Category Archives: bacon

Goat’s cheese tart with leek, pear and bacon

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Question. What can you do on a weeknight for dinner with left over goat’s cheese, a leek, a rapidly ripening pear and some dairy odds and ends from the weekend? How about making a light tasty tart? For this, I used store-bought frozen pastry (as this was a weeknight meal not a lazy Sunday afternoon!). So to jazz this up a bit, I rolled crushed walnuts into the pastry case (for extra flavour and texture) and added some fresh breadcrumbs drizzled with olive oil before baking. This tart is perfect for a mid-week light supper or as a starter. It’s lovely and light with the sharpness of the goat’s cheese offset by the sweetness of the pear. Another use for left-over goat’s cheese is this fabulous little snack. Did I mention bacon? Bacon makes everything better.

Goat’s cheese tart with leek, pear and bacon

  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Makes: 4 mini tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry
  • 25 g walnuts, toasted then crushed
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 rashers middle bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 75 g single (35% fat) pouring cream
  • 50 g cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons white vermouth (or dry white wine)
  • Few sprigs of fresh sage and a handful of chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • 100 g goat’s cheese
  • 1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
  • Defrost pastry on bench then scatter the crushed toasted walnuts over the pastry, fold in half and in half again (to make a square), then roll out to the same thickness as you started with.

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  • Line four mini (8 cm) loose bottom tart tins with pastry and blind bake by covering each pastry case with baking paper and filling with dried rice or pie weights, then baking for 10 minutes before removing the paper and baking a further 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and turn oven up to 200°C (180°C fan forced) while making the filling.
  • In a wide pan, sauté the leek and bacon with the butter over a medium heat until soft (but not browned). Add the flour and stir over a medium heat for a minute until the flour is cooked.
  • Add the cream, cream cheese, vermouth and fresh herbs and cook for a minute or two over a medium heat until sauce is thickened.
  • Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Crumble over the goat’s cheese and gently fold through with the sliced pear.
  • Spoon filling into individual mini tart cases and cover each with breadcrumbs and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

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  • Bake tarts in the middle of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is crisp and browned.
  • Allow to cool for five to ten minutes before removing from pie cases and serving.

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63 degree eggs with Parmesan custard and bacon two ways

63degC egg with parmesan custard and bacon, tomato and maple salsa

63degC egg with parmesan custard and bacon, tomato and maple salsa

There’s a lot been said about 63°C eggs – the perfect egg – a beast to master. I definitely agree with the former, but it’s also not too hard to do at home. There is a lot out there these days on these sous vide, slow-cooked eggs. This link is to a handy chart showing all the stages from 57°C (raw) to 75°C (hard boiled). Basically, for a ‘65°C egg’ the recipe is: 65 g egg cooked for 65 minutes at 65°C.  I prefer mine between 62°C and 63°C (and cook them for a bit over an hour). The result is worth the wait. The yolk is a different dimension of creaminess and the white is soft and set. The main difficulty is that cooking them is an exercise in blind faith – you can’t tell if they’re done until you crack one open.

I’m not going to lie to you, this is not a quick and easy meal. But it does time together very well, as you can prepare the custard while the eggs are cooking and you can prepare the balsamic strawberries while the custard is baking, so it all comes together in the end. Balsamic strawberries and bacon might sound odd, but I assure you, the sweetness of the strawberries is cut brilliantly by the balsamic and the salty bacon. Combine this with the slightly spiced and hot parmesan custard topped with the perfectly cooked egg – divine!  Continue reading

French lentil and bacon salad

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lentils

Lentils are a hard sell, aren’t they?

bacon

Bacon, on the other hand, is not.

I try to eat healthy meals (apart from the cakes, of course!!) and eat a couple of meat-free meals a week. I’m building up a few vegetarian favourites and they often have lovely and punchy herbs or spices. But if I’m being really honest, my ideal non-‘meat’ meal has to have a bit of bacon. This lovely supper combines the healthiness of lentils with the delicious tastiness of bacon.

Not as pretty as their red or yellow relatives, French lentils are ideal for this recipe because of their robust, slightly peppery taste and that they hold so well together after cooking. And we all know, bacon makes everything better.

 

Warm French lentil, sweet potato, beetroot, feta and bacon salad

  • Time: 30 minutes (plus an hour to roast beetroot)
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup French (Puy) lentils, uncooked
  • ½ teaspoon garlic oil
  • 100 g thick bacon, roughly chopped
  • 150 g sweet potato, cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 1 medium beetroot, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 100 g rocket leaves
  • fresh mint and coriander
  • 100 g feta
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Cook lentils according to packet instructions (add ½ cup water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer with lid off for 20-25 minutes until tender – adding a little more water if needed), drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Combine the lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper and whisk lightly to make a dressing.
  • While still warm, toss the lentils in the dressing and leave to rest for ten minutes to absorb the flavour.
  • Fry bacon and sweet potato in garlic oil over a medium heat for about five minutes until the bacon is crisp and the sweet potato is tender, then drain on paper towel.
  • Mix bacon, sweet potato, beetroot, rocket, mint and coriander in a serving bowl.
  • Remove lentils from their marinade with a slotted spoon and gently toss through the salad mix in the serving bowl.
  • Sprinkle over crumbed feta and serve.

Roasted beetroot

I always have roasted beetroot in my fridge. It is so much nicer than tinned beetroot and goes well in many cold and warm salads.

To roast a medium beetroot:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
  • Wash beetroot and trim leaves.
  • Wrap loosely in foil with a tiny spray of olive oil
  • Roast for 45 to 60 minutes (check if cooked by inserting a skewer to see if it is soft).
  • Allow to cool somewhat before removing the skin – it should just come away in your fingers.
  • Store in fridge for up to a week

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