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Honey-Glazed Baby Onions...

Honey Glazed Onions cooked

 

Roasted onions are the best! Whenever we have a roast dinner I always chuck a handful into the pan. I love it when they go all sticky, sweet and oozy.  However I started wondering what rule had been set in place determining that these little gems could only be served with a roast dinner. I soon concluded that it was a nonsense and decided then and there that roast onions should be enjoyed whenever possible. Fortunately I am not alone in this belief.

All I will say about this recipe on the GE Healthahead website is that we have enjoyed it on a weekly basis since discovering it. It is simply that good! It is best to use smaller onions such as pickling, baby, pearl or shallots. These are delicious with roast meats, mashed potatoes, cheeses, in sandwiches and on their own. Seriously give these onions a try -they are amazing!

 

Honey-Glazed Pearl Onions

Ingredients

450g baby or pickling onions

250ml vegetable broth (I have also used chicken stock)

113g runny honey

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon dried sage (I have also used fresh thyme, fresh sage and bay leaves)

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas mark 4

Cut the root end and remove the papery outer layers from the onions, leaving them whole.

Place in a 9-inch square-baking dish sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. (I haven’t greased the baking dish at all while making this and so far haven’t had any issues)

Stir together remaining ingredients and pour over onions.

Bake at 180°C, stirring occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes or until onions can be easily pierced with a knife.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

My Grandfather’s Classic Caesar Salad...

Caesar  Salad

My Grandfather is a pretty good cook. Actually giving it a bit more thought I will say he is a very VERY good cook. He has a few stand out dishes and this Caesar Salad is one of them. Always a treat, I can’t think of anyone in our family who doesn’t look forward to tucking into it.

Perhaps my favourite memory surrounding this dish is of my Grandmother who sadly passed away a few years ago. She was in charge of washing (and drying) the Romaine lettuce. With no salad spinner in sight the leaves were dried on separate bits of paper towel carefully spread around the kitchen. I loved helping her with that task. Although time consuming it was an important part of the ritual in making this incredibly delicious salad.

This is perfect on its own or as a tasty side with fillet steak and frites or a piece of grilled chicken.

My Grandfather’s Caesar Salad (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 large head of Romaine lettuce

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 strips of bacon cooked until crispy and then chopped or crushed finely

1/2 cup plain croutons

* * The ingredients below should be added in order to create the basic dressing * *

2 garlic cloves

1 anchovy fillet or 1 Tbsp of anchovy paste

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 egg yolks slightly beaten (If you prefer not to use raw eggs because of salmonella concerns then substitute about 2-3 Tbsp of plain Greek yoghurt which will give the dressing richness)

3 Tbsp “Maille A L’Ancienne” mustard (a Dijon type of mustard with seeds) This is a very important ingredient

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes of Tabasco sauce

3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese

Directions

Wash the Romaine lettuce and dry it thoroughly

Shred or chop it into bite sized pieces

Add the basic dressing ingredients together and toss the Romaine lettuce with it

Add the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and toss everything again

Just before serving add the chopped crispy bacon bits and croutons

Toss once more and serve immediately

Enjoy!

A Caesar Salad wouldn’t really be a Caesar Salad without croutons – so why not make your own. It’s a great way of using up stale bread and aside from putting them in salad they are also really yummy when added to soup (perhaps with a bit of Gruyere cheese on top)

Here is a quick simple recipe for making your own croutons

Luna Raye’s Quick And Easy Croutons

Ingredients

Approximately 4-6 slices of stale bread (fresh can also be used but stale is much better)

A good glug of olive oil

Seasonings are optional and can include; garlic, rosemary, thyme, chili flakes, lemon myrtle, salt, pepper, marjoram, sage etc etc – be creative and have fun

Directions

Cut the bread into nice bite sized chunks

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat

Don’t let it get too hot – after about 30 seconds add the bread chunks and give everything a good stir

You may need to add more more oil – I like to make sure the bread is well coated but not drenched – go with your kitchen witch instincts on this

Once the bread is nicely coated it’s time to add whatever spices or herbs you have chosen

Sprinkle them on top and give everything a good mix around

Keep an eye on the heat as you don’t want the bread to burn

When the croutons are nicely browned and a bit crisp remove them from the pan

Add to soups, salads or even munch them on their own as a snack

They will keep in an airtight container for about 2 days

Omelette With Fresh Herbs And Cheese....

There is a real art to making the perfect omelette. I will confess that I haven’t quite mastered it yet (they tend to be a bit on the mangled side), but I do like to try. For me the key ingredients in any omelette (aside from the eggs) are fresh herbs, freshly ground black pepper and some grated cheese. That’s really all you need for a perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner! Well actually add some freshly sliced tomatoes and a few slices of whole meal toast on the side, and you’re away!

Unfortunately our tomatoes aren’t ready for eating yet – but they are getting there. So for this meal we used tomatoes from our local farm shop. I really can’t wait till we can use our own!


Luna Raye’s Recipe For A Fresh Herb and Cheese Omelette.

Ingredients

6 eggs (I always used organic and free range).

Fresh Herbs:1 Tablespoon Sage finely chopped.

3 Tablespoons Curly Parsley finely chopped.

3 Tablespoons Tarragon finely chopped.

4 Tablespoons Chives finely chopped.

¼ Cup of grated mature cheddar cheese, (You can also use Gruyere).

Salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste.

3 – 4 Vine tomatoes sliced and served on the side.

A few slices of buttered wholemeal toast cut into triangles.

Directions

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk.

Add the grated cheese and the chopped herbs and mix together.

Season with some freshly ground salt and pepper.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and when melted add the egg mixture. It’s important NOT to let the butter brown as this means the pan is too hot.

While the mixture is cooking use a spatula to lift the edges of the omelette so that some of the uncooked mixture runs underneath.

When the omelette is set (or a golden brown colour) underneath it’s time to flip it over. It will still be slightly runny on top and as you flip it, it will finish cooking through.

This is usually where I cross my fingers and hope for the best (or more likely I call my husband in to deal with it so that I can go and pour the wine!)

NOTE: Tonight I finally realized where it was all going wrong. For too long I was trying to cook ‘Kent’s biggest omelette’ in my kitchen. This is NOT a good idea and it makes omelette management very tricky. More often then not a large portion of it ends up on the stove top (which I then have to clean – not fun!). So the key to success is a smaller pan and cooking each omelette individually.

Have fun experimenting with different herbs and above all – enjoy!

Fresh herbs for my omelette; Parsley, Chives, Sage and Tarragon.

Omelette with Fresh Herbs and Cheese.

A Perfect Summer Meal: Luna Raye’s Light and Ea...

Summer has well and truly arrived. For the past few weeks the sun has been shining everyday and it has been hot, hot, hot! This lovely weather has worked wonders on my garden and everything seems to be thriving (which makes a change from last years disappointing efforts.)

There is an abundance of herbs and I have been incorporating them into as many of my meals as I can. Last night I had a craving for pasta. Sometimes you just can’t beat a bowl of spaghetti served with a nice chilled white wine.

Although I am growing tomatoes, they haven’t started to bear fruit yet so I bought some plum tomatoes from a greengrocer that specializes in local Kent produce. I also bought a few chestnut mushrooms. Once I had assembled those ingredients I went out into the garden to collect some herbs. I decided on Parsley, Coriander, Sage and Lemon Thyme.

It was a very light and refreshing meal and the flavour of the herbs came through beautifully. I really love being able to use ingredients from the garden and I can’t wait until we can use our own tomatoes!

So here is my recipe for a perfect summer meal:

Luna Raye’s Recipe For Light and Easy Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Herbs from the Garden.

Ingredients

Spaghetti (I used enough for 2 people approx 160 – 200 grams).

9 Plum Tomatoes cut roughly into chunks (Cherry Tomatoes also work well. What’s important is that they are fresh).

9 Chestnut Mushrooms sliced ( I like mine a bit chunky but they can be sliced thinner if you prefer).

A selection of Fresh Herbs preferably from your garden! I used Curly Parsley, Coriander, Sage and Lemon Thyme. I used approximately about 4 Tablespoons of the chopped mixed herbs.

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese.

Directions

Cook the pasta in lightly salted water according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking roughly chop the tomatoes and slice the mushrooms. Set them aside.
Roughly chop the herbs and also set aside.

When the spaghetti is al dente drain it and do not rinse. The idea is to keep a small amount of the cooking water in the pot.

Put the spaghetti back in the pot and add the tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
Mix well and transfer to serving bowls.

Add some freshly ground pepper and parmesan cheese to taste.

Enjoy it out in the garden with some chilled white wine!

NOTES:

For ages whenever I cooked pasta I would add a wee bit of olive oil to the water which I thought would prevent the pasta from sticking together. This was not only rather costly it can actually impair the flavour of the dish. The pasta becomes oily and is unable to absorb any sauce.

I also remember being told that it was important to rinse cooked pasta after it’s been drained. This isn’t a good idea either. Rinsing pasta cools it down which means it stops the pasta from absorbing sauces. This can also impair the over all flavour of the dish.

Rinsing also washes away any starch that is left on the pasta. This starch is important for thickening sauces, so it’s beneficial to always reserve some of the cooking water from your pasta.

I first tried this technique when I made Nigella Lawson’s Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms and it was wonderful.

Here is a great article by Shirley Corriher on How To Cook Pasta Properly.

Light And Easy Pasta With Fresh Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Herbs

The Abundant Garden.

Bruschetta: A Delicious Half Time (Or Anytime) Tre...

Like many people this summer I will be watching the World Cup. I am not an avid football fan but I do enjoy the bigger matches and the World Cup is always exciting. During the England vs. USA game we needed some cheering up after Robert Green allowed the Americans to score an easy goal.

During the half time I decided to make a quick and easy bruschetta. This recipe is slightly different from traditional bruschetta recipes as I didn’t heat the tomato mixture before spreading it on the bread, but it is still full of flavour and goes very nicely with a chilled beer. We had Maple Moon Ale, an award winning ale from Joseph Holt’s Derby Brewery.

After our half time treat we felt slightly better about the match. We didn’t score another goal, but we didn’t allow another goal in either – which is something.

Luna Raye’s Half Time Or Anytime Bruschetta.

(If you want to make this at half time make sure you put the oven on 10 – 15 minutes in advance. So approximately 30 – 35 minutes into the first half of the match)

Ingredients

15 – 20 organic cherry or plum tomatoes.

1 clove of garlic, minced.

1 banana shallot finely chopped. (You can use any shallot but I prefer banana shallots as they are milder)

3 – 4 Tablespoons freshly chopped herbs. (I used Parsley, Coriander, and Sage) I would have loved to use some of my Basil but it’s struggling at the moment.

Pinch of sea salt.

Black pepper to taste.

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

2 – 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

1 small baguette cut lengthways and then halved.

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Place the cut baguette slices on a baking sheet and put in oven to slightly toast them. (You can brush a little virgin olive oil on them at this stage if you wish).

While the baguette slices are gently toasting in the oven. Roughly chop the tomatoes and place in a medium sized bowl.

Add the minced garlic and chopped shallot and mix well.

Add the sea salt and some black pepper and gently blend in the chopped mixed herbs.

Take the baguette slices out of the oven and spread the tomato mixture liberally over each slice.

Finish with a light drizzle of virgin oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Place back in the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the Parmesan has melted and the tomato mixture is slightly bubbling.

Keep a close eye on them as you don’t want them to burn.

They should be on the plate by the start of the 2nd half (although it does help to have a kitchen assistant to speed things along!)

Happily serves 2.

Half Time or Any Time Bruschetta

My Poor Basil

Beltane Celebration: Get Out In Nature And Don’t...

Despite the dark gloomy clouds and bouts of torrential rain we had in most parts of the UK we still managed to have a wonderful Beltane weekend. Beltane is the Celtic festival of fire and light and it is celebrated on April 30th – May 1st.

It’s a wonderful time of year. The days are lengthening, flowers and plants are starting to blossom and bloom, butterflies and bees are making an appearance in the garden and everyone has a slight spring in their step.

One of the best ways to celebrate this time of year is to get outside in nature. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a 10 mile hike, a visit to your local park or even just pottering around in your garden, make the effort to get out doors. This weekend I stayed away from my computer and spent as much time as I could (rain permitting) in the garden.

We sowed some seeds, Rocket (Arugula) which is a wonderful peppery salad leaf and some Genovese Basil. My mouth is already watering in anticipation of a Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Salad. The pots are all lined up in our little greenhouse and we hope to see some spouting soon.

Last year we bought some herbs from our local farmers market and they have really taken off. I have really enjoyed being able to cook with fresh Sage, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme and Tarragon. This year we decided to add a few more herbs to our garden; Coriander, Curly Parsley and Apple Mint. Although we had problems previously growing tomatoes and chillies we thought we’d have a go at some sugar snap peas. Our not so very green fingers are crossed!

Beltane is also a very special time for working with Fairies. There are many things you can do to honour them and show your commitment to nature:

• Look into recycling schemes.
• Support animal and environmental charities.
• Buy more organic produce.
• If you’re in a park or on a hike and you see some litter then (if it isn’t too disgusting) pick it up and dispose of it properly.
• Give away unwanted clothing and goods to charity.
• Use gentler more natural cleaners in the home instead of harsh scary chemicals.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to honour the Fairies and to celebrate this wonderful time of year is to get off the couch, get away from the computer or television and go outside! You may also want to leave a little treat for Nature’s Angels as a thank you for all their hard work.

For the Garden Fairies I like to put out seeds (sunflower and pumpkin are good) as well as chopped fruit (apples, pears, plums, blackberries and blueberries). For my House Fairy I like to leave out some milk and honey or mead as well as something sweet like organic chocolate, cookies or cake. If you have an animal companion please make sure they can’t get at any Fairy Treats you leave out, chocolate is toxic to many animals but especially to dogs.

The leaving of a gift is a lovely way to acknowledge the Fairies and thank them for their continual help in watching over your garden and plants, protecting your home and animal companions, and to celebrate the beauty and abundance of nature. Breathe some fresh air, listen to the birds and don’t forget the Fairies!

Fairy and Violets

Sage, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary and Tarragon