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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Garlic Mushrooms and Goats' Cheese Toast + Book Review

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One of my favourite parts of cooking and food is entertaining, both everyday entertaining and for special occasions! That's why I was so delighted to be sent a copy of the new Food For Family & Friends edited by Julia Charles. A book filled not only with great food and drink recipes suitable for entertaining but also tips and tricks on placing, matching wines and many more. I even showed it to my son home from University and he thought that it would be great for students, with plenty of recipes to cook and share with friends- he's already asked for a few to take back with him!

The book is filled with lovely pictures to accompany each recipe, many of which are full or half-page. I also particularly liked the introductions for each recipe, which include helpful ideas on both selecting and sourcing ingredients and how to include dishes in menus when entertaining. I thought that the brunch, nibbles and sharing plates recipes were particularly versatile, many would make great lunches! There is an interesting section on cheeseboards, paring different cheeses with the seasons, and accompanying wine ideas.

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Every page has lovely bright photos!

I decided to make the garlic mushrooms and goats' cheese on sourdough toast from the brunch section of the book as a late lunch. They were really easy and quick, and I thought they would also make a great starter!

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Roasting the mushrooms

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Simply pop the roasted mushrooms on the toasted bread spread with goats' cheese

Garlic Mushrooms and Goats' Cheese on Sourdough Toast
Adapted from Food for Family & Friends, recipe by Tonia George

You want to use a soft, mild goats' cheese for this recipe, alternatively you could use ricotta. Instead of the sourdough, I used toasted ciabatta and swapped the tarragon for fresh rosemary.

8 field mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
25g pine nuts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 slices sourdough bread
150g fresh goats' cheese
Fresh tarragon to serve
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF) Gas 6.

Clean the mushrooms and put them onto a roasting tray lined with foil. In a small bowl, mix the crushed garlic and the olive oil, then dribble it over the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes, sprinkle over the pine nuts and balsamic vinegar, also the fresh rosemary leaves if using instead of the tarragon. Bake for another 8 minutes or so.

Just before the mushrooms are ready, toast the bread and spread with the goats' cheese.

Arrange the mushrooms, pine nuts and rosemary on top, or if using fresh tarragon, scatter it over the top. Add more seasoning if needed and serve immediately.


Food for Family & Friends book cover

The book can be bought directly from Ryland Peters & Small, or from Amazon.

Food For Family & Friends
£19.99 / Hardback, 192 pages
Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small
April 2011
ISBN: 9781849751223

With thanks to Sarah at Ryland Peters & Small

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Rum and Fruit Loaf + Book Review

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Rosemary Shrager's Absolutely Foolproof Classic Home Cooking is a book that takes you back to basics. Anyone who has seen Rosemary on television will know that she is passionate about food and one of her greatest pleasures in life is teaching people how to cook. This book is a bit like having Rosemary in your own kitchen, helping you to master 20 essential recipes, which prepares you for the accompanying 250 classic recipes in the book. With plenty of notes and explanations along the way, you should be able to produce faultless dishes of your own, with total confidence.

Each chapter includes an essential recipe, with glorious step-by-step full colour photos. You'll find everything from white sauces and roasts to pastry and breads, and there are plenty of variations on the recipes including 'tips and ideas' scattered throughout the book.

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I made the 'Rum and Fruit Loaf' on page 253, it was moist and stogged full of fruit. You could actually taste the rum, but soaking the fruit in the rum overnight would make it even better.

I loved the chapter on soufflés: traditional savoury and sweet soufflés, plus a 'twice backed cheese soufflé'. There was also a recipe for a 'cold lemon soufflé'. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of vegetarian dishes, there is a small chapter on vegetables however, including recipes for 'pea, mint & goats' cheese purée', 'crushed potato, rosemary & thyme cakes' and 'braised fennel'.

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This book is aimed at beginner and intermediate cooks, with very clear instructions that are easy to follow and nicely laid out pages. One thing I did find frustrating, however, was that some of the chapters had very pale colour type for the ingredients making it hard to read. You won't find shots of Rosemary plastering the pages (which seem to be the trend with celebrity chefs these days) just beautiful glossy food photographs - the majority being full page ones. This is one book that I would be happy to give to my teens, in fact one asked if he could make a dish to test out the 'foolproofness', so watch this space!

Rum and Fruit Loaf
Adapted from Rosemary Shrager's Absolutely Foolproof Classic Home Cooking

75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
450g mixed dried fruit
25g flaked almonds
1 large egg, lightly beaten
40ml strong black tea, left to cool
2 tablespoons rum
75g self-raising flour
75g plain flour
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Line a 500g loaf tin with non-stick baking parchment and heat the oven to 150ºC/Gas mark 2.

Melt the butter and sugar together in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat, then stir in the dried fruit and flaked almonds. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the egg, followed by the tea and rum. Sift in the self-raising flour, plain flour, mixed spice and the bicarbonate of soda. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and place into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 1¼-1½ hours, until the loaf is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the loaf.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for an hour before tuning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in foil and leave overnight before slicing.

Rosemary Shrager Book Cover

The book can be bought directly from Octopus Books, or from Amazon.

Rosemary Shrager's Absolutely Foolproof Classic Home Cooking
£18.99 / Hardback, 288 pages
Publisher: Octopus Publishing Group
May 2011
ISBN: 9780600622079

With thanks to Karen Baker at Octopus Publishing Group

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.
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