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10 minute Portobello pizzas

The perfect low-carb pizza with the added flavor of earthy portobello mushrooms and ready in 10 minutes!.
From the wonderful blog, “Cafe Delites”

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Serves 6

6 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed, washed and dried with a paper towel
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
6 tsp Italian seasoning (or a dried oregano and basil leaf blend), divided
3/4 cup pizza sauce (garlic and herb)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or a pizza cheese blend)*
30 miniature-sized pepperonis**
6 or more cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to broil / grill settings on high heat. Arrange oven shelf to the middle of your oven.

Combine the oil, garlic and 4 teaspoons of the seasoning together in a small bowl. Brush the bottoms of each mushroom with the garlic oil mixture and place each mushroom, oil side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet / tray.
Fill each mushroom with 2 tablespoons of the pizza sauce per cap, 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, 6 pepperoni miniatures and tomato slices. Broil / grill until cheese has melted and is golden in color (about 8 minutes).

To serve, sprinkle with the remaining Italian seasoning (or mixed herbs), and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes
*I find using dry cheese such as shredded mozzarella gives the best results. Using fresh mozzarella may cause the mushrooms to release some liquid during the broiling / grilling process.
**For the miniature pepperonis, I bought normal-sized pepperonis and cut them with an apple corer like this one to get miniature sized ones. (I used 8 slices.) However, you can use whatever you can find!

TIP: Do NOT over bake them! They WILL release a lot of liquid if left in the oven for too long! Make sure your oven is preheated well and HOT when putting them in.

Easy foil-baked feta cheese

It hadn’t occurred to me to bake feta cheese before but this is absolutely delicious served with crusty bread. It still holds it’s shape and the juices are a beautiful red and green color. You will think you are in the Greek Islands as you eat this.
Recipe c/o Vicky Bhogal.

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Serves 4-6

4x 7oz (roughly) blocks of Greek feta cheese. (Don’t use French, as it’s too mild)
Extra virgin olive oil, a generous glug for each foil parcel
2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
a handful fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
4 fresh plum tomatoes chopped
2 tsp tomato puree
a handful capers
half a red onion, thinly sliced
aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 400F
Create 4 individual foil pouches by tearing off 4 large large strips of foil and placing a block of feta on each with enough foil to wrap over.

Divide the rest of the ingredients between the 4 feta blocks, fold up the foil on each, and bake for 10 mins.

Serve hot with lots of good crusty bread

Easy, cheesy soda bread

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This is a really delicious and easy Irish soda bread recipe and you’ll want to make it weekly once you try it.

Serves 4 

Oil, for greasing
500g (1lb 1oz) plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
75g (3oz) Mature cheddar cheese, grated. *Please grate your own, the pre-packaged stuff is gross!
350ml(1 1/2 cups)buttermilk
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Heat the oven to 200°C , 400 F or gas mark 6. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Put the flour in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp salt. Stir in the cheese.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. Quickly stir together with a wooden spoon, then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to bring together – don’t over-knead, and it doesn’t matter if the dough looks rather craggy.

Put the dough on the baking sheet and shape into a round about 8 inches, then flatten slightly. Sprinkle with the seeds. Make a deep cross in the centre with the handle of a wooden spoon or knife. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped. The cheese soda bread is best eaten on the day of baking.

Chile-roasted Delicata squash with queso fresco

Here’s another interesting vegetable dish.
I happen to love Delicata squash as it’s the sweetest of the squashes and you don’t need to peel it. It’s perfect paired with these flavors and well worth trying

Serves 4

2 delicata squash (about 1½ pounds)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ to ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup crumbled queso fresco (you can use French feta cheese)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice the squash in half crosswise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, discarding the pulp. Rinse the seeds and set aside to drain. Slice each squash half into ¼-inch to ½-inch rounds.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, cumin, chipotle powder, paprika, and salt. Add the squash and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a large baking sheet, overlapping the slices slightly if necessary.

On a separate baking sheet, toss the squash seeds with the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt.

Place the squash and seeds in the oven. Roast the squash for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the slices halfway. Check on the seeds after 10 minutes and remove from the oven when golden brown. The squash will be ready when fork-tender, golden brown, and caramelized.

Place the squash on a large serving dish. Sprinkle the toasted seeds, queso fresco, and cilantro leaves over the squash.

This dish is best served warm.

Fig “carpaccio” with blue cheese, walnuts & white balsamic

I have always thought of figs as rather bland and pulpy until we planted our own tree several years ago and now walk out into the garden to pick over 15 per day through the season.
This is such a super and different way of eating them. Thanks to Matt Wilkinson.

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Serves 2, sharing

5 ripe figs, cut in half
2 oz blue cheese; I like to use a creamy gorgonzola.
10 walnuts, toasted and chopped
8 basil leaves, washed and torn
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or if you can’t get it, regular balsamic vinegar)
2 tbsp good-quality olive oil
1 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
good pinch of salt flakes
a few turns of white pepper
2 slices bread, toasted on a char-grill

Take two sheets of baking paper, each about 12 inches long. On one sheet place the figs, flesh side down, then cover with the other piece of baking paper. Now gently smash the figs using your fingers until they are flat. Once smashed, take off the top layer of paper, leaving the figs on the bottom sheet.

Turn the bottom sheet of paper upside down on to a plate, then gently remove the paper. Now crumble the cheese over the figs, then scatter with the walnuts and basil.

Drizzle the vinegar and olive oil all over, then sprinkle with the pepitas, salt and pepper. Serve with toasted bread on the side.

Peach, crispy prosciutto, olive and mozzarella salad

During the long, hot Southern Californian summer months, there is nothing nicer than having a light and interesting salad like this.


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Serves 4

* You can prepare the dressing 3 – 4 days in advance and keep in a sealed container in the fridge

1 tbsp butter
3 ripe peaches, quartered
A few fresh rosemary sprigs
3-4 oz thin prosciutto slices
4 red chicory, leaves separated
5 oz green olives, preferably pitted
2 x large buffalo mozzarella balls, torn

For the vinaigrette
1 small shallot, finely sliced into rings
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp superfine sugar (caster)
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Small handful fresh dill, chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sourdough bread to serve

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When it starts to foam, add the peach quarters and rosemary, then fry for 5-8 minutes until the peaches start to color and soften.  Season lightly with salt, then transfer to a large salad platter.

Return the pan to the heat and add the prosciutto slices and fry for 5 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove to some kitchen towel. (Alternatively, you can roast the prosciutto slices on a baking tray at 400 F for about 10 minutes until crispy)

For the vinaigrette, put the shallot, vinegar, sugar, mustard and dill in a small pitcher and whisk. Slowly whisk in the oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper

Add the chicory, olives, mozzarella and broken-up prosciutto slices to the peaches, drizzle over the dressing and gently toss.

Poached eggs on avocado-feta toast

I thought avocado toast was pretty wonderful until I tried mashing the avocado with Greek feta crumbles and my gosh, the flavor shot up like crazy.
This is especially lovely on sourdough toast. If you don’t feel like having the eggs on top, just have the avocado-feta toast on it’s own.

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For 2 people (can easily be augmented)

2 ripe avocados
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chili flakes, depending on how much kick you like
3 to 4oz Greek feta cheese, crumbled
salt and ground black pepper
good olive oil
2 slices of sourdough toast
2 large organic eggs

Firstly, add about 1 inch of water to a frying pan and bring to a simmer.

Mash the avocados in a bowl with a few drops of olive oil (about 1 tsp) salt, pepper and chili flakes, then add the feta and mix through but don’t mash the feta too much, just enough to blend.

Toast the sourdough bread.

Drop the eggs gently into the simmering water, then turn the heat down so you barely see the bubbles. As you poach the eggs, gently gather the white of the eggs around the eggs and keep spooning the hot water over the top of the eggs so they cook. (Poaching eggs is something you just learn to do over time. I don’t use vinegar like many chef’s do, as I don’t like the flavor)

Spread the avocado mixture over the toast and season.

Remove the eggs with a spatula when they start to lose that “snotty” look (that’s the only way I know how to describe an under-cooked poached egg!)

Place an egg on top of each piece of toast and season with salt pepper and chili flakes.

Frittata muffins

These are super easy, and lovely to make ahead of time and reheat. You can change up the ingredients, just make sure they’re super tasty with lots of good quality strong cheddar cheese.

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6 large organic eggs
1/2 cup milk (or cream for a richer taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (6oz) shredded mature Cheddar cheese (not the pre-grated sort)
3/4 cup zucchini, chopped small
1/2 cup chopped bacon
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped small
2 tbsp chopped red onion

Makes: 6 servings/12 muffin frittatas

Heat the oven to 350°F.
In a little butter, saute the zucchini, bacon, red pepper and chopped onion until starting to soften and the bacon is starting to brown.
Beat the eggs, milk/cream, salt and pepper in medium bowl until well-blended. Add the grated cheese and the zucchini, bell pepper, bacon and onion mixture; mix well.
Spoon evenly into 12 greased muffin cups, about 1/4 cup each. Add a little extra grated cheese on top of each muffin if you like.

Bake in the oven until just set, 20 to 22 minutes. COOL on wire rack 5 minutes. REMOVE from cups; serve warm.

Baked cheesy, bacon eggs

This dish reminds me so much of my mother when I was young as she would make this for me for lunch when I came home from school. It is so soothing and tasty.
This recipe is for 2 people, but you can make as many as you want.

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Serves 2

1/2 cup grated mature cheddar cheese (not the pregrated stuff)
1 tbsp good Dijon Mustard. (I use the “Edmund Faillot” brand)
2/3 cup smoked bacon pardons, pancetta
2 tbsp heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Grease and season 2 small ovenproof dishes with butter and crack 2 eggs into each one.

Place the 1/2 cup of grated mature cheddar cheese into a small bowl and mix with 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, 2/3 cup of smoked bacon lardons or pancetta and 2 tbsps cream.

Season with salt and pepper. Scoop the cheese mixture on top of the eggs and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for 10-12 minutes.

Serve with toasted bread cut into thin slices so that you can dip them into the eggs.

Easy vegetable and bacon slice

I love these savory throw-together brunch recipes that are wonderful served hot or at room temperature. They’re great to take on a picnic too.

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6 large eggs
2 zucchini, grated
2 carrots grated
1 onion finely diced
1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese
10 oz thinly sliced bacon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Beat the eggs in a large bowl then add the freshly grated nutmeg, salt, pepper and baking powder. Softly stir all ingredients together.
Place in lined or well greased baking tin, sprinkle some extra cheese over the top. Bake for 25mins or until the top is lightly browned and the eggs are set.