Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts, delicious morsels of light, flaky, puff pastry, filled with onion marmalade and topped with vibrant, melted Sparkenhoe Red Leicester cheese. The perfect party canapé.
This Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Cheese has a nutty, almost grassy flavour that sets it apart from any similar cheese I have tried before. A gorgeous golden wedge of unpasteurised cheese coloured using Annatto, a natural plant based dye that imparts it’s characteristic colour.
With a firm texture, this cheese is perfect for slicing and finely grating. Encased in an all butter puff pastry, the grated cheese melts into the onion marmalade and creates the most delightful Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts.
Topped with chives, that both echo the mild onion marmalade and grassy flavours found in the cheese, these little tarts are perfect to serve as canapés, party food, buffets or just for snacking on, warm from the oven with a glass of your favourite wine.
Made in minutes, these tarts are easy to make, bake in minutes and then ready to serve. What’s not to love about these Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts?
Recipe: Makes 28-32 Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts
Note: Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Cheese is UNPASTEURISED
320g Puff Pastry – I used ready rolled puff pastry from JustRol
100g/4oz Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Cheese – available from Pong Cheese
4tbsp Good Quality Onion Marmalade – I recommend Hawkshead Relish Red Onion Marmalade
3tbsp Chives – finely chopped
Method: Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7
You will need a mini muffin tin to make these Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts
If frozen remove the pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw in the fridge overnight.
Cut the rind from the cheese and finely grate.
Unroll the pastry and cut into 5cm/2″ squares. I actually used a ruler to measure out the squares.
If your mini muffin tin is not non stick then spray with a little oil.
Place one pastry square on to each mini muffin hole and press gently so that it dips in and forms a cup.
NOTE – I ovelapped two of the smaller pastry strips, squeezing them together, from the edge to create more tarts.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion marmalade to each pastry square.
Place 1 teaspoon of finely grated Sparkenhoe Red Leicester cheese on top of the onion marmalade.
Snip over a sprinkle of fresh chives.
Place the tin in the middle of the preheated oven and bake the tarts for 10-12 minutes. They are baked when they are risen, golden and full of bubbling, melted cheese.
Once baked remove from the oven.
Remove the tarts immediately and place on to a serving platter, if serving immediately, or on to a cooling rack for serving later.
I served these tarts with a few extra chives snipped over for an extra pop of colour.
Served warm these Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts are at their best. The mild onion flavours pair beautifully with the warm, nutty cheese. To make ahead, store in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge. Refresh by popping on to a baking sheet and into a medium, preheated oven for 5 minutes.
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Mini Sparkenhoe Red Leicester Tarts here are some others you may also like:
For someone who genuinely did not like scones, I have been baking rather a lot of them recently. I have concluded that homemade, or well made bakery scones, are a million miles away from the prepackaged, heavy, scones of my past. During my recent scone bake-a-thon I adapted my Super Light Scones recipe to create an all butter version, which makes the most delicious savoury scones. Welcome my Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones.
These Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones are incredibly tasty and two out of our three children loved them. Let me add that they would not eat blue cheese on a cracker. A massive win for me as a mum!
Truly though, their taste is a reflection of just how much delicious flavour is packed into these scones. The salty melted BeauvaleCheese, against an all butter scone, with the crunch of toasted walnuts and balanced with just a hint of honey.
I bet you didn’t see that last ingredient coming?
Blue cheese and honey pair beautifully together and at first I was going to caramelise the toasted walnuts in honey. However, I decided that I wanted the sweet honey to be no more than a kiss on our tastebuds.
Beauvale Cheese is a soft blue cheese, that doesn’t have the intensity of Stilton. Beautiful eaten with bread or crackers and served on a cheese board, this cheese comes alive when baked in the scones. Warm and melted, it has a rounder, salty and buttery flavour that blends nicely with the toasted walnuts and that little hint of honey.
Try these Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones, they are incredibly simple to make and are perfect for using up leftover cheese.
Method: Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7
In a dry iron skillet or frying pan add the walnut pieces and place over a medium until lightly toasted. You will just be able to start smelling the wonderful walnut oils. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool.
Into a large bowl sift the flour and baking powder.
Add the sea salt and pepper.
Using the large grating side of a box grater, grate the very cold cheese straight onto the flour – I find it easier to have my bowl on digital scales.
Cover the butter with flour, using a butter knife and separate any clumps, so that the butter is evenly distributed.
Next break off chunks of the Beauvale Cheese and drop them into the bowl.
Using a butter knife flick the flour over the cheese so that it is covered. This will stop it from clumping together.
Chop the walnuts roughly and add to the bowl. Stir with the butter knife to distribute evenly.
In a jug add 2 teaspoons of honey to the milk. Whisk briefly to disolve the honey.
Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour the milk/honey mixture in.
Use the butter knife to briefly stir the ingredients and then use your hand to bring them together into a rough dough.
The trick to creating the lightest scones is to handle them as little as possible and only very lightly flour the worktop on which you roll and cut them out.
On a lightly flour dusted worktop tip out your scone dough and flatten with your hands so that it is 5cm/2″ deep.
Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough to 2.5cm/1″ thickness.
Line a large baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Using a 7cm/3″ cutter press straight down and cut out the scones. If you twist the cutter as you cut the scones it can cause uneven rising.
Add the last teaspoon of honey to the milk, stir and then brush the tops of the scones.
Place the scones in the top of the preheated oven and bake for 20-25minutes, until they are risen and golden brown in colour.
Once baked remove the scones from the oven and place on a cooling rack – be careful as they will be hot!
These utterly delicious Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones are perfect served warm, split with butter, a little extra cheese (the contrast between the cold and baked cheese is delicious), or just on their own. They taste great cold and so are perfect for packed lunches, picnics and afternoon tea.
Due to the higher fat content, the scones will last 3-4 days in an airtight container and I have successfully frozen similar scones for up to one month. To refresh, defrost and place in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes and they’ll taste as though they’ve been freshly baked.
If you have enjoyed this Beauvale Cheese Walnut Scones recipe here are some others you may also like:
There are so many wonderful ways of using cheese in cooking and baking. Over the next few months we will discover together, wonderful sauces, dinners, recipes and bakes.
Pong Cheese has a wonderful selection of cheeses on their website. I look forward to widening my cheese palette and creating recipes with all the different cheeses.
I hope that you will join me on this creative journey and together we can have fun discovering new ways to make and bake with cheese in our kitchens? Having fun along the way as we cook up some cracking feasts.
Pong Cheese provided the cheese for this recipe. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own. This is not a sponsored post. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins vibrant strips of aromatic basil run through these delicious buttery cheese, pine nut studded muffins.
These delightful muffins are so easy to make, quick to bake and perfect for breakfast, packed lunches, picnics……
Whenever we have friends and family round, I always provide a cheese board. Having more of a savoury palette, I generally choose cheese and crackers over dessert on most occasions. I adore all cheeses and this Goddess Cheese, sent to me to try byPong Cheese is no exception.
A cider washed edible rind conceals the most gorgeous, gooey, buttery cheese, perfect for spreading on crackers, with a glass of something chilled to go alongside. The initial buttery flavour is layered with a nutty taste that is perfectly paired with the pine nuts in these Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins.
Whilst spreading this cheese on crackers is a perfectly acceptable way to indulge your senses, my creative side knew that it would taste so good baked in a muffin. After a party or family gathering I am quite often left with cheese and other delectables. I avoid waste as much as I can, so incorporating this beautiful cheese into a bake gives it a second life in these delicious muffins.
Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins are incredibly easy to whip up and bake. In fact these took less than 30 minutes from start to eating!
Oh boy, these muffins are fabulous warm out of the oven.
Recipe: Makes 12 Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins
50g/2oz Pine Nuts
300g/11oz Plain White Flour (self raising can be substituted – leave out the baking powder)
Method: Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6
Place the pine nuts into a dry skillet or frying pan and toast over a medium heat until golden. Remove from the pan and place on to a plate to cool. Reseve some pine nuts for topping the muffins.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Pile the basil leaves on top of each other and cut into fine strips.
Add the cooled pine nuts, basil, and seasonings to the bowl.
Stir with a fork to incorporate.
Break the Goddess Cheese into lumps and add half to the flour mixture – I found it easier to have the bowl on the scales.
Cover the cheese in the bowl with the flour mixture. This will stop it clumping together.
Add the other half of the cheese, again pinching off gooey lumps and dropping them into the bowl. Cover in the flour mixture as before – dry mixture.
Into a jug add the milk, oil and eggs. Lightly mix with a fork – wet mixture.
Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in the wet mixture.
Stir with a fork approximately 10-12 times until the ingredients are just mixed.
Note: Over mixed muffins will be tough!
Place muffin liners in a muffin tin – I didn’t but would advise you to as it does make the muffins easier to remove.
Divide the muffin mix between the 12 cases.
Top with the reserved pine nuts – if you have forgotten to reserve any don’t worry they will still look and taste delicious.
Place the tin in the top of the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
The muffins are cooked when they are just firm to touch and golden brown.
Once baked remove the muffins from the oven.
Beautifully golden Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins.
Transfer the Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins to a cooling rack until warm and then devour!
These muffins are at their absolute best, warm straight from the oven, where the cheese is still slightly melted and the flavours of the toasted pine nuts and basil come through.
Having had to split a muffin for the photographs, I also really enjoyed them cold. All the buttery, nutty cheese, pine nut and basil flavours are still present which I am really pleased with. This makes the GoddessCheese Pine Nut Muffins perfect as portable food.
I will definitely be making more of these for picnics, packed lunches and just for eating warm from the oven!!!
Muffins are always best on the day made, however, stored in an airtight container they are good for 3 days, or frozen for up to a month. To refresh just pop in a moderate oven for 10 minutes and they’ll taste like they’ve just been baked.
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Goddess Cheese Pine Nut Muffins you may also like these:
No longer do you need to look at an oozing, gooey Goddess Cheese and wonder what to do with it. These Goddess Cheese Pine NutMuffins are sublime and as they don’t use a whole packet of cheese, leave you enough for your cheese and crackers.
This recipe started in my mind with the intent of using up leftover cheese. Oh no! These are so good I would happily buy the cheese to make them.
Whatever you are making and baking in your kitchens, have fun and enjoy sharing the feast you are preparing.
Pong Cheese provided me with the cheese to make this recipe. All content, views, opinions, recipes and photographs are my own. Please see myDisclosure Policy.
Sundried Tomato Bread perfect packed up for warm summer picnics, or sliced and toasted with melting cheese on a chilly Winter’s eve.
I have been wanting to try my hand at Sundried Tomato Bread for literally ages, somehow though it always seemed to get put off.
Well not this weekend! I set about creating this beautifully coloured and delicious loaf on Saturday morning. I started with my Farmhouse White Loafrecipe and went from there.
Sundried tomatoes are usually available either stored in oil, or dry packed in a cellophane bag. Mine were the latter and I had a hunch they would be too dry for this recipe. So I chopped them up and warmed them gently in some olive oil. I’m pretty sure this step is what gave the crust a delicious chewy texture, rather than crisp and crunchy,
To add extra flavour some smoked paprika was added to the dough, oh boy this makes such a difference to the flavour. A very subtle, smokey – you know something’s there but you can’t quite put your finger on it – flavour, that compliments the slight sweetness of the sundried tomatoes.
This bread can stand up to strong flavours and would be the perfect accompaniment to game pate, sharp cheddar, or torn into chunks and used to mop up a spicy soup. Ooh mulligatawny soup would pare beautifully with this bread.
I am a firm believer that bread should add to the taste, not just be a carrier of flavour from whatever it is topped with. This Sundried TomatoBread ticks that box one hundred per cent. Adding another level to a cheese and chutney sandwich. The flavours coming alive when warmed and toasted with melting cheese dripping over the sides.
Sundried Tomato Bread is a total knockout on the flavour front.
Recipe: Makes one Sundried Tomato Bread
500g/1lb 2oz Strong White Bread Flour – I use Organic White Bread Flour from Shipton Mill
320ml Tepid Water
7g/1 sachet Fast Action Dried Yeast
1tsp Smoked Paprika
100g/4oz Sundried Tomatoes plus 2 tbsp oil that they come in or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
7g Salt – I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Chop the sundried tomatoes in to fairly small pieces. If they did not come packaged in oil, add to a small saucepan and pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Warm over a medium heat for 2 minutes, the sundried tomatoes will soak up the oil. Set to one side to cool.
The ‘bowl’ is either the container used for mixing/proving and baking in a bread maker, or the bowl of a stand mixer.
For both methods:
Pour the water into the bowl, then add the yeast.
Add the flour on top of the liquid.
Add the salt and smoked paprika.
If using a bread maker, set to dough cycle and start the program. When prompted by the machine, or 5 minutes prior to the mixing finishing, add the sundried tomatoes and oil.
Once the dough cycle is complete re-start for 2 minutes. This ‘knocks back’ the dough. Remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface, it will be quite sticky.
Flatten the dough with your hand into a rough rectangular shape. Fold the bottom third upwards and then the top third downwards, like an envelope.
*Place the log shaped dough onto the baking tray, cut a couple of slashes through the dough diagonally and dust with a little flour. Cover with a clean, dry tea towel and leave in a draught free place until doubled in size – approx 1 hour.
If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix on medium speed until all the ingredients are combined. Add the sundried tomatoes and oil. Continue to mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Stop mixing. Scrape the dough from the dough hook and combine with the dough in the bowl. Form into a ball, place back into the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a draught free place until doubled in size (approx. 1hour).
Once doubled remove the cloth, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed using the dough hook. This ‘knocks back’ the dough.
Flatten the dough with your hand into a rough rectangular shape. Fold the bottom third upwards and then the top third downwards, like an envelope.
*Follow as above.
Approx. 10 minutes before the loaf is ready, preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan.
Once the dough has doubled in size place into the middle of the preheat, hot oven.
Bake for 30 minutes. The bread is baked when it has a good firm crust and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom with your knuckle.
Once the Sundried Tomato Bread is baked, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack immediately.
I know you want to tear into this loaf as soon as it is out of the oven, I know you do, cos I do too. Please leave the loaf to cool, ideally until cold, but just warm should be ok too!!
This bread is made for feasting. Imagine, cheeseboard on the table, steaming bowls of spicy soup and thick chunks of this savoury, slightly malted flavoured bread. Oh and all your friends and/or family sitting around chatting, dunking, eating and having fun. Who said there’s no feast without bread eh?
Actually this bread has a sourdough, chewy quality to it, with a few larger holes throughout the loaf and a hint of that unique soughdough flavour.
If you enjoy bread packed with flavour, then this Sundried Tomato Bread is definitely a loaf you should try. Please let me know if you do bake it? I love hearing how your bakes turn out,
If you have enjoyed this Sundried Tomato Bread recipe then you are going to love these other bread recipes:
Hi there, I was bestowed a great honour from my Mummy yesterday, who is herself, the best Quiche maker, ever – in my opinion. On seeing my Quiche Lorraine she said “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.
I used a combination of bacon and lardons (cos that’s what I had in the freezer & I’m trying to clear it out). So you get lovely chunks as well as pieces of delicious smoked bacon throughout the Quiche. Leftover cooked Gammon at Christmas, or indeed any other time of the year, works fabulously well in this QuicheLorraine. Just chop into chunks and use in place of the bacon, the beauty being no pre-cooking is required!
Sooo I made the pastry for this Quiche myself, but, umm, well let’s just say, I’m gonna leave that for another post. Which I know doesn’t help you, as you need pastry for this recipe. I’m sorry. Really I am. Either use your go-to shortcrust pastry recipe, or buy it!! Just know you’ll need 450g/1lb. I promise I will post my recipe ASAP.
Quiche Lorraine is also perfect, portable, picnic food. It’s Summer and one of the best parts, when it’s warm and the sun is shining, is to gather together with family and friends and eat al fresco! The beach, park, even hanging out in someone’s garden, everyone pitching in with the food and drink, sharing. Such the best times.
Recipe : Makes 1 x 25cm/10″ Quiche Lorraine
450g/1lb Shortcrust Pastry
8 Large Eggs
125ml/4.5fl oz Whole Milk
300g/11oz Smoked Bacon/Lardons – cooked and cooled on kitchen paper
175g/6oz Sharp Cheddar – grated
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
Method : Preheat oven to 200C/185C fan.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to approx 16″ across. This will ensure it fits easily inside the Quiche tin, without stretching.
If using a ceramic dish, grease thoroughly with butter before lining with pastry. For tins I don’t find it necessary, but grease if you’re worried about the pastry sticking.
I always place my quiche tin on a baking sheet. Gently press the pastry into the sides and bottom of the tin. Then using the rolling pin, roll it over the top of the tin. This creates a clean finish to the pastry. If using a ceramic dish, neatly trim off the excess pastry with a knife.
Next doc the pastry at the bottom of the tin with a fork. This will stop the pastry from rising up when baked.
Place the quiche tin into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the parchment paper and baking beans. Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add a good grinding of black pepper to the eggs and milk, then whisk together.
Slowly pour the egg mixture into the centre of the quiche, ensuring it doesn’t flow over the edge if the pastry.
Reduce the oven temp by 10C. Place the Quiche Lorraine in the oven and bake for 20-25 mins until set and golden. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
This Quiche is so versatile. It can be packed up for lunch, a picnic, or as part of a meal with an endless choice of sides.
Hi, I’ve just made the easiest, tastiest, lunch ever: Perfect Panini Pizza. It’s so simple, yet so delicious.
Our daughter is at home, working hard on study leave. It’s exam time people! That means lots of study and lots of brain fuel – FOOD!! So in an effort to make lunchtime fun I decided to turn 2 panini rolls (ciabatta rolls would work fine too) into something other than a sandwich! Not that sandwiches aren’t good, but I wanted to change things up a bit and treat Star to a fabulous lunch. Perfect Panini Pizza totally hit the mark!
I’ve made pizza using baguette before, but I’ve always found it really, really hard to stop the curved edges of the baguette from toppling the whole pizza over, dumping the topping as it rolls. Now I’ve found a solution – Ciabatta bread. It’s flat!! I know right!! Takes me a while to catch on sometimes (always!!!!). But I got there in the end and ooh what a delicious result.
The best thing about this recipe is that you can top your pizza with whatever you have in the fridge. I’ve used Salami, but ham, peppers, olives, sweetcorn, really the list is endless. If you try this please let me know what toppings you try?
1 Panini roll/1/2 ciabatta loaf per person
Tomato Salsa – or tomato pasta sauce (in a jar!)
Mozzerella Cheese – or any other good melting cheese
Salami – or any topping of your choice!
Method : Preheat oven to 200C/185C fan
I specifically haven’t given quantities for the ingredients above as it really depends on how many pizzas you are making and how hungry the people you are making them for are!!
Here is how I made our Perfect Panini Pizzas :
Bake in the oven for 20 mins until the base and edges are all crispy and the cheese is gooey and melting over the sides!
Star and I thoroughly enjoyed our Perfect Panini Pizzas and had fun deciding what other toppings we’d like to try. The perfect break from studying. Rested and refuelled.
I’m sending lots of love to all students and school children ( it’s SATS week ) who are studying and taking exams at the moment.
Hello, I really hope you enjoy this post – Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne. It’s extremely easy to make, there’s no need to precook the lasagne sheets. This lasagne is also a lighter version than the traditional beef lasagne. If you wanted to really cheat you could buy good cheese sauce, but it’s not a complicated process to whip up your own!
This is a perfect make ahead meal as it only gets better the longer the lasagne sits. It will keep, unbaked, in the fridge for 4 days and double wrapped in cling film, again unbaked, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. It is also the perfect, portable meal. Ideal for delivery to a new mum, a family going through tough times or a bring and share meal with friends. Truly an all-in-one feasting dish!!!
By substituting the beef, usually used in Lasagne, with minced Chicken, the resulting baked Lasagne becomes a lighter dish. Not lighter in calories, with the delicious four cheese sauce – but not as heavy on the stomach and a delicious change from the norm! The four cheese sauce was simply me raiding the fridge for leftover Christmas cheese!!!
I realise that minced Chicken is not available everywhere, minced Turkey is a great substitute. Otherwise processing skinless chicken breasts, thighs or a combination in a food processor would be another way to make your own chicken mince. Alternatively, chopping up chicken with a sharp knife would work and give the lasagne added texture.
Recipe : Serves 6-8 portions.
Chicken Lasagne Sauce
450g/1lb Chicken Mince
1 Large White Onion
2tbsp Olive Oil
2 Celery Stalks (the larger outside stalks)
1 Green Pepper (washed, deseeded and finely diced)
2-3 Carrots (peeled and finely diced)
3 Garlic Cloves – minced
3 x 400g Chopped Tinned Tomatoes
2tbsp Tomato Puree
1tsp Dried Mixed Herbs (or fresh basil/oregano/parsley/thyme – to taste)
Salt and Ground Black Pepper – to taste
Cheese Sauce :
3tbsp Plain White Flour
750-800ml. Whole Milk
6oz Hard Cheese (I used a 50/50 mixture of Mature Cheddar and Swiss Cheese)
250g. Mozzarella (drained)
1 tsp Nutmeg – freshly grated if poss
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste.
Butter – For Greasing the Lasagne Dish
1 packet Dried Egg Lasagne Sheets 375g – NO NEED TO PRECOOK!!!
Method: Chicken Lasagne Sauce
Finely chop/dice the onion/celery/green pepper and carrots. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat until the onions just start to turn translucent. Add the diced celery to the pan and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes, just until the celery starts to soften. Push the onions and celery to one side of the pan and add the Chicken mince to the other side (if you don’t have a large sauté pan, remove the onions and celery, into a separate dish and then add the Chicken to the pan). Cook the chicken, using a wooden spatula to break up the mince so big clumps of meat don’t form.
Unlike beef mince, the Chicken mince will get lighter as it cooks. I don’t cook the Chicken until it is browned, just until it is cooked through (lighter colour). Now add the carrots/green pepper and also the minced garlic (I use a garlic press!!).
When all the veggies and garlic are well mixed add the tomatoes (rinse each can out with water, fill the can almost to the top and add that to the pan as well), tomato purée, dried or fresh chopped herbs. Give everything a good stir add the sugar and add salt 1/2tsp and a good grinding of black pepper. Turn the heat to medium/low and leave to gently bubble away on the stove for an hour, stirring occasionally.
Method: Four Cheese Sauce
Into a medium heavy based pan add the butter. Over a medium heat melt the butter until just sizzling. Add the flour and keep stirring as the two become a paste. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, this removes any floury taste.
Now gradually start adding the milk, approx 50mls at first and stir vigorously. The milk will become incorporated into the flour/butter paste making it a thicker past. Keep adding small amounts of milk, stirring continuously.
Now you can add larger amounts of milk, keep stirring, lumps will form, if you want to you can switch to a whisk at this stage (I do!). Keep stirring and adding the milk until all the milk has been added and you have a beautiful, lump free white sauce. The sauce should be thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the Ricotta and all the other cheese (except the mozzarella), which if you are a patient person you certainly may grate. I almost never bother to grate, I just chop the cheese into smallish (1/2″) cubes and the sauce turns out fine.
Stir vigorously. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. The Ricotta cheese will give the Four Cheese Sauce a slightly grainy texture – DON’T WORRY – that’s normal! If you’ve grated the cheeses they will melt into the sauce easily. With the cubed cheese the sauce will almost never become completely smooth – but that’s ok as it will when it’s baked in the oven later! Also the addition of freshly ground nutmeg not only elevates the flavour above and beyond, but please, if you can, grate your own nutmeg. I know I was lazy with the cheese but, freshly grated nutmeg is a million times better than pre-ground nutmeg, trust me.
You will need an oven proof rectangular dish. Mine is 12″ x 8″ x 3.5″(deep) – measurements were taken from the top. But you can always use an oval dish and break the lasagne sheets to fit the curves – I have made many lasagne dishes this way, or alternatively split between 2 small dishes. As long as the dish is ovenproof, this really is an adaptable recipe!!!
I’ve found, after making more than a gazillion – slight over exaggeration – lasagnes, that buttering the dish before hand not only helps when serving the cooked lasagne, but also, it doesn’t require 3 days soaking to get the stuck bits off of the dish!! It’s the little things you know???
I REALLY WASN’T JOKING, when I said that you don’t have to precook the lasagne sheets. I’ve used lots of different makes, some with ruffled edges, green spinach lasagne sheets, egg vs plain AND this works with ALL TYPES – I guess you could even use fresh lasagne sheets, you would need to cook the Chicken lasagne sauce for longer so that it was thicker – otherwise I can’t see it being an issue. If you try it please let me know how you get on?
Once you have buttered/oiled your dish place a layer of HOT Chicken lasagne sauce (check the seasoning and adjust if necessary) into the bottom of the dish, so that it is completely covered.
Next place enough lasagne sheets to cover the bottom layer – I got luck and this dish takes 4 exactly. I like the layers to meet or very slightly overlap.
Repeat the sauce/lasagne sheet layering twice more finishing with a sheet layer.
Now pour the cooled cheese sauce all over the top of the lasagne sheets. I gently tap the dish to ensure any trapped air bubble rise to the surface.
This baby is still not finished! Drain and slice the mozzarella.
And now arrange the mozzarella slice on top of the cheese sauce.
The Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne should be left, ideally for 4 hours, to allow the dried lasagne slices time to absorb moisture from both sauces. This dish can also be made 1-2 days in advance, wrapped in cling film and left in the fridge.
When ready to bake preheat the oven to 180C (165C fan oven). Place the lasagne dish onto a slightly larger baking tray; this dish can bubble up and over – it’s much easier to clean a baking sheet rather than scrub out the bottom of your oven!!!!!
Cook the lasagne for 1 1/2 hours until piping hot all the way through and gorgeously, golden brown.
Remove from the oven 10-15 minutes before serving. This allows the lasagne to cool slightly and hold it’s shape when being served.
This Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne is delicious on it’s own, served with a salad or garlic bread. It can be frozen at the pre-bake stage or in individual portions, wrapped tightly in foil and popped into the freezer. Or why not double the quantities and make an extra meal for the freezer?
If you try this recipe please let me know how you get on. Do you have alternative lasagne combinations that are scrumptious? If you do please share them.
But most of all if you know a new mum, or someone who has been ill for a while, or just a very busy family that you would like to bless, then this is THE perfect, portable, all in one meal for sharing!
As ever, remember food always tastes better when it’s shared. Happy Feasting.
Hello there, thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I hope it inspires you to make this delicious, very economical, Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – covered in a scrummy Cheese Sauce!
I’m sorry that I haven’t posted anything for a few days, unfortunately my body has been very uncooperative and I’ve been struggling with a lot of pain. Not looking for sympathy, just explaining.
Anyhow this morning, once I was up and dressed I was determined to make the Christmas cakes ( I know this blog is about the Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake – but I have to tell you the whole story, so bare with please??!!). One cake for us and a smaller cake for my lovely hubby’s Ma and Pa. They love Christmas cake like no other people I have ever met and since I love them and making cakes I thought I’d bake them a cake as well!
Once the cakes were happily baking away in the oven I turned my attention to dinner. I happened to have 8 rashers of streaky bacon in the fridge and thought ‘You know what, I’ll make Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake’. Not only that, but as I have tended to be a bit lazy with my savoury recipes, I also made a note of exactly what I used and took some photos to show you how to make it yourself!!
This recipe is for 6 people!
Recipe:Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake
For the bacon and tomato sauce you will need –
1tbsp Olive oil
8 x rashers streaky bacon (smoked or not the choice is yours) – any rind removed
1 Large White Onion
2 Sticks of Celery
1 Green Pepper
6 – 8 Chestnut or Button Mushrooms
3 Bulbs of Garlic
2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes and their juice
1tbsp Tomato puree
1tsp Mixed Dry Herbs
1/2tsp Sea Salt (1/4tsp free flowing salt)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg – freshly grated
1/2tsp Black Pepper – freshly ground
For the Cheese Sauce :
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
2tbsp Plain White Flour
500ml/1.25 pints Whole Milk
175g/6oz Strong Cheddar
1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
In a large saute pan (or shallow casserole dish) melt the Olive oil and Butter together over a medium heat. Add the finely chopped Onion and Saute until translucent (approx 5-8 mins). Add in the Bacon – I usually snip this into approx 1/2″ pieces, directly into the pan, however you can chip up the Bacon with a knife and then add it.
Let the bacon sizzle until it had rendered out some of it’s fat, but not so much that it goes crispy. Add in the Celery and Carrot ( which have both been finely chopped and cook for another 5 mins.
After 5 mins add in the finely chopped Green Pepper and the Mushroom ( I slice the mushrooms fairly thinly, then cut the slices in half – it just looks nice in the dish!). Add the crushed (or finely chopped) garlic and continue cooking for another 5-10 mins, until all the vegetables are slightly softened.
Once the vegetables have started to soften add the tinned, chopped tomatoes. Rinse each tin out with cold water (fill the tin to just over half with water and swish the tin to dilute any tomato juice left, into the water) and add the tomato purée. Add the seasonings next: salt, pepper, sugar, nutmeg and mixed herbs. The sugar balances out the tartness of tinned tomatoes and makes a very real difference to the finished dish.
The Cheese Sauce:
Melt 2tbsp butter on a medium heat in a saucepan. Once melted add 2tbsp of plain white flour and mix thoroughly, lowering the heat very slightly.
This flour/butter mixture is now called a roux. Now gradually add (50ml at a time at the beginning) whole milk to the flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly. As the milk warms it will gradually become incorporated into the flour/butter. In the beginning, for the first few milk additions, the mixture will be very thick and stiff to stir. If you find the milk is not incorporating into the mixture, or it is very lumpy, it’s fine to switch to a whisk, this will ensure a beautiful, lump free, smooth sauce. Add 450-500ml of milk until your sauce has the consistency similar to custard.
Add a pinch of salt, a good grinding of black pepper, 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and mix thoroughly. Off of the heat add a good 2 handfuls (4-6oz) of grated mature cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
I have used penne rigate pasta for this dish. Basically pasta tubes, cut on a slant with ridges in the outside! I like penne rigate as it holds firm, the sauce not only goes into the pasta tubes, but also the sauce clings to the outside ridges of the pasta. I cooked about 3/4 of a 500g packet (350g if my maths is correct??).
I said earlier, this is such an economical dish – 8 bacon rashers, bits of veg you have in the fridge, a couple of handfuls of mature cheddar and not even a whole packet of pasta!! Not only that but it tastes fab and is easily transportable, so ideal to give individual portions to friends/family or pop in the freezer!!
Once the pasta is almost cooked (not quite al dente) drain and add to the bacon sauce.
Mix the sauce and pasta together. If serving a separate portion to give away, remove a generous portion of the pasta/bacon mix, ensuring you get a good mix of the sauce, bacon, veg and of course pasta.
Spread the rest of the bacon pasta evenly into an ovenproof container. Tap the individual portions to settle the pasta and remove any air bubbles.
Cover your pasta dishes with a good dollop of the cheese sauce. For added prettiness (and because the cheese sauce didn’t reach the edges!!) I sliced ripe, ruby red tomatoes and placed them around the outside edge of the pasta.
So a super tasty, super economical meal to eat and share!
For a bubbly,scrumptious meal, ready for the table: Cook the large Bacon Cheese Pasta Bake at 180C for an hour until thoroughly heated through, 1/2 hour at the same temp for the individual portion.
An amazingly tasty, versatile dish that’s easy on your wallet and tasty on your tongue.