Category Archives: Starters

Katie’s Focaccia

500g strong white flour
7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
300mls warm water
2 tablespoonfuls olive oil
Another 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil

1. Put flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a big bowl. Mix up the olive oil and water and por onto flour mixture. Stir to mix and bring together with your hands into a rough ball.
2. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to a smooth fairly soft dough. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with cling-film and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour until it has doubled in size.
3. Lightly oil a large baking tray 15″x10″.
4. Put the dough on to a floured surface and flatten out with your knuckles into a rectangle shape the same size as your baking tray and press out to the edges of the tray.
5. Again cover with loose cling-film and leave in a warm place for another half hour.
6. Preheat oven at 220C.
7. Now the focaccia should look puffed up and spongy. Poke the dough into dimples all over.
8. Drizzle the focaccia with 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil and sprinkle with chopped up rosemary leaf and sea salt. A few sprigs of rosemary will make it look nice.
9. Bake in middle of oven for 15-20 minutes or until risen and a golden brown.

Serving suggestions
Serve up when still warm with even more intense olive oil and salt, or as per photo, let it cool a bit and serve up full of good Italian ingredients like mortadella, rugala (rocket), roasted peppers, sundried tomato, mozzaralla and more.

Maggi’s Salad

IMG_1076This salad is a real family favourite. I have called it Maggi”s Salad. I had the idea from a salad served in an American restaurant called Maggianos which is an absolutely fabulous Italian restaurant chain.

Ingredients for 4
1 Romaine & 1 Iceberg lettuce cut into chunks
Half a cup of cooked lardons (or pancetta)
Half a cup of diced Danish Blue cheese
Half a finely sliced red onion left to steep in cold water
Honey Vinagrette Dressing, see under Sauces and Dressings

Cook up the lardons until crisp and set aside. Drain the red onions. Mix all together and dress to taste.

Cheats Cheese Souffle

  • Ingredients   for six
  • 100gm parmesan cheese
  • 40gm plain flour
  • 250ml milk
  • salt, pepper, grated nutmeg
  • 30gm butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites stiffly beaten
  • 350ml double cream

METHOD  Put the milk, flour,seasoning and butter in a non stick pan and whisk over a medium heat until smooth and thick. Leave to cool for a few minutes stirring then add half the grated cheese the egg yolks .and fold in the stiffly beaten whites. Butter six individual moulds or ramekin dishes and divide the mixture between them. Place in a deep roasting tin and pour boiling water into tin until halfway up moulds. Put in oven preheated to 160 (fan) for 15 minutes until firm and spongy to touch. Butter six individual gratin dishes and scatter with a little of the remaining cheese. Turn out the souffles carefully onto the cheese in the dishes. You can then leave these overnight in fridge loosely covered with clingfilm.       When ready to serve pour 2tbsps of double cream over each and scatter the rest of the cheese. Put in oven at160 (fan) for 15 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve immediately!!!!!










Mexican Tomato Soup

1 jar passata

2 jars chicken stock

1 onion sliced

1 carrot peeled and sliced

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons mild chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup red lentils

Soften onion, garlic and carrot  in a little olive oil. Add all other ingredients and simmer until veg and lentils are tender. Blend in a liquidiser or with a stick blender until smooth-ish. Can add some fresh chopped coriander to serve.

Tomato red pepper and goats cheese tarts

  • Cheese and Herb Pastry [for 8 tarts]
  • 8oz plain flour
  • 2oz hard margarine
  • 2oz lard
  • 1oz finely grated parmesan
  • 1teasp dried mixed herbs
  • Filling
  • 2 med red peppers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic crushed
  • 1x15oz 1x8oz tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 2oz tin anchovy fillets in oil
  • 1/2 teasp dried thyme
  • 2 teasp tomato puree
  • 1 egg+1 eggyolk
  • 1 teasp hot paprika
  • 1 small goat cheese log enough for eight slices

Make pastry in the usual way and roll out thinly
Use to line eight 4inch tart cases and bake blind ie lined witn paper and baking beans for 15 or 20 minutes

For filling
Deseed and chop peppers. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and cook peppers until soft about 6 mins.Stir in garlic and cook another 2 mins’ Pour in tomatoes and add chopped anchovies and their oil. Add thyme and tomato puree, season with pepper only as anchovies are salty.Simmer gently without covering until all excess liquid has evaporated to a jam like consistency[20-25 mins] Remve to a bowl and leave to cool.

Can prepare in advance up to this point.

To assemble
Whisk eggs and yolks with paprika and stir into cooled sauce with 1tbsp olive oil. Put into pastry case and top with a slice of goat cheese. Bake at 170{fan] for 25-30 mins.