Bacon, Cheese and Onion Slice

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 1 tblsp cooking oil; 2 onions, finely chopped; 8oz (225g) puff pastry; English or Dijon mustard; 4oz (100g) smoked bacon, chopped; 4oz (100g) cheddar cheese, grated; sesame seeds, to garnish

  • This slice makes great canapés, finger snacks or an accompaniment to soup.
  • Most people buy ready-made puff pastry but if you want to make your own, here’s how. Melt 2oz (50g) butter, cool. Leave 5oz (150g) butter to soften. Sift 7oz (200g) plain flour and pinch of salt into a bowl. Make well in centre, pour in about 4 fl oz (120ml) cold water, a few drops lemon juice and the melt butter. Knead lightly, then leave to rest for 20 mins. On a floured board, roll pastry from 4 sides, leaving a lump in centre – dough should look like a crossroads. Sit remaining butter on the centre lump of the dough and fold over each pastry flap. Pat into a rectangle measuring about 6 x 12in (15 x 30cm), refrigerate for 10-15 mins. Roll pastry lengthways until double in length. Fold both ends into centre, then fold once more. This is called a double turn. Complete process a further 3 times. Always roll with folded edge on left and leave to rest for 20-30 mins in fridge before each turn. Leave pastry in fridge for a further 30 mins before using. This makes roughly 1 lb (450g) of pastry but you can freeze the excess.
  • In a large frying pan, heat oil and fry onions for a few minutes until softened. Make sure onions do not brown. Allow to cool.
  • Roll out puff pastry very thinly into a 12in (30cm) square. Cut square in half and on one half only, spread a little mustard, according to your taste. Then spread with the onions, bacon and cheese and cover with the remaining pastry half. Roll up pastry parcel like a Swiss roll, then leave to rest in fridge for 1-2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas Mark 7. Remove roll from fridge, cut into ¾ in (18mm) slices, place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 12-15 mins until golden.

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Bacon and Potato Omelette

Serves : 2   :    Cals per portion: 430

  • In a medium sized frying pan, dry fry four rashers of streaky bacon for 2-3 mins until just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and cut each rasher in half, then set aside.
  • Beat five eggs with 45ml (3 tblsp) milk and season. Add a large knob of butter to the pan and when it’s foaming pour in the eggs. Cook for 2-3 mins until just beginning to set.
  • Cut two plum tomatoes into wedges and add to the pan with the bacon strips and 225g (8oz) cooked and sliced new potatoes. Place the pan under a preheated grill for a further 3-4 mins until just set and golden brown.
  • Serve straight from the pan sprinkled with ground black pepper and fresh chopped chives, if liked.

Sticky Chicken Wings

Even a complete beginner can make these – they’re so easy and delicious.

Serves: 8; Prep: 5 mins; Cook: 25 mins; Cals per portion: 218

Ingredients: 16 large chicken wings; 8 tblsp runny honey; 1 tsp English mustard powder; 8 tblsp sesame seeds

  • Preheat oven to Mark 6/400oF/200oC. Arrange chicken wings in a large roasting tin. Season them generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  • Brush chicken wings with honey to coat them, then sprinkle them with mustard powder and sesame seeds.
  • Bake wings for 25 mins, turning and basting once until golden and tender..

Bacon & Onion Tart

Serves: 6; Prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 40-50 minutes; Cals per portion: 354

A crispy short-crust pastry tart with a creamy onion filling – ideal for a summer picnic.

Ingredients:
Pastry: 6oz/175g plain flour; 1/2 tsp/2.5ml salt; 3oz/75g hard margarine; 2-3 tblsp/30-45ml water
Filling: 2oz/50g butter; 1 lb/450g onions, chopped; 2 rashers bacon, chopped; 1 1/2oz/40g flour; 7 fl oz/200ml milk; 2 eggs; salt and freshly ground black pepper; 8 in / 21cm flan tin, greased

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 5 / 375oF / 190oC. Sieve the flour and salt into a small bowl. Cut margarine into small pieces and rub it into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to mix to a firm dough. Roll out on floured board and line the tin.
  • Melt butter in pan, add onions and bacon and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in flour and mix well. Beat milk with eggs and pour over onions, mixing well. Season and pour into flan case. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve.

Parma Ham and Tomato Tart

Serves 4; Cals per portion: 545

Ingredients: 225g (8oz) short-crust pastry; 30ml (2 tbsp) finely grated parmesan cheese; 175mg (6oz) Parma ham; 4 large plum tomatoes; 50g (2oz) pine nuts; 45m (3 tblsp) olive oil.

  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry thinly and sprinkle the Parmesan Cheese over the top. Roll over the pastry with a rolling pin to press the cheese into the pastry. Use the pastry to line a 23cm (9in) fluted flan tin then prick all over with a fork.
  • Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (or dried pulses). Bake blind at 200oC, 400oF, Gas 6 for 20 mins. Remove the lining and the beans and bake for a further 5-10 mins until the pastry case is crisp and golden. Leave to cool.
  • Fill the cooled pastry case with the strips of Parma ham, tomato wedges and pine nuts. Drizzle with 30ml (2tblsp) of the olive oil and place under a pre-heated moderate grill for 5-10 mins until the tomatoes begin to soften slightly.

Cheesy Ham Flan

Serves: 4; Prep: 20 mins: Cook: 30 min: Calories per portion: 618

This crisp pastry case with a rich and cheesy filling is perfect for a family lunch.

Ingredients: 8oz/225g short-crust pastry; 1 tblsp/15ml oil; 1 leek, washed and sliced; 1oz/25g butter; 1oz/25g plain flour; 1 tsp/5ml mustard; 3/4pt/450ml milk; salt and pepper; 4oz/125g cheddar cheese; 6oz/175g lean ham, chopped; 1 tbsp/15ml white breadcrumbs; 8in/20cm flan dish

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 4 / 350oF / 180oC. Grease the flan dish. Roll out the pastry, line the dish and trim pastry.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry the sliced leek for a few minutes, until it begins to soften.
  • Melt butter in a pan, stir in flour and mustard and cook for 1 minute. Add milk, beating thoroughly between each addition to remove lumps. Season to taste. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in 3oz/75g of the cheese. Mix the leeks and ham into the sauce and pour into flan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until pastry is golden. Serve with vegetables.

Gingerbread

Makes 12 slices; Prep: 15 mins; Cook: 30-35 mins; Cals per slice: 233

Ingredients: 100g (4oz) butter; 175g (6oz) soft, light brown sugar; 100g (4oz) black treacle; 50g (2oz) golden syrup; 5cm (2in) piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated; 15ml (1 tbsp) instant coffee granules; 225g (8oz) plain flour; 5ml (1 tsp) bicarbonate of soda; 5ml (1tsp) ground cinnamon; pinch of freshly ground black pepper; 2 eggs, beaten; whipped cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4. Grease a 27 x 17.5cm (10 3/4 x 7 in) rectangular cake tin.
2. Melt the butter, sugar, treacle, syrup and ginger together in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, dissolve the coffee granules in 90ml (4 fl oz) water, then sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
4. Add a little freshly ground black pepper, make a well in the centre, then pour in the butter mixture, eggs and coffee. Beat well with a balloon whisk until smooth and slightly thick.
5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 25-30 mins until firm to the touch.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Cut into bars and serve warm or cold with freshly whipped cream. This pudding is also delicious served hot with custard.
Tip: If you haven’t got any fresh root ginger use 10ml (2 tsp) ground ginger instead. Real ginger lovers could also try adding chopped root ginger in syrup to the mixture too.

Apricot and Almond Tea Loaf

Makes:  16 slices;  Prep:  15 mins;  Cook:  1 ¼ hours;  Cals per slice:  254

Ingredients:  225g (8oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped; 75g (3oz) almonds, chopped; 250g (9oz) plain flour; pinch of salt; ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda; 90g (3 ½ oz) butter; 200g (7oz) caster sugar; 2 large eggs, lightly beaten; finely grated rind of 1 orange; ½ tsp orange flower water; 100ml (4 fl oz) milk.  Syrup:  juice of 1 orange; 4 tbsp granulated sugar

  • Mix apricots, almonds and 45ml (3 tbsp) flour.  Sieve remaining flour with salt and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, orange rind and orange flower water.
  • Gently fold in alternating spoonfuls of flour, milk and apricot mixture until evenly mixed.  Spoon into a greased and lined 1 kg (2lb) loaf tin.  Bake for 1 ¼ hours.
  • For syrup, gently heat juice and sugar until sugar dissolves.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Pierce cake in several places with a fine skewer and spoon over hot syrup.  Leave to cool in tin.

Carrot Salad

A Moroccan dish

Ingredients:  450g carrots, peeled and cut in julienne strips; 1 clove garlic; ½ tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds; 2 dsps fresh coriander, chopped; olive oil; 1 lemon; salt and pepper

Cook the carrots and unpeeled garlic clove in salted boiling water until just cooked.  Drain, refresh under cold water and remove garlic.  Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and grind with a mortar and pestle or the back of a wooden spoon.  In a bowl, combine the spices with the carrots.  Add fresh coriander and enough oil to coat the carrots.  Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.