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Valentine's Antipasti Platter


Antipasti Platter

Unearthed, a company who specialises in continental deli-style food, recently sent me some Italian cured meats to try. Here's what arrived on my doorstep;


Italian Prosciutto Crudo









Italian Milano Salami
















I thought it would be a nice idea to incorporate the cured meats in a Valentine's inspired Italian Antipasti Platter, suitable for you and your loved ones to share on the 14th ~ or any time of the year for that matter.

Here's whats on the platter
Prosciutto from Unearthed
Salami from Unearthed
Buffalo Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Pecorino and Pine-Nut Dip
Sun-dried Tomatoes






A platter like this takes minutes to prepare, leaving you time to....well, whatever you fancy!

But if Italian isn't your thing, then why don't you try a Greek inspired Meze Platter, using  Barrel Aged Greek Feta from Unearthed as a centre piece. Or maybe Spanish style Tapas utilising their Spanish Potato Omelette and Spanish Chorizo. The choices are endless, the important thing is to make sure the products you use are top quality. 

If you'd like to have a go, you can buy Unearthed products in Waitrose stores nationwide in the UK and from Ocado online.
Beth Sachs
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Beef and Feta Pasta Bake


Beef and Feta Pasta Bake

I had some leftover slow cooker bolognese and decided to make a greek inspired pasta bake with some feta and additional spices added to the meat. This would easily serve 6 -  with some green vegetables.

BEEF AND FETA PASTA BAKE


| Serves: 6  | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 40 Minutes | Total Time: 1 Hour |


Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups of leftover meat sauce (or just make from fresh)
  • 1/4 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1/4 TSP Ground Cloves
  • Pinch of Chili Powder
  • 500g Pasta (I had Fusilli)
  • 50g Butter
  • 50g Flour
  • 600ml Milk
  • 200g Feta, cubed
  • 150g Cheddar, grated

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 180c.
  • Step 2: Put the meat sauce into a bowl and mix in the cinnamon. ground cloves and chili.
  • Step 3: Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter, then adding the flour to make a roux, stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add in the milk and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Take off the heat, stir in the cheese and some salt and pepper and leave to one side.
  • Step 4: Cook the pasta according to instructions and mix half the pasta in with the meat sauce and half in with the feta cheese sauce.
  • Step 5: In a large (30cm x 30cm approx) ovenproof dish layer the meat and pasta sauce on the botton then spoon over cheese and pasta sauce.
  • Step 6: Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until bubbling.
  • Step 7: Serve with green vegetables.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 29th January 2010 |


Beth Sachs
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Slow Cooker Bolognese


Slow Cooker Bolognese
With young kids and a hubby who works all hours of the day, my slow cooker is my lifesaver. I can chuck in the ingredients, forget about it all day, and have a lovely home cooked meal for my family by dinner time.

The most time-consuming part of the recipe is browning the mince - which takes all of 5 minutes. You can't beat that for ease.


SLOW COOKER BOLOGNESE

| Serves: 6 | Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 8 hours on Low or 5 on High setting |


Ingredients


  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1kg Minced Beef
  • 1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Puree
  • 3 TSP Dried Oregano
  • 100ml Milk
  • 200ml Wine (red or white)
  • 350ml Beef Stock, hot
  • Salt, Pepper and a pinch of sugar to season
  • Basil and Parmesan to serve

Instructions:


  • Step 1: Brown the mince in batches and place in the slow cooker.
  • Step 2: Place all the other ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours.
  • Step 3: Stir through some torn basil and scatter over grated Parmesan before serving.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 26th January 2010 |


Beth Sachs
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Chicken, Sausage and Leek Pasta Bake


Chicken, Sausage and Leek Pasta Bake

A yummy Dinner that materialised out of leftovers in the fridge, and this one is to be repeated!

CHICKEN, SAUSAGE AND LEEK PASTA BAKE

| Serves: 4  | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 35 Minutes |


Ingredients


  • 3 Leeks, trimmed and sliced finely
  • 3 Sausages, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 200g Cooked Chicken cut into chunks
  • 4 Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 TSP Dijon Mustard
  • 1 TSP Wholegrain Mustard
  • 300ml Creme Fraiche
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 250g Pasta of choice -I used Fusilli
  • Handful of Cheddar, grated
  • Parsley to garnish

Instructions:


  • Step 1: Fry the onions in a little butter until soft, add chunks of sausage, salt and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes until brown.
  • Step 2: Add in cooked chicken, sun dried tomatoes, mustards, creme fraiche and parmesan.
  • Step 3: Cook pasta according to the packet, drain and toss into the sauce.
  • Step 4: Tip into a ovenproof dish and sprinkle on grated cheddar.
  • Step 5: Grill under preheated grill for a few minutes until golden and garnish with the parsley.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 22nd January 2010 |


Beth Sachs
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Cranberry, Dark Chocolate and Almond Biscuits



A Little while ago I was sent some wonderful dried cranberries from Natoora and decided to incorporate them into these deliciously moreish biscuits. I love the flavour combination of dark chocolate and sweet cranberries, and together with the ground almonds which give the biscuits a really delicate texture, they are a match made in heaven.

Cranberry, Dark Chocolate and Almond Biscuits 

| Serves: makes 24  | Prep Time: 12 Minutes | Cook Time: 12 Minutes | Total Time: 24 Minutes |


Ingredients:


  • 75g Butter, softened
  • 50g Light Muscavado Sugar
  • 50g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • A few drops of Almond Extract
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 60g Ground Almonds
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 100g Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 50g Dried Cranberries

Instructions:


  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 190c (170c Fan/375f/Gas 5) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Step 2: In a standing mixer (or by hand) cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and well mixed. Beat in the egg and almond extract.
  • Step 3: Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir in the ground almonds then add this to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  • Step 4: Roll large teaspoons of the mixture into balls and arrange on baking trays spaced apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool on trays before transferring to a wire rack.


| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 17th January 2010 |


Beth Sachs
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Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie


Chicken, Ham and Leek Pie

What could be more comforting on a snowy day! I utilised leftover roast chicken and gammon again in this creation  - you can start calling me Mrs Frugal if you want.

I gently cooked the leeks for 40 minutes and they turned lovely and sweet, a perfect compliment to the chicken and ham. You'll also see I used ready made puff pastry for this pie - sometimes life is too short....especially when there are snowmen to build.

CHICKEN, HAM AND LEEK PIE

| Serves: 4  | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes | 


Ingredients


  • Splash of Olive and Oil and a little Butter
  • 1kg Leeks, washed and sliced
  • 2 Rashers of Bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 Bunch Thyme
  • 400g cooked Chicken
  • 250g Ham, cubed
  • 2 TBSP Plain Flour
  • 2 Pints of Chicken Stock
  • 3 tbsp Creme Fraiche
  • 250 Puff Pastry
  • 1 Egg

Instructions:


  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 190c. Fry bacon and thyme with the butter and olive oil in a casserole for 3 minutes and season.
  • Step 2: Add the sliced leeks, cover with a lid and cook gently for 40 minutes.
  • Step 3: Add cooked chicken, ham, flour, stock and creme fraiche and bring to the boil. Take off the heat.
  • Step 4: Pour mixture through a sieve and reserve the liquid for gravy
  • Step 5: Get a 30cm x 20cm ovenproof dish and tip the chicken and ham mixture into it.
  • Step 6: Roll out the pastry to required size and to approx 1cm thick and lay over the pie dish - tuck the pastry into the sides. Score the pastry with a knife. Egg wash the pastry and cook in a preheated oven for 40 minutes.
  • Step 7: Serve with the reserved gravy and vegetables of your choice.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 10th January 2010 |


Beth Sachs
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Chicken, Ham and Spinach Lasagne


Chicken, Ham and Spinach Lasagne
This lasagne utilised the leftover meat I had in my fridge, both from my Sunday Roast and also the large gammon I cooked on New Years Day.


CHICKEN, HAM AND SPINACH LASAGNE

| Serves:  6 | Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 55 Minutes | Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes |


Ingredients:

  • 75g Butter
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, sliced
  • 50g Plain Flour
  • 600ml Milk
  • 300ml Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 tsp Fresh Nutmeg
  • Handful of grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Handful of washed baby Spinach leaves
  • 400g Cooked Chicken
  • 200g Cooked Ham
  • Fresh Lasagne Sheets
  • 150g Grated Cheddar

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180c (350f). Melt 25g of the Butter in a pan and gently fry the Onion and Garlic for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and set to the side.
  • Step 2: Melt the remaining butter and then add the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk and whisk until you have a smooth sauce.
  • Step 3: Take off the heat and add the baby spinach, parmesan and nutmeg.
  • Step 4: Put half of the chicken and ham in a 20cm x 30cm ovenproof dish and spoon over a third of the sauce. Arrange lasagne sheets over and then put remaining chicken and ham over the top. Spoon over another third of the sauce then cover with lasagne sheets. Finally spoon over final third of the sauce and top with grated cheddar.
  • Step 5: Bake for 55 minutes in oven.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 8th January 2010 |


Beth Sachs
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Ice Cream Cheesecake


Ice Cream Cheesecake

A great alternative to a normal cheesecake - and much easier to make. Nigella's Girdlebuster Pie was the inspiration for this creation and the great thing about it is it will sit happily in the freezer for a month - no need to eat it all in one go then!!

ICE CREAM CHEESECAKE

| Serves: 8  | Prep Time: 20 Minutes plus freezing | Cook Time: - | Total Time: 20 Minutes plus freezing |


Ingredients:

  • For the Base:
  • 375g Digestive Biscuits
  • 75g Soft Butter
  • 100g Dark Chocolate Chips
  •  1 Litre of Triple Chocolate Ice Cream

Instructions:

  • Step 1: Process all the ingredients for the base in a food processor
  • Step 2:Press into a 23cm pie plate - forming a lip a little higher than the sides of the plate
  • Step 3: Freeze the biscuit layer for 1 hour and in the meantime let your ice cream soften.
  • Step 4: Spread the ice cream into the biscuit base and return to the freezer. Serve as and when needed with cream.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 5th January 2010 |

Beth Sachs
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Ham in Cola



This delicious ham originates from the Deep South, but was popularized over here in the UK by none other than the domestic goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. It appears in two of her books, How to Eat and laterly an updated version of the dish in Nigella Bites.

As we'd somewhat missed out on the seasonal festivities this year, I decided to cook this on New Years Day to appease hubby who felt hard done by at missing Christmas Lunch. I served my own version of his delectable salty, spicy ham with Macaroni Cheese and buttered Peas.


Ham in Cola

| Serves:  6 | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 2 Hours 40 Minutes | Total Time: 2 Hours 50 Minutes |


Ingredients: 


  • 2kg Mild Cure Gammon Joint
  • 1 Onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 Litres Cola
  • Glaze:
  • 1 TBSP Black Treacle
  • 2 TBSP Demerera Sugar
  • 1 TSP Mustard Powder

Instructions:


  • Step 1: Place gammon fat side down in a large pan with the onion and cover with the cola
  • Step 2: Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover loosely with a lid and cook for 2 and 1/2 hours.
  • Step 3: Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan, then lift the gammon out of the cooking liquid, let it cool slightly and remove the fat (don't throw away the cooking liquid- why not use it to make a soup) and place the gammon on a foil lined roasting tray. Cover evenly with the treacle, sugar and mustard powder and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.

| Author: Beth Sachs | Date: 2nd January 2010 |



Beth Sachs
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Nightmare at Christmas....


....and a competition winner!
Firstly then to the winner of Delia's 'Happy Christmas' ....drumroll please......
I can reveal the winner is Helen in the UK who correctly answered the question 'On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a PARTRIDGE in a pear tree.


Here is what she wrote;
' ....partridge...couldn't resist the chance to win a copy of Delia's new book. Merry Christmas to you :)'. Well done Helen, please don't forget to email me your postal address and I'll get it sent out asap.

Now onto the Nightmare. Picture this, its Christmas Eve and I had all my Christmas food bought and prepared... mince pies, stuffing, Christmas cake, even a gammon in the slow cooker (and of course the wine and champagne in the fridge).... and then Rory was taken ill, suffering from Bronchiolitis. So, instead of feasting on a juicy turkey with the all trimmings on Christmas Day, hubby and I were stuck in an isolation room with our poorly baby boy at a hospital 40 miles from home (it's the closest!). What made it harder was the fact we missed Christmas Day with Lowen (and missed her star turn as an Angel in the Church Nativity). Luckily she was in safe hands with my Mum and Dad, but it was horrible not seeing her open her stocking and presents. I'm pleased to report Rory was discharged on Boxing Day and he is making a good recovery and I know you will be able to forgive my lack of blog posts in the last week or so.

I just hope the start of 2010 is less eventful than the end of 2009. Normal service is now resumed and I plan to make up for lost time with some exciting new dishes coming in the next few weeks.


Happy New Year
Beth x
Beth Sachs
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