Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Cumin and Thyme Hasselback Potatoes – they’re no hassle !

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After 3 shows, involving 200 children, with 450 costumes to organize, and later to wash (the costumes, not the kids), my sister wasn’t lying in bed whimpering, with the covers pulled over her head. She was slicing about a million spuds to make hassle-free Hasselback potatoes for a family dinner at my parent’s house. “You know what, Hester? You should make these on your blog,” she said.

16 down, 434 to go... (Photo, laundry and recipe inspiration by Catherine Casey)

My heart sinks just a tiny little bit when I hear the words “You know what, Hester? You should make … x,y,z … on your blog” helpfully suggested by friend or family. Often it comes with an implied deadline of “very soon”. I really, really do appreciate the suggestions, and please keep them coming but … it’s not up to me what appears, and when, on Alchemy.
The problem is that I have discovered that I don’t actually write my blog. Alchemy writes itself and it is a TOTAL DIVA. If the moment is wrong for a particular recipe, then no amount of coaxing, cajoling, threats or bribes will make the words flow or the photos pop.
Luckily it was onboard with Hasselback potatoes - very onboard - probably clued in by my eating about five of them.
They are a very pretty (and a lower fat) alternative to roast potatoes, are a lovely BBQ side, and are simplicity itself to make.
You know what? You should make them! And add extra if you are inviting me around to dinner.

For hassle-free hasselbacks, you will need…
2 – 3 small potatoes, skin on, per person (about the size and shape of an egg is ideal)
a little melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
a little sea salt (Maldon, or similar, looks beautiful)
cumin, freshly ground if possible (wonderful with potatoes)
fresh or dried thyme
Wash the potatoes and remove any blemishes – no need to peel. Place each potato in turn on a wooden spoon and with a sharp knife cut almost all the way through in slices of between 3mm and 5mm thick. The wooden spoon helps prevent the knife going all the way through.
Drop into a bowl of cold water until ready to cook. The water helps remove some of the starch and helps the potatoes fan out a little better. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C while you drain the potatoes and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Brush with a little melted butter or olive oil, getting the brush between the slices (also helps them fan out a little better).
We're brilliant at BBQs!

Sit the potatoes into a baking dish or roasting tin, joined side down, and sprinkle with a little salt, ground cumin and thyme. This is not an exact science. How much of each is up to you.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until golden and cooked through – they should be easily pierced with a fork.
Marvel at just how pretty a spud can be before serving to an appreciative audience.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Honeyed Goats Cheese in a Walnut Crust – devilishly good!

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Goats cheese, honey? Where?

What’s with the goats on the M11? It is rather alarming to see their devil’s eyes glaring out from the side of the road. Go back to the hills where you belong, silly creatures.
Serious danger to traffic aside, I cannot see a goat without thinking of goats cheese and I found myself at the checkout with two gorgeous little cheeses in my basket. My beloved thinks he doesn’t like goats cheese so it has to be presented in disguise. Here’s how that went …
Brrrr... goats cheese needs a coat in this weather!

For 2 portions you will need…
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
a pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper
1 egg, beaten
100g fresh breadcrumbs
50g walnuts, finely chopped
50g melted butter
2 small crottins of goats cheese about 70g each (how ripe is up to you – I used fresh)

Green salad and runny honey to serve

Hey, watch me do the eggy-paddle!
Preheat the oven to 180°C

1.      Mix the salt and pepper with the flour and sprinkle into a shallow bowl. Place the beaten egg in a second shallow bowl. Place the fresh breadcrumbs in a third bowl with the finely chopped walnuts and pour in the melted butter, tossing the crumbs and the nuts until the butter is evenly distributed.
2.      Sprinkle the cheeses with flour, making sure to coat every last centimetre of the surface. Dip in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture.
3.      Return the coated cheeses to the egg bath, and again to the breadcrumb mixture, gently packing the crumbs around the cheeses to seal well.

Goats cheese in its winter coat of breadcrumbs and walnut

4.      Transfer the cheeses to a lightly buttered baking tray and place in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
5.      Remove from the oven and serve immediately with a green salad and a generous drizzle of decent honey.

Honeyed Goats Cheese in a Walnut Crust - Devilishly Good!

Variation: I'll be doing mini-versions to pass around with Christmas drinks!
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