30 March 2013

How to Use Leftover Easter Eggs!


chocolate-egg
I have to admit that this is not my own photo, I got it from freeimages.co.uk

I realise that to many people, me included, leftover chocky is a very strange concept but in my line of work it's still something I have to deal with so this post refers to leftover chocolate Eater eggs and not at all, at all to leftover boiled eggs.

There are, of course, numerous ways to use the lovely stuff and one of the easiest is just to eat it!  Sometimes, however, you might need to stretch the chocolate amongst a few people or you'd like to make a big thing of it so here are some suggestions.

Chop Chocolate and then ...


~   Sprinkle on ice cream or creamy desserts or stir into trail mix and go for a walk.
~   Stir into cake or brownie recipes. 

~   Have a chocolate sandwich!
~   Make Chocolate Chip Cookies - see my useful key cookie recipe here.


chopped-chocolate


Chocolate pieces can also be add to chocolate friendly recipes, for instance ...

Chocolate Pancakes 


See here for the basic pancake recipe but do the following or you will end up with a real mess.

melting middle chocolate pancakes
~   DO NOT add the chopped chocolate to the pancake batter.
~   Follow the recipe instructions and as soon as you have poured the pancake(s) into the pan sprinkle with the chocolate then spoon a little more pancake batter over the top.
~   Continue the recipe.

Serve for breakfast with good strong coffee.


Melted Chocolate

Use leftover melted chocolate to drizzle on, say, freshly baked cookies or to dip things such a pieces of fruit or stir stuff into like with those Rice Krispie things we used to make. There are some important rules to melting chocolate ...

instructions on melting chocolate

~   Put leftover chocolate into a bowl and out the bowl into a small pan of simmering water so that the water comes about a third of the way up the bowl, and here’s a tip; stand it on a metal jam jar lid or similar to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan. 
~   White chocolate is a little more delicate than dark and must be melted carefully over very low heat. 
~   Don’t mess with the chocolate as it melts just let it sit till there till it’s ready then stir till smooth. 

WARNING If you get water into the melting chocolate it will go all hard, lumpy and useless.  For this reason Do Not Cover as steam will condense on the lid and fall back into the chocky.



Hot Chocolate for One - maybe you!


homemade hot chocolate
~   Gently heat 250ml of milk till very hot but not boiling.
~   Stir in 50g grated or chopped chocolate (the darker the better) and stir till melted.  Do Not boil but you can simmer gently, whisking all the time, if you'd like the mixture a little thicker.
~   Taste and sweeten if necessary - I like to use light brown sugar for a fudgier flavour.
~   Add some flavouring if you like; a drip of vanilla or brandy, a pinch of crushed instant coffee granules, a sprinkle of cinnamon or maybe a little chilli syrup
~   Pour into a pretty cup, sip and grin.

Chocolate Ganache

This is very, very simple and nowhere near as posh as it sounds.  Weigh the chocolate, coarsely chop it and put into a bowl.  Bring an equal quantity of double cream (eg. 100g chocolate and 100ml cream) almost to the boil, pour over the chocolate and stir till smooth.   

Use as a hot sauce, cool till thick and use to ice a cake or chill and whisk as a lighter chocolate frosting or chill severely and roll into balls to serve as truffles - maybe coat with cocoa or chopped nuts or more leftover chocolate.

Dark, Milk or White Chocolate Caramel Sauce - all delicious


chocolate caramel sauces
100g granulated sugar
50ml water
150ml double cream
90g coarsely chopped dark, milk or white chocolate
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

~   Set the cream beside the stove. 
~   In a deep saucepan over low heat stir together the sugar and the water till the sugar is dissolved and then bring to a boil.  Don’t stir any more but when it begins turning golden you can swirl it about a bit to even out the colour.
~   Cook to a deep golden brown watching carefully and swirling occasionally.
~   When you are happy with the colour add the cream and stir over low heat till the caramel which will have hardened has melted back into the cream.
~   Add the chocolate and stir till completely melted and mixed into the sauce.
~   Add the salt and vanilla extract and mix in.

ultimate leftovers cookbook


If I can think of this many ideas for leftover Easter eggs, how many do  you imagine I have thought of for the othe 449 potential leftovers in my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers?






Incidentally Easter Bunnies can be used for all the above ideas ...

leftover chocolate bunnies

(I thank you Elizabeth!)




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24 March 2013

12 Great Cheese on Toast Ideas

I've been hitting the old cheese on toast pretty hard in the past week or so whilst being all feak and weeble. I fancy myself as being a bit handy in this department so thought I'd pass on my "expertise"!  Warning - I have said some of this before.

You'd think cheese on toast would be difficult to do badly and so it is (if you don't burn it), it's also possible to do it extremely well indeed.  Obviously good bread and good cheese are essential.  Less obviously, but very effective, to heat through the topping it is much nicer finished off in a hot oven; about 400ºF/200ºC/180C fan/gas 6.  This keeps the toast from drying out and burning round the edges whilst heating the dish through evenly.

The bread can be initially prepared in the toaster or under the grill, to butter or not is a personal decision!  Add cheese and other toppings and then finish in the oven for about 10 minutes till hot and melty.  But that’s not all; the humble cheese on toast can be made in a variety of not at all humble ways such as…

1.   Simply spread something delicious on top of the toast and under the cheese.


Add another nuance of flavour with a layer of garlic butter, pesto, tapenade, mustard, caramelised onions, chilli pickle or what have you, spread on the toast before topping with a complimentary cheese.  Flavoured oils are also excellent; for a really quick lunch just drizzle a little chilli oil on toast and sprinkle copiously with freshly grated Parmesan No need to  finish it off in the oven; it's delicious as it is with a lovely a glass of red wine (aka Chef's Coffee!).

shredded Parmesan on toast

2.   Add Mayonnaise

cheese and mayo on toast


Mixing mayonnaise with grated cheese (Cheddar is good but so are other hard cheeses) about 50:50 gives a lovely flavour and a creamy texture.  Ring the changes with garlic, chilli, fresh herbs, finely chopped red onion or other additions.  Spread thickly on toast and put in the oven till bubbling and turning golden in places.

3.   Cheddar & Leek Rarebit – 2 slices


This is a slight variation on the traditional rarebit recipe I wrote about a month or so ago  For two slices of toast 

~   Cook half a small leek, thinly sliced, in 20g of butter very gently till completely and utterly tender.  

~   Stir in ¼ tablespoon of flour and a generous pinch of English mustard powder to make a roux.
~   Stir over a low heat for a minute or two and then whisk in 40ml of milk and 1 tablespoon of ale or dry cider. This last is not absolutely compulsory but is customary and very good.

~   Cook, stirring, till a thick sauce has formed then simmer for a minute or two to cook out the raw flour flavour.
~   Add 90g of grated cheese, Caerphilly or Wenslydale are great but Cheddar is too, and stir together till melted, season to taste. 
~   Put two slices of toast in a shallow baking dish and pour over the sauce. 
~   Sprinkle with a handful of fresh breadcrumbs, which helps to hold the sauce in place and adds extra crunch, and bake in the hot oven till golden and bubbly. 

4.  Locket’s Savoury


This is a classic savoury named after the restaurant where it was first invented.  Put toast in a shallow ovenproof dish and top with watercress, thinly sliced ripe pear and, finally, crumbled Stilton.  Finish in the hot oven and serve with a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a modicum of red wine.  

stilton, pear and watercress on toast

5.   Brie, Bacon and Cranberry Sauce


This is a modern classic and an excellent flavour combination.  Simply top lightly toasted bread with brie, spread with cranberry sauce and top with cooked bacon rashers (smoky is best).  Pop into a hot oven till hot through and the Brie is starting to melt and brown.

brie on toast with bacon and cranberry sauce

6.   Traditional Gruyère Croutons atop French Onion Soup 


French onion soup

7.   Tartines/Crostini


Tartines (a French diminutive of “tarte” but generally referring to little open sandwiches) or Crostini (Italian meaning “little toasts”) are much the same thing and croûtes take them a little bit further.  They are all delicate toasts with a rich and decorative topping.  

~   Slice baguette thinly, about ¼” thick, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with crunchy sea salt and bake in a hot oven till crisp and golden, about 10 minutes; they are delicious just like this but try not to eat them all!  

~   Attractively arrange a delicious cheesy  topping on each crostini; suggested combinations include thinly sliced red apple and Cheddar, herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon, Gruyère and sautéed mushrooms, goat cheese and Parma ham, creamy blue cheese and sugared walnuts – the list is endless. 
~   Heat through in the oven for just a few minutes and serve, as is traditional, with a simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette. 

8.   Goat Cheese Croûtes


For a delicious last minute addition to salad toast slices of baguette, brush with roasted garlic olive oil  and top with creamy goats' cheese.  Pop into the oven for a few minutes to heat and melt the cheese and add to salad whilst still warm. 
goat cheese salad

9.   Bruschetta


More rustic than tartines/crostini, bruschetta (the name refers to the toast rather than the topping, coming from the Italian "bruscare," meaning to char or roast over coals) are toasted bread traditionally rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh tomatoes and basil.   Surely adding cheese, for instance a creamy herby goat cheese, before baking is not totally out of the question!

10.   Pesto & Mozzarella Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes


~   Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6
~   Halve cherry tomatoes, or keep whole if tiny, and toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. 
~   Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes till soft and collapsing. 
~   Toast bread, spread with a little pesto, add slices of mozzarella and bake for a few minutes to melt the cheese. 
~   Top with the hot roasted tomatoes and eat carefully – the tomatoes may burst all sweet and juicy in your mouth and make you dribble!

11.   Honeyed Stilton on Toast


stilton on toast with caramelised hone

12.   Pizza Toast


If you don’t have any tomato sauce to hand make a really easy base for this, which is much, much nicer than it sounds, by mixing together equal parts of tomato ketchup and tomato paste.   Spread tomato topping toast, add your favourite pizza toppings (but don’t use anything that actually needs cooking as the pizza toast will only be in the oven for a short while) and just pop into the hot oven to heat through and melt the cheese.  Try roasted vegetables with goat’s cheese or spinach, Feta and pine nuts.

pizza topping for toast

 Four Cheesy Asides ...


1.   My Daddy used to call cheese on toast Patty Faux Pas.  No idea why!
2.   Lots more ideas for things to do with cheese in my book The Leftovers Handbook.

protein crystals in cheese


3.   Here is a close up of wonderful Davidstow Cornish Crackler  which I have mentioned before, over and over again, but just because it is so very yummy.  See the little crunchy crystals that makes it crackly!

4.   According to the Huffington Post there is a scientific formula for making cheese on toast!

And here's a collage I've added specifically for posting to Pinterest. Please!

great ideas for cheese on toast




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