50th Edition Parmesan Biscuits

Parmesan Cheese Sablés

To make about 25, using a 10cm shaped cutters

This is a foolproof cheese biscuit recipe. I made these with 5 and 0 cutters to celebrate the 50th edition of http://www.housing-technology.com at our 7th Annual Conference. I made loads but should have made more as they were quite popular. I also made ’21’ shapes for our son Tom’s recent birthday celebration and also ’18’ shapes for my niece Ellen’s birthday too. Lots of celebrations chez Grant at the moment.

These little biscuits are great with Champagne and I also love them with a good dry Martini http://cookupaparty.co.uk/how-to-make-the-perfect-martini.

 RECIPE

100g plain flour

Pinch each of salt, black pepper and cayenne

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

90g unsalted butter

90g grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

1 egg beaten to glaze Small handful of poppy seeds or sesame seeds

 Method

1. Sift flour into a bowl or food processor and add the salt, pepper, cayenne and mustard powder.

2. Add the butter and rub in or blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the cheese and mix the dough together until smooth. If should be soft and pliable.

4. Chill for 30 minutes, and then turn out onto a floured surface.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/385F/Gas 5. Gently roll out to a thickness of 1cm. Using a round or heart-shaped cutter, press out the shapes and brush with the egg glaze.

6. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds and place on a flat baking sheet. Bake for approx 12-15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown, and cool on a wire rack

Seeded Soda Bread

 

Seeded Soda Bread

This is my eldest niece’s favourite bread, especially when topped with smoked salmon, or when in Cardigan, smoked sewin for an extra special treat. It is a very easy recipe using cup measurements. The size of cup I use is a standard teacup, which equates to 200ml. It is perfect party food, if you cut the soda bread into small squares and top with smoked salmon; ideal with your favourite glass of fizz.

 

Ingredients

 

3 cups of wholemeal flour or seed and herb blend flour from Y Felin, St Dogmaels

1 cup of rolled oats

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

450ml natural yoghurt

 

Method

 

  1. Turn the oven to 200’C
  2. Combine the flour, oats, bicarb and salt
  3. Add the yoghurt and mix together to form a sticky mixture
  4. Place in a lined 2lb baking tin, or shape into a free form round shape
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked.

 

Note:

To check if the loaf is thoroughly cooked you can insert a skewer, as for cake testing. However, most bread bakers use the time honoured method of the thump test. To do this, remove the loaf from the tin or baking sheet, turn upside down and tap on the base. It will sound like tapping on a hollow tree if the loaf is cooked through. It’s hard to explain but after a number of times, you get to know.

Best eaten the day it is made, it is quick and delicious. It is important to use good quality flour as this makes all the difference. We like to buy ours when on holiday from the mill in St Dogmael’s, but Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Seeded Flour is also good.

The Best Salmon Nicoise Recipe

Perfect Summer Party Food

This is the easiest summer lunch/dinner food for a crowd of people, and a delight to serve as it is all prepared in advance and delivers a wow factor when brought to the table.  This isn’t a recipe as such, more an indication of the quantities needed for 10 people. Serve with a bowl of Jersey Royal potatoes, tossed in unsalted butter with a touch of salt, pepper and fresh, chopped parsely and you have the perfect party food. I make a lemon mayonnaise with three egg yolks, and use the whites to make baby meringues .

For 10 people

2 handfuls of salad leaves

1 packet French beans

2-3 bundles English asparagus

6 x hard boiled eggs

4-6 vine tomaotes, cut into quarters

large handful of black oilves

140g per person of salmon fillets without skin  (either in one piece, or in individual fillets)

 

1. Cook the salmon. I place the salmon fillets on a large piece of foil, placed in a roasting tin or baking sheet. Add a small glass of white wine, a tablespoon of olive oil, some lemon slices and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the salmon loosely in the foil, and cook in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes. This is where you need to use your own judgement, and keep checking in the oven to see if it is cooked. Remember it will continue to cook as it cools, so remove from the oven when it is just turning opaque. If your oven is uneven in it’s heat, you may need to remove some cooked pieces of fillet before removing the others. Leave to cool.

2. Blanch the French beans – that is to say, cook the trimmed French beans in boiling water for 5 mintes, remove and plunge immediately into cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

3. Wash the asparagus thoroughly then snap along the stem until it breaks easily. Discard these snapped off pieces. Cook the spears on the hob in gently bubbling water until cooked. This will take 5-10 minutes, depending on how fat your spears of asparagus are. I use a large frying pan for this and hover over the stove, piercing the spears from time to time with my pointed knife. When they are just cooked, remove from the pan (some may be cooked before others) and refresh in cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

4. Hard boil eggs – Place medium size eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water and leave to cool. Then peel the shells off and leave in the fridge until ready.

5. Wash and quarter the tomatoes.

6. Make a simple dressing of 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, juice of half lemon, 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper

7. To assemble, toss the salad leaves in the dressing and place on the bottom of a large serving platter – a long salmon plate is ideal for this. Then scatter the asparagus and French beans on top of the leaves . Add the salmon, breaking into large chunks and arrange on top of the leaves, beans and asparagus. Scatter the tomatoes  and olives over and around the salmon, then place the eggs on top. Drizzle the finished dish with a dash of olive oil and serve.

 

 

 

HOW TO FEED A CROWD

Spiced Chicken with Sour Cherries and Pomegranate

Feed a crowd by preparing a few fabulous cold dishes then placing them in the centre of the table for your guests to dig in and help themselves. This relaxed approach means that you can make sure the food not only tastes good but looks amazing too. Most importantly  you can really enjoy the company of your friends without the stress of last minute cooking. This is a recipe I devised for one of our favourite clients for a big country gathering a couple of summers ago. It was hugely popular so when my friend Rachel asked for party food suggestions this sprung to mind. She was planning on 14-20 guests, so we decided on a salmon dish with a fresh tomato, red onion, caper and basil salsa, a vibrant orzo salad and this chicken dish.  I went along to help her prepare it and got a text first thing the next morning saying how much everyone enjoyed it.

The quantities below would easily serve 14 with salads and bread.

  • 3 x large organic chickens
  • 2 x lemons
  • 2-3Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs Baharat spices – Bart’s do a good blend
  • 2 x large white onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large pot of Greek yoghurt
  • 1 x 800g jar Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 2 x 70g packets of sour cherries (usually found on the dried fruit shelf of the supermarket)
  • 1 x large bunch coriander
  • 1 x 110g packet of pomegranate seeds (on the prepared fruit counter, or a one fresh pomegranate if unavailable)
  1. Remove chickens from fridge, remove all packaging and string and allow to come to room temperature
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 190’C
  3. Cut the lemons into quarters and stuff into the cavities of the chickens
  4. Place the chickens into roasting pans and rub all over with olive oil
  5. Rub 1 Tbs of the Baharat spices onto the oiled chicken
  6. Wash hands well and pop the chickens into the oven – depending on oven size you may need to do this in batches
  7. Cook the chickens fo 1.5 – 2 hours. The rule of thumb is generally roast for 20 minutes per lb, then check and allow for a further 20 minutes if necessary. The way to check is to pierce the leg, and check if the juices run clear, bearing in mind that cooking more than one chicken will take longer than usual. The chicken will continue to cook once it has been removed from the oven.
  8. When you are happy the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and place on cooling racks.
  9. When the chickens are perfectly cool, remove the skin then strip the chicken from the bones in large pieces. When you have finished doing this will all the chickens, chop into bite size pieces and leave in fridge while you prepare the dressing.
  10. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onions
  11. Cook, stirring for 5-10 minutes until softened then add 2 Tbs of the Baharat spices. Give a good stir and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When completely cool, stir into the mayonnaise and yogurt.
  13. Soak the cherries in water for a few minutes to soften
  14. Chop the coriander and divide into half
  15. Mix half the coriander and the sour cherries into the spiced yoghurt mixture
  16. Mix into the chopped up chicken, taste and season with salt and black pepper.
  17. Place in fridge overnight, keeping the rest of the chopped coriander and the pomegranate seeds for garnish.
  18. Before your guests arrive, pile the chicken onto beautiful plates and scatter over the coriander and pomegranate seeds. Damp down some greaseproof paper, squeeze out and cover the chicken until ready to serve.

NOTES:

Baharat is an aromatic blend of spices used in Middle Eastern cooking and contains Paprika, Coriander, Black Pepper, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cardamom. It is used in Middle Eastern cooking.

If you can’t find the sour cherries, omit them and use extra pomegranate seeds

If you are not confident about cooking meat you can invest in a meat thermometer which will be able to tell you when the meat or poultry is thoroughly cooked.

HEATHER’S GUIDE TO CANAPES

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My latest Cook Up A Party workshop in the lovely Medicine Garden in Cobham was a huge success, great fun with a lovely crowd. We stirred, sniffed, discussed, chopped and chatted away whilst making an exciting array of canapes and party food. In a nutshell, this is my guide to canapes:

Menu planning

  • When choosing your canapés, always try to have a mix of meat, fish and vegetarian.
  • You should also include a good variety of tastes and textures, and colours. Remember that canapés are meant to be served with drinks so will need to be a small bite with a big flavour and also easy to eat without spilling bits down your front.
  • Bear in mind that many people have wheat allergies so make sure that not all your canapés are bread or wheat based.
  • Aim for a mix of varied ingredients and try not to repeat the same ingredient more than once in a menu.
  • Use fresh seasonal ingredients – for instance if it is spring, then you can include some fresh asparagus tips on the menu.
  • Try to include a couple of hot canapés for parties during the colder months, and for summer make sure that the canapés are fresh and light
  • Think about what you are going to serve to drink and try and match the food – i.e. Rustic mulled cider would be better paired with some more robust food, whilst serving cocktails means that the food needs to be pretty stylish. If serving Champagne or Prosecco the accompanying canapes should be elegant and uncomplicated

Quantities

  • For pre-lunch or dinner drinks, allow three different canapés per person
  • For a two to three hour drinks party allow 10 bits per guest, and choose between five to 10 different canapés
  • For a canapés only party, served in place of a meal, allow 15  pieces per head and choose 8-15 different canapés
  • For canapés to be served instead of a first course before a lunch or dinner, allow five canapés per guest, and choose five different types
  • For a stand-up wedding reception, allow 12 savoury canapés and then 3-4 different sweet canapés