Goat’s Cheese Salad with Figs and Walnuts

You’ll need spinach, small ripe figs, walnuts, goat’s cheese, a lemon, some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, some chutney, a clove of garlic and a little French mustard.

Start by making the dressing.  Put the garlic clove, a dessertspoon of balsamic vinegar, the juice of half a lemon and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in the mini-processor with half a teaspoon each of any nice chutney and mustard.  Whoosh them together.

Slice your goat’s cheese, one slice per salad and place each piece onto a small square of greaseproof paper.  Put them under a hot grill.

Scatter a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves over each plate and sprinkle over some of the dressing, a few walnuts and about three halved figs.

When the cheese is golden and bubbling, carry the greaseproof paper to the plate and slide the cheese onto the salad.

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Lentil Soup with Ginger and Spring Onion

The stir-fry that never happened.

Put one red onion, 2 bunches of spring onions (save just one spring onion for the garnish later), 5 peeled carrots, a 3″ piece of peeled ginger and 2 cloves of garlic into the processor.  Skoosh up until small, but not mushed.

Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, add the vegetables and 100g red lentils and stir for one minute.

Pour in 2.5 pints of hot vegetable stock (Marigold is fine) and a bay leaf.  Pop the lid on and cook vigorously for 30-35 minutes.  Add a little more boiling water if necessary.

Garnish with spring onion and serve.

Leek, Potato and Watercress Soup

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Are the nights drawing in yet?

Wash and chop 4-5 leeks and 6 medium-sized peeled potatoes.

Sweat them slowly in a large, lidded pan with a crushed clove of garlic and a chopped onion.  About 10 minutes is fine.  Meanwhile, boil your kettle.

Now, add half a pint of milk, a pint and a half of boiling water and 4 teaspoons of Marigold vegetable stock.  Pop the lid on and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Finally, add about 60g watercress, saving a few sprigs as a garnish.  Let this steam for about two minutes before skooshing it all up with your hand blender, adding plenty of black pepper and perhaps salt. Drop a few watercress leaves over the top.

A Teeny Tiny Tasty Terrine

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I am really missing our usual summer holidays in France, hence the wistfully French taste of a garlicky terrine, perfect with crusty bread and a few guerkins.

You’ll need a 0.5 litre terrine with a lid or a smallish loaf tin.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Ingredients

A chopped onion and two crushed cloves of garlic, softened in a biggish dod of butter.

200g fatty pork mince and 150g finely chopped pig’s liver (I’d do this in the processor to minimise contact with the offending article)

A handful of breadcrumbs (just take the crusts off and skoosh up a slice of any sort of bread in the processor), 2 teaspoons of soft green peppercorns, a pinch of mace, a sprinkle of nutmeg, a scant teaspoon of sea salt, a good grinding of black pepper, a tablespoon of white wine or marsala and a tablespoon of brandy.

Mix all of the above together really, really well.  Line your terrine with a couple of rashers of unsmoked bacon, then pour in your terrine mixture.  Cover with a few more pieces of bacon and tuck in a couple of bay and sage leaves.

Put the lid on or cover with tinfoil and cook in a tray of boiling water (which comes half way up your terrine) for 45 – 50 minutes.  It’s done when a skewer comes up hot from the middle of the terrine.

By all means, compress your terrine with weights overnight, or just leave it to cool before refrigerating.  Either way, leave it until the next day before eating.

C-L’s Onion Bhajis

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Claire-Louise’s onion bhaji recipe:  Don’t they look delicious?
“5 heaped tbsp plain flour
4 tsp coriander leaf
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 large onions
Water

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add the water slowly until it makes a thick paste (about half a cup of water).
Quarter the onions then thinly slice each piece.
Mix the onion in the bowl with the paste thoroughly.

Using a deep fryer (I use a wok with about a litre of oil in), place a large tbsp of the mixture and scrape it into the hot oil.
Fry each side for about 3 mins or until it looks a crispy golden brown.
Place on a plate with kitchen roll on, to soak away any excess oil.

Best eaten immediately, however you can also freeze them and bake them in the oven at a later date.”

Bruscetta with Goat’s Cheese and Chilli

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Slice your baguette on the diagonal and place it on a baking tray.

Drizzle with olive oil, then turn over and drizzle the other side with olive oil.  Place a thin slice of garlic in the middle of each piece of bread.

Place a slice of goat’s cheese onto each piece of bread (this one has a charcoal rim in case you’re worried by the ominous grey rind).

Put a thin slice of hot, red chilli onto the top of each, then bake in a hot oven for about five minutes.

The beautiful orange plate is courtesy of Flora and James Cockburn, Loché-sur-Indrois.

Rosemary and Garlic Bread

Stir together 500g strong white flour, a sachet of easy-blend yeast and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of honey or sugar into a measuring jug, and top up the jug with warm (not too hot) water up to the 300ml mark.  Stir.

Don’t be too eager; you probably won’t need all of the liquid.

Pour in about half of the liquid, then use your hand to work in a bit more.  Keep pushing and pulling the dough around the bowl until all of the flour is incorporated, adding a little bit more liquid until it feels right.  Don’t worry if it goes sticky.  It can easily be rescued with a bit more flour.  Knead for at least 10 minutes, until it forms a smooth ball.

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave anywhere not too cold for about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, use your mini processor to zap up 4 cloves of garlic with about 10 rosemary leaves, some salt and about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Roll out about a quarter of your dough very thinly straight onto a lined baking sheet, then brush with about half of the oil and garlic mixture.  Decorate with rosemary sprigs.

Bake in a very hot oven for 5 – 10 minutes, then brush with the remaining garlic and rosemary oil.

Use the rest of your dough for seconds of garlic bread, pizza, or bread to accompany the main course.

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