Goats’ Cheese & Caramelised Onion Tart

This is a recipe from Simon Rimmer’s book More from The Accidental Vegetarian.  I find tarts quite tricky to get right, especially when making the pastry from scratch, but this recipe looked very do-able and I am a sucker for caramelised onions so I had to give it a try.

There is also a quirk – lavender on the pastry!  Whilst I have seen this on Masterchef, Great British Bake Off etc. I never dreamed little ol’ me might actually venture down that route, or as it was, down the front path to the lavender bush.  Anyway, you may scorn my naivety but for me, using lavender for something other than sniffing is very exciting!  I know, I don’t get out much….

onion tart simon rimmer

To make the pastry, pulse 225g plain flour and 100g diced butter in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Then mix in 1 tbsp chopped fresh lavender and bind together with 1 large egg and about 1 tbsp of milk.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for half an hour to man-up.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) and roll out the pastry to line a greased 20cm tart tin (i.e. deep edges to hold all that yummy filling).  Prick base with fork and chill again for 20 mins.

Cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and weigh down with baking beans.  Bake blind for 15 mins then remove paper and beans and bake again for 5 mins.  Reduce the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).

Whilst you are waiting for it to bake you can prepare the filling.  In a large pan melt 50g butter and 1 tbsp oil and add 4 thinly sliced large onions, one crushed garlic clove, 2 tsp caster sugar and some seasoning.  Saute for about 20 mins or until golden in colour.  In a seperate large bowl whisk together 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and 150ml double cream.  Add the onion mix and carefully  pour into the cooked tart case.  Crumble 100g goats’ cheese over the top and bake for about 20/30 minutes until filling is set and gorgeously golden brown.

Cheesy Marmite Whirls

If you don’t like marmite, then shame on you and go no further…

cheesy marmite whirls

These are completely stolen from a recipe by my best friend’s Auntie Jean and I take no credit at all in their yumminess, but feel they should be shared with the world!  As indeed they were at said friend’s wedding recently.  I think my daughter and I ate the lion’s share….

If you like Marmite, cheese and carbs then these are the babies for you!  Utterly Moorish and not a calorie in them*

You will need:  A sheet of jus-rol puff pastry slathered liberally in Marmite.  Then cover with grated mature cheddar cheese and roll up lengthways.  I tend to use the plastic wrap to get it going and (not wanting to sound too Mary Berry Chocolate Roulade) you need a tight roll! *giggles*

Then, take my advice and stick it in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.  Makes it SO much easier to cut up and gives you ample opportunity to pour a glass of wine or two and convince yourself that the carbs are now needed to soak up the alcohol.

cooking with marmite

Cut into slices (about the width of your little finger) and lay on a baking sheet.  Or if, like me, you got persuaded that your kitchen is not complete without a pampered chef pizza stone, then that will do just fine!  Preheated of course.  You don’t want a soggy bottom!

Anyway, bake for about 12 mins at 200ºC and let them cool slightly before setting a few aside in a secret place then offering them around to the hungry hordes.

I bet you eat the lot in one go!  And it’s worth cooking them for the smell of marmite wafting around the house while they cook….

*This might not actually be true.  At all. 


Mushroom Ravioli

Well, tonight the pasta machine was in full use again!  Not only did I rustle up some tagliatelle for the kids but I made mushroom ravioli for me and the old man.  I used the same pasta recipe as before but I based the filling and sauce on a recipe in the Masterchef Cookbook.  For my first attempt, I thought it was pretty good.  The ravioli were maybe a bit more shallot than mushroom, but the sauce was so rich with porcini that it actually worked really nicely together.  My presentation was awful…as you will see in the last photo.  John Torode would be champing his chops at the sloppy sauce – when I saw the photo even I wanted to grab some kitchen towel and wipe around the edge but alas, by that time I had scoffed the lot!
To make the pasta, I took 400g OO flour4 eggs & 1tbsp oil and blended the ingredients together in the mixer until they looked like breadcrumbs, then I switched to the dough hook and kneaded it for about 4 minutes.  I wrapped the dough in clingfilm and rested it for half an hour at room temperature.
The filling for the ravioli was 3 large shallots and 2 large chestnut mushrooms, all finely chopped.  I sweated the shallots in 25g of butter until they were soft, then I added the ‘shrooms for another 5 minutes.  Then I added 60ml of double cream, brought it to the bubble to bind it all together, then set aside for later.
The sauce was made by soaking 25g dried porcini mushrooms for 15 mins.  During the wait I boiled 400ml chicken/vegetable stock until it was reduced by half.  Then I added the porcini and any juices and a slug of sherry.  I reduced it by half again and added 75ml of double cream.  I simmered this until it was reduced to a nice silky sauce.
I feel there should be some herbs in there somewhere, but my ignorance of ingredients defies me knowing which ones to add and to what, so any suggestions welcome!
However, it was a very yummy Saturday night supper…and would make a nice dish for friends with some crusty bread to mop up all that lovely sauce!
All set and ready to ravioli…
Mushroom humps!
Little ‘shroom spaceships
Sloppy presentation, but delicious

Homemade Pizza

I am prone to fads, and many of them are cooking-related. One was cupcakes. I investigated courses, bought books, nozzles and piping bags galore and baked myself (and my family) up a dress size. Then my attention has diverted to a different type of cuisine…pasta. I am a bit of a pasta snob. Having cooked dried pasta for years, I moved on to fresh pasta and now won’t eat anything else. I fear that the making of fresh pasta will exacerbate this further and soon that will be all I will allow. I have already gone this way with pizza, as have my children who now turn their nose up at shop bought pizzas and demand my homemade pizza instead.
pizza Collage
Pizza Dough Recipe
  • 2 tsps dried ‘easy bake’ yeast
  • 3 cups (420g) OO/strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oil (I like using garlic oil for extra taste)
  • 1 cup (250ml) + 2 tbsp warm water
  1. Put all the ingredients into a mixer in the order above. I have a kitchenaid and use the dough hook then mix on speed 1 for 10 minutes. If using a bread machine, simply put it on the dough cycle. For other mixers…or by hand, you’ll have to use your intuition!
  2. When it is elastic and the dough springs back when you poke it, put it in a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave for at least half an hour to rise.
  3. Flour (or semolina gives a pizza restaurant finish) your worktop and divide the dough up as you wish. I usually use half of mine to form one, big flat pizza base and roll up the rest into small balls to make doughballs. Sometimes, I make a small pizza for each of us. To form your base you can roll with a rolling pin to get the basic disc-shape and then tease out the dough. I lay it over the back of my hand and then use the other hand to pull out the dough; then jiggle it around on my hand and strectch again, repeating until the base is formed. One day I will be able to throw it around like a pro, but until then I take the safe route!
  4. Spread over a thin layer of passata and then sprinkle with grated mozzarella and toppings of your choice.
  5. Bake at 200ºC for about 10 mins, but check according to your oven. The doughballs take a shorter amount of time. You can buy garlic butter to dip them into or make your own.