Beetroot & Goat's Cheese Salad

Nothing beats a simple salad when you're rushed for time, but just because you're watching the clock doesn't mean you have to make a boring one!  One of my favourite food combinations is Beetroot and Goat's Cheese; that sweet, earthy taste mixed with the tang of Goat's Cheese is one of the ultimate foodgasms.

Serves 1

- 1 large cooked beetroot, chopped in chunks
- A few slices of good quality vegetarian Goat's cheese
- A large handful of mixed salad leaves

How to:-

1.  Lay out the salad leaves into a bowl or on a plate.  Add the beetroot and Goat's cheese on top, you're done!

Optional: You can add dressing to this, but I find it flavoursome enough without anything extra.


Greek Style Walnut Tarts

My best friend came back from Greece earlier this week and gifted me with a box of the most delicious mini walnut tarts that she'd found in a local bakery on her travels.  They were like a Greek version of Baklava, so I've had a go at recreating them.

Makes around 12 tarts

- 150g ready made filo pastry
- 100g butter, melted
- 120g caster sugar
- 100ml double cream
- 3 large free range eggs
- 2 tbsp self-raising flour
- 125g walnuts, finely ground
- Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated
- Olive oil to grease the muffin tin
- Icing sugar to dust

How to:-
1.  Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas mark 6.  Fold out one sheet of filo pastry and lightly brush it all over with melted butter.  Place another sheet on top and repeat the process until you have three layers.  Roughly cut out squares big enough for the muffin tin holes, and then brush each hole with a little oil.  Fit each square of the layered filo pastry into a hole and trim the excess off with scissors so that it fits.

2.  Put the sugar and 3 tablespoons of hot water into a saucepan over a low heat.  When the sugar completely dissolves into a clear looking syrup, increase the heat to medium and simmer until it becomes a golden caramel.  Turn off the heat, add the double cream and stir well until it becomes a caramel consistency.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

3.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until pale and slowly pour in the caramel, continually whisking as you do so.  Sift in the flour and whisk into the mixture.  Next, mix in the orange zest and ground walnuts until everything is combined.  Spoon equal portions into each pastry in the muffin tin.

4.  Bake for around 20 minutes, until each tart has risen and feels firm in the middle.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving with a generous dusting of icing sugar.

[Recipe adapted from and inspired by several traditional Baklava recipes]


Decadent Chocolate Pudding with White Rum

Happy New Year!  To start off 2014, I thought I'd share this amazing Chocolate Pudding recipe that I whipped up last night to celebrate the new year.  It's a very rich and indulgent treat, so look away if you started that diet/detox today - this is strictly for the chocolate lovers only.

Makes 4

- 3 medium free range eggs, separated
- 200g quality dark chocolate, chopped / broken into small chunks
- 185ml double cream
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 3 tbsp white rum

How to:-
1.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and place to one side.  Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot water and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually add the beaten yolks, mixing until you have a smooth texture again.  Fold through the cream and white rum, and stir until everything is combined.

2.  Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and whisk again to mix it in.  Fold a small amount of the egg white mixture into the chocolate to slacken it, then quickly and light fold in the remainder.  Continue mixing until there are no streaks or pockets of egg white visible.  

3.  Pour the mixture equally into four ramekins or cups, cover with cling flim and chill in the fridge until firm.

These Chocolate Puddings will keep in the fridge for around 2 days and you can experiment with using different spirits or liqueurs if you don't fancy rum (I've also made these with whisky in the past and they're to die for).  For something non-alcoholic, you can try adding some strong espresso instead for an extra kick. 

[Recipe adapted from Easy Living magazine]