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Rosemary & Garlic Baked Maida Vale

Rosemary & Garlic Baked Maida Vale

This is possibly one of the most easiest and delicious recipes of ours, and we could have baked it on it’s own but adding the garlic and rosemary takes it to a whole new level. We loved this during the winter, both over bonfires and straight from the oven.

Serve with toasted sourdough bread & caramelised onion chutney, or warmed crostini to dip… or grab a spoon and go for gold.

Ingredients:
1 x Maida Vale, whole
3 fresh garlic cloves
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, washed and cut into 5cm long spears
Olive oil

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Remove the Maida Vale from the box, replacing the wax paper for parchment paper of the same size. Pop the cheese back inside the box (keeping the lid off) and score a few shallow lines over the top of the rind with a sharp knife.

Stud the cheese with the garlic cloves and two or three rosemary spears, drizzle with a little olive oil, and place in the middle of the oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese is soft to the touch.

When it’s ready, remove the Maida Vale from the oven and allow 2-3 minutes to cool before tucking in with your bread sticks and chutney.

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Spenwood Mac & Cheese

Spenwood Mac & Cheese

Ultimate. Comfort. Food. This is our macaroni and cheese in it’s simplest form, but we’ve added our favourite variations at the end if you want some extras. Serve with steamed tenderstem broccoli or a spinach, rocket and tomato salad.

Ingredients:
200g macaroni pasta
40g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
salt + pepper, to taste
600ml whole milk, warmed
1 x garlic clove, crushed
150g Spenwood cheese
100g your favourite mature cheddar cheese
1 tsp english mustard
finely grated nutmeg, to taste (optional)
crispy onions (optional, but necessary!)

Method:
Start by adding the pasta to a large pot of boiling water, add a pinch of salt, and cook for a couple of minutes less than stated on the instructions on the packet. Drain, and turn into an oven proof dish.

The sauce:
Put the butter into a pot over medium heat, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring well after each addition. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat, add the mustard and nutmeg (if using) and season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and three quarters of the cheeses (reserving the rest for the topping), and stir until the cheese has melted.

The assembly:
Pour the 2/3 of the sauce into the macaroni-filled dish and fork through the pasta until it is all incorporated. Add the rest of the sauce and scatter the last of the cheese and panko crumbs (if using) on top.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden.

Just before serving, garnish each portion with a generous sprinkle of crispy onions.

Variations.

Bacon & basil: Before making your sauce, grill 5 rashers of bacon until they are crispy. Once cooled, chop and stir into your sauce mix with a handful of torn basil just before pouring it into the pasta dish. Top with the remaining cheese as above and bake in the oven.

Spinach & basil pesto: Put 60g of fresh spinach in a colander and pour over a full kettle of boiling water. Squeeze out as much water as possible, set aside. Blend 30g breadcrumbs with 30g Spenwood, a handful of fresh basil leaves, 1tbsp olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 crushed garlic clove. Stir the spinach into the pasta & sauce once in the baking dish, then top with your breadcrumb mixture. Top with reserved cheese and bake as above. You can go even further with the basil pesto and swirl a table spoon of it through your macaroni sauce mixture before topping with the cheese and breadcrumbs.

Chilli & chorizo w. mozarella: Before making your sauce, fry up slices of chorizo with fresh red sliced chilli. Stir this into the baking dish along with your macaroni-sauce mixture, plus 100g of torn mozarella and a handful of fresh basil before topping with reserved Spenwood cheese. Bake as above.

Mac and Cauliflower cheese, w. tomato & thyme: Add 300g of cauliflower florets into your pan of macaroni while it is on the boil, and once drained, put them all into the baking dish as above. Add a handful of chopped spring onions and stir in with the sauce. Top with the reserved cheese as above and mix together a generous handful of fresh thyme with panko crumbs before sprinking over the cheese. Layer thick slices of 2 large tomatoes on top before putting in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

Three cheese, with Spenwood, Cheddar & Barkham Blue: Make the recipe as above, and stir chunks of 60g Barkham Blue cheese through the macaroni once the sauce has been added. Bake as above.

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Spenwood & Wigmore Frittata

Spenwood & Wigmore Frittata

It’s amazing what you can make out of some leftover veg, cheese and eggs! This frittata feeds 8, is packed with nutrients, and is full of flavour. It’s fairly versatile too, so if you don’t have courgettes or peas then you can use any variety of vegetables with this (peppers, broccoli, broad beans, etc). If you do, be sure to cook them first.

Ingredients:
6 free-range eggs, medium
90g peas, defrosted or fresh
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
90g courgette, grated
95g Spenwood, grated
90g Wigmore, chopped into bite-sized chunks (we trimmed the rind off ours for texture, but feel free to keep it)
Pinch of salt + pepper
4 tsp basil pesto
½ medium brown onion, diced
Olive oil for the pan, or butter
Balsamic vinegar

Method:
Place the cherry tomato halves into a pan over a medium heat, add 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Give it all a gentle stir every couple of minutes until the vinegar has reduced and the tomatoes have began to soften and blister. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in the pan and add the diced onions to fry slowly until they are soft and golden. Set aside with the balsamic tomatoes and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of your ingredients – you’ll need to have them ready to hand for the next part.

Whisk the eggs in a jug and stir in the Spenwood, salt and pepper.

Heat a well-oiled oven-safe pan on a medium heat, and preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius (fan-assisted).

When the pan is hot, add the whisked egg and Spenwood mixture, then the onions, peas, courgette, half of the Wigmore cheese and half of the balsamic tomatoes, reserving the other halves of both for later. Shake the pan to ensure all of the ingredients are cooking within the frittata mixture. Swirl through the basil pesto, being careful not to mix it in too much.

While the frittata mixture is cooking and is beginning to set, scatter the reserved Wigmore cheese and balsamic tomatoes over the top. Give it another shake, then pop the entire pan in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes until your frittata is puffy, golden brown and has doubled in size.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Or, cool and refrigerate and serve chilled with a rocket salad.

For the meat lovers.

Add a handful of flaked smoked salmon, grilled bacon or pancetta into your frittata mix just before you put it into the pan to cook.

Or, try this variation:
Sautee thinly sliced potatoes, red peppers & red onions in a pan over a low-medium heat until the potatoes have crisped and the vegetables have softened, set aside. Chop 1 – 2 sausages into chunks, fry with a little sage & thyme, and add it all to your cheese and egg mixture. Switch the pesto for 1-2 tsp dijon mustard to swirl through the frittata mixture as it heats in the pan. Bake in the oven as above.

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Baked Wigmore Cheesecake

Baked Wigmore Cheesecake

Not an original VMC recipe, but original nonetheless; this is a beautifully sweet, tangy and creamy cheesecake by Great British Chef, Adam Byatt, using Wigmore cheese. We stumbled across this a while back on the GB Chefs website and, at first, were quite surprised that Wigmore had been used in a sweet recipe. The delicate nuttiness of the cheese works really, really well and I can honestly say that it’s the best recipe I’ve used for a baked cheesecake. And, despite the amount of eggs and cheese used, it’s surprisingly light! Adam serves his version with a pear sorbet & pear chutney, although we enjoyed ours with salted pecan brittle and raspberries.

Makes one very large cheesecake (be warned! You’ll need a deep 20cm springfrom baking tin for this one. And a big food processor).

Cheesecake base:
220g digestive biscuits
50g ginger nut biscuits
125g butter, unsalted
A good pinch of salt (we like flaked sea salt for the crunch)

First, make your base. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once it’s liquified, keep swirling it on the heat until it turns golden brown in colour and there are brown speckles on the bottom of the pan – browning the butter like this will add depth to the flavour of your base and give it a lovely buttery, nutty and almost caramel flavour. You’ll be able to smell it when it’s ready.

As soon as your butter has started to brown, set aside to cool a little while you blend your biscuits.

You can use a blender to blitz the biscuits into crumbs or do it the old fashioned way (biscuits in a tea towel, bash with a rolling pin). Add the pinch of salt, this will balance out the sweetness of the biscuit base and cheese filling.

Put the melted butter and biscuit crumbs into a bowl and mix to combine. Press this all into the base of a springform tin with your hands or the back of a spoon and pop into the fridge to set for 1 hour.

Cheesecake filling:
375g Wigmore cheese (or 1 x whole Baby Wigmore)
350g white chocolate
2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped
375g cream cheese
120g golden caster sugar
5 eggs
450g creme fraiche
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

While your base is setting in the fridge, preheat your oven to 130 degrees celcius.

Melt the white chocolate in a bain marie over a gentle heat, being careful that the bowl doesn’t touch the water underneath – this will cause the chocolate to burn. Set aside to cool slightly.

Blend the rest of the cheesecake ingredients together, then stir in the melted white chocolate until everything is fully incorporated.

Remove your cheesecake base from the fridge and pour the mixture over the top, give it a shake to ensure it has evened out.

Place the tin in the middle of the oven for 50 – 60 minutes, or until it is almost set but still slightly wobbly in the centre. The top of the cheesecake should have turned a light golden colour.

Don’t be tempted to open the oven door before the 50 minute mark, or your cheesecake will crack!

Once your cheesecake is baked, turn the oven off and leave it in there with the door ajar for a couple of hours until it has cooled. Refrigerate overnight.

Salted pecan brittle topping:
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp water
150g pecans
Sea salt

This only takes around 25 minutes to do, so make this after the cheesecake has come out of the oven or anytime before you want to serve it up.

On a baking tray, put your pecans into a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 10 minutes or so to toast. Remove and set aside, prepare a sheet of parchment paper, ready for the pecan brittle to be poured onto later.

Put the sugar into a nonstick pan before turning onto a medium heat, then pour in the water without stirring. The sugar cooks and starts to change colour quite fast, so keep an eye on it to avoid burning.

As soon as the water has evaporated and the sugar has began to turn golden brown, pour your pecans and a generous sprinkle of sea salt into the pan and swirl. As soon as the pecans are coated in the caramel, pour it all out onto the parchment paper and leave to set.

Once it’s cooled and set (20 minutes or so), crack your praline into chunks using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin, and scatter on top of your baked cheesecake to serve.

Variations to try next time below, if you like.

Lemon cheesecake:
Follow the recipe as above, but add the zest and juice of 2 lemons to the filling. Omit the salted pecan brittle topping, and top with dollops of homemade lemon passionfruit curd, a sprinkle of toasted dessicated coconut and toasted caramelised almonds. Of course, all toppings are optional! You can keep it simple with the curd on it’s own.

Banoffee cheesecake:
Switch your digestive biscuits for chocolate digestives in the base (keep the ginger nuts in there) and make as above.

Put 2 tins of unopened sweetened condensed milk into a pan of water so they are completely covered, then bring to a gentle boil for 4 hours. Once cooled, you should open the tins to find thick, gooey caramel. Empty contents into a bowl and add 4 tsp of sea salt (or to taste) to make the salted dulce de leche.

Spread the homemade salted dulce de leche onto the chilled biscuit base, reserving some for the topping. Add a generous layer of sliced bananas (4 x ripe bananas should be enough) to completely cover the caramel. Pour the cheesecake filling mixture over the banana-caramel-biscuit base and bake as above. Once baked, cooled and refrigerated, top the cheesecake with more slices of banana around the outside, a drizzle of salted dulce de leche, and a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. Very decadent, but delicious.

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Maida Vale Ploughman’s

Maida Vale Ploughman’s

 

A twist on the English classic. Maida Vale & Branston Pickle are a match made in heaven, you will not be disappointed!

Use some good-quality thick sliced ham to get the most out of this recipe.

Makes 2 baguettes

Ingredients:
60g Maida Vale
2 x small baguettes, freshly baked is best!
Branston pickle
Butter, to spread
A handful of baby spinach & rocket leaves
cherry tomatoes, halved
2 – 4 thick slices of deli ham, plain or cured

Method:
Slice the baguettes down the middle, but not all the way through. Spread the insides with butter and add the salad leaves and tomatoes.

Roughly tear the ham slices into large pieces, and layer on top of the tomatoes.

Drop 2 – 3 tsp of Branston Pickle over the ham in each baguette (to your taste), and top with 2 – 3 thick slices of Maida Vale.

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Wigmore Caramelised Onion & Thyme Tartlets

Wigmore, caramelised onion & thyme tartlets

They’re dangerously moreish!

Makes 8-10 tartlets

Ingredients:
Puff pastry, (home-made recipe below) or 2 sheets of good-quality store bought
1 egg yolk, whisked with a splash of milk
1/2 red onion, sliced
8 – 10tsp red onion relish (Rubies in the Rubble Pink Onion & Chilli Relish, or Asda’s Finest caramelised red onion relish)
200g Wigmore cheese, cut into 1cm thick slices (wide enough to almost cover your pastry base, we left this bit until we were topping our tartlets to get the size we thought would make the best ratio)
8-10 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt + Pepper
Balsamic glaze, to drizzle (home-made recipe below if you’d like to make your own)

For the tartlets:

Method:
Preheat the oven (fan assisted @ 200 degrees celsius)

Put the sliced red onions onto a lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes and set aside to cool while you assemble the tarts.

Take your pastry from the fridge and roll it out onto a floured surface until it is evenly 1cm in thickness.

Using a 12cm round pastry cutter, cut out 8 – 10 rounds from your pastry (or as many rounds as you can get out of it). Place on a non-stick baking tray. Score a 2cm border around the edges of your pastry rounds, being careful not to cut all the way through. Prick the bases of your rounds with a fork, avoiding the borders. Then brush the tops with your eggy milk wash, ensuring it doesn’t drip down the sides (or your pastry won’t rise evenly).

Keeping inside the pastry border you just made, spread 1 heaped teaspoon of the onion relish on each of your pastry bases, then add a couple of the roasted red onion slices.

Scatter a few of thyme leaves over the top, and top the onion relish mixture with a 1cm thick slice of Wigmore cheese.

Sprinkle a couple more thyme leaves, sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper over the top of the cheese.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden and has risen – the cheese may have spilled over the edges before the 20 minutes is over (it did for us) but don’t worry about that.

Serve the tartlets warm, drizzled with the balsamic glaze and topped with a sprig of thyme.

If you’re making your own pastry & balsamic glaze

Rough puff pastry:
We made a batch of rough puff pastry for this recipe which you can prepare in advance or just before you assemble the tarts. Of course if you have time, you can make the real stuff. Or if you’re short for time/already have it to hand, you can use 2 sheets of good quality store-bought puff pastry.

Ingredients:
250g strong plain flour
A good pinch of fine sea salt
250g butter, at room temperature but not soft
About 150ml cold water

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break up the butter into small chunks and loosely rub them into the flour so that there’s still bits of butter scattered throughout.

Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in 1/3 of the cold water. Mix until you have a firm rough dough, adding in extra water if needed.

Cover with cling film and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading gently, and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll in one direction only, until 3 times the width (aim for 20cm x 60cm). Keep the edges straight and even. Be careful not to overwork the butter streaks, you should have a marbled effect – it helps keep the pastry nice and flaky while it’s in the oven.

Fold the top third of the pastry down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that to form a square book. Give the pastry dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes before rolling to use.

You can give this an additional roll and fold after this 20 minutes if you like, to create more layers in your pastry. Not too many though, or your pastry won’t rise!

Balsamic glaze:

While the tartlets are baking in the oven, you can make your own balsamic glaze.

Place 250ml of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add 2tbsp of brown sugar and simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy and covers the back of a spoon. Then set aside until the tartlets come out of the oven, lightly drizzle of the tops before garnishing.