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Onion and parmesan gratin

This is a very economical dish high in flavor, which is a great accompaniment to strong flavored dishes. It goes really well with red or white wine and the cloves bring an unexpected wonderful flavor to the dish


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Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds yellow onions, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon freshly ground whole cloves
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Fine sea salt, to taste
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Slice the onions in half lengthwise. Place, cut side down, on a cutting board and slice crosswise into very thin slices, and set aside.
In a large, nonstick skillet, combine the butter, cloves, onions, thyme and salt. Cover and cook over very low heat until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer the onion mixture to a gratin dish and smooth it with the back of a spoon. The recipe can be prepared several hours in advance up to this point. Cover and store at room temperature.

Preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and cream and whisk together well. Stir in the cheese. Pour the mixture over the onions in the baking dish. Place the baking dish under the broiler about 2 inches from the heat. Broil until the top is sizzling and golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately as a vegetable course or as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

Sweet herring salad with apple and dill

This is so refreshing and tangy and a lovely way to start a meal.

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tart apples, like Granny Smith, cut into thin slices, or bite sized cubes
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill weed
2 x 8oz jars pickled herring, drained and cut into bite sized pieces
chopped chives for garnish, if you fancy

Combine the sour cream, yoghurt, lemon juice, sugar, sliced onions that have been separated into rings, apple and dill.

Alternate herring and sour cream mixture in layers in a dish.

Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours or more.

Serve very cold

Great caramelized onions in your slow cooker

Now you can do a heap of caramelized onions and not have to watch them incase they burn. Do far more than you need, and freeze them in small containers for up to 3 months. Perfect!

Makes several cups

5 large yellow onions
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, or a mixture of the two
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: 1/2 to 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

You will need a 4 to 6 qt slow cooker

Thinly slice all the onions;  Peel and thinly slice all of the onions into half moons. Transfer all the onions to the slow cooker. The slow cooker should be 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Toss the onions with the olive oil;  Drizzle the olive oil/melted butter, the salt and the fresh thyme, if using, over the top of the onions. Toss evenly to coat all the onions with a thin glaze of oil

Cook for 10 hours on LOW; Cover the slow cooker and cook for 10 hours on LOW. If you’re around while the onions are cooking, stir them occasionally – this will help them cook more evenly, but isn’t strictly necessary.
After 10 hours, the onions will be golden-brown and soft and they will have released a lot of liquid. If you like them as they are now, stop cooking and pack them up.

Optional, and worth it – cook for an additional 3 to 5 hours with the lid ajar; If you’d like jammier, more concentrated onions with a deep color, continue cooking for another 3 to 5 hours on LOW. Leave the lid ajar so the liquid can evaporate.
Check every hour and stop the cooking whenever the onions reach your desired doneness and taste good to you


Roasted pesto, parmesan vegetable traybake

Yesterday, I did another traybake. I was on my own so decided to cut up a whole pile of vegetables, toss them with a container of pesto sauce from Trader Joes, lots of garlic, and when they were 3/4 through with the roasting, I threw at least half a container of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over everything and roasted it till it was all melted and browned.
It was divine and so healthy!

Preheat oven to 350 F


 You can choose whatever is in your fridge, but I used;
3 leeks, sliced into 1 inch slices
1lb Brussel Sprouts, trimmed
1/2 large cauliflower broken into florets
2 large red onions, cubed into 1 “ pieces
2 Delicata squash, unpeeled and cubed into 1” pieces
2 zucchini, cut into 1 “ slices

6 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 container Trader Joes pesto sauce (8oz)
6 oz (at least) grated Parmigano Reggiano

Put all the vegetables into a very large bowl then season well and add the garlic and pesto sauce.

Mix together well with your hands and tip all the contents out onto a large baking tray with shallow sides, like the one in the picture.

Roast the vegetables for 25 mins then turn all the vegetables to avoid burning and continue to roast for another 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese and return to oven, turning the oven up to 400F for another 15 to 20 minutes until toasty and melted.

Serve on it’s own, or with a salad


Sweet chili roasted sausages and butternut squash

These all-in-one-pan roasts are divine and fast. Great for working people to throw together at the end of a hard day and you have a delicious meal. This dish is incredibly simple but just a little different because of the sweet chili sauce and cilantro.

Serves 4

8 good pork sausages (I use sweet Italian)
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 small/medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 small red onions, peeled and quartered
12 cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small handful cilantro, leaves picked and chopped

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Put the sausages in a bowl with the sweet chili sauce and shake around until they are fully coated with the sauce. Tip them into a large roasting pan.

Toss the butternut squash and red onion in with the sausages.

Nestle the cherry tomatoes around the dish and then drizzle the lot with the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the sausages are golden brown and the vegetables tender.

Scatter with the chopped cilantro and serve in the center of the table with crusty bread to mop up the juices


Roasted sausages with grapes and chestnuts

Now Fall is coming, I think of roasted and baked dishes, especially this one with the woodsy flavor of the roasted chestnuts and sticky sweetness of the grapes along with the divine sausages. Some simple mashed potato would suffice here.

Serves 4

8 good quality pork sausages
7 oz cooked vacuum packed chestnuts
10 oz Portobello mushrooms, cut into thick chunks
9 oz sweet seedless grapes
1 large onion, cut into half moon shaped wedges
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 whole garlic bulb, all the cloves separated but not peeled
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 good sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
10 fl oz red wine
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Put everything except the red wine into a broad, shallow ovenproof dish.
Turn the ingredients over so that they get coated in the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, crush about half of the grapes so they release their juices into the pan.
Put into the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
Put in the red wine, mix well and cook for another 25 minutes or so. You can turn the sausages halfway through the cooking so they get colored on both sides.
The sausages and vegetables will cook and brown beautifully and the wine will reduce, leaving you with a gorgeous dark and bubbling dish.


Mini, creamy onion tartlets with peppercorns and currants

These are the loveliest mixture of creamy, spicy with the peppercorns and fruity with the currants. Use a mini muffin tin so the tartlets stay bite sized.

Makes about 24 little ones

2 oz butter
1 1/4lbs onions finely chopped.
5 fl oz heavy cream
1 heaped tbsp currants
1 tbsp black peppercorns, they must be freshly and coarsely crushed, not ground
2 eggs
8 oz frozen puff pastry sheets, defrosted

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Crush the peppercorns either in a small plastic bag with a mallet or pestle and mortar
Chop the onions finely or put in the food processor for a quick pulse
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the onions
Add the crushed peppercorns
Cover and sweat over a low heat for 30 minutes
Uncover, add the cream, currants and salt to taste.
Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes
Remove the pan from the heat and cool.
Cut one individually wrapped sheet of puff pastry in half and roll each piece quite thinly.
Cut out appropriate size circles, put int the greased muffin trays and prick lightly with a fork
Beat the eggs in a small bowl and add to the cooled mixture, fill the tartlet cases with this mixture.
Put in the oven for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 25 for larger tartlets.
Keep an eye on them after 15 minutes to make sure they are not getting too brown.

Grilled vegetable stack

Being on vacation for two weeks in Sonoma County gives me a chance to try all the local produce and what with this weather topping 99F several times, the grill is being used a lot.
I saved this recipe from another blog and the addition of hummus is lovely. You can flavor the hummus with chipotle sauce (not too much) for a smokey hint, or fresh basil and garlic or even some sun dried tomato. It also provides a “glue” for the vegetables to sit on so they don’t slide off the mushroom.

1 large red onion, peeled, trimmed and sliced into 6 slices
2 large red bell peppers, cored, sliced into three pieces
2 large yellow peppers, cored, sliced into 3 pieces
1 large zucchini, halved, sliced lengthways to make 6 pieces
1 large yellow squash, halved, sliced lengthways, to make 6 pieces
1 medium – large eggplant, trimmed, sliced into 6 pieces
6 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed, gills removed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tsp each of dried thyme, dill and parsley
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Lemon hummus recipe below
For serving
fresh chopped chives

In a large bowl combine the onion, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms.
In a small glass bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, dill and parsley.
Pour the marinade over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Gently toss to coat.
Cover and marinate for 1 hour.
Heat the grill to medium – high heat

Place the vegetables in a grill basket (or spread them out on a large sheet of foil)
Place on the hot grill, cover and cook until they are tender crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes, depending upon the size of your grill.

Remove the vegetable basket/foil with vegetables to a large platter and set aside.

To serve, create a vegetable stack.
Place the portobello mushroom cap on a serving plate and layer it with a spoonful of lemon or other flavored hummus. Add the eggplant, peppers, zucchini and onion. Top with a dab more hummus, if desired and sprinkle with the fresh chopped chives.
Repeat for the remaining 5 servings


This is so easy to make at home. (If you don’t want to, then buy a good brand and add extra lemon juice, garlic or other flavorings to make it taste less commercial.)

1 x 14 oz can chilled chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), drained. Reserve the liquid
Juice and zest of one large fresh lemon
2 tbsp sesame tahini or almond butter
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
Pinch of sea salt to taste
4 tbsp good olive oil

Combine the chilled chickpeas, lemon juice, lemon zest, tahini, garlic and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine.
Turn on the processor and pour in the olive oil and a dash of the reserved liquid and process until creamy smooth.

Scoop into a serving bowl. Cover and chill until serving.
Serve this lemony hummus layered in the grilled vegetable stacks (recipe above) or as a protein-rich condiment to your favorite grilled dishes



Grilled peach, onion and bacon salad with buttermilk dressing

The peppery addition of arugula to this is lovely and spicy. With all the great summer peaches around, this is a winner. If the white peaches are looking better than the yellow, replace the onion with red onion for good color contrast.

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 sup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
2 tbsp snipped chives
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1lb thickly sliced bacon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3lbs Vidalia onions, or other sweet onions, cut into 1 inch thick slabs
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
4 large, ripe peaches, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
2 – 3 cups baby arugula, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325 F

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the sour cream, buttermilk, mint, parsley, chives and vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bacon slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Bake for about 25 mins, until caramelized. (the bacon will crisp as it cools). Let cool, then cut or break the bacon into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over a moderate heat, turning occasionally until softened and browned.
Separate the onions into rings.

Brush the peaches with olive oil and grill over a moderately high heat until tender, 2 minutes.
Transfer to a plate.

On a large serving platter, arrange the arugula in a layer. Top with the peaches, onions and bacon.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve


Oven roasted ratatouille

This is the very best recipe for ratatouille that cooks all together, has that toasty flavor and is packed with garilcky, basil flavors. You can double or treble this or even make it for a crowd, spreading it out over baking sheets. It’s also great at room temperature and so easy to prepare.
All you need is some great tapenade, good bread and a BBQ boned and marinated leg of New Zealand lamb and you’re in heaven!!

Serves 4

1lb cherry tomatoes, whole or small tomatoes, halved
3 -4 medium zucchinis
1 medium eggplant
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 1inch squares
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 1 inch squares
4 fat cloves garlic, chopped small
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch squares
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch squares
6 tbsp good olive oil (or more if you want)
1 large handful of fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper (plenty)

For a less traditional Ratatouille, you may want to try cauliflower florets,  leeks, chopped into 1″ cubes or butternut squash also cut into 1″ cubes.

You will need a large shallow roasting roasting tin, about 16″ by 12″ or so
Preheat the oven to the highest setting

Gently put the tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, peppers, onions and any other vegetables you use in a very large bowl and sprinkle over the chopped garlic. Roughly tear up the basil and sprinkle over the vegetables with the olive oil. Make sure all the vegetables are well coated with the oil and finally season really well with salt and pepper. Toss really gently until everything is well incorporated ( I like to do this with my hands, it’s gentler and easier and fun.) and then gently tip out onto a large baking shallow sided baking tray.
Roast on the highest shelf in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted and tinged with brown at the edges.
Remove from the oven and serve straight away.