Tag Archives: Eggs

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


Smoked Salmon and Courgette Carbonara

Smoked Salmon & Courgette CarbonaraAs regular readers may know we’re rather partial to a carbonara in our house. In the main because we always have a steady supply of eggs, albeit a dwindling one these days as our ladies are getting quite frankly a bit old. The kids love it and it so happens to be one of the quickiest and tastiest dinners EVER. In essence Carbonara Rocks. And I do love a pasta dish that can be prepared in the time it takes the pasta to cook. We very rarely have the standard bacon and egg version, as ever feeling the compulsion to ‘veg’ things up somewhat. A popular permutation is my Sausage & Courgette Carbonara and in the Autumn a Roasted Pumpkin Carbonara, but for you today I have a pescatarian and seasonal Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara.

swallow-recipes-for-lifeWith Jacques’ adoration of all things smoked salmon and Francesca’s recent approval of it we’ve been eating this quite a bit lately. So when June’s Recipes for Life ingredients were announced to be Salmon, Pasta and Courgette I was delighted to be able to blog another Foti family favourite. To recap on my previous Recipes for Life posts, this is a challenge run by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash on behalf of the Somerset based charity SWALLOW. Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are invited to concoct wholesome, easy and tasty dishes that use them.

Simple and in SeasonAs courgettes are now gloriously in season I shall also be entering my recipe to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And since this is actually a pretty frugal dinner using smoked salmon trimmings to Credit Crunch Munch, co-hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camila of Fab Food 4 All. And this month Anneli over at Delicieux is taking up the hosting.Credit-Crunch-Munch

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara

Great for: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Bigger Kids, Growns Ups, Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners, Quickie Mid-Week Suppers, Carbonara Addicts, Smoked Salmon Fiends (like Jacques – smoked salmon is his new best thing)

Serves: A Family of 4

200g of dried pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 smallish courgettes, sliced lengthways then diced across into 2/3 mm slices

130g smoked salmon trimmings

3 free range eggs, medium

2 tablespoons finely grated Grana Padana or Parmesan cheese

black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Cook the pasta to packet instructions

2. While the pasta’s cooking heat the oil in a (lidded) saucepan and cook the garlic for a minute. Throw in the diced courgette and give everything a good stir. Place the lid on and allow the courgette to sweat for the time it takes your pasta to cook. Stir every now and again and add a splash of water if they’re looking a little dry.

3. While the courgettes and pasta are cooking, lightly whisk together the eggs, then stir in the cheese and a generous pinch of black pepper. Set aside.

4. Once your pasta’s cooked and drained and the courgettes are soft combine them both together and stir through the egg and cheese mix, together with the lemon juice. But don’t put the pan back on the heat or your eggs will scramble!. What you want is lovely glossy eggy coating.

5. Taste and season with more black pepper and/or lemon juice.

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara Recipe

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Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta


An Asparagus and Gruyère Tart

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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

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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

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

PSB, Anchovy & Parmesan Tart

PSB, Anchovy & Parmesan Tart


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.

You might also like: 

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme


Banana Pancakes!

Banana Pancakes

I know, I know, I know I’m more than a little fashionably late for Pancake Day….but I had very much intended to write this blog quite some time ago!. Pancakes are big business in our house and barely a day goes by without a pancake request (breakfast, lunch or dinner!). But seeing as these days the monsters will only eat them with a gargantuan spreading of the not-so-healthy but so well-known Hazelnut and Choccie Spread, I’m loath to make them often. So I’ve been experimenting with healthier options and these Banana Pancakes have happily been gobbled down with great success minus any need for the naughty stuff. I’m certain they’d taste sublime with a decadent spreading but I’m not going there, these pancakes are served with fruit and fruit only at Chez Foti, plus a wee drizzle of honey or maple syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche naturally. Happy days.

Anyone who’s ever travelled any the more popular backpacker routes of Asia or Latin America should be familiar with the ubiquitous Banana Pancake. They seem to crop up on pretty much every hostel or backpacker cafe breakfast menu, and I must have tirelessly munched my way through an inordinate amount in the totality of my two and a half years of traveling. Making them myself has wonderfully taken me back to those heady days, albeit life is rather more different now than then!

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I may be late for pancake day, but I’m hopefully not too late to enter my pancake recipe to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge, an event held by Kate from Turquoise Lemons and this month hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen and the no waste ingredient being eggs!. Now we’ve always got eggs to use up from our hens and pancakes are the perfect answer in my book. Plus these pancakes are a great way of using up blackened and over-ripe bananas too. Since our eggs are so local (the hen house being approximately ten meters away from the kitchen door) I’m also entering my pancakes to this month’s Breakfast Club which has the theme of ‘local’. The challenge is the baby of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and is being hosted this month by Heidi at Kitchen Talk.

No Waste Food Challenge

breakfast-club-logo

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Great as a Finger Food for very little littlies, Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Breakfasts, Sleepovers (I’m too scared to go there yet!), Grown Ups 

Enough for a Family of Four:

20g of Butter, plus a little extra for greasing the pan

175g of Self-Raising Flour

½ a teaspoon of Baking Powder

a tablespoon of Soft Light Brown Sugar

2 free range Eggs

170ml of Full Fat Milk

2 Bananas, preferably very ripe, mashed with the back of fork

To Serve: Creme Fraiche or Yogurt, Honey or Maple Syrup, Berries or other Fruits

Melt the butter and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix together.

In another bowl or jug lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk and cooled butter.

Whisk the wet mixture slowly into the dry mixture and when you have an even consistency stir or whisk in the mashed bananas.

Heat a frying pan until hot. Grease with a little butter and gently drop in a tablespoon of the batter at a time. You should be able to cook three to four at once, depending on the size of your pan. Allow plenty of room between each pancake as they do spread a little. Once each pancake is a little risen and you can see bubbles appear on the surface carefully turn over with a spatula and cook the other side. Each side should be pale golden-brown.

Either serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven until you’re ready.

Perfect served with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, a (generous) dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt and fresh berries or fruit of your choice. Absolutely no Nutella required.

Master J sabotaging my photo!

Master J sabotaging my photo!


Clementine and Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

I know, I know, I know it’s not really the time for cakes in health-conscious diet-ridden January. But it’s REALLY cold here, as it is in the UK. And now that the christmas cake’s finally been gnawed away (it was huge!) I’ve been in need of a little cakey sustenance to ward off the cold. And on the whole this is about as healthy as a cake can be. No butter, no icing, no drizzle, not even any flour. Just cooked (whole!) clementines (or tangerines or satsumas), ground almonds, eggs and sugar. Oh and a little Amaretto to perk things up a little. And it’s a truly wonderful all-rounder of the cakey world, equally delicious as a tea time treat (yes I’m entering it!) with a cuppa, an elevensie with a coffee or even a dinner party pud dolled up with a spoon of mascarpone or creme fraiche.

Originally a Nigella recipe that I’ve slightly adapted over time, but interesting the exact same recipe’s been sighted in a Bill Granger book too. And I mean EXACT. So who’s copying who Nige and Bill?!

As this month’s Tea Time Treat’s theme is the citrus fruit I’m entering Bill’s/Nigella’s recipe to the challenge. TTT’s is jointly hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked

Tea Time Treatrs logo

I’m also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food (this month’s host to the Orange Challenge) and Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

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Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake

375g of clementines, tangerines or satsumas (they all work!)

5 large free range eggs

225g of golden caster sugar

250g of ground almonds

a heaped teaspoon of baking powder, sieved

a tablespoon of Amaretto

a little icing sugar for dusting

Special Equipment: a 21cm spring-sided baking tin lined with greaseproof paper

Place the clementines in a saucepan and cover the fruit with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer away for 2 hours. Top up the water level as it drops. After 2 hours remove from the water and allow to cool for a few minutes. Whiz to a pulp in a processor.

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC.

Now on with this cinch of  a cake. Whisk up the eggs in a large bowl, using a balloon whisk. Then whisk in the sugar followed by the ground almonds and baking powder. Finally stir in the clementine pulp.

Pour the cake mixture into your lined cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 40 minutes. It should be golden on top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer will come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a cooling rack.

Once cool carefully remove from the tin and lightly dust with sieved icing sugar. Serve as is or with a naughty spoon of creme fraiche or mascarpone.

Here’s some other Chez Foti cakey treats you might like to try: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins

Clementine & Almond Cake


Pumpkin Carbonara

I finally picked the rest of our pumpkins and squash yesterday. Frosts are on their way and I wanted to get them under cover sharpish. I have to admit most are looking more that a tad sorry for themselves and in need of some strong sun to finish ripening, and being a bit of a novice at these things I’m not really sure what to do! I grew lots of pumpkins last year in my first season of growing but they were all fully ripened and orange by now. Should I keep them inside and bring them out on sunny days? Or resurrect and put in the poly tunnel? Or should I just eat them as they are? Any pumpkin professionals out there willing to offer me some advice?

The last of the pumpkins & squash!

Luckily I’ve already picked lots of fully ripened radiantly orange pumpkins and so it’s pumpkin with everything these days at Chez Foti. And as usual I’m loving adding a seasonal touch of healthiness to our favourite family suppers. It was the turn of the carbonara this week. Much as I love carbonara made traditionally with just eggs, bacon and parmesan it’s not exactly nutrient rich and I’m reluctant to give it to my kids in its basic form. Whilst Mr F and I will happily eat a large leafy salad on the side the kids won’t, so I like to add some veggie goodness to the sauce. Pumpkin works wonderfully with both parmesan and bacon and so it’s a natural for carbonara, and I also like to add a little fresh sage which is the perfect paring for pumpkin and bacon.

The first pumpkin of the year

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin to hand (and believe me it’s not nice to cook with if it isn’t!) you can happily use butternut instead.

Since my carbonara is flavoured with sage I’m entering the recipe (for the second time this month!) to Lavender and Lovage’s October Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

Pumpkin Carbonara

Enough for a hearty meal for a family of four:

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut, peeled

a tablespoon of olive oil

salt & pepper

240g of dried pasta of your choice, or equivalent in fresh

200g of streaky bacon or lardons, cut into small strips

a heaped teaspoon of finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely slices

3 eggs, free range

3 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Start with roasting your pumpkin or butternut. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Dice into smallish 1 to 1.5cm cubes, toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place on a roasting tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

Cook your pasta to packet instructions. Try to time so your pasta is cooked and ready at the same time as the pumpkin roasted and bacon browned.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan on a medium heat and fry off the lardons or streaky bacon (in their own fat) with the sage and garlic. Drain off any excess fat. Fry until the bacon is a little browned.

While the bacon’s frying, whisk the eggs lightly and stir in the Parmesan and a generous pinch of black pepper (you shouldn’t need any further salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and parmesan).

As soon as the pumpkin, pasta and bacon are all cooked and still piping hot throw them all together in one pan and thoroughly stir in the egg and Parmesan mix. Don’t put the pan back on the heat or you’ll have pasta with scrambled eggs! What you want is a lovely glossy eggy coating. Taste and add further pepper if it needs it  (I do like lots of pepper on my food!).

Related Posts: 

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Sausage & Courgette Carbonara

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese


Back from our Holidays, and a Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Well we’re back from our jolidays in the UK, back home to a gloriously hot and sunny September here in France. It’s been a fab time away though and even the weather managed to hold out at it’s best for us. We primarily went for my Big Brother Si’s wedding to Meilee up in Peebles, Scotland (which admittedly was wet and a little on the cold side!) and a fab time was had by all. An amazing hotel (The Cringletie House) and totally stunning food.

Not the most pro or conventional of wedding photies but a fun one of all my family at my Big Bro Si’s wedding, that’s him on the left then my Mum, the bride Meilee, myself (in the flowery dress), Mr F at the back with Master Jacques, my Dad with Miss Frannie, Sis in Law Shelly, and my other brothers Ben and Julian

We also managed to catch up with lots of friends around England that we don’t get to see too often, and had a good few days of chill out time at my Mum and Dads in Herefordshire. Even Mr F came along for the trip, and he really doesn’t ‘do’ holidays or anything that involves leaving Chez Foti really. The doggies and  chickens were left in the good hands of my brother-in-law for the first week then our friend Debbie. A huge thank you to you both for housesitting and leaving us with an impeccably clean and tidy house and happy animals, and to Debbie for the lovely fishcakes and a greengage & blackberry crumble (picked from the garden) to come home to. We really should go away more often!

I hate to say it but the tomatoes are still rather prolific at Chez Foti. Several kilos each and every day. My Tomato Veg of the Month is very much continuing into September, and I’ll be doing a huge round-up at the end of the month…..so there’s still time to forward me your favourite tomatoey recipes to try out. And as for the courgettes/marrows, I thought they were on their way out before we left but clearly not:

Some of my post-holiday Veggie Haul!

Not only has Mr F been warned of our impending vegetarian status for the next few weeks, but I feel it’s only fair the kids do their bit too. My Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding happens to be one of their favourite veggie dinners, and one that they can be expecting to be eat on a pretty regular basis over the next few weeks!. The savory bread and butter pudding is actually an idea I’ve adapted from Annabel Karmel, and seems to be pretty pleasing to most littlies as well as grown up folk. Perfect for a quick to assemble mid-week family supper, or for just the kids.

Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Toddlers & Y oung Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Grown Ups

Enough for a family of four:

a tablespoon of butter

3 thick large slices of white or wholemeal bread

½ a small red onion

a small courgette

15 cherry tomatoes

90g of mature cheddar cheese, grated

3 eggs, free range

260ml of milk

a heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard

a pinch of black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.

Start with buttering a small ovenproof dish. Then butter the slices of bread. Cut each of the slices into six to nine pieces.

Prepare the veggies. Finely slice the onion. Cut the courgette into four quarters lengthways, then finely slice. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.

Line the bottom of the buttered dish with half the bread pieces. Follow with a scattering of half the onion, half the courgette slices, half the tomatoes and half the grated cheese. Then repeat with the remainder of the ingredients but not the cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard and pepper. Pour evenly over the pudding. Top with the remaining cheese.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until puffed up and golden on the top.


Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Back on with the courgette season and yep, you did read Courgette Cake, and of the sweet variety too!. Just think of an extraordinarily moist carrot cake with green flecks (and no carrots). Filled with super zingily zesty lemon curd and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting. Yuuuuuummmm. It is.

I first made a courgette cake last summer at a time when my husband was threatening to leave me if I cooked another courgette. Seven plants we realised were way too many for a family of four, especially when two of them are tiddlers and one of the grown ups isn’t a big fan. Which is precisely why I’ve come to have nine, yes NINE plants this year. It was an accident, there were supposed to be four but it seems there was a little mix up on the seed front. And now I fear the summer may end in divorce. Which is precisely why we’re back on the courgette cakes; ’tis Mr F’s preferred usage of a courgette. It’s also one of the few cakes that don’t burn their bum in my awful oven. And only my second blogged cake. Whilst recently adding a Recipe Index to the blog it came to my attention I only had one entry under Cake (Jacques’ Chocolate Birthday Cake), which is obviously wrong on many levels.. Considering I actually do make cakes pretty often at Chez Foti I’ll now be making a concerted effort to blog, and eat, a few more!.

I’d love to take credit for the recipe but sadly I can’t, but Nigella can. It’s from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book. Albeit I switched the lime curd for lemon as we’d recently been given some gorgeous lemons picked from a tree in Spain and they needed using up. My recipe for lemon curd is at the bottom of the blog.

Courgette Cake

The Cake:

60g of raisins or sultanas

250g of courgettes

2 large eggs

125ml of vegetable oil

150g of golden caster sugar

225g of self-raising flour

½ a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

½ a teaspoon of baking powder

2 x 21cm cake tins, greased and lined

Lemon Curd Filling:

2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon curd, homemade (my recipe’s below) or shop bought

Lemon Cream Cheese Topping:

200g of cream cheese

100g of icing sugar, sieved

juice of ½ a lemon

2 – 3 tablespoons of chopped pistachio nuts

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Plump up the sultanas or raisins in a small bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

Grate the courgettes coarsely and place in a sieve over the sink or another bowl to drain out the excess moisture.

Place the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together until creamy. Sieve in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Continue to beat until well incorporated. Stir in the courgette and drained sultanas/raisins.

Divide the cake mixture between the two tins. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until firm to the touch and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for a few tins before turning out onto cooling racks to cool fully.

Meanwhile make the topping. Beat the cream cheese for a few minutes before adding the icing sugar. Continue to beat for a few minutes more before beating in the lemon juice.

Now to assemble the cake. Place one cake on your cake stand or plate. Spread over the lemon curd. Sandwich over the other cake. Now spread the frostring over the top of the cake and scatter on the chopped pistachios.

Super Zingy Zesty Lemon Curd

Makes 2 jars of curd, which keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

The juice and zest of 4 unwaxed lemons

200g of golden caster sugar

100g of unsalted butter

3 medium eggs plus one yolk, lightly whisked together

Set a large pan of water to boil. When boiling turn down to the gentlest heat possibly and place a heat proof bowl over the top (though the bowl should not be touching the water).

Place the lemon juice and zest, sugar and butter in the bowl and stir every now and again.

Once the butter’s melted whisk in the eggs, continuing to gently whisk almost continuously for about 10 minutes. The curd is ready when it’s considerably thickened and feels heavy on the whisk.

Pour into super clean jars and leave out to cool. Once fully cool, screw on the lids and store in the fridge.


Chocolate Birthday Cake

It was Baba Jacques’ 2nd Birthday a couple of weeks ago. For one reason or another ,and usually by popular request, I tend to make lemon or orange birthday cakes or a combo of the two. But this time I fancied a change, and as Jacques’ never really that bothered about cakes anyway I went for a choccie one as that’s what I fancied!

As ever it was a quickie last minute operation and my Google search for ‘easy chocolate cake’ came up with this gem of a recipe, thanking you kindly The BBC. It’s a recipe I know I’ll be using time and time again for birthday cakes, or for a special tea time or after dinner treat. It’s incredibly quick, easy and surprisingly low in fat (choccie icing aside anyway). Not that you would have any indication of this from it’s rich fudgily (I’m making up words again) moist texture and depth of flavour.

So here’s the recipe, that I haven’t changed a bean of from the original: It makes two 20cm round cakes.

For the Cake:

225g of plain flour

350g of caster sugar

85g of cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons of baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

2 free-range eggs

250ml of milk

125ml of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

250ml of boiling water

For the Icing:

200g of plain chocolate

200ml of double cream

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Grease and line two 20cm wide cake tins with butter or oil.

Place all the cake ingredients together, except for the boiling water, in a large bowl. Using an electric whisk or a wooden spoon beat together until very well combined.

Slowly add the boiling water a little at a time, mixing continuously. The cake mixture will now be very liquid.

Evenly pour into the cake tins and bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes. The cakes are ready when the top is firm to touch and an inserted skewer or fork comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tins.

Now prepare the icing. Place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan and place over a very gentle heat. Stir continuously. Once the chocolate has melted into the cream remove from the heat and whisk the mixture until it’s very smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool for one to two hours.

Remove the cakes from the tins. Spread about a third of the icing over the top of one of the cakes. Sandwich the other cake on top. Now spread the remainder of the icing over the top and sides of the entire cake.

Decoration with Smarties purely optional!

Other recipes you might like, Chocolate Brownies, Cheesy Biscuits, Sticky Apple Pudding, Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding


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