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Cherry Tomato Quiche

 



Quiche is a classic dish, great for lunch, or a picnic or as the basis for a simple supper. Quiche Lorraine is always nice, but it’s good to make some variations on the traditional version.

It seems that cherry tomatoes are always in season in Sydney and more and more varieties come onto the market. I love the punnets of variegated tomatoes with their yellow, green and red hues.

So cherry tomatoes are the basis of this quiche, as well as a handful of sun dried tomatoes. To make the whole thing fresh and light, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms.

The base is shortcrust pastry, for this particular recipe I use Maggie Beer’s Sour Cream Pastry. The savoury custard is the traditional filling for a quiche.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Filling
2 spring onions, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes (a punnet)
A handful of sun dried tomatoes
4 free range eggs
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball.

Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Grease a medium sized fluted quiche tin with a removable bottom. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in the tin.

Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.

Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving some of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.

In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.

Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). Place the remaining cherry tomato halves carefully in the custard. Hopefully they will sit artfully displayed in the cooked quiche, but don’t worry if they sink!

Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

Very fresh, very light, very delicious!

 

Tomato, Caramelized Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart

While we are making slow cooked casseroles and warming winter pies here in Sydney in winter, others in the northern hemisphere are enjoying cooking in summer.

This is a recipe that suits any climate, a tasty tart that would be great for an alfresco summer lunch or a warming supper dish with crusty bread and a salad.

Store-bought puff pastry tart base, some caramelized onion for the base, then topped with goats’ cheese, cherry tomatoes and a scattering of fresh herbs. I made mine in a rectangular flan tin, but a round one would do as well. You might have to adjust the quantities.

Ingredients

320g store-bought puff pastry (I used 2 sheets from a pack of Pampas puff pastry). Use more or less, if needed, to fit your tin.

1 red onion, chopped

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Goats’ cheese – or similar crumbly soft cheese. You will crumble this into the tart, so quantities are flexible, about 100gm should be enough

15-20 cherry tomatoes, or more if you want to pack them in, on the vine

Fresh thyme leaves for scattering

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Butter a  flan tin and fit with the puff pastry sheets which you have cut to shape.

Fry the red onion in the butter in a small frying pan over a low to medium heat, until the onion begins to soften. Add the brown sugar to caramelize the onion and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Lay the caramelized onion onto the pastry base. Crumble the goats’ cheese into the tart. Cut some of the cherry tomatoes in half and place on top of the goats’ cheese, place a few whole ones on, too for effect.  Scatter a few fresh thyme leaves over the tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is nicely browned, the cheese melted and the tomatoes softened. Nice served with a green salad.

Beef, Tomato and Red Wine Pie

 



May 2020. Autumn is about to turn into winter, and we’re still in partial lockdown. The weather is lovely, lots of warm days with crisp nights. Although we can now travel around New South Wales, it’s still nice to stay at home and do lots of winter cooking.

I’m very keen on pies at the moment. They’re great to make ahead and freeze, so there’s always a tasty meal on hand that can be put in the oven and eaten piping hot!

This is a recipe for a meat pie with a rich beef filling. I make a lovely casserole with shin (gravy) beef.   The casserole has lots of tomato and a good splosh of red wine. The casserole is great too, as is, served with baked potato, pasta, rice or polenta.

Once you’ve cooked the filling, you then make some shortcrust pastry. Pop the filling into the pastry and bake. A lovely homemade pie is ready for eating!

note – you can make either the beef filling or the shortcrust pastry well ahead of time, and put the pie together when you actually want to bake it.

Ingredients
Beef Filling

500g shin (gravy) beef or chuck steak or blade steak if you can’t get shin
1 dessertspoon plain flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
2 – 4 shallots (more or less depending on the size of the shallots), chopped
2 x 400g tins whole peeled tomatoes
I large tomato, roughly chopped
200 mls red wine
1 tinful of water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt, black pepper
A bay leaf
A few springs thyme
Few sprigs rosemary

Shortcrust Pastry

500g plain flour
Pinch of salt
250g cold butter, diced
Enough iced water to bring the pastry together – about 4 tablespoons
Free-range egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry

Method
Filling

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the flour, close and shake the bag to coat the beef pieces in the flour. Heat a heavy based cast iron casserole on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of oil to the casserole.

Add half of the beef pieces and cook for a minute or two to brown the meat, turning to make sure all sides get the heat. This is just to caramelise the meat. Remove the pieces from the casserole and set aside. Add the other half of the beef and caramelise in the same way, removing from the casserole once browned.

Add the other tablespoon of oil, and add the the chopped onions and shallots. Fry over a medium heat until the onions and shallots are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole.

Add the tinned tomatoes, roughly breaking up into the casserole. Add the chopped fresh tomato. Stir in the red wine, and using one of the tomato tins, add a tinful  of water. Stir in the molasses and Worcestershire sauce. Season with a sea salt and black pepper. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary with an elastic band or a piece of string, to make a bouquet garnis, and put into the casserole mixture.

Making sure the mixture is simmering, carefully remove the casserole to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until the beef is tender and almost falling apart. You should check after 2 hours, just  in case the casserole has cooked a bit dry. If so, you can add some more water. As a general rule, it’s pretty hard to overcook this cut of beef, so 3 hours is usually about the right time.

Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the bouquet garnis,  and cool to room temperature.

Shortcrust Pastry 

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blitz to combine. Add the butter cubes and carefully blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. At this point, add the iced water a little at a time, blitzing after each addition. Only add enough water to get the mixture to start to come together into a ball, you may not need it all. Be very careful not to process too long each time you blitz, as this will overwork the mixture, and make the pastry tough.

Turn the pastry out onto a work surface. Bring the pastry together into a ball, with your hands. Wrap the pastry in cling wrap and chill for at least half an hour in the fridge.

Making the Pie

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove pastry from the fridge. You will need a pie dish, tin or mould, 18cms or 20cms in diameter. Cut the pastry into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. Roll the bigger piece, for the base of the pie, between 2 sheets of baking paper, into a round at least big enough to fit into the pie dish, covering the base and sides. Ease the pastry into the dish. Don’t worry if the pastry breaks, it’s easy to patch up any gaps. You can trim off any excess from around the edge.

Now it’s time to fill the pie. You won’t need all the filling – fill with enough of the meat mixture to fit comfortably into the pastry. Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg.

Take the second, smaller piece of pastry, and roll between pieces of baking paper into another round, the size of the top of the pie, making sure you have enough pastry to overlap the top of the pie. You can always trim the excess. Place over the filling, making sure the top pastry meets the bottom pastry all around the pie. Seal the the top and bottom of the pastry by pushing down around the edge with the prongs of a fork.

Brush the top of the pie all over with beaten egg, before putting the pie into the hot oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.

Serve in big slices with a green salad or mushy peas and carrots, and a dollop of sauce if you like. I go for Worcestershire or good old tomato ketchup!

Leftover pie can be refrigerated and reheated in the oven. And of course you can freeze portions of the pie too. Defrost them and reheat in the oven. Never microwave the pie, otherwise the pastry ends up limp and pretty unappetising!

Jamie Oliver Pizza

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Here’s Jamie Oliver’s simple recipe for pizza dough. I love it and it’s always my go-to recipe when I’m in the pizza making zone!

 I use my barbecue with a lid and a temperature gauge as the oven. You can really heat up the barbecue very high and you get great crusty pizza.

Jamie Oliver’s recipe is really straightforward and easy to follow, and it freezes really well. I tend to make a batch of dough, then divide into portions to freeze. I can then defrost and make pizza whenever I like!

This is the link to Jamie’e original recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/basic-pizza

Here’s Jamie’s recipe, with a couple of tweaks I have made to the original. The quantity below gives you 4 small pizzas, enough for 2.  Doubling the quantities gives you pizzas for 4.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour

1/2 level tablespoon fine sea salt

1×7 g sachet dried yeast

1/2 tbs  caster sugar

325 ml lukewarm water

Semolina for dusting

Method

Pile the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add  yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.
Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. Continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using one hand to stretch the dough toward you and the other hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size for about 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Flour and cover each ball with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.
Take a piece of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick. Tear off an appropriately sized piece of tin foil, rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour or semolina and place the pizza base on top.  Do the same with the other pieces and then, if you dust them with a little flour, you can pile them up into a stack and cover them with cling film.

Preheat your barbecue till very hot (at least 250 degrees C) with the lid closed.  Heat 2 baking sheets in the barbecue.
Put two of the rolled-out dough rounds onto each of two baking sheets, scattering each sheet with a dusting of semolina first.  At this stage you can apply your topping. Smear the tomato sauce over the base of your pizzas and spread it out to the edges. Scatter over your fillings, tearing  the mozzarella into rough pieces. Drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Put the baking sheets onto the barbecue, lid down. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.

Easy Tomato Sauce Or Passata

Ingredients

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked and torn

3 x 400 tinned plum tomatoes

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place a large non-stick frying pan on the heat and pour in a couple of  generous lugs of olive oil. Add the garlic, shake the pan around a bit and, once the garlic begins to colour lightly, add the basil and the tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mush and squash the tomatoes as much as you can.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the pan from the heat. Strain the sauce through a coarse sieve into a bowl, using your wooden spoon to push any larger bits of tomato through. Discard the basil and garlic that will be left in the sieve, but make sure you scrape any of the tomatoey goodness off the back of the sieve into the bowl.

Pour the sauce back into the pan, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes to concentrate the flavours. It will be ready when it’s the perfect consistency for spreading on your pizza.

Store the sauce in a clean jar in the fridge – it’ll keep for a week or so. Also great to freeze in batches , so you can defrost exactly the amount you need.

Fillings for Pizza

Anything goes! You can start your pizza off with the tomato passata, or go for a white pizza (bianca). Cheese is almost always good and mozzarella makes for a beautiful gooey pizza. Add anything you think will work!

I made two tomato, mozzarella and basil pizzas, basically a pizza margherita, and for the other pizzas I added passata, artichoke heart, caramelized onion and a simple scattering of thyme leaves.

 

Shakshouka: The 5-2 Diet

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This is a great recipe from the Fast Diet Recipe Book by Mimi Spencer.
The 5-2 Fast Diet Intermittent Fasting really works, and is great for people like me who love their food and don’t want to deprive themselves every day! It’s based on the idea of 2 days of very low calorie intake – 500 calories for women, 600 for men – and 5 days of normal eating.
Worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. Dr Michael Mosley is the brains behind the concept.
http://thefastdiet.co.uk/
“Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions often spiced  with cumin. It is believed to have a Tunisian  origin”.
I love the dish as it’s so tasty and moreish and is great for breakfast or lunch or dinner!
I omitted the red pepper in the original recipe as I don’t like them. Feel free to put it back in for the authentic recipe.
The recipe serves 2, although even eating the whole dish yourself doesn’t break the calorie bank.
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Ingredients

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
2 free range eggs
1 tbsp parsley and coriander, chopped

Method

Heat a medium sized frying pan and add the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, with the spices, and simmer for a further 5-7 minutes until the sauce starts to reduce.
Season, and crack the eggs directly over the tomato mixture. Cover with a lid or a large plate and cook until the egg whites are firm but the yolks still runny.

Scatter the chopped parsley and coriander over the top of the dish and serve, rustic style, in the frying pan.IMG_1821

 

 

 

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