Happy New Year!

I write this, my first post of the new year on the first day of 2015, absolutely EXHAUSTED following a marvellous New Year party thrown by Josh and Stephen, again with a cheese theme but this time in the form of fondue.

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After many cheesey treats and ginny delights, we got a good dance on before making our way down to the Thames to enjoy the inevitably fantastic firework display. This was followed by more gin and dance. The perfect New Year celebration!

I was asked to contribute something to be used with the fondue cheese goo on this evening, so set about having a little think as to what that could be. I thought about making some flavoured breads then cutting them into cubes and frying into croutons, but goodness what a lot of work for the time of year. Then is came to me. Another simple, tasty treat that allows both you and the eater to get creative!

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Flavoured Pastry Cups!
(For filling with melted cheese, and other delights!)

The flavours I made this time were Rosemary & Garlic, Chilli & Chorizo and Tomato & Basil, but you can go with whatever! I considered doing a Pear & Roasted Red Onion… A weird mix on their own, but one I thought would complement certain cheeses? Well… Perhaps next time. For now, I’ll tell you about these!

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Goat’s Cheese and Red Onion Tart with HOME MADE PASTRY!!

The other delicious thing I brought back from Amsterdam was a couple of lovely Dutch cheeses. A scrumptious Gouda with Pepper, and an irresistible Goat’s Cheese.

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The question of what to do with Cheese The First was answered very quickly

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And as for Cheese The Second? Last weekend, Stephen hosted a cheese and wine night at his home… The perfect excuse to make some delicious cheese-based snacks for all!

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One of the reasons I enjoyed making this is that it reminded me of my days working at Gresham College- the early days, that is, back when Barbara Anderson was the Academic Registrar! We would occasionally host events that had marvellous drink receptions at them which included copious amounts of wine and, when we were lucky, delicious canapés produced by Fine Taste Caterers. One of these canapés would be a miniature Goat’s Cheese and Red Onion Tart! They were outstanding and along with the never-ending pour of red wine, I was in heaven! More often than not, these evenings would feature a spontaneous 30 minute break consisting of Barbara and I hiding in the kitchen, guzzling wine, gossiping and scoffing these delicious canapés! Unfortunately, such delights retired along with Barbara eight months later, but the memory remains as strong as the cheese! I knew these would be a favourite for Stephen’s party!

Another reason I enjoyed making this, or perhaps I should say was proud to make it, is that after much threatening I finally made my own puff pastry! So this recipe contains a step by step walk-through for that too, and I hope more pastry lessons are to follow!

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Cheese Night for Nepal’s Hero!

Back in July, my most loved friend Adele went away to Nepal to work as a community volunteer. Aside from a crackled Skype sesh and a delightful letter, I received very little contact while she was there, so in my own entirely selfish way I’m so happy that the work has ended and we finally have her home in England, with plenty of moving and inspiring stories to share with us all.

My focus primarily, as a rule, being on food, I have learned two things about Adele’s trip.

1. She has now graduated from Pescetarian to full blown Vegetarian

2. Cheese was unaccessible

What, therefore, would be the best way to welcome her home?

SUPER CHEESEY VEGETARIAN LASAGNE WITH A SIDE OF CHEESE!!

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Tex Mex for a family trying (and not always succeeding) to be healthy…

As I have previously mentioned, my sister is to be wed to her long term partner of 11 years, Iain, on May 10th. They will be married in the church local to where she and I grew up, and therefore local to where I am now living. The weekend just gone was the 3rd Reading of The Banns, so they were home to witness that, which gave us the perfect excuse for a big family dinner- and who could knock a texmex!

My Mum whipped up barbeque ribs and a childhood favourite of mine- Chilli Lasagne!

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Just looking at the picture of it fills me with a hungry kind of joy! My Mum does this the best (but maybe that’s more to do with my inner child?) however I did cook a big batch of this myself for Josh and Stephen a few months back. But that’s another recipe for another time!

With the wedding round the corner, everyone is trying to get into their best shape possible right now. My contribution to the meal was not a healthy side-dish by any means, but while I whipped up the original version, I also stole the recipe for a healthier version from this nice lady. What Tex Mex would be complete without Jalapeño Poppers!

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WELL HOT DOG!!

11 days ago (on the 10th of October) was mine and Josie’s 3rd Anniversary! As a rule we like to keep it simple, so I made breakfast (fruit, yog and fresh croissants) while Josie covered dinner. She took me very much by surprise by treating me to one of the best restaurants in London- The Pitt Cue Co! (No, there’s nothing vegetarian on the menu, yes, she dabbled, but we all do crazy stuff on special occasions and I challenge ANYONE not to cave to their meaty delights!)

Ahem.

Lucky us, we had recently won a charity raffle, the prize being one night for two adults including breakfast and dinner at the beautiful Savill Court Hotel in Windsor! What an absolutely breath taking place- a mile long nature-ridden driveway, jacuzzi, pool, steam, sauna, room service, the works! If anyone wants a treat that’s not too far from our Nation’s capital but far enough to feel like another planet, I STRONGLY recommend staying here!

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Room service!

As I’m sure you’ll agree, there is nothing more exhausting than relaxing in a hotel. So when we returned on the evening of the 12th we pretty much went straight to sleep and the following day didn’t care much for cooking. Solution? Hotdogs!

Jamaica Dogs
While I’m yet to have the pleasure of visiting Jamaica, I’m an enormous fan of the traditional flavours used in Jamaican cooking. These hot dogs get all that in the laziest possible way!
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When getting my precious lamb sausages from The Ginger Pig at Borough Market, I also bought some Jerk Sausages to try, which was when I originally came up with this recipe. On this morning, however, I learned the hard way that Borough Market isn’t open on a Sunday, so I had to find the closest alternative. If you can, I strongly recommend you just get Jerk Sausages done for you, but this recipe will show you what to do if you don’t have such delights accessible in your area.

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