harissa hummus

Dips & Chips

I love crisps and sometimes instead of buying them I try to make a healthier option at home when I can.  These chips are simply wholemeal pita breads cut into triangles, drizzled with oil and dusted with something spicy like chilli powder or paprika or whatever you fancy and then baked on a high heat for five minutes .
harissa hummus
The hummus is another 5 minute job and loving all things spicy I love this harissa version from my new cookbook Enjoy!

harissa hummus

Harissa Hummus
You will need:
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp rapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and then use a food processor to blitz all the ingredients together adding more oil if you prefer a smoother consistency.
Enjoy with home-made pita chips.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Christmas Crab Salsa Starter

Christmas Crab Starter.

Christmas Crab Start with Melba Toast

This is my tasty, easy version of a crab tian.  Instead of layering things up individually I create a nice fresh and vibrant salsa married with crab meat, lemon juice and creme fraiche served in one large layer to slice into portions at the table.
To serve make some homemade melba toast triangles.
Crusts off bread for melba toast
Rolled bread
Melba Toast
You will need:
Slices of bread – I use whole grain.
Cut the crusts off the bread.
Roll thinly with a rolling pin and cut into triangles.
Toast under a hot grill on both sides, the corners should curl up.
Cool and then store in airtight box before serving.
Salsa Mix
Plate weight
cake base

Christmas Crab Starter

Christmas Crab Salsa Starter
You will need:
Small red onion
4 pineapple rings
Half cucumber
Half red pepper
Half yellow pepper
1 avocado
Half red chilli
Juice 1 lemon
400g crab meat
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Line a spring-form cheesecake tin with clingfilm, leaving enough film out over the edges so that it can be covered over when filled.
Peel and chop the red onion, pineapple, cucumber (deseeded) and peppers (deseeded), avocado – all into even size small pieces.
Finely chop the half red chilli.
Mix everything in a large bowl with the lemon juice, crab meat and creme fraiche.
Press the mixture into the lined cheesecake tin and cover over with the extra cling film.
Place a plate on top to weigh down and compact everything together.
Leave to chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
To serve – remove the plate and open the spring-form sides and remove.
Pull back the clingfilm, place the serving plate or platter on top and then invert so that the cheesecake tin base is now on top.  Remove the base and peel away the remaining clingfilm. (see picture)
Serve with melba toasts.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips CloseUp

Chunky Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips

Polenta Chips.

Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips CloseUp

Polenta.  The notion strikes me every now and again to try something new and with polenta I had decided that it looked crumbly and could crisp up to a nice coating on some falafel bites that I was making.  I was wrong.  Rolling the falafel in the polenta and then pan frying didn’t work for me at all as the polenta was still too uncooked and raw and tasted of nothing.  So the almost full bag of polenta lay unused in the cupboard for a few weeks until I came across a recipe for polenta chips.  The recipe sounded dull enough so I decided to have a go with my own take on polenta chips spicing them up with cumin and chilli as it really needs a help along in the flavour game.  They turned out just as I had hoped, nice and crispy on the outside with a bit of bite yet softly fluffy and yielding in the middle.  We had these with some juicy steaks and salad and a dip of Rebel Chilli sauce.
Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chip Paste
Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chip Set
Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips Cut
Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips Oiled
Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips with rebel chilli sauce

Note: Requires 1 to 2 hours for the polenta to set before cooking the chips.

Rebel Chilli Dip with Chunky Cumin and Chilli Polenta Chips

You will need:
2 oiled baking trays, one medium (30x20cm), one large(35x40cm).
1 litre water
250g polenta
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chopped red chilli paste (I use Goodall’s)
50g grated cheddar cheese
Oil for brushing
Boil one litre of water in a saucepan.  Whisk in the polenta, cumin and chilli paste, steadily whisking over the heat as it starts to thicken up then reducing the heat and continue whisking until smooth and thick for a couple of minutes.
Take off the heat and whisk in the grated cheese.
Pour the thick polenta paste into the smaller of the two oiled baking trays and leave to set in a cool, dry place for 1 to 2 hours until set.
Pre-heat the (fan) oven to 220C.
Tip the set polenta tray upside down onto the larger tray and give it a few taps so that the set polenta comes away onto the large tray.
Cut the set polenta into chunky chips sized to your liking, space them out and then use a pastry brush to oil them on all sides.
Cook in the hot oven for approx. 35 minutes until golden brown and nicely crisped up on the outside.
Serve with ketchup, mayonnaise or a good hot rebel chilli dip if you like.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Peppered Galia and Parma

Party Food – Galia & Parma Bites

Putting together canapés, bites, appetisers, finger-food, call them what you will, can be an incredibly finicky and time-consuming affair.  For something that will disappear in one mouthful is it really worth putting a lot of hard labour into this effort? I don’t think so. Paring it back and keeping it simple means using first class ingredients and doing very little to them as they will sing for themselves.
Galia balls and scoop
Galia balls

Galia Parma Single Line
Galia and Parmer starter
Peppered Galia and Parma

Galia & Parma Bites:

You will need:
Galia Melon
Parma ham slices (prosciutto di parma or Jamón serrano)
(perhaps some chilli/garlic oil if the parma is dry)
Cocktail sticks
Black Pepper

(this hardly warrants instruction as the pictures tell the tale)
Halve and deseed the Galia Melon and then use the melon-baller to create galia balls.
Push a gali ball onto the top of a cocktail stick and slide some parma up from the other end (I used a third to a half a slice for each one).
If you think the parma is a little dry use a pastry brush to lightly oil them with some flavoured oil.
Assemble and garnish with a dusting of cracked black pepper.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Party Food Mary Berry Canapes

Easy Party Food – Mary Berry’s Canapés

In the build-up to Christmas I really enjoy watching the cookery programmes specially produced for the event in the hope that I’ll pick up some tips.  One of these for 2013 – Food & Drink Christmas Special BBC Two – was hosted by Michel Roux and featured Mary Berry demonstrating a number of her festive favourites.  When I saw her doing these simple canapés I knew they would be gracing my Christmas celebrations too and they duly did, making appearances at parties and as pre-dinner nibbles on Christmas day.
Party Food Mary Berry Canapes

These appetizers are simple to make requiring only four accessible ingredients and four steps, however be warned, they are a little fiddly and I would set aside half an hour for unhurried assembly.
Simple Party Food Four Ingredients
The tricky part is the separation of the slices of ham from each other and then gently smearing them with some soft cheese without breaking them too much.  Do not fret though as any damage is easily hidden when they are rolled up tightly.  Patience is required so if you are rushed these are not the best option.
Simple Party Food Four StepsMary Berry’s Canapés
You will need:
Thinly sliced Parma or Serrano ham
Soft goats cheese or any cream cheese
Rocket leaves
Dill Pickle (gherkins)
Method: (as per photo above)
1. Lay out slices of ham and thinly butter them with soft cheese
2. Sprinkle over some rocket leaves
3. Place a slice of pickle at one end
4. Roll up tightly and chill.  To serve, cut each roll in two and stand them up on a plate.
Party Food Simple CanapesThese were universally enjoyed by children and adults and I’ve been asked for the recipe so that says it all really.
I do hope you get the chance to enjoy these and that you too had a wonderful Christmas.  Looking forward to sharing another recipe with you in February. ‘Til next time, Sheila.