Recipe: Dauphinoise Potatoes

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Dauphinoise. Cream, garlic, potatoes, cheese – what’s not to love?

This side dish is one of my all-time favourites, though I really only ever cook it on special occasions like Christmas because I like it to be a treat. I think it can be pretty much served with anything – this year I served it with lamb shanks on New Years Day, other times it’s accompanied a beef wellington or a nice rich casserole. Either way, it’s always a huge hit with the family – nobody can ever resist a second (or third) helping.

It hardly takes an effort so it’s easy to knock together when you’re making a roast and it’s definitely got the yum factor. A really nice way of making your potato side dish a little more interesting.

Most dauphinoise recipes use Gruyere but whilst it’s a pretty main stream cheese these days, living in a village location means my local shop doesn’t tend to stock it. I’ve searched online for a substitute cheese and the closest would be Emmental, Jarlsberg or another Swiss cheese, but come on, if I can’t get Gruyere, I’m not going to get Jarlsberg in the local Co-op!  On these occasions I have just used Parmesan or Grana Padano and nobody has ever noticed the difference. In fact, some people think the cheese is optional. Note: Cheese is never optional.

This recipe serves roughly 4-6 depending on how large you like your portions!

Dauphinoise Potatoes

Ingredients

500g potatoes, thinly sliced
200ml double cream
100ml milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
50g Gruyere cheese, grated

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4

Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from browning. Rinse then pat dry with kitchen paper.

Place the cream, milk and garlic in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until just tender. Season well.

Transfer to a buttered ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

And that’s all there is to it!

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Gratin of Sprouts!

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This recipe is an oldie, but a goodie. It has become a Christmas tradition since I first introduced it to the table about five years ago now.  I even suggested this year that I might make something different with the sprouts and my daughter was horrified so it looks like it’s here to stay!

The original recipe was one found on the BBC and I think it was by Sophie Grigson. It really is a good one and nearly enough to make even the most ardent of sprout-haters have a try. I say nearly, because even though he gave in and tried them, my husband still won’t eat this dish. I could get a bit self-conscious about the fact he refuses my cooking however my daughter and my in-laws wax lyrical about this dish so I am confident that it’s just him being a big wussy wimp!

I’d eat this little bowl of sprout heaven all year round, apart from the fact that I am only allowed to eat them once a year. Seriously. That’s all my husband can take. The smell of sprouts permeating from the kitchen is just for Christmas.

The recipe here serves eight but I usually halve it as it only needs to feed three adults and one child in my house and as it’s just a side dish, there’s plenty to go around!

Gratin of Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients 
 
900g Brussels sprouts, trimmed
20g butter
4tsp sunflower oil
150g cubed pancetta
20g flaked almonds 
400ml double cream
2.5 tsp lemon juice
5.5 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Method
 
Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6.  Place the trimmed sprouts into a saucepan of simmering water and cook for around 4-5minutes until the sprouts are almost cooked. Drain thoroughly and leave to cool slightly before cutting the sprouts in half.
 
Place the butter and oil into a large frying pan. Over a medium heat, saute the pancetta and almonds for around 4 minutes until they are lightly browned.  Add the halved sprouts and saute for a further 3 minutes, stirring all the time,
 
Add the cream and bring to the boil. Keep on the boil for around 3 minutes, until the cream has reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
 
Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and transfer to an ovenproof dish.  Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together and sprinkle evenly over the top of the sprout mixture.
 

Place in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and you can see the cream boiling and bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve from the grain dish – taking care not to burn your fingers, that dish will be hot!

There’s nothing left to do but enjoy, and seriously, you will!

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Mrs M’s Best Ever Sausage Rolls!

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Today I thought I’d share one of my favourite Christmas recipes. Okay, it’s not strictly a Christmas recipe but I ONLY make these at Christmas so that means they get filled in my ‘festive’ section!

I really love a sausage roll and I think they’re perfect fodder over the Christmas period. What’s better than a plate of leftover turkey, some cheese, chutney, a few pickled onions and a delicious sausage roll on the side while you catch up on some Christmas TV specials?

This is a pretty simple recipe but oh-so-tasty. Just delicious. The smell of them cooking in the oven? To die for. They are pretty damn perfect straight out of the oven but even when I open the tin the next day to snaffle a cold old, they smell divine.

The best thing about these is that they can be made in advance and frozen – which is what I will be doing. I used to make them on Christmas Eve but well, haven’t we all got enough to be doing that day? So now I make them a couple of weeks ahead so they all ready for cooking on Boxing Day.

The recipe makes around 16 decent sized sausage rolls – about twice the size of the small party ones you get at the supermarket but you can cut them to whatever size you like.

Enjoy – you won’t be disappointed!

Mrs M’s Best Ever Sausage Rolls!

Ingredients

8 large Cumberland sausages, skins removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
3-4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
500g fresh puff pastry
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
25g Parmesan, finely grated

Method

Place the sausage meat in a bowl with the onion, sun-dried tomatoes, sage, parsley, a pinch of salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Mix together with a wooden spoon, or with your hands, until well combined.

Cut the pastry in half and roll out 1 piece to make a long oblong shape, measuring about 40cm x 17cm x 3mm thick. Form half the filling into a long log shape which runs the length of the pastry. Place the sausage log about 5mm in from the edge of the pastry. Brush the edge with the beaten egg, then fold the pastry over the sausage filling and press to seal the edges. Crimp the pastry either with your fingers or by pressing down with a fork. Cut into 8 rolls. Prepare a second batch using the remaining pastry and filling.

If you are freezing them, do this now – pop them on a baking tray and cover with cling film until solid, than transfer to a freezerproof container for up to three months. When ready to eat, defrost thoroughly and continue with the recipe. 

Brush the tops of each sausage roll with beaten egg and sprinkle with the cheese. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden, risen and flaky. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack.

You can of course make your own pastry if you prefer but honestly, I don’t have the hands for pastry making, I just end up in a gloopy mess and to be fair Jus-Rol do it better than I do! Also, another hint from me – buy decent quality sausages or sausage meat – it makes all the difference – just not too organic (and by that I mean ‘lumpy’), the texture feels all wrong!

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Recipe: Dorset Apple Cake

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Dorset Apple Cake is probably one of my most favourite cakes ever. Especially when served with a wondrous amount of delicious clotted cream. Yum. Unfortunately this combination is not exactly diet friendly and I am trying so very hard to shift a few lbs before Christmas so it’s a good job that this was a cake I made back in September!

Last year I made a traybake Dorset Apple Cake which was delicious but when I had some apples to use up in September I thought I’d try a different type of cake.  The result was a lovely golden, crumbly dessert style of cake which will definitely be made time and time again – it’s a total timeless classic.  In fact, writing this now is making me crave it again so perhaps I will give in to temptation and knock another one up this weekend – it does seem perfect for this Autumnal weather.

My two bits of advice for this cake, is chop the apples up quite small, this will help the cake to bake more evenly and keep an eye on your cake in the oven – I’ve adjusted the times in this recipe as the original suggestion of 30-40 minutes was nowhere near enough. I found it actually took 50-55 minutes but this can depend on your oven I guess. My suggestion would be to set the time for 40 mins and test regularly from there on in.

Dorset Apple Cake

Ingredients

225g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
115g unsalted butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for greasing
115g light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
6-8 tbsp milk
225g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and diced
100g sultanas
2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and cinnamon together. Add the diced butter and rub into the flour, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the light brown sugar. Beat in the egg followed by enough of the milk to make a smooth, thick batter.

Add the apples and sultanas to the bowl and mix everything gently to combine.

Scrape the batter into your prepared tin and smooth the top to level out before sprinkling with demerara sugar.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack

Now, this cake is AMAZING served warm, which is really the way it should be dished up.  If you’re not a fan of clotted cream (WHY?!) then you can always use custard which is also pretty delicious with this cake!

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Num Noms #WackyBakers!

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Earlier this year we spent a blissful week in sunny St Ives. There’s a wonderful little Post Office shop there, right near the harbour that is toy heaven – lots of pocket money toys and ways to extract money from us parents – and it was here that we first discovered the delight that is Num Noms – collectible, scented characters that you can mix and match to make your own fusion of flavours.

Despite being a very grown-up 10 year old, for my daughter it was love at first sight, so when we were sent some Num Noms in the post she was very excited, especially with the added brief of getting creative in the kitchen – we love to bake!

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We were sent some of the Num Noms Freezie Pops variety which happens to include this one, a motorised little fella which, while fairly innocent looking, takes great joy out of terrorising my cat.

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When it came to the #WackyBakers challenge we decided to take inspiration from one of the other available Num Noms – Nana Swirl.

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Yes, Nana Swirl is a banana cupcake which inspired us into making….little banana cakes!

These little Banana Fairy Cakes are SO easy to knock up and great for little hands to get messy in the kitchen. Mine both loved helping with making the cakes but they loved the decorating even more. Even if I did have to bite my tongue a bit about my lovely hundreds and thousands pebbled-dashed kitchen floor…

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Banana Fairy Cakes

Ingredients
100g caster sugar
200g butter, softened
140g self-raising flour
2 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 very ripe banana

To decorate;
140g icing sugar
hundreds and thousands (lots!)

Method
Heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4.  Line a 12-hole bun tin with fairy cake cases.

Put the caster sugar, butter, flour, eggs, vanilla and banana in a big bowl together and beat with an electric whisk or stand mixer (or your own fair hands if you’re feeling energtetic) until the banana is mashed and everything is mixed together well.

Divide the cake mixture between the cases and bake for 20-22 mins until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool.

Once completely cool, you can start to decorate. Mix the icing sugar with a little water to make it spoonable – don’t make it too runny or it will just run straight off the fairy cakes.  Spread the icing over each cake and then cover in the hundreds and thousands!

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And then…eat!

I think we’ve done Nana Swirl justice, don’t you?

The love affair with Num Noms continues in our household – they’ve already made an appearance on Draft 1 of the Christmas List and they little packets would make great stocking fillers so I will be ‘stocking’ up soon….(see what I did there?!).

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