Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Veggie Sausage Casserole with Feta, Chive and Red Onion Scones.

As much as I would love to cling on to the warm, sunny days of summer for at least a little while longer, the dark nights are beginning to roll in earlier and the breeze in the air is becoming all the more chilly so, it is almost impossible to deny that Autumn is now well and truly arriving. Luckily, despite the wind and rain that Autumn will surely bring with it, it will also bring a whole array of delicious, warming, hearty dishes to tuck into on any cold September, October or November evening and I for one, cannot wait to munch on every stew, hot pot, cobbler and crumble Autumn has to offer. 

For me, this gorgeous veggie sausage casserole has just become my go to meal for Autumn and I can't quite believe just how delicious it turned out. The casserole is full of rich, earthy flavors and vibrant, colorful vegetables and the feta, chive and red onion scones, oh these scones, are utterly unbelievable! Soft, light and fluffy and the perfect accompaniment to the tomato base of the casserole as it creates a really wonderful Mediterranean feel to the dish with the combination of tomatoes, red onion, feta and basil. It was honestly delicious and looking back on the pictures now, I could just munch on it all over again and next week I probably will!

Serves 2-4
For the Veggie Sausage Casserole-
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped into small chunks
1/2 red pepper, chopped into small chunks
1 fat clove of garlic
2 Quorn sausages
2 Quorn Chorizo sausages (you can get these from Sainsbury's or just use whichever vegetarian sausages you like. I think Linda McCartney's Italian sausages would be delicious in this dish if you can get them)
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
65ml vegetable stock
1x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
200g mixed beans (I used a tin of mixed beans in a chilli sauce and they added lots of flavour!)
fresh basil
fresh chives
For the Feta, Chive and Red Onion Scones-
195g plain flour
1/2 tbsp. caster sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
85g unsalted butter
1/2 egg, beaten
95ml whole milk
110g feta, crumbled
chopped chives
1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 an egg, beaten for glazing
smoked paprika for topping


1. Start by preparing the scone mixture. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and black pepper. Stir in the sugar. Add the butter and rub in to the flour mixture until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. In another bowl, combine the egg and whole milk and beat lightly with a fork. (Start, by beating a whole egg and reserve half of the egg for glazing the scones when finished and use the remaining half an egg to whisk with the milk and add to the scone dough). Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to make a soft, shaggy dough. Meanwhile, fry the red onion in 1 tsp. olive oil until softened.

3. Add the snipped chives, crumbled feta and fried red onion to the scone dough, tip out onto the work-surface and knead together. 

4. Roll or pat out the scone dough and cut out 8 or so small scones using a small round biscuit cutter. Set aside.

5. Next, prepare the sausage casserole. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the celery and peppers and cook for 5 minutes more.

6. Chop the sausages into fairly chunky pieces and add to the pan. Fry for another 5 minutes and then add in the garlic and spices, cooking for 1-2 minutes until the aromas are released. 

7. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and mixed beans. Add the vegetable stock and stir, bringing to a simmer. Stir through some snipped chives and torn fresh basil.

8. Pour the sausage, bean and vegetable mixture into a casserole dish and arrange the scones on top in whatever pattern you like. You could just do a border like me or cover the top completely with mini scones. Brush the top of each scone with the reserved beaten egg from earlier and sprinkle with some smoked paprika.

9. Pop in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the scones are bronze, fluffy and risen. Take out and enjoy!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream Scones.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make... Lemon Scones.

Well, this post has definitely been a long time coming. With a failed attempt at shortcake a couple of weeks ago, a six and a half hour trip back to Liverpool for University last weekend and four 7am starts to get up for University this week, it has now shockingly become eighteen days since my last post which, is pretty terrible and I do apologize for that but, I am now officially back with a scrumptious scone recipe as a way of; saying goodbye to my family and home in Cornwall for the next four months and celebrating another delicious lemon themed recipe.

Despite growing up in Cornwall and having the certainty that Cornish Cream Tea would be featured on every single cafe, restaurant or tea room menu, I actually very rarely make homemade scones and so thought it would be nice to give them a go. I found this classic scone recipe on the BBC Good Food website and I have got to say that the recipe is so simple and wonderful and the scones are utterly stunning and just how great scones should be; crumbly, soft and sweet and perfect to encase a luxurious zesty lemon curd and rich clotted cream filling. The scones shot up like towers in the oven and I honestly could not believe how ginormous they were when I opened the oven door, they looked just like they had been bought from a bakery which, is always a good thing and even better when they are so easy and quick to make as well.

I had also never tried lemon curd on scones before yesterday as I had always stuck to the traditional jam and cream scone filling but, I can now safely say that lemon curd is a delightful and refreshing addition to a scone and may even be more delicious on a scone than jam but, shhhh! I'm not sure if that is an acceptable thing to say in Cornwall and I don't want to get banned from going home!

Makes 8 Scones
For the Scones-
350g self-raising flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
85g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp. caster sugar
175ml milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
squeeze lemon juice
1 beaten egg to glaze
For the Lemon Curd-
Grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
2 eggs, beaten
90g golden caster sugar
55g unsalted butter
Clotted cream


1. Start by preparing the lemon curd. Sit a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water but, don't let the bowl touch the water. Then place the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice in the bowl and whisk together. Now add the butter piece by piece and cook for about 15 minutes, giving it a good whisk from time to time, until the curd has become smooth, glossy and thickened. Allow to cool. You can make this the day before for convenience if you like. Just cover with cling film and refrigerate if desired.

2. Next, prepare the scones. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the baking powder and salt and mix. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

3. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm but, not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice to the milk, then set aside for a moment while you pop a baking sheet into the oven.

4. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife, it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour and fold the dough over 2-3 times until it is a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm deep. 

5. Take a 5cm round cutter and dip into some flour, plunge into the dough and repeat until you have about 4 round scones. By this point you will probably need to press what is left back into a round to cut out another 4 scones. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking sheet. 

6. Bake for 10 minutes until risen and golden on top. Allow to cool, cut in half and smother with lemon curd and clotted cream.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Lemon and Pistachio Cake.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make... Lemon Cake.

Today is of course the 1st of September and so unfortunately means that our summer, sunshine and days spent lazing on the beach are now over however, Google has assured me that Autumn does not officially begin until September 21st so, despite the fact that the view out of my window is one of grey clouds and rain and ignoring the fact that I am bundled up in a chunky, over-sized jumper and debating whether to put my electric blanket back on my bed, I will choose to believe that we do still indeed have a few weeks of summer remaining. As such, I thought why not celebrate our remaining few weeks of summer with a few particularly zesty and summery recipes because I know that when Autumn arrives in just a few weeks’ time, it will bring a whole lot of chilly, windy and rainy weather with it and zesty, refreshing summer recipes will be a thing of the past as we tuck into our hearty stews and puddings instead.

For me, nothing is more delightful, vibrant and zesty in the summer than lemons which, just so happen to make some of the most delightful and flavoursome baked goods as well. I have therefore decided to do something a little bit different on the blog for the next few weeks and have created the 'When Life Gives You Lemons, Make...' mini series to share some delicious lemon recipes with you, as I thought that having a theme on the blog for a few weeks would be something new and exciting. So, over the next few weeks I will be making; Lemon and Pistachio Cake, Zesty Lemon Tart and Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream Shortcake and so, hopefully there will be at least one lemon recipe to catch everyone's eye but, if you are a lemon lover like me then I hope you adore them all.

I decided to start with this moist, crumbly lemon and pistachio cake taken from Fay Ripley's, Fay Makes It Easy cookbook and added in my favourite homemade lemon curd. It is the perfect afternoon tea cake, or for me; ‘the whenever I feel like a slice of cake, cake’. Every glorious, soft, sweet bite melts in the mouth and bursts on the tongue with zesty, lemony flavour while, the velvety, tart, river of lemon curd running through the centre is just a heavenly, hidden treasure. Simple and scrumptious, that's what we like to hear. 

For the lemon and pistachio cake-
125g shelled pistachios
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g golden caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
50g ground almonds
2 large eggs
juice of 2 lemons
150g-175g lemon curd
For the lemon drizzle icing-
75g icing sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
For the lemon curd-
Grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 2 lemons
2 eggs, beaten
90g golden caster sugar
55g unsalted butter


1. Start by preparing the lemon curd.  Sit a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, but don't let the bowl touch the water. Then place the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice in the bowl and whisk together. Now add the butter piece by piece and cook for about 15 minutes, giving it a good whisk from time to time, until the curd has become smooth, glossy and thickened. Allow to cool. You can make this the day before for convenience if you like so just cover with cling film and refrigerate if desired.

2. Next, pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 20cm round spring form cake tin with greaseproof paper. Prepare the cake mixture. In a food processor grind 100g of the pistachios to crumbs. Tip into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a freestanding mixer. Add the softened butter, sugar, ground almonds and mix until smooth and combined. 

3. Pop in the eggs and mix again until combined. Add 2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice and mix. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mix and fold in gently.

4. Scrape half of the mixture into the cake tin and spread to fill the tin and meet the edges. Smooth the mixture out and then top with the lemon curd. Roughly spread the lemon curd over the top but not quite to the edge.

5. With the remainder of the mixture, drop dollops over the top of the lemon curd layer to cover it and gently spread the mixture to the edge of the cake tin, smoothing with the back of a spoon. 

6. Roughly chop the remaining 25g pistachios with a knife and scatter over the cake. Bake for about 45 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

7. For the icing just mix together the icing sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice, stirring into a paste. Drizzle over the top of the cake, creating a criss-cross pattern and leave for a couple of minutes to set before serving.

P.s. if you do happen to have any lemons remaining after baking this cake, then the whole 'When Life Gives You Lemons, Grab Some Vodka And Make Limoncello' sounds like a great idea too.