Category Archives: Cheese

Dried Tomatoes: Feta and Tomato Dip

We invested in a dehydrator many years ago and have found it a very useful way to help deal with gluts from our garden and CSA box.

The most common items we dry are apples for snacking and cabbage to add to soups and stews in the winter. We have also found it great for drying herbs from the garden when they start growing out of control.

Dried Tomatoes: Feta and Tomato Dip from britinthesouth.comOurs is a 4 tray Excalibur brand dehydrator which are easy to find online. It is easy to use and has proved very reliable over many years of use.

One of the options for the Food in Jars mastery challenge for October was dehydrating so I thought I’d have a go at something I haven’t tried drying before: tomatoes. We preserve loads of tomatoes at the height of summer but most of them are turned into sauce, paste or jam.

Even though the end of October beckons there are still a few late season tomatoes around in my part of Georgia. Last week’s CSA box included some grape tomatoes which made ideal candidates for the dehydrator.

Prepping them was easy: I just washed them and halved them, before loading them onto the dehydrator trays. Some folks season them at this stage or marinate them before drying but I just left them as they were, preferring to season when I come to use them in the future.

Dried Tomatoes: Feta and Tomato Dip from britinthesouth.comHaving loaded the tomatoes into the dehydrator I set the temperature to 135 degrees F and turned it on. They took around 9 hours in total. Larger tomatoes would take a bit longer. The trick is to regularly check them to see if they have achieved the desired result where they are dry and slightly leathery.

Dried Tomatoes: Feta and Tomato Dip from britinthesouth.comOnce they have cooled store them in an airtight jar. I look forward to using them to get a burst of summer flavour in some of my winter cooking but I couldn’t resist putting some of them to use sooner than that. I softened some in oilve oil before whipping together with feta and yogurt to make a tangy and tasty dip.

Feta and Tomato Dip

0.25 cup dried grape tomatoes

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

0.5 cup plain yogurt (I used fat free)

2oz crumbled feta cheese (I used an excellent goats cheese feta from a local farm)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dried Tomatoes: Feta and Tomato Dip from britinthesouth.comPut the dried tomatoes and the olive oil in a bowl and leave for 30-40 minutes for the tomatoes to soften a little.

Put both the oil and tomatoes in a food processor and blitz for a few seconds to start chopping the tomatoes.

Add the yogurt and feta and process until blended into a pink hued chunky dip.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper. As feta tends to be salty you may only need the black pepper.

Enjoy with crudites or on crackers.

 

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

As the name suggests, purple sprouting broccoli is a bright purple cousin of regular broccoli, producing small vivid violet florets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic but holds a special place in the hearts of British vegetable lovers. It is a frost hardy plant that grows slowly through the winter, reaching its peak between February and April, thus providing a welcome burst of colour and flavour in the garden and on the plate when folks are starting to tire of winter but the delights of the spring vegetable garden still seem a long way away.

So imagine my delight to find some recently at one of my local farmers markets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is tender enough to nibble raw so doesn’t need a lot of cooking and whilst a versatile vegetable I find a relatively simple approach is best.

It takes just 2-3 minutes in a steamer to cook, maybe a minute or so longer if the stalks are on the thick or woody side.

It is glorious just dipped into a soft boiled egg but I also like to pair it with a simple blue cheese sauce. Just eat it with your fingers, licking off any stray sauce.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.com

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

1 bunch purple sprouting broccoli

6 fl.oz (0.75 cup) heavy whipping cream

3oz Stilton cheese

Bring water to a boil in a steamer (if you don’t have one just put a colander above a pan of boiling water)

To make the sauce simply warm the cream over medium heat and crumble in the cheese. Stir regularly until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth (8-10 minutes).

Trim any thick or woody pieces from the end of the broccoli stalks. Place in the steamer and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the steamer and serve immediately, drizzled with the cheese sauce.

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“Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread”

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comIt is not usually a good thing to have something lurking about your kitchen for years on end, quietly fermenting, but when the item is question is a sourdough starter it is a wonderful thing indeed. It requires a little care and attention and regular feeding but pays back time and time again, adding that gorgeous sour tang to breads and pizza dough.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comMy starter is a relative youngster, which will celebrate its 5th birthday later this year. I sometimes use it to make”real” sourdough bread, without the need for added yeast, but that takes a little forward planning, so often, when feeding time rolls around, I take the cup of unfed sourdough starter that would otherwise be discarded and use it to add a delicious sour dough note to a conventionally made dough. Usually that is just a loaf or a batch of pizza dough but occasionally I feel like doing something different.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comAs I write this we’re in the middle of that cold post-Christmas stretch of January when spring seems so far away. I’m cooking a lot of soups and stews and wanted something a little different on the bread front to go with a batch of soup. Months ago I’d jotted down an idea for adding cheddar and cider to bread and now seemed like an ideal time to experiment. When I say cider, I always mean what is known as “hard cider” in the USA, i.e. the one with alcohol in it.

The recipe is similar to one I use for making regular bread but instead of water I used cider, a bottle of homemade from 2012 which was still surprisingly good, and I added a generous amount of grated cheddar. This will work best with a strong and/or aged cheddar. I used one that was a bit like me: aged and English.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comThe dough came together easily in a mixer with a dough hook and after rising it was simply a case of dividing and shaping it into rolls and arranging them in a skillet to rise again before cooking.

I was delighted with the result. The bread was soft and delicious with both the cider and cheese coming through in the final bread but in a subtle way. It was tasty enough to eat by itself, but even better with butter or a hunk of cheese, and it made a great accompaniment to home made soup.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread

1 cup unfed sourdough starter

1 cup cider

1 tsp salt

1 tsp instant yeast

2.5 cups all purpose flour

2 cups grated cheddar

Put all the ingredients in a bowl. I use a stand mixer with a dough hook but you could do it by hand of you prefer. Knead for 6-7 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave until it has doubled in size. Don’t worry if it takes a while: my dough took about 4 hours.

Place the risen dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate it and then and divide and shape into 7 equal sized rolls. Line an ovenproof skillet with baking parchment and arrange the rolls into a “daisy” pattern as shown below. Make sure the rolls are touching each other.

Apple Cider & Cheddar Sourdough Tear-and-Share Bread from britinthesouth.comCover and leave to rise again for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Just before putting the dough in the oven give the top of the bread a quick spritz of water from a spray bottle to help get a golden crust. Cook until golden brown on top and the base sounds hollow when you give it a tap, about 40 minutes.

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Bonfire Night Fare: Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Apple Bites and White Bean & Stilton Soup

November 5th is an important date in the English calendar, namely Guy Fawkes Night.

Guy Fawkes was one of a group of plotters who were caught trying to blow up parliament on November 5th 1605. Celebrations that the plot had been foiled included the lighting of bonfires around London and thus was born a tradition that endures to this day.

When I was young you still occasionally encountered kids making crude effigies of Guy Fawkes and wheeling them around begging for “pennies for the guy” with which to buy fireworks, but that tradition is fairly rare these days.

Modern day events around November 5th revolve around fireworks and food. Many towns hold large organized firework displays but it is also a good excuse for a back yard party with suitably warm, comforting seasonal food. Bowls of spicy chili, hearty soups, sausages, baked potatoes and toffee apples are all firm favourites.

Bonfire Night Fare: White Bean & Stilton Soup from britinthesouth.comFor November 5th this year I opted for a twist on the traditional toffee apple and a creamy soup to combat any chills in the air.

Food on a stick is always fun at an al fresco gathering but rather than a full size apple coated in caramel I cut bite sized pieces of apple with a melon baller and dipped them in dark chocolate before sprinkling them with homemade toffee pieces.

The soup combined creamy cannellini beans with the classic English blue cheese of Stilton. Simple to make with just a few ingredients it is a warming and comforting soup to drink from a mug on a cold evening.

Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Apple Bites

8oz Dark chocolate

Apples

Toffee pieces: you can buy them or make them yourself. I used this simple recipe, adding a generous pinch of flaky sea salt: http://www.zestuous.com/2012/01/homemade-toffee-bits/

Chocolate Ses Salt Caramel Apple Bites from britinthesouth.comMelt the dark chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler (or put a glass bowl over a pan of hot water)

Using a melon baller cut balls from the apple and place on a skewer or stick.

Chocolate Ses Salt Caramel Apple Bites from britinthesouth.comDip the apple pieces in the melted chocolate, and before the chocolate has totally set sprinkle with the toffee pieces. Put in the fridge until the chocolate is fully set.

Chocolate Ses Salt Caramel Apple Bites from britinthesouth.comFor a variation on the toffee theme you could of course sprinkle the apple pieces with crushed nuts, sprinkles, or whatever else takes your fancy.

White Bean and Stilton Soup

1 tbs butter

0.5 cup of diced onion

2 cups Vegetable stock

14oz can of cannellini beans

4oz Stilton cheese, crumbled or coarsely chopped

Bonfire Night Fare: White Bean & Stilton Soup from britinthesouth.comMelt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until they soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the vegetable stock and add the drained beans. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn down to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the crumbled Stilton to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Season to taste with freshly ground pepper.

Blend to a creamy and smooth consistency in a blender or food processor, or using a stick blender. Double check the seasoning before enjoying.

White Bean and Stilton Soup from britinthesouth.com

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A Southern Classic with an Italian Twist: pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano

Back in Britain I would occasionally encounter okra, usually on the menu of Indian restaurants, but it certainly wasn’t as popular as it is here in the American South.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comIt crops up with great regularity in our CSA box so I have learned to love it over the years and discovered it is a versatile vegetable, working well when roasted, baked or steamed.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comThe classic southern preparation is fried, with little nuggets of okra encased in a crisp cornmeal shell. This is a great recipe for experimentation: by tweaking the seasoning in your cornmeal mix you can turn up the spice or add interesting layers of flavour.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comOn this occasion I went in an Italian direction, throwing crushed fennel seeds and grated Parmigiano Reggiano into the mix.

Pan Fried Okra with Fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano

0.5 lb Okra

0.5 cup cornmeal

0.5 tsp salt

0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

0.5 tsp freshly crushed fennel seed

1 tsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano

4 tbs olive oil

Pan Fried Okra with Fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comWash the okra and slice it into half inch pieces.

Mix together the cornmeal, salt, pepper, crushed fennel seeds and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Give the okra a quick rinse in a colander. I find this helps to get rid of some of the gloop and also helps the cornmeal mix stick. After draining the okra add it to the cornmeal mix and make sure it is well coated.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat and then add the okra pieces. Fry, stirring regularly, until it is gold and crispy, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, place briefly on paper towel to soak up any excess oil and then enjoy while hot.

 

 

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