This is an absolute gem of a recipe using Comté cheese. The cheese itself has an amazing fruity, nutty taste with that perfect balance of salty and sweet. Comté originates from the Jura Massif region in France using the milk from only two varieties of cows, the Montbéliarde and the French Simmental. All of the flavour comes from the milk those beautiful cows produce, with just a bit of salt to help the rind develop. It’s then aged for a minimum of 4 months, with the longer you age the cheese, the richer and deeper the flavour. I used a 15 month aged Comté for the recipe and the flavour really shines through!
- 600g potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm slices
- 2 onions, very thinly sliced
- 200g chorizo sliced into 5mm rounds
- 215g Comté, grated
- A handful of thyme
- 2 blocks of puff pastry, 500g each
- 1 egg
- Chicken stock
- Fill a large pan with chicken stock and pinch of salt and bring to the boil, add your potato slices and cook for 3-4 minutes until they have started to soften slightly. Drain and allow to cool. You can keep the chicken stock for another day.
- In a large frying pan, fry your chorizo on a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the oils are released. Remove the chorizo from the pan, making sure to keep as much oil in the pan as possible. Add your onions and cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until golden. Add in some thyme for the last few minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- Roll out your pastry on a floured surface, we want two 30cm circles about 3mm thick. I used a large plate to cut a template. Roll out one of your circles a little more, this will be your top piece.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees fan.
- Lay your bottom piece of pastry on greaseproof paper on your baking sheet. Prick all over with a fork. It’s time to layer. Make sure you leave a 2cm gap round the edge of your circle. Start with single layers of potato, then cheese, the chorizo/onion, then cheese and repeat until you run out.
- Beat your egg in a bowl to create an egg wash. Brush this round the 2cm gap you have left. Place over the other piece of pastry to form your lid, it might need a little stretching, press down with your thumb to form a strong seal. Once this is complete you can use the side of a knife to create little imprints in the edge.
- Make a very small hole in the top of the pastry. You can run a knife very gently down the sides to create a pattern, be careful not to go through.
- Egg wash the entire of the pastry.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Slice and enjoy!
These dumplings are so easy to make with the help of Crock-Pot Express Multi-Cooker, taking the pressure out of cooking. Once you6 master the folding technique, you will be churning them out like a master. The Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker’s steam function makes it super straight forward and safe, with no fear of boiling water and the balancing act of a bamboo steamer. For those who like a spicy dumpling, the sauce is a must! If you can’t handle the heat then stick to soy and vinegar.
- 500g fatty pork mince
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 spring onions (finely sliced)
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 1 egg (beaten)
- A handful of finely sliced Chinese greens
- A small handful of chopped coriander
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp cold chicken stock (optional)
- Dumpling wrappers, available from a Chinese supermarket
- 5 tbsp chilli oil
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp black vinegar
- 1 finely sliced spring onion
- Combine the mince, sesame oil, rice wine, soy, egg, spring onions, ginger, garlic, greens, coriander and pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix well to form a smooth paste. It should have a good level of moisture. If you could only get lean pork mince, add a few tbsp of cold chicken stock. This will make a juicy dumpling!
- Take a tray and line it with greaseproof paper, lightly flour it. This will hold your dumplings once you’ve folded them. Take a small bowl or cup and fill it with water.
- Add around ½ tbsp of pork mince to the centre of your dumpling wrapper, gently spread it out but still leave a 1/4-inch edge. Dip your finger in the bowl of water, trace this round the edge of your dumpling wrapper
- Pinch one end of the dumpling and pull the sides up to look like an open taco. Then pull the wrapper facing you to form a small crimp, press this down firmly. Do this again 3 times along that edge that’s facing you as you work along the dumpling, you can use a finger to press down the filling. It’s important to get a good seal all the way along the dumpling so your filling doesn’t come out. It might take a few go’s to get this but there are loads of YouTube tutorials if you struggle! Place your finished dumpling on the tray and repeat until you run out of filling and wrappers
- Take your Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker and add 1-2 cm of water. Set it to the sauté function for 2 minutes, until the water is hot. Add the steaming rack, place a square of greaseproof paper onto this. Add your dumplings in a single layer, leave a little space between each one. Place the lid onto the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker and secure the steam release valve. Set it onto steam for 5 minutes and allow them to rest for 5 minutes
- While the dumplings are cooking, combine the ingredients for the sauce
- Once the 10 minutes are up, carefully release the steam using an oven glove, open the lid and remove the dumplings. Place onto a plate and drizzle over the sauce. Eat and repeat!
Throughout the wintry months, the last thing you want to do is have to worry about sitting and watching your dinner cook. The Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker makes things easy by taking away the pressure of slaving over your dinner – so you can relax and enjoy the cold nights with the ones you love. Confit Duck is one of my favourite classic dishes. It’s bursting with flavour, rich and so satisfying when served with buttery mash, greens and a beautiful sauce. The Crock-Pot Express Multi-Cooker makes the confit process so easy, in just two hours you can have succulent, flavourful duck with no fuss! Make sure to keep the duck fat, once the duck is cooked, as it can be used over and over again. Either to make more confit or to use on potatoes for the best roasties! The fact that you can make such a classic dish with one piece of equipment amazed me. Give it a go and let me know how you get on!
- 2 duck legs
- 1kg duck fat
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 whole peppercorns
- Sea Salt
- 670g potato, peeled and cut into 2cm slices.
- 30g salted butter
- 80-100ml milk
- 1-2 handfuls of green beans
Red Wine Sauce
- 75g shallots, finely sliced
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 tbsp wine vinegar
- 150ml red wine
- 400ml beef stock
- 1tsp red currant jelly
- Take your duck legs and season well with sea salt, cover with the thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours to marinade. Alternatively, if you are pushed for time, place all of the above into your Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker
- Once the duck is in the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker cover with the duck fat. Put the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker onto the slow cook function and set the timer for two hours
- Once the two hours are up, test the duck. You should be able to easily put a skewer through the meat. Remove the duck from the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker and place onto a plate. Allow the fat to cool slightly and pour back into the jars. You can use this again for amazing roast potatoes or more confit duck.
- Wash the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker. Add a layer of water which comes to just below the steaming rack. Place the potato slices onto the steaming rack. Close the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker and place it onto steam function for 7-8 minutes. Close the steam release valve. Once the time is up carefully release the steam valve with an oven glove. Open the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker and remove the potatoes and place them into a bowl. Add the butter, milk and mash the potato until smooth. Season to taste. Keep warm.
- Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes on steam mode, with the steam valve closed. Remove and keep warm. These can be tossed in sea salt, oil or butter.
- Remove water from the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker and wipe clean. Place onto the sauté function. Once heated, add the duck legs and cook until brown and crisp on each side. Remove and keep warm.
- Add the shallots to the Crock-Pot® Express Multi-Cooker, placing the sauté function heat on low. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly golden. Add the spring of rosemary and the vinegar. Reduce for 30 seconds. Add the wine and reduce for a minute. Add the beef stock and reduce by ¾. You can turn the heat back to high, to speed this up. Once reduced add the red currant jelly. Stir to combine. Taste and season, if it needs it, remembering beef stock can be salty. Turn off the heat.
- Plate up: Place your mash into a bowl or plate, then add the green beans, top with the duck. Pour over your gravy and finish with a sprinkle of chives.
In Season this Month… June
The arrival of June means that summer is quickly approaching, even if the weather isn’t on board with that idea the produce coming from vegetable patches and British farms are!
Highlights in June
A lot of us tend to buy frozen peas (if you ever stand in the freezer aisle getting cold while trying to decide between garden peas and petit pois it is useful to know that petit pois are just young garden peas that are picked and shelled when they are still small which can make them more tender). But from the start of June to the end of July fresh British garden peas are in season!
Peas are not only delicious but they are packed with protein – in fact a cup of peas contains more protein than an entire egg!
Of course peas are famous for being a great accompaniment to fish and chips on a Friday. But they offer a fantastic alternative to the classic smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs. Next time you are making brunch try smashing some freshly boiled peas (2-3 minute to cook from frozen) with lemon zest (1/2 a lemon), a handful of freshly chopped mint leaves, a teaspoon of olive oil and a crumbling of feta cheese. Then pile onto your toast of choice (I would recommend a sourdough) and top with a poached egg or two.
Known in the USA as fava beans, broad beans are a great stable of the British summer growing season – in fact, they are the first bean crop of the summer season.
If you simply pod them from their shells and boil them in water for 3-5 minutes then they are ready to be added to a salad or accompany some lamb. Broad peans have a thin skin that covers each individual bean, it is perfectly safe to each, but I like to take that skin off to pop out the bright green bean inside!
Broad beans go really well with peas – you could add some broad beans to your morning pea smash or if you fancy getting your broad bean hit later in the day you could make a green risotto with broad beans, peas, asparagus, courgettes and maybe even some chicken.
You can find strawberries on the supermarket shelves all year round thanks to imports. But these strawberries are chosen for their ability to withstand transportation rather than taste. So the British strawberries that started appearing on the supermarket shelves at the start of June will provide a much more enjoyable and juicy strawberry experience.
Of course you can do the Wimbledon classic and have your strawberries with a side of fresh cream. However, if you fancy doing something a bit different strawberries try adding them to a salad! They work particularly well with chicory, arugula (or other greenery of your choice), avocado, asparagus, chicken, red onion (I like it cooked) and a vinaigrette to finish it off.
Historically elder trees were believed to have magic powers which helped to ward off evil forces such as witches, nowadays when people think of elderflower they tend to think of cordial.
Elder trees are commonly found in woods and along hedgerows in the UK, and from late May you’ll see masses of tiny white flowers hanging in sprays – you can use these flowers to try making your own cordial at home. In order to make it you will need 40 or so large elderflower heads, 1.2kg of white sugar (granulated or caster), 4 unwaxed lemons, 4 unwaxed limes and 65g of citric acid. Once you have assembled the ingredients you need to put the sugar in a large enamel, glass or ceramic bowl and add 1.75 litres boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then allow to cool to blood temperature (about 37C). While it is cooling, thinly slice the lemons and limes and add to the sugar solution, along with the elderflowers (make sure you just add the flowers and not the stalks). Once everything is added cover and leave in a cool dark place for 24-36 hours, after that time strain twice then decant into a sterilised bottle and keep in a cool dark place for up to 6 months. Once you’ve opened a bottle it needs to go in the fridge and be used within a month!
British Sandwich Week
This week is British Sandwich Week – so in celebration of the iconic British culinary invention, I wanted to share with you some top sandwich facts and sandwiches to tuck into.
A Quick Overview of Sandwich History
The sandwich as we know it was popularised in England in 1762 by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Legend has it, that Montagu had a gambling problem which meant he spent hours sitting at the card table. During a particularly long card session, he asked the house cook to bring him something he could eat without getting up from his seat – cold beef between slices of toast, to be precise – and the sandwich was born.
The first packaged sandwich didn’t hit retailers shelves till Marks and Spencers launched them in 1985. Nowadays, nearly 12 billion sandwiches are eaten in the UK every year with 4 billion sandwiches of these being purchased from UK catering or retail outlets (like M&S) and as a country the UK spends over £8 billion a year on sandwiches.
The UK’s Most Popular Sandwiches
Last year Warburtons did a survey of 2,000 Britons to find out the ten most popular sandwich fillings in the UK, the results were surprisingly unexciting:
- Ham and Cheese
- Ham Salad
- Cheese and Onion
- Egg Mayonnaise
- Tuna Mayonnaise
- Chicken Salad
- Chicken Mayonnaise
- Cheese and Pickle
With this in mind I wanted to share some more exciting Sandwiches for you to try at home:
- The BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato).
- Salty, crispy bacon, sweet and juicy tomato slices and crisp, refreshing lettuce. It doesn’t get much better than a BLT! We like ours served on lightly toasted bread with a spread of light mayo and a dollop of ketchup on the side.
- If you fancy jazzing it up add some avocado and you’ve got yourself a BLAT!
- Or you can take it one step above a BLT with a Club Sandwich. This adds in some chicken, and doubles the amount of filling to give you a two layered sandwich monster. Check out my recipe with includes a fried egg here http://www.samstern.co.uk/recipe/club-sandwich/
- A Classic Bacon or Sausage Sarnie – a breakfast favourite.
- Chip Butty – a great British Friday classic!
- Pick up a portion from your favourite chippy (we like ours with a golden, freshly fried finish, not a bland, beige and anaemic chip!) and pile onto soft white bread that’s had a light smear of good quality salted butter. Add a liberal squeeze of ketchup or mayonnaise for dunking!
- Fish Finger Sandwich – another Friday classic!
- Cook your fish fingers until they’re crisp and golden, cut open a large crusty bap and spoon in some tangy tartar sauce, add a handful of rocket and enjoy!
- And last but not least – how could there not be a dessert sandwich on offer.