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Gruntie’s no knead wholemeal bread [and Olive bread]
Gruntie’s Mushrooms stuffed with Crab
This is a great starter as it can be prepared in advance, stored in the fridge and then whammed in the oven when required.
Ingredients: For two starters – 2 large open cup mushrooms. The stuffing mix – a dressed crab, a couple of spoonfuls of medium matzo meal [or dried breadcrumbs], a finely chopped large clove of garlic, a finely chopped small spring onion, a tablespoonish of chopped parsley, sprinkle of cayenne pepper or paprika, a large glug of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Method: Remove the mushroom stalks and chop them finely. Stir them in with the stuffing mix in a bowl. Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture and drizzle with olive oil. Cook in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika prior to serving. That’s it, trala!
Veggie alternative- Instead of the crab, double the amount of breadcrumbs, add more crushed garlic and herbs and olive oil and season it well.
Gruntie’s Crab salad
A wonderful starter or perhaps a light lunch.
Ingredients: To feed 2 peeps- One dressed crab, 2 dollops of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a nice squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, handful of fresh parsley – finely chopped, a finely chopped spring onion, a dash of paprika [or you can add cayenne if you want a kick], salt and pepper.
Method: This is soooooo easy – simply mix up all of the ingredients and then have a little taste and adjust seasoning. Keep it in the fridge until required. I like to serve it on a small bed of shredded lettuce and a couple of thin slices of my own made bread [see recipe below] which I crisp up in the oven.
Gruntie’s Scallops wrapped in Prosciutto
I really like scallops, simply done, they make a wonderful light starter.
Ingredients: To feed 2 peepses – 6 fresh plump scallops [3 per person], a few slices of prosciutto ham [you can use Parma ham or other continental cured ham if you want], a small knob of butter and some extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar, a couple of slices of lemon and fresh parsley for decoration [and munching].
Method: Wash the scallops in cold water then pat them dry. I like to prepare the serving plates next as the scallops cook very quickly. Make the plates look attractive with a slice of lemon, parsley and a baby tomato cut in half, spring onions or anything you fancy! [I used sliced radish in the photo below]. Drizzle a small amount of the olive oil on to the plates and then add literally a drop of balsamic vienegar onto the oil. Set the plates aside until needed. Cut the ham into strips and carefully wrap them around the sides of the scallops using a cocktail stick to keep them in place. Heat a small amount of oil and butter in a frying pan until it is nice and hot and add the scallops. After a couple of minutes turn the scallops over and continue to fry for a further minute or so. What you want is a nicely browned, almost burnty, oustide to your scallop. Place the cooked scallops onto the oil and vinegar on the plates and remove the sticks and serve.
Gruntie’s Smoked Mackerel Pâté
So easy, so quick to make, so yummy.
Ingredients: To feed around 4 peeps as a starter – around 200g- 250g of smoked mackerel fillets [the ones in a sealed pack from supermarkets are perfect for this], a couple of large dollops of curd cheese [such as Philadelphia], a squeeze of lemon juice, some finely chopped fresh parsley, ground pepper and half a teaspoon of paprika. Option – You can add a dollop of creme fraiche or quark if you want instead of the curd cheese.
Method: Skin the fillets and then mash it in a bowl with all of the other ingredients. Refrigerate until required. Sorted! told you it was easy.
Gruntie’s Chicken Liver Pâté
The perfect lunch or starter served with thin toasted slices of my no knead bread. Many recipes call for a lot more butter but I have cut that right down.
Ingredients: To feed several peeps [sorry for being vague!] – 380g of chicken livers, 60g butter, a roughly chopped shallot, a couple of squashed cloves of garlic, a splash of brandy [or port works well too], a bay leaf, a small handfull of chopped parley, chives and thyme, a teaspoon of English mustard powder, a pinch of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
Method: Wash the livers in a seive, shake off the excess water and then trim off the nasty white sinewy bits. Gently fry the chopped shallot in the butter with the bayleaf for a few minutes and then add the garlic for another minute. Add the livers and cook for another 5-7 minutes stirring it on occasion. Add the brandy, give it a final stir and then turn off the heat and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove the bayleaf and add the mixture to a blender and whizz with the herbs, mustard powder and salt and pepper until it is nice and smooth. Pour [or scrape] the mixture into a couple of small tubs or ramekins and keep it in the fridge until required. My kids hate this and all liver recipes. My wife and I love it!
Gruntie’s Nachips and Refried Beans
This is a perfect as a starter before having Gruntie’s Chilli con carne. They are really easy to make but a bit fiddly. You won’t need many as they are filling but very tasty and are always popular with my guests. Don’t make them too far in advance as the nachips go soggy. I use Old El Paso Nachips that come in a bag.
Ingredients: Allow 3 or 4 nachips per person. A small chorizo sausage, refried beans from a tin, jalapeno chillis from a jar.
Method: Spread some refried beans on to the nachips and then add a slice of chorizo on to each one. You can also add jalapeno chilli or slices of pepper or onion or even cheese, it’s up to you. Bake in the grill until the chorizo is nicely browned and serve. If you have any chorizo spare you can throw it into a chilli con carne. I freeze any left over refried beans.
Gruntie’s no knead wholemeal bread
If you are like me and really can’t be arsed to make ‘proper’ bread. This no knead recipe is the answer. The recipe originated from the New York Times and there is an adapted recipe in the rather wonderful Walking Dead Cookbook. I have experimented and adapted the recipe to work with brown or wholemeal flour as you need more water and longer cooking time than the original version which is for white flour. You will need a round cast iron pot to cook this, a Le Creuset type pot is ideal. There are only 4 main ingredients – no additives. Real bread – not the bouncy horrid mass produced rubbish.
Ingredients: 470g of strong wholemeal flour [or brown flour or a mixture of both], a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of easybake yeast, 400g of warm water, a dash of olive oil. Optional – Poppy or sunflower seeds
Method: Mix the flour, salt, yeast and water thoroughly in a bowl until it’s a slightly gooey sticky ball. Cover the bowl in cling film and then leave it somewhere warm overnight or for at least 12 hours so the dough rises. [I put mine by our boiler]. The next day turn the dough onto a floured plate and pull the dough and fold it onto itself. Do this a few times and reshape the dough into a ball. Wash and dry the bowl and wipe some olive oil around the inside and return the dough ball into it and reseal with the clingfilm. Let it rest for a couple more hours somewhere warm. Preheat your oven to 210C [this is for a fan oven] and place the empty cast iron pot with its lid into the oven for at least half an hour. When half an hour has elapsed take out the hot pot and try not to burn yourself! Carefully remove the lid, dust the bottom of the pot with some flour, carefully plop the dough ball into the pot and dust the top of the dough with more flour. You can add poppy or sunflower seeds if you want. Replace the lid- it’s BLOODY HOT! and then shove it in the oven for 35 mins, [set a buzzer]. Remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 20 minutes. It should be a lovely golden brown colour and smell gorgeous! Tip the bread gently onto a wire rack and allow it to cool for an hour. It is then ready to eat – it’s best toasted, the crust is amazing!
Other bread Ideas: You can sprinkle seeds onto the dough just before it goes into the oven. [Poppy seeds or pumpkin seeds are nice]
Olive Bread: Add a handful of chopped Kalamata olives to the dough after it has rested for the initial 12 hours, mix it well and allow it to prove for a couple more hours [as in the main recipe above] before popping it in the oven. The perfect bread for toasted bruschetta.
Gruntie’s Spicy Potato Soup
I love a tasty and filling soup in the winter. This soup can be made thick and hearty for lunch or thin which is ideal as a lighter starter.
Ingredients: To feed 4 as a hearty lunch – 1 kg of peeled potatoes cut into chunks, a large roughly chopped onion, 1 or 2 cloves of squished garlic, 1.5 pints of veg stock, knob of butter (or use olive oil), one bayleaf, half a teaspoon of paprika, dash of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, some finely chopped parsely or coriander. Optional – loads of options here – you can replace some of the taters with sweet potato or a carrot. A finely chopped stick of celery works well added with the onion too. You can add a dollop of creme fraiche or cream just before serving if you want. It’s a soup, you can do what you want!
Method: Sweat the onion and garlic with the bayleaf in the butter until it the onion has softened. Add the taters and gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the hot stock and simmer partially covered until the potato is nicely cooked and soft. Allow this to cool and then whizz the lot until smooth – I use a hand blender for this. Add in the chopped herbs, paprika and cayenne and adjust seasoning as required. Reheat the soup and add more water if the soup is too thick. Serve with herby sprinkles on top or paprika.