Healthy Couscous Salad

Healthy Couscous SaladSummer is coming and it’s always great to have some lighter meal ideas under your belt. I want a bit more from a salad than a bit of lettuce, tomato & cucumber though… I need some flavour! This gorgeous couscous salad recipe (adapted from Oh My Dish) does that by the bucket load. It’s packed full of goodness & it’s seriously tasty! I particularly love the addition of the sweet potato, it really kicks it up a notch.

Here is what you will need to serve 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish:

  • 150g Couscous
  • 300ml Boiling Water
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed
  • 1 Shallot, finely diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, finely diced
  • 1 Aubergine, sliced *
  • 4 Sundried Tomatoes, sliced + the Oil
  • 8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • Handful of Rocket or chopped Romaine Lettuce
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • Salt & Pepper

 * I ended up picking out the aubergine but, even if you don’t like it, keep trying! It’s the only way to change your tastebuds. Trust me – I was the worlds fussiest eater as a child!

In a large glass bowl, add in the couscous, a generous helping of salt & pepper and about 1 tbsp of the oil from the sundried tomatoes jar.

Pour in the boiling water, stir with a fork and cover with cling film. Leave to one side whilst we prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat then add in about 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Dump in the cubed potato and fry for a few minutes.

Then add in the diced shallot & garlic and fry for about 10-15 minutes until the potato is golden and cooked. (Soft in the middle.) Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Healthy Couscous Salad

Healthy Couscous SaladIf adding aubergine – heat a griddle pan over a medium/high heat. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and grill on each side until nice charred lines appear.

When cooked, take out the pan and sprinkle with a little salt.

Healthy Couscous SaladBack to the couscous, which should be nice & plump by now. Remove the cling film & fluff up with a fork.

Healthy Couscous SaladNow all your ingredients are ready, add the sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and cooked sweet potato in with the couscous.

Season with a little more salt & pepper if it needs it. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon and add a good glug of olive oil.

Give it all a good stir and divide between serving plates. Top with slices of aubergine and a handful of either rocket or romaine lettuce.

Healthy Couscous SaladI absolutely love this salad. It only takes about half an hour to make, it’s tasty, satisfying & good for you too! In my opinion, it’s a perfect, bright & colourful Spring/Summer dish. Great if you want a bit of light, al fresco dining in your back garden or on the park!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies, until next time!

Miss KitchenMason

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary Quiche

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheMe and the Mr love a good quiche. It’s proper comfort food but not like the Winter kind… more a spring/summer kind. Nothing beats it when you’re out on a picnic or enjoying an evening meal in the garden. It’s perfect for lunch, dinner, packed lunches or even the dish you take to your friend’s Summer BBQ! Always guaranteed to be a hit, it’s also a fantastic fridge clearer. You can pretty much chuck any leftovers into a quiche & it will still taste great! This particular combination was one I came across over at The Chefscapades blog and I couldn’t resist trying it out.

So here is what you will need to make 1 x 8″ quiche:

For the Pastry *

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 125g Unsalted Butter, cold & cubed
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tbsp Cold Water
  • 1 Egg white, beaten for glaze

For the Filling

  • 2 Large Onions
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 90ml Milk
  • 90ml Double Cream
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 50g Gruyere Cheese, grated
  • Salt & Pepper

Essential Equipment

  • 8″ Round, Fluted, Loose Bottomed Tin
  • Food Processor

* You can, of course, buy your pastry & prepare/bake in the same way as below.

To make the pastry, dump the flour, butter & salt into a food processor & blitz until it becomes like fine breadcrumbs.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheBeat the egg with the water & gradually pour it into the food processor whilst it’s still on. Stop when the pastry starts to clump together. If necessary, add a little more water.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheTip out onto your work surface & bring together to form a ball. Cover in cling film, flatten into a disc and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

I like to roll my pastry out in-between 2 sheets of cling film because if you roll it out on lots of flour, you can upset the balance of ingredients & potentially ruin your pastry.

So, roll out your pastry into a rough circle approx 2 – 3 mm thick and big enough to cover the base & sides of your tin.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuichePeel off one layer of cling film, and using the other cling film layer to help, lift the pastry over your tin & press into the edges. (Cling film on top of course!)

Peel off the cling film, cut away the excess & prick the base all over with a fork.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuichePlace the base into the freezer to chill again for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C and place a baking tray large enough to fit your tin on into the centre.

Meanwhile, you can crack on with the onions.

Peel and slice the onions as finely as you can and melt the butter in a large, non stick frying pan over a low heat.

Add in the onions & cook, stirring often so they don’t catch on the bottom.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheAfter about 30 minutes, they should be beautifully golden and soft.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheLeave to one side to cool whilst we bake the pastry case.

Now your prepared case is sufficiently cold, scrunch up a large piece of baking paper, (not greaseproof as that will stick!) place over the pastry and cover with baking beans or rice.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuichePlace into the preheated oven on the hot baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheTake out the oven and remove the baking paper & beans. Brush all over with beaten egg white & place straight back into the oven for another 12 minutes until a light golden brown.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheLeave to cool for a few minutes whilst we make the filling.

In a jug, add in the milk, double cream, eggs, chopped rosemary & a very generous amount of salt and pepper to season.

Lay the caramelised onions over the base and spread out evenly.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuichePour over the egg mixture until it reaches the top of the pastry case. You may wish to do this after placing the tin in the oven to avoid any spillages.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheLastly, sprinkle all over with the gruyere cheese.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary QuicheWith the oven still at 190°C/Fan 170°C, bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese on top is bubbling and golden.

Caramelised Onion & Rosemary Quiche

Essentially, this is a glorified cheese & onion quiche. I tell you what though, it’s totally worth the extra effort! Me and the Mr enjoyed this with some sweet potato chips and it barely touched the sides! A definite winner in the KitchenMason household and one that I will definitely be making again/playing about with over the Summer months to come.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies, until next time!

Miss KitchenMason

Pancake Day & a Judge Giveaway!

Pancakes/Crepes & a Judge Giveaway!

Ok, we’re a few weeks away from one of the best days in the foodie calendar – PANCAKE DAY! This week’s post is super exciting for 2 very good reasons. 1 – There is not just one, but TWO awesome pancake filling recipes to wet your whistle. And 2 – I have teamed up with Judge Cookware to give you lucky lovelies the chance to win every tool you will need to make the perfect pancakes on the day!

Sounds good right? RIGHT! Well let’s get cracking then. Here is what you will need to make the most epic pancakes in the world! (In my opinion obviously…)

For the Pancake Batter

(Makes approx 8 x 17cm Diameter)

  • 100g Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 250ml Semi Skimmed Milk
  • Butter (for cooking fat)

For the Bacon, Cheese & Chive Filling

(Enough for 4 Generously Filled Pancakes)

  • 150ml Double Cream
  • 90g Cream Cheese
  • 4-5 Slice of cooked Smokey Bacon, chopped
  • Fresh Chives, chopped

For the Strawberries & Cream Filling

(Enough for 4 Generously Filled Pancakes)

  • 150ml Double Cream
  • 1 tbsp Icing Sugar
  • 227g Punnet of Strawberries
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • Melted Belgian Chocolate/Icing Sugar, to serve (Optional)

 

Let’s start with the basic pancakes.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt.

Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg.

PancakesMix with a whisk and gradually add in the milk. Keep mixing until all the milk has been used and there are no lumps. It should be the consistency of single cream.

PancakesPour the batter into a jug ready for cooking. (This makes it WAY easier to pour into the pan.)

Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat.

Add in a little butter and allow to melt around the pan. Pour enough batter to cover the bottom, then swill the pan round quickly to even it out.

PancakesAfter a couple of minutes, ‘shake’ the pan to loosen the pancake and lift an edge to see if it’s nice and golden.

If it is, you can either be brave and flip it – or a total wuss like me & use a spatula!

PancakesAllow to cook for another couple of minutes until the other side is nice and golden too. Then either keep warm in some foil or eat straight away with your choice of filling.

Repeat the process until all the batter is used up.

PancakesSpeaking of fillings…

Bacon, Cheese & Chive Filling

Whip the double cream in a large bowl to almost stiff peaks then beat in the cream cheese. Add a little salt for seasoning if you like.

Top Tip! Over whipped the cream so it’s gone grainy? Just add in a little milk and fold through to bring it back.

Divide between your pancakes and top with the chopped bacon & chives.

Pancakes

 

Strawberries & Cream Filling

Whip the double cream to stiff peaks in a large bowl. Then sift in the flour and gently fold through.

Top Tip! Over whipped the cream so it’s gone grainy? Just add in a little milk and fold through to bring it back.

Hull & slice the strawberries and place in a bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice & give it a good stir.

Divide the sweetened cream between your pancakes and top with plenty of strawberries.

If you like, you could drizzle over some melted Belgian chocolate & dust with a little icing sugar for a really decadent finish.

PancakesSEE! I told you they were the most epic pancake recipes in the world! Just wait until you try them, oh my word… you won’t look back I promise.

Judge Pancake CompetitionNow, onto the equipment. I’ve gotta’ say – I’m impressed and I think you will be too!

The scales are very lightweight & really slim so take up next to no room in your precious kitchen cupboards. They’re also very accurate – exactly what you want in a set of digital scales.

The mixing bowl is also great. It’s nice and tall meaning you won’t splash your batter all over the place when using the balloon whisk. It’s lightweight too so easy on the wrists – giving you more elbow grease to work that whisk!

The glass jug does exactly what it says on the tin. With the measurements clearly visible on both sides & a comfortable handle, it’s a staple addition to any kitchen.

As for the frying pan and turner (spatula) – these two make very light work of pancake making! The non-stick coating on the pan is absolutely brilliant – not one single pancake stuck. The curved bottom shape also makes it perfect for pancakes allowing you to freely & easily move them without anything getting stuck in edges. The turner was the surprise win for me. It’s heat-resistant nylon end won’t damage the non-stick coating in the pan and it’s literally the perfect shape & size for flipping your pancakes. I will be using these two tools every Shrove Tuesday!

 

Fancy winning the whole kit just in time for the big day?

All you have to do to be in with a chance is one of the following:

 

1. Like the KitchenMason Facebook Page & Judge Cookware Facebook Page – share the photo pinned to the top of the KitchenMason timeline

2. Follow @KitchenMason & @JudgeCookware on Twitter and retweet the competition tweet on KitchenMason’s Twitter feed with the hashtag #WinJudgeKM

Not on social media? No problem!

3. Subscribe to my blog via e-mail or WordPress (on the right hand side of the page) and leave a comment on this post to say you’ve done so.

 

Competition is open to UK residents only and closes on Monday 9th Feb at 7pm.

The winner will be announced on both Facebook & Twitter shortly after.

 

Good luck everyone! Until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

French Onion Soup

French Onion SoupBeing heavily pregnant & almost ready to pop – I have been advised by many people to stock up my freezer. So this is me making a start! But this intensely delicious French Onion Soup has a unique KitchenMason twist…

Traditionally made with beef stock, I opt for chicken stock as I personally think it gives a more rounded & delicate flavour. Why don’t you be the judge and give it a go yourself?

Here is what you will need to make 6 Servings. (Approx 2 litres.)

For the Soup

  • 50g Butter
  • 750g Onions (approx 850-900g before peeling & slicing)
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves
  • 45g Plain Flour
  • 187ml Bottle of White Wine
  • 2 litres Chicken Stock (Good Quality)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper

To Serve (Optional)

  • Slices of Stale Baguette
  • Cheddar Cheese, grated

Essential Equipment

  • Large lidded pot

Firstly, prep your veg. I honestly couldn’t be bothered to stand and slice all those onions – the solution? Get out your food processor with the slicing disc attachment & use that. It saves masses of time and effort.

So peel & finely slice all those onions and finely chop the garlic.

Take your large pot & place over a medium heat.

Add in the butter. When melted, tip in all the onions and give it a stir.

French Onion SoupContinue to cook for approx 25-35 minutes whilst stirring occasionally. You want to get a nice golden brown colour – try not to be impatient and give in early. Also, don’t worry too much if it catches on the bottom of the pan, it’s all adding caramelisation & flavour!

French Onion SoupOnce the onions are done, add in the garlic & flour and stir continuously for about 2 minutes.

French Onion SoupAdd in the white wine and stir for about a minute until most of it has been absorbed.

French Onion Soup-4Gradually add in the stock then bring it all to the boil.

Add in the bay leaves, thyme sprigs & a generous helping of salt & pepper. Stir it all up, pop the lid on and simmer for about 25 minutes.

French Onion SoupWhen the timer has beeped – remove the lid and fish out the bay leaves & thyme sprigs.

French Onion SoupIf saving for later, allow to cool completely before dividing into bags/tubs and freezing.

If you want to serve straight away – preheat your grill.

Slice up an old, stale baguette and grate some cheese. Divide the soup between oven proof bowls, place 1-2 slices of baguette in each bowl and cover with grated cheese.

Place under the grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

French Onion SoupI absolutely adore this soup! There’s just something so much more special about the flavour when you use chicken stock instead of beef. I often find with the traditional recipe, there’s a rich ‘twang’ that I don’t enjoy but with this version? It’s just heavenly! And let’s be honest – everything is better with melted cheese 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Tuxedo Cheese & Crackers!

Tuxedo Cheese & CrackersAs many of you will know I am currently heavily pregnant and, as a result, very lazy! This means I don’t have the energy or stamina to be spending forever standing up in the kitchen preparing food. I’m not too happy about this because, as you may have gathered by now, I love being in the kitchen!

So this presented me with a bit of a challenge. I wanted a simple recipe that would look great on your party buffet tables this New Years Eve, but didn’t want to be stood up for ages. Then I saw these over at Cute Food For Kids and knew it was just what I was looking for!

What you will need

  • Pitted Black Olives
  • Any Crackers of your choice
  • Any Soft Cheese Triangles AND/OR Hard Cheese of your choice

Essential Equipment

  • Drinking straw or Small round piping nozzle
  • a Cocktail Stick
  • A small sharp knife or scissors

Firstly, cut the hard cheese into triangles or peel the wrappers off the soft cheese triangles.

Then you just need to sit down at a table with a chopping board, the olives, the items listed in ‘Essential Equipment’ and start carving!

Use either a drinking straw or a small round piping nozzle to cut out little olive ‘buttons,’ (The cocktail stick will be helpful to remove the olive from the straw/nozzle.)

Either using a sharp knife (I used a vegetable carving knife) or some scissors, cut out little triangles to use for the bow ties. I found it easiest to cut each olive into quarters and flatten them first.

Then place the bow ties and buttons on each piece of cheese and serve on crackers to your happy guests!

Tuxedo Cheese & CrackersOk, so they may be a bit fiddly & time consuming but look how cute they are!! At least you can sit down at a table and do the fiddly bit so you’re not on your feet for ages – definitely a winning point for me in my whale like state!

It’s worth the effort just to get great comments from your guests I think. And let’s be honest – you are definitely going to get great comments about these! They really stand out and look super smart for a celebration or party buffet table. A spectacular addition to help see in the new year.

And on that note, I hope you enjoyed the post you fabulous fabulous people!

I wish you all a very happy & prosperous New Year.

See you in 2015!

Miss KitchenMason

Tomato Soup with a Hint of Basil

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilNow, it may seem a little early for a soup recipe but in actual fact, it’s the perfect time of year to get started! With all the beautiful late summer veg in the gardens, it’s exactly the right time to start stocking your freezer ready for Autumn & Winter.

My lovely Gran is a very keen gardener. Every year she surprises me with how much she gets out of her garden! Recently, she’s had a lot of tomatoes ripening very quickly that she needs to get eaten. I thought I would help her out and turn all those beauties into a delicious soup for the both of us to enjoy.

Here is what you will need to make approx 6 portions.

  • 1kg – 1.25kg Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery Stick
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Tomato Purée
  • Generous pinch of Sugar
  • 2 Bay Leaves, each torn in half
  • 3 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1.2 litres Vegetable Stock *
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Basil

*I used 4 x Knorr Vegetable Stock Pots dissolved in 1.2 litres of boiling water.

Essential Equipment

  • Large pot with a Lid
  • Stick Blender or Food Processor

First thing’s first, you need to prepare your veg.

I removed the skins from my tomatoes. It’s totally optional but actually quite simple to do.

Simply fill a jug or bowl with boiling water and submerge your tomatoes for 30 secs or so. You should actually start to see some of the skins splitting.

Then, using a spoon – remove the tomatoes from the water and simply peel the skins straight off.

Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupBeing very careful, as they will be a little slippy, quarter the tomatoes and remove any hard bits of core.

Tomato SoupNow, peel & chop the onion, carrot & celery stick so they are all approx the same size.

Place the large pot over a low heat & add in the olive oil.

When you can feel the pan getting hot, add in the onion, carrot & celery. Give it a mix then cook over the low heat for about 10 mins until just starting to colour and soften.

Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupAdd in the tomato purée, the sugar, bay leaves & the dried basil. Give it all a good mix to ensure it’s all blended well.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilTip in the tomatoes and mix it all together.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilPop the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 10 mins. Once or twice, give the pan a little shake to keep it all well mixed.

 

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilNext up, add in the vegetable stock and give it a really good stir.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilThen pop that lid back on and simmer over the low heat for 25 mins. Give the pan a good shake a couple of times during cooking.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilGive it a nice mix then find and remove the bay leaves.

Pull all the leaves from the bunch of basil and add them into the pot.

Then, whether it’s using a stick blender or a food processor, get blitzing until it’s all nice and smooth.

WARNING do take care if the soup is still very hot and never over fill your food processor as it has a tendency to explode!

I’ve recently obtained the new Stellar Cookware Stick Blender and  it’s absolutely fabulous!

Stellar Stick Blender

It breaks down into 2 parts for easy washing and storage and has a very comfortable & ergonomic grip. It’s also incredibly versatile with it’s settings – having a dial at the top to adjust the power and a turbo button when you need a little extra oomph.

Stellar Stick Blender

And it made mincemeat of this soup! Definitely a lot easier than making a huge mess trying to pour it all into a food processor. My days of that are now well and truly over!

Tomato Soup with a Hint of Basil - Stellar Stick Blender

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilLast thing to do is give the soup another stir and have a taste. Add more salt & pepper if you think it needs it.

Then either, eat it now or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Alternatively you could allow to cool completely then pour into ‘pour and store’ bags and place in the freezer ready for those colder nights.

Tomato Soup with a Hint of BasilThere’s just something about tomato soup. It’s always been my favourite, ever since I was a little girl. I have tried to be more adventurous and try different soup flavours but I always come back to tomato! A definite winner in my book.

What would be lovely is if you served this with a little cream swirled through to add a bit of richness. And a good chunk of crusty bread with lashings of butter smeared all over it! Aaaahh, I can foresee nights by the fire with a bowl of this deliciousness in the near future. Autumn is coming… get your freezer prepared!

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies.

Miss KitchenMason

Spicy Rosemary Thins

Spicy Rosemary ThinsOk, I’ve been hammering the sweet tooth a little hard recently. Figured I’d change it up a little bit this week with these scrummy, savoury sensations! For me, rosemary always tastes so homely. Ok, that may sound a little strange but I feel it’s almost like the herb equivalent of that winter ‘sitting in front of the fire with a mug of soup’ feeling. I don’t know what it is but I just love it. Like a herby hug!

Anyway, they’re blooming amazing and obviously you’re gonna have a go at making them because they’re super duper easy & quick!

Here is what you will need to make approx 25 – 30.

(Recipe from the lovely I Bake He Shoots.)

  • 1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 100g Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
  • 100g Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese, Finely Grated
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Finely chop together the rosemary and chilli flakes.

Spicy Rosemary ThinsIn a food processor, add in the flour, butter, cheese, baking powder, salt & herbs.

Spicy Rosemary ThinsPulse until it just comes together to form a dough.

Spicy Rosemary ThinsTip the dough out onto a sheet of grease proof or baking paper and knead gently into a log shape.

Spicy Rosemary ThinsUsing the paper as an aid – roll it up into a round log then press the ends in to fill any gaps.

Place this in the freezer for 25 minutes to chill.

Spicy Rosemary ThinsMeanwhile, preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C & line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone baking sheet.

When the 25 mins are up – remove the dough from the freezer and slice discs approx 3-4mm thick.

Spicy Rosemary ThinsPlace the chilled discs onto the baking tray, slightly spaced apart to allow for spreading.

Put into the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 10 – 12 mins or until just turning golden on the edges.

Spicy Rosemary Thins

Spicy Rosemary ThinsLeave on the tray for a minute or two to harden then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (That should only take about 15 mins.)

Spicy Rosemary Thins

Spicy Rosemary ThinsThese would make great nibbles if you’re having friends over for a few drinks, or the perfect accompaniment to any cheese board! Far better than most crackers you can buy in the shops that’s for sure.

And if you’re worried about the heat of the chilli flakes, it’s not hot I promise. It’s more like a pleasant, gentle warmth in the back of the throat as an after taste. They’re just… well, blinkin’ gorgeous!

I hope you all enjoyed this weeks post my lovelies, until next week.

Miss KitchenMason