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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If you could only keep one cookbook…

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…..what would it be?

Now, asking that question to someone like me, who has almost 500 books in her collection is tiny a bit cruel. I mean, how can I be expected to pick a favourite when there are just SO many good ones in my collection?

There are so many books that I love and many that are well-used (the two aren’t mutually exclusive for me – some I just like to read. Cookbook addicts will know what I’m talking about!) I mean, I pretty much adore anything from Jamie Oliver – his Ministry of Food book is perfect for anyone just starting out in the world of cooking and Gino D’Acampo’s books, well they are my favourite go-to for Italian meals. I’m also a fan of the Hairy Bikers and a spot of Nigella every now and again but when it comes to picking just one book FOREVER? It’s a really tough decision but I’m going to have to go with more of a simple classic – one that covers all bases.

Enter Mary Berry.

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Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook has everything you need.

This no-nonsense book contains over 1000 recipes for just about every occasion from adventurous dinner party dishes to firm family favourites this book is one for everyone from absolute beginners to competent cooks.  The recipes are easy to follow and include time-saving tips and there’s a whole heap of information on the general basics such as how to freeze, food safety and tips for flavouring and spices.    It is really well laid out and the pictures are great – always my bugbear in cookbooks – I need good clear pictures of recipes!

This is the book I would furnish my children with when they leave home!

Of course there are similar books out there that would also fit the bill – my hefty Good Housekeeping tome would come a close second and is very well thumbed. In fact I have a few versions from different years!

So over to you – if you could only keep one cookbook, which one would you keep and why?

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Recipe: Chocolate Marble Cake

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This one is a bit of a tea-time favourite and a lunchbox stable – chocolate marble cake.

It’s a simple, no-frills cake which tend to be my favourite type as I have little patience for decorating cakes, though having said that, in the past I have been known to liberally cover this lovely cake in a rich ganache. A ganache with no panache though – totally slapped on without any shame!

The original recipe came from BBC Good Food but I did tweak it a little bit.  The recipe also calls for butter but I have used Stork in place of butter sometimes, to no detriment.

Chocolate Marble Cake

Ingredients

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Method

Heat the oven to 180C/gas 160C/gas 4. Grease a 20cm cake tin and line the bottom with a circle of greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Gently fold in the flour, milk and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.

Divide the mixture equally between two bowls. Take one of the bowls and stir in the cocoa powder. Take two spoons and dollop the cake mixes into the tin alternately, making sure that the base of the tin is evenly covered and when the mixture has all been used up, tap the bottom of the tin gently on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles. With a skewer, swirl it around the mixture a few times in the tin to create the marbled effect.

Pop the cake in the oven and baked for about 50-60mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

I’m sketchy with the timings because baking is not something that can be done to an exact time and I have found on different occasions this cake has needed slightly longer.  My advice is to set the time to 45 minutes and then check every 5 minutes from there on.

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Oven Baked Honey Salmon

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Two things.

Firstly, this salmon is delicious.

Secondly, why aren’t salmon fillets bigger?

This salmon dish is so very easy and so very tasty but I do have beef with salmon dishes – there’s not nearly enough fish there for me. I’ve considering having two fillets but then the £££ of this puts me off. Is it just me that is a big fat salmon pig?  I probably use more sauce ingredients than you need but I like things saucy, ooh err.

Salmon cooked in foil in the oven is probably one of my favourite ways to cook salmon – I even do it when we’re camping now, normally just with some butter and lemon but this recipe uses such basic ingredients I think I will add this to my camping notebook too!

A super quick and easy dinner – I hope you enjoy!

Oven Baked Honey Salmon

Ingredients

6 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or a good sprinkling of dried if that’s all you have)
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 salmon fillets

Method

Preheat oven to 180c/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper.

Pop the salmon fillets on to the foil and fold up the sides – you want to create a kind of bowl so that the honey doesn’t run out… Spoon the honey mix over the top of the salmon and fold the sides of the foil over the top to make a sealed parcel.

Place the baking tray into the oven and cooked for about 20 minutes.

Serve this immediately with your choice of accompaniment – we did green beans and new potatoes, but equally this would be nice with some rice.

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Plum, Pear and Apple Chutney

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This chutney is the third and final chutney in my trio of chutneys. You can find the other two here and here. I’m not going to lie, by the time I got to this chutney I had about lost the will to live. Yes, I made all three batches in one go, starting at 8pm on a Tuesday night but you know, when plums are ready they are READY. They wait for no man.

I liked the sound of this chutney as I don’t use pears very often. I’m not overly keen, they’re either rock hard or past their best but I do enjoy the flavour so I was interested to see how they came out in a chutney.  This was also a good chutney for using up the cooking apples that had fallen from the tree too.

I gave this the taste test and it was yummy. Milder than the Mulled Wine Chutney and not nearly as sweet as the Plum and Ginger Chutney. This will be nice with some cold meats and milder cheeses as it’s not too overpowering.

Plum, Pear and Apple Chutney

Ingredients

450g plums, halved, stoned and finely chopped
450g pears, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lemons, juice and zest
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp mustard seeds
500ml white wine vinegar
225g sultanas
225g light muscovado sugar
225g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp salt

Method

Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan or maslin pan and stir well to combine.

Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes until the fruit is soft and the mixture is thick and pulpy.

Meanwhile, sterilise your jars. To do this, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry them in a roasting tin or on a baking try (I foil line mine) in the oven at 180c/gas mark 4 for about 10 minutes and take them out of the oven right before using.

When the chutney carefully pot into the sterilised jars.

Seal, label and store for at least a couple of weeks before eating. 

Chutney is the easiest thing in the world, you simply can’t go wrong.

That concludes my chutney-fest for 2015. I can’t wait to try these at Christmas, fingers crossed they still taste as good, or hopefully even better!

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