedicated to Jacques and his Grandpa

Carrot Cake RecipeNumerous events have occurred lately that have made me take stock and have a serious think about mine and my family’s diet. Two of which I’m going to tell you about today, hopefully without boring you too much! Firstly there’s Jacques. The boy with a terrible phlegmy night-time cough that he’s had all too regularly from the tender age of 8 months, keeping us awake for many an hour and many a night, sometimes for several months at a time. Numerous trips to the doctors when he was younger confirmed nothing. Then a few weeks ago, at a particularly sleep deprived time around his 3rd birthday we started to do lots of reading around the issue, and to my surprise discovered the cough may be down to a cow’s milk allergy. I have to confess to being a little sceptical as allergies, fortunately, don’t run in either of our families. But I thought I’d give it a go, immediately cutting out all cows milk, yogurts and cheeses. And do you know what, the cough dramatically stopped that very first night! Bearing in mind he’d been coughing every night for at least an hour for the previous few weeks this was a bit of a breakthrough. To say the least.

And since then I’ve on the whole been sticking to it, not regimentally as he obviously doesn’t have a severe allergy, but definitely making sure there’s no (cow’s) dairy in the late afternoons and evenings. And for a boy that adores his after-dinner yogurts (clearly where the problem lay!) this meant switching to sheep’s milk ones instead, which interestingly happen to be far tastier and handily readily available in yogurt-loving France. Luckily he’s never been a milk fan. And he’s barely coughed since. How wonderful is that?!. The (somewhat bitter) downside of his better nights of sleep are the ever-earlier wake ups, but that’s another story!

Jacques with his Grandpa

Jacques with his beloved Grandpa

Now the second event was a chance viewing of ITV’s DayBreak show (actually a friend called me up to watch it) and an interview with a young chappie, Kal Parmar, who claimed his father’s Alzheimer’s had dramatically reversed as a result of taking a regular dose of Coconut Oil. Following the show I turned to google and found quite a few people in the States were making similar claims. And Kal, being a budding film maker, is making a film about his dad, which I’ll be most excited to see. My own father has Alzheimer’s and was diagnosed a year and a half ago. So naturally he’s on strict instructions to take his Coconut Oil! And Coconut Oil being the wonder fat and food that it is, it strikes me he’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

But more on the wonders of Coconut Oil in a later blog (of which I have quite a few baked and planned!), but for now I’ll crack on with today’s recipe. A very low-sugar, low-fat, cow’s milk-free and pretty darned healthy Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake in honour of both Jacques and my dear Dad, who happen to share a very special bond. It uses Coconut Oil and Yogurt (Sheep’s in my case) in replacement of the usually large measure of Sunflower Oil, which make the cake a good deal healthier as well as being exceptionally moist. Despite it’s healthy line-up of ingredients this cake is impressively high in the taste stakes and we all loved it. And I know my Dad will too, nudge nudge Mum….

If you can’t source or don’t want to use coconut oil, just replace with sunflower. And if you want to naughty things up somewhat this would be sublime with a cream cheese frosting…

Carrot & Pineapple Cake

Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake

Great for toddlers, bigger kids, grown ups, dieters, healthy eaters, baking with kids, elevensies, lunch boxes, afternoon tea, after school treats, carrot cake fiends

Makes 20 – 25 small pieces

300g of Plain Flour

2 heaped teaspoons of ground Cinnamon

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

½ a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

150g of dark Soft Brown Sugar

4 medium Free Range Eggs

180ml of Plain Yogurt, Sheeps or Cows

60ml of Coconut Oil (softened) or Sunflower Oil

zest of an Orange

zest of a Lemon

220g of finely grated Carrots

120g of Sultanas

227g tin of Pineapple pieces, in natural juice, drained

Special Equipment: a 20cm by 20cm square baking tin, or similar

Pre-heat your oven to 150°c and line a small baking tin (about 20cm by 20cm) with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarb into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.

My chief stirrer!

My chief stirrer!

In another bowl lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, then whisk in the  yogurt, coconut oil and orange and lemon zest. Employ a whisker and a stirrer (i.e. small child) if you have one.

Pour the egg and yogurt mix into the flour and sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Then mix in the carrots and sultanas. Cut the pineapple pieces into small chunks and stir these in too.

Scrape the cake mix into the lined tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out of the tin and allow to cool a little on a cooling rack. It’s truly wonderful eaten fresh out-of-the-oven-warm. With a cuppa for the grown up folk.

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An Asparagus and Gruyère Tart

IMG_4804

While the weather here is grim, and I mean really GRIM, this tart is as close to a ray of sunshine as we’ll be getting for a good bit longer!. I’m talking incessant rain, gales and highs of a heady 10 degrees. And it’s the end of May! Needless to say the fires are still being lit and nightly hot water bottles filled. Quite ridiculous, but that’s enough moaning about the weather…..

One good thing though is the delightful occurrence of asparagus season, the weather may not feel like but the shops are brimming with glorious, magical spears. And round here of both the white and green varieties, though I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of the grown-in-the-dark former. It’s definitely the goodly green stuff that gets me going. And the blogosphere is full of it too, I can barely turn on my computer without there being an image of yet another fabulous asparagus (or rhubarb) recipe! And unlike the weather, I’m so not complaining about that.

Asparagus & Gruyere Tart

So here’s my first Asparagus recipe of the year (yep, there’s more to come!). A simple Asparagus Tart made with an ever so easy homemade shortcrust pastry, a large bunch of lightly steamed asparagus floating in a creme fraiche, Gruyère, Dijon mustard and eggy deliciousness topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan. Oh it’s good. A little naughty admittedly, but hey what’s the odd tart here and there between friends.

Simple and in SeasonOne-Ingredient-AsparagusNow for the bloggie challenges. Since Asparagus is so in season I’m entering my blog to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And to How to Cook Good Food and Franglais Kitchen‘s One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura this month and so happening to be glorious Asparagus, yeah! And as it’s a totally made-from-scratch tart to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays event.Made with Love Mondays

IMG_4806

Asparagus & Gruyère Tart

Great for toddlers & little people, bigger kids, family dinners, grown ups, parties, lunch or dinners, vegetarians, picnics

Enough for 4 – 6

For the Pastry:

130g of Plain Flour, plus a little extra for rolling

65g of Butter, straight from the fridge, cut into small blocks, plus a little extra for greasing

pinch of Salt & Pepper

an egg yolk and a little cold water

For the Tart Filling:

a 450g bunch of Asparagus, washed

3 free range Eggs

200ml of half fat Creme Fraiche

a heaped teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

100g of Gruyère, grated

Salt & Pepper

a tablespoon of finely grated fresh Parmesan

Special Equipment: a 19 to 25cm width quiche/tart case

Start by making your pastry. Easiest and quickest in a food processor, but can be made by hand too. If using a processor blitz the flour, salt, pepper and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and blitz again. With the machine still on add a little very cold water and continue to add until the mixture starts to come together in one piece. Remove from the processor, shape together, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

Alternatively, if you’re making by hand place the flour, salt, pepper and butter in a large bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and a little very cold water with your hands. Continue to add water until the mixture comes together in one piece. Shape together, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Snap off the tougher ends of the asparagus and throw away, slice the remaining ends into 1 to 2cm slices, retaining spheres approximately half the width of your tart or quiche case. Steam over boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Immerse in cold water, drain and set aside.

Lightly beat the eggs then stir in the creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, grated Gruyère, and pinches of salt black pepper. Set aside.

Lightly grease your chosen flan case with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll out on a floured surface into a round slightly bigger than your case. Transfer to the case. Hang any excess of pastry over the sides. Prick the base all over with a fork. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over and fill with baking beans to weight down the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes in the hot oven, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. While still hot trim the pastry around the top of the tart case to make a neat edge.

Place the small slices of asparagus in the bottom of the tart case. Pile on the creme fraiche filling. Now carefully arrange the asparagus spheres in a pretty ‘sunshine’ design on the top. Sprinkle over the Parmesan.

Slide in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until firm to touch and golden brown on top. Serve warm with a large leafy salad. Maybe some buttered new potatoes too.

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A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

PSB, Anchovy & Parmesan Tart

PSB, Anchovy & Parmesan Tart


A Couple of Fishy Dippy Dip Dips

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

To be truthful things have been a little on the busy side at Chez Foti lately. Make that insanely hectic. Way too much flitting to and from the UK for a multitude of reasons, four times in the last few weeks!. Which is all very tiring, both emotionally and physically, and has sadly meant less time to potter in the kitchen putting together new recipes and ideas. Not that we haven’t eaten well, very well indeed. But there’s been a greater reliance on those firm family favourites and the pulling together of goodies from the freezer. I’ve also been on somewhat of a mission to cook and eat my way through five enormously fruitful PSB plants, and probably been a little too reliant on my PSB Pasta and Tart recipes for quickie mid-week suppers. Plus there’s been PSB pizzas, PSB pesto pastas, PSB stir fries and PSB crostini and bruschettas a plenty!

Between the flitting and Mission PSB I’ve managed a few catch ups with friends, involving various nibbles and numerous drinkies. Nibbles at this time of year, as the weather’s happily warming up, usually means a plate of assorted Crostini (including one with the the aforementioned PSB, cooked with anchovies, garlic and chili) and a dip or two with various dipping accompaniments.

P1070766

Both these dips are made in minutes, which is always a bonus in my book. Both are very tasty indeed but I wouldn’t necessarily serve them together, possibly being a little bit too similar. And both have funnily enough been stolen from other people!. The first is a Smoked Salmon & Roasted Pepper Dip, which also makes for a wonderful sandwich filling, pate or crostini topping. It’s a recipe I ‘stole’ from a friend of mine, Anita, who nearly always turns up at social occasions with a pot of this pink loveliness. It’s a heavenly blitzed-up mix of creme cheese, smoked salmon, roasted red peppers (I use the jarred ones), a little red onion, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, and plenty of black pepper.

My second recipe is for a Tuna & Caper Dip, which I stole in idea from my big brother Julian. Again it’s wonderful in sandwiches or on crostini too.. And no blitzing required, just a stirring of creme cheese, tuna, capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and black pepper. So so simple, and perfect for impromptu drinks parties.

And they’re not just for the grown up folk. My kids love these ‘fishy dippy dip dips’, and dips are a fine (and manipulative) way to get your kids eating more raw veggies and lots of them. Namely carrot, pepper, celery and cucumber strips. So along with my faithful hummus I make dips pretty frequently at Chez Foti. For more baby and toddler-friendly dippy ideas please do bob over to a blog I wrote last year: A Trip of Dips for Babies & Toddlers.

Since there’s parsley involved I shall be entering my blog to Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Anneli over at Delicieux.
herbsonsaturday

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Great for Parties, Drinks and Nibbles, Starters, Picnics, Kids, Finger Foods, Grown Ups, Sandwiches, Crostini Toppings

150g of Creme Cheese, full fat, light, or extra light depending on how virtuous you’re feeling!

100g of Smoked Salmon trimmings

80g of Roasted Red Peppers – about 2 or 3  (you can make your own but I use the jarred shop bought ones for speed), drained of all oil

zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of juice, to taste

¼ of a small red onion, diced

a heaped teaspoon of Creamed Horseradish

a large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth and creamy texture. Or alternatively blitz with a hand held stick blender. Season with more black pepper and lemon juice to suit. Eat and devour.

Tuna & Caper Dip

Tuna & Caper Dip

Tuna & Caper Dip

Great for Parties, Drinks and Nibbles, Starters, Picnics, Kids, Finger Foods, Grown Ups, Sandwiches, Crostini Toppings

a 185g tin of Tuna, drained

150g of Cream Cheese, full fat, light, or extra light

a tablespoon of Capers, drained and rinsed

the zest of a Lemon plus a squeeze or two of juice to taste

a heaped tablespoon of chopped Parsley

a large pinch of coarsely ground Black Pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and season with more black pepper and/or lemon  juice. Eat. So so easy.

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A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta


Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything in the sweet or pud line, but then it’s pretty rare I make anything outside of a good old crumble, bread and butter pudding or a cake. But today, armed with some handsome pickings of homegrown Rhubarb, I tasked myself with being a little more inventive and put together this cheeky wee tart. A simple (bought!) puff pastry base, smeared with a fine layer of gingered & slightly sweetened creme fraiche and topped with roasted rhubarb it really is simplicity in itself. And was pretty heavenly served with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. It’s quite a ‘tart’ tart but then that’s how I personally like my fruit. Feel free to be more generous with the sugar than myself.

Rhubarb

On a sweeter note, it was my wee fella’s Big Third Birthday last week. The requested blinged-up (he LOVES his silver balls!) Choccie Cake was successfully made and (messily) consumed.

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Jacques

Since rhubarb is very much in season I shall of course be entering my tart to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event.

Simple and in Season

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart:

Serves 6:

6 – 8 Rhubarb Stalks

2 dessertspoons of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of Creme Fraiche (half or full fat)

½ teaspoon of Ground Ginger

250g of ready made Puff Pastry

a little Plain Flour for rolling

a medium Free Range Egg, lightly beaten

a teaspoon of Icing Sugar, plus a little more for serving if you wish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start with roasting off the rhubarb. Wash and cut the stems into roughly even lengths – anywhere between 5 and 10 cm. Place on a baking tray and scatter over a dessertspoon of the dark soft brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Leave the oven on for the tart.

Meanwhile mix the creme fraiche with the remaining dessertspoon of soft brown sugar, the ginger and any juices from the rhubarb tray.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll it out a little larger than you intend the tart to be, so you can cut off some side strips. It should be big enough to house your rhubarb fairly closely. Cut 0.5 to 1 cm off each side and glue on to the sides with a brushing of beaten egg. The total size of my tart was about 15 by 30 cm which is probably what you’re aiming at. Brush the side strips with the egg.

Spread a fine layer of the creme fraiche mixture over the base of the tart. There should be plenty left to serve with the cooked tart. Lay the rhubarb strips. Sprinkle (through a sieve) over a teaspoon of the icing sugar. Place in the still hot oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, cooked and risen.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. Dust with a little extra icing sugar if you wish.

A slice of Rhubarb Tart

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Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

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Clementine & Almond Cake


Anchovy, Parmesan and PSB Tart

PSB Tart

Finally the Purple Sprouting Broccoli has come good. After a year’s impatient, and doubtful, waiting all five of my plants are yielding a glutinous harvest. And what a wonderful veg to glut out on, one of the very finest in my opinion and interestingly one that the French don’t seem to do. Well at least I’ve never seen it for sale here. They really don’t know what they’re missing.

PSB

PSB

So it’s been a bit of PSB frenzy around here the last couple of weeks and one of my favourite recipes has to be this very Tart. A rich peppered shortcrust pastry (or you could cheat and buy ready-made), filled with as much PSB as you can possibly fit, bathed in a layer of eggy, creme fraiche & Parmesan loveliness and topped with preserved anchovies. Probably not a tart for the littlies in your life as it’s heavy on salty anchovies, which incidentally are a match made in foodie heaven with PSB. Though you could always omit them and still make a very tasty tart indeed, or pick them off as my kids happily did (and I charitably gobbled down on their behalves).

I know homemade pastry is considered a bit of a faff by most people but it’s surprisingly easy and generally faultless to make yourself. To cut down on faff time you can make in large batches and line and ‘bake blind’ a number of tart cases all at once, and freeze the excess for a later and convenient quickie dinner. Then the prep of the filling and baking is genuinely a doddle.

Simple and in SeasonSince PSB is so in season right now I’m entering my recipe to Fabulicious Food’s Simple and in Season event, which I was delighted to host myself in March and this month is being held by Ren herself. Not being a very regular baker it’s rare that I get a chance to enter the wonderful baking events out in the blogosphere, but this month I AlphaBakes Logohappened to notice that AlphaBakes (jointed hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and this month by Ros from One-Ingredient-April-Cheese-300x247More than an Occasional Baker) is on the Letter A (for Anchovy). So I’m delighted to be making my first ever entry! And last but most certainly not least as Cheese is the theme I shall be entering my tart to this month’s One Ingredient Challenge, an event hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen

Please don't be fooled that we're eating out and basking in sunshine here. This was taken in a few minutes of warm sun we had last week - and it's rained ever since!

Please don’t be fooled we’re eating out and basking in glorious sunshine here. This was taken in the very few warm minutes of sun we had last week – and it’s rained ever since

PSB Tart

Enough for 4:

For the Pastry: (double, treble, quadruple if you want to stock up on savory tart cases)

130g of Plain Flour, plus a little extra for rolling

35g of Butter, straight from the fridge, cut into small blocks. Plus a little extra for greasing the case

30g of hard Vegetable Fat, straight from the fridge, cut unto small blocks

a level teaspoon of coarsely ground Black Pepper

a pinch of Salt

an Egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling: 

200 to 250g of Purple Sprouting Broccoli (essentially as much as you can squeeze in the tart base), washed

3 medium free range Eggs

200ml of half fat Creme Fraiche (a small tub)

2 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan

a large pinch of Black Pepper

6 Anchovy fillets, preserved in oil or salt

Special Equipment: a 19 to 25cm width quiche/tart case

Start by making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients in the bowl, except for the egg yolk, and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and whiz again. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, if it doesn’t add a few drops of cold water until it does. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients, bar the egg yolk, in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. Add a few drops of cold water if the dough fails to come together. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Slice the tougher ends of the broccoli into roughly inch long strips, leaving a generous couple of inches for the delicate purple florets. Steam over boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Set aside.

Lightly beat the eggs then beat in the creme fraiche, Parmesan and black pepper. Set aside.

Lightly grease your chosen flan case with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll out on a floured surface into a round that will fit your case. Transfer to the case. Cut off any excess pastry; there should be just enough pastry to overlap the sides by a few mms (the pastry will shrink a little when cooked). Prick the base all over with a fork. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over and fill with baking beans to weight down the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes in the hot oven, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Now you’re ready for tart assembly. Place as much PSB in the tart case as it will hold. Pour over the eggy mix. Finally decoratively lay the anchovy fillets over the top.  Slide in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes until firm to touch and a little golden on top.

Perfect with a leafy green salad. And new potatoes if you find them yet.

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Leek & Goats Cheese Tart

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart

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Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme


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