I love tomatoes. Big beefsteak tomatoes, tiny cherry tomatoes and regular slicing tomatoes, I absolutely could not be without them in my kitchen. As well as popping sweet, vine ripened cherry tomatoes in my mouth while pottering around my kitchen, tomatoes are one of the most versatile ingredients. Here, in these Fresh Basil Topped Slow Roasted Tomatoes their flavour is intensified by roasting slowly and enhanced with the addition of basil. Simple yet mouth wateringly good!
Since British tomatoes are just coming into season, I want to use them as much as possible in my recipes. While I have successfully grown tomatoes of our own, blight has been a problem over the last few years, so I have stopped. Instead relying on our local farm shop and Waitrose, who stock British tomatoes for a good part of the year. Also I should add a quick thank you to all of the farmers who grow tomatoes and mange to extend the season using poly tunnels.
While tomatoes roast in the oven their flavour intensifies. As the heat starts to dehydrate them, so the flavours become less diluted. Given nothing more than a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil, the resulting flavour is both sweet and savoury. As well as being a fantastic side dish to fish and chicken, I also enjoy spreading warm tomatoes on to fresh bread and eating just as it is.
One thing I should mention is that I have used cold pressed Rapeseed oil. Made locally by Kentish Oils, it is golden yellow in colour and has a soft, slightly nutty flavour. It really compliments the tomato and basil flavours, rather than competing with them. Perfect for roasting and dressing the tomatoes.
Recipe: Fresh Basil Topped Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Amounts given per 450g/1lb Fresh Tomatoes
1 tbsp Cold Pressed Rapeseed/Canola Oil plus extra for drizzling after roasting – I use Kentish Oils
1/2tsp Sea Salt Flakes – I prefer Maldon
1/4tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Small Handful Fresh Basil Leaves – approximately 10 leaves
Method: Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan, 350F, gas mark 4
You will need a large baking tray for this recipe.
First of all wash and dry the tomatoes.
Cut large tomatoes in half and leaver smaller ones on the vine.
Place the tomatoes on to a baking tray and drizzle over the oil.
Sprinkle over with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place in the centre of the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
As soon as the tomatoes are cooked remove from the oven.
Using a fish slice or slotted spoon carefully transfer the roasted tomatoes to a serving plate.
Roughly chop the basil leaves and scatter over the tomatoes.
Finally drizzle a little oil over the tomatoes and leave until warm, not hot, before serving.
Because hot tomatoes will burn your mouth, it is best to leave these to cool until just warm before eating. Doing so ensures that you get the maximum flavour that these beauties have to offer. Also these tomatoes taste delicious when cold.
Any leftover tomatoes can be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Fresh Basil Topped Slow Roasted Tomatoes you may also like these:
While I happily use tinned tomatoes in my pasta dishes, such as this Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake, I plan to actively create more recipes with fresh tomatoes this Summer. Since we tend to eat lighter meals during the warmer months I am looking forward to the challenge. Especially as I am aware that this blog most definitely needs more savoury recipes!
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.
Kentish Oils sent me a small bottle of cold pressed Rapeseed oil to try. All opinions and content are my own, for which I have not received any payment.
No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Thank you for stopping by to read this post and find out how to make PerfectlyMashed Potatoes. If you are curious as to why I should post such an easy recipe here’s my answer. Because everyone has to learn the basics. Including me. Since I wasn’t born with the knowledge of how to cook a roast, boil an egg or mash potatoes. I learnt, mostly, from watching my Grandma, whilst I was growing up.
Always an inquisitive child, I literally hung around her apron strings and learnt how to cook, bake, make preserves, prove bread and much more. My earliest memory is standing on a stall, shucking peas that my Grandad had freshly picked from the garden.
So a love of cooking, indeed, more being in the kitchen and making something, was present from a very early age. At home, I recall asking if I could peel some potatoes. I was given a bowl, full of cold water, to wash off the dirt, potatoes didn’t come pre-washed in the 1970’s and a small vegetable peeler. While a whole hour had passed and I still hadn’t finished! That didn’t matter, I was learning.
Especially in today’s world of convenience food and £1 packets of ready mashed potatoes available from the supermarket, learning how to cook basic recipes, isn’t always taught at home, in the way that I learned. So yes a recipe for Perfectly Mashed Potatoes, is here, because who doesn’t love mash???
Usually kitchens will have a potato masher utensil in them, if not they can be picked up, fairly cheaply, from any shop that sells kitchenware. I will not be using a potato ricer, hand whisk, kitchen stand mixer or any other contraption to make these Perfectly Mashed Potatoes, simply a potato masher. Because it is what most people have to hand and in my opinion, produces the best mashed potatoes!
So the only equipment you will need to make your mash is:
A sharp knife
Optional – vegetable peeler
Most kitchens will be equipped with this equipment, if not, each item can be bought inexpensively as mentioned above.
2.5kg/5lbs Potatoes suitable for mashing – I used Albert BartlettElfe Potatoes – these have a particularly creamy texture and buttery taste, Rooster potatoes are also good for mashing. Any potato that is described as floury, suitable for mash can be used. However for the best mash I’ve tried I do recommend Elfe potatoes.
100mls/4fl ozs Whole Milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg – freshly grated is even better.
Method: Half fill a large saucepan with cold water
Using a vegetable peeler or small paring knife peel the potatoes.
Cut them into 5cm/2″ chunks as you go and immediately place in the pan of cold water.
NOTE: If peeled potatoes are left out of water they will start to turn brown.
Once all of the potatoes have been peeled and cut up, top up the pan with cold water, so that the potatoes are just covered.
Turn the heat onto high on the hob and bring the potatoes up to a boil.
As soon as they are boiling turn the heat down and let the potatoes simmer for 15 minutes.
To test if the potatoes are cooked, insert a sharp knife into a couple of chunks, there shouldn’t be any resistance and the potato chunk may well break in half.
Once cooked drain the potatoes in a colinder and allow to steam dry for 5 minutes.
Empty any water from the saucepan the potatoes were cooked in.
Add the butter and milk to the pan and heat until the butter is melted.
I add 1/2tsp of sea salt, a good grinding of black pepper and the ground nutmeg to the milk/butter at this stage.
Take the pan off of the heat and add the cooked potatoes.
The next step is simply to plunge in with the potato masher and keep mashing until all the potatoes have broken down and you have smooth, creamy, Perfectly Mashed Potatoes.
I quite often get the children to mash our potatoes and yes, it does require a bit of elbow grease and effort (which with my back I’m not able to apply).
The potatoes are so beautifully soft and creamy, that they break down easily.
Serve the potatoes straight away onto dinner plates, or for special occasions, pile into a serving bowl, dot with a little extra butter and a light sprinkle of nutmeg.
Yes it really is that simple!
Perfectly Mashed Potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to so many meals, made well they are delicious just on their own, perhaps with a little grated, sharp cheddar to top!
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Perfectly Mashed Potatoes, here are some other potato recipes you also may like:
Today I have the easiest, most delicious and versatile side dish for you, my Lime Couscous.
Since this is full of fresh lime flavour and so easy to make, it will soon become part of your repertoire.
For those of you who have not yet tried couscous, let me explain what it is. Couscous are tiny pieces of dried pasta and unless labelled otherwise it is NOT gluten free.
Due to it being so small it doesn’t even need cooking. Rather, it simply needs rehydrating with hot liquid.
How easy is that ??!!
I developed this recipe for Lime Couscous to specifically partner my MorrocanLamb Stew. It is absolutely delicious with the stew. Balancing the fruity, spicey sauce, with its own tangy, citrus flavour.
Because couscous can be served at room temperature it is absolutely perfect for buffets and barbecues. It’s fresh lime flavour pairs really well with fish, chicken, lamb kebabs – really the possibilities are endless. I cannot wait to try it with my ChunkyChilli.
Recipe: Lime Couscous serves 6 people.
300g/11oz Dried Couscous – allow 50g/2oz per person
Hello, how are you? It’s wet and dreary outside, so I have the perfect, cold weather side dish for you today, Leek Colcannon.
Dreamy, ultra creamy, mashed potatoes, mixed with gorgeously green, savoy cabbage and sauteed leeks.
Mashed potato vamped up to the max!
This Leek Colcannon is the perfect side dish for all your Autumn/Winter favorites – sausages, homemade pie, chops, roast chicken. Really there are endless possibilities to what you could pair this dish with.
Did you know that the beginning of November heralds the start of the British leek growing season? Nope neither did I!!
I absolutely love leeks, with their delicate onion flavour and that is exactly what makes them perfect in this dish.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made using mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. While I challenged myself to come up with some recipes to celebrate the British leek, I knew it’s delicate flavour would perfectly compliment the traditional Colcannon dish.
Also using seasonal fruit and vegetables in my cooking is important to me and savoy cabbage is in season now, so my choice of brassica was decided.
Nutmeg also pairs beautifully with leeks and so I knew I had to incorporate that into the dish – thus the Leek Colcannon idea was born. Whoops there I go, having ideas again – fortunately this one turned out to be absolutely delicious.
Recipe : Serves 6 generous portions of Leek Colcannon
1.75kg/4lb Pre-peeled weight Desiree Red or other Mashing Potatoes
50g/2oz Butter plus 1Tbsp extra
300ml/10fl Double Cream or whole milk
1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg –
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Savoy Cabbage – mine was medium sized
1 Leek – usual sized (use 2 if they are very small)
Method : Important please read through the whole method before starting.
Peel and dice the potatoes into 1″/2.5cm chunks and place in a large pan, cover with water. If you wish to add salt to the water that’s fine, I left the seasoning to the end.
Bring the potatoes to the boil and the simmer until a fork easily pierces the potato chunks – it’s worth checking a couple.
Drain the potatoes and place back into the saucepan. Allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.
Add the butter, 250mls of the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Add the rest of the cream if needed – the potatoes should be creamy, not dry. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking you can prepare the cabbage and leeks.
Continue peeling off the leaves, stacking and shredding. I used almost all of the savoy cabbage. I left the very few inner, yellow leaves. If you have a large cabbage cut in half and use one half.
Place the shredded cabbage into a large saucepan, pour over an inch of boiling water from the kettle, clamp on the lid and cook on a high heat for no longer than 5 minutes.
Place the cabbage back into its pan and allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.
Next, the leek. Trim the tough dark green top from the leek and also the root end. Make a slit cutting almost through from the top of the leek to two thirds down.
Wash the leek under running cold water ensuring any dirt, trapped between the leaves is washed away.
Shake the leek over the sink to remove any excess water.
Tip : I wash my leeks, shake them and leave them upside down on the draining board to drain, before prepping other vegetables.
Place a tablespoon of butter into a shallow pan and gently saute the leeks until tender, over a medium heat.
Ooh this Leek Colcannon was absolutely scrumptious. It was served with steak, leek and ale pie alongside steamed carrots. Fortunately there was enough left over to make bubble and squeak patties for lunch the next day!
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I do hope that I’ve inspired you to try this delightful dish. Although I used double cream – well we were celebrating the start of the British leek growing season – milk is a perfectly fine substitute. Switching up the greens to Kale or Spring Greens through the growing season will be fine, just make sure they are cooked until just tender – I haven’t found a fan of overcooked, soggy cabbage yet!
Please let me know if you try this recipe? I really enjoy reading your comments.
When the sun is shining and the temperature gauge keeps going up, cool, refreshing food is what we need. My Tangy Lemon Potato Salad is cool, refreshing with a hint of crunch. Also this is the perfect side dish to, well, just about anything! We’re having this with fish tonight.
While my Tangy Lemon Potato Salad does have mayonnaise in the sauce, you can use a light/lower fat mayo feel free. The mayonnaise is thinned down with the juice of a whole lemon. It’s this juice that permeates the warm potatoes, that once chilled, take on a tongue tingling tang, whilst at the same time stopping the mayonnaise from becoming gloopy.
If you’re organised (quite often I’m not) cooking the potatoes and getting this salad made first thing in the morning, or even the night before, not only allows all the flavours to merge together, but you are also guaranteed a cold salad. A wonderful contrast to hot fish/quiche and also perfect as part of a cold meal/picnic/buffet.
I can guarantee that once you have made this Tangy Lemon Potato Salad you will want to keep making it.
Recipe : Tangy Lemon Potato Salad, serves 6 as a side dish.
1kg/2.2lb Baby New Potatoes I like Charlotte as they are available all year roundfrom most supermarkets including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s
Juice of 1 Whole Lemon
1 Lemon – for slicing
4 Heaped Tablespoons Mayonnaise
1/2tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon, halve the quantity if using free flowing
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 Celery Sticks
3 Spring Onions
2 tbsp Chives
Scrub the potatoes to remove any dirt. Cut any larger potatoes in half so that all the potatoes are roughly the same size.
Simmer the potatoes until just tender, drain, return to the pan and leave with the lid on, to finish steaming for 20-30mins.
In a bowl add the juice of one lemon, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
Drain the potatoes and leave to steam dry in a colander for 5 minutes.
Chop the spring onions and celery into small dice.
If you like you can serve the Tangy Lemon Potato Salad as it is. I prefer to jazz it up with a few, very finely sliced Lemon halves. They are perfectly edible (although if you just want to use them for garnish that’s fine) and taste delicious. Also the sliced lemon let’s people know that there is lemon juice in the potato salad.
Make this Tangy Lemon Potato Salad up to a day ahead. Store in a bowl wrapped in cling film and keep refrigerated. Eat within 3 days.
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Lemons give a fresh, zesty, citrus burst to any dish they are used in, whether sweet or savoury. A particular favourite of ours, here at home is Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken followed by Lemon Ripple Ice Cream for dessert. Sharing a feast around the table as a family is an important part of our lives.
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.
No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Bread is something that I really enjoy making. Flour, yeast, salt and water, combined and worked, create a bread with real taste. Add in a few extra flavours and the possibilities are endless. Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is an incredibly easy, yet packed with flavour bread. Perfect for making at home.
This week in our house is all about birthdays. Our Lil Man will be 12 this week, it’s also my Sister’s birthday in the same week. Definitely time for Feasting, Celebrating and Fun! Covert baking operations during the day – ready for surprises on their special days. Ooh I love a celebration – well that is as long as I’m not the center of attention!
Fortunately, shyness is not something our son could ever be accused of having. His enthusiasm and passion for life is infectious and wonderful to see. He waits all year for his birthday and the night before, without fail, he reaches ‘ready to explode’ status!Christmas is the same for him, times a gazillion!I adore his passion & zest for life, even if at times it can be exhausting and overwhelming.
So, to make life a bit easier on myself today, I grabbed a previously, made and frozen Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne from the freezer last night and left it to defrost in the fridge overnight. Yes, I confess to feeling a tiny little bit smug.
Since I have a bread maker that makes my life (in the world of bread baking), so much easier, I decided to whip up a couple of these GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD. Also, as this is such a reliable and easy recipe, I decided to share it with you.
GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD: makes 2 loaves.
You will need 2 x lightly oiled 8×8″ square tins ( with at least 2″ depth), or – 1 larger oiled baking tray (2″ deep) to bake one large focaccia.
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper for top of the bread
2 tbs Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped
8 Garlic Bulbs (4 for bread mixture, 4 for topping the bread).
Method: Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7
When using a bread maker or stand mixer:
Place the warm water into the pan or bowl of the device you are using, making sure the dough hook is attached to the stand mixer.
Sprinkle over the sachet of dried, activated yeast and swish about with clean fingers to mix.
Next place the flour on top of the liquid mixture. Add the oil and salt.
Now add 1 tbs of the finely chopped Rosemary and salt.
Add in four minced bulbs of garlic. I’m a very big fan of my garlic press (no peeling or chopping), but you may chop, process, squish with the back of your knife. Please don’t write in with other methods for finely mincing garlic, just be happy that you’re innovative.
Now mix & prove (if using a bread maker). With a stand mixer, attach the dough hook & mix for 8-10 minutes, until the dough has a silky, stretchy, elasticity about it.
If kneading by hand, bring all the ingredients together and work (knead) the dough until you can feel the change, when the dough again stretches easily and feels silky to touch – a good way to check that the dough has been worked enough is that it should be hard to tear.
Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, then turn the ball over, so the top has an oily layer & cover tightly with cling film. Place in a warm draught free place until doubled in size (about an hour).
Prepare the baking tins (or large tin if only using one) by placing some oil in the tin (approx 1tsp for a smaller tin). Then using your fingers or a piece of kitchen towel completely cover the inside of the tin with a light slick if oil. When doing this by hand, your nails also benefit from a cuticle treatment.
Talking of fingers, if you have long nails it’s probably easier to apply the oil with the kitchen cloth. It also probably means you look after your hands and nails may not need a quick, olive oil cuticle treatment. Just saying, I NEED the treatment.
If using a bread machine switch on to knead cycle to knock the dough back for a minute. With the dough in the bowl, remove the cling film & gently punch down (enjoy the soft enveloping feeling!)the dough to knock out the air bubbles and gently knead by hand for 2 minutes.
Divide the dough in two (or leave whole if making a larger Focaccia) using a sharp knife or a dough cutter.
Place half the dough into each tin (or all into one tin).
NOW is the absolutely BEST thing about making this type of bread. If you loved making mud pies when you where younger, or maybe still do, you’re going to LOVE this next bit.
Using your the heel of your hand, gradually press the dough out until it reaches the edges of the tin and is roughly the same thickness across the tin.
Next using your fingers, have great fun making lots & lots & lots of dimples in the dough – to give it the classic focaccia look.
Can you tell how much I really love that part? So much fun!
Drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt flakes, the rest of the finely minced Rosemary, a grinding of pepper and the rest of the garlic. Split over 2 tins if making 2 Focaccia loves.
Lightly oil some cling film: TOP TIP: Using a clean wet cloth wipe some of your work surface so that it is damp. When laying your cling film over the top it will lay flat and not attempt to attach itself to itself, you, or random kitchen objects. You can then easily spread a light coating of oil over the cling using your hands, or a pastry brush.
I know there’s oil in the dough, the tin has been oiled, you’ve just drizzled oil on top of the focaccia – JUST TRUST ME!
Most of the time you could get away with not oiling the cling, but and it’s happened to me, it WON’T EVER STICK if you oil the cling!
Cover the top of the tin with the oiled cling (so it’s airtight) and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size. Alternatively, place the dough in the fridge. While it will take longer to rise, the bread will develop a lovely flavour, due to the slow prove. It’s your dough, so, do whatever you fancy.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP – I have successfully risen the dough slowly in the fridge, completely forgotten about it, so it quadruples in size. Knock it back by recreating the dimpled effect, as before, left to rise and it’s turned out fine.
Bake the focaccia in a preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until a golden colour and still quite soft. The base should sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle.
Once baked, remove from the oven, take a deep breath, the smell is intoxicating. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, run round the outside with a palette knife until you can feel the loaf easing from the tin. Turn the bread out and place on to a cooling rack. Repeat with second tin.
The Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread will be marshmallowy soft & is fine to serve warm as is. Or cool, wrap in foil and freeze for up to one month.
If you prefer a slight crust to your focaccia, 10 mins before serving, place the bread directly on to the rack of a preheated oven (as for baking the dough) for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how crusty you like it.
Because this bread is thinner than a loaf, you can cut or tear the bread whilst still warm.
This bread goes with any dish you would normally serve garlic bread with. It also goes fantastically well with soup. Spicy vegetable, leek and potato are especially good with this bread. It is ideal for dunking!
One Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is plenty for our family of five, so I wrap in foil and freeze the other one.
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I really hope you give this recipe a try. You can vary the herbs. I’ve used Thyme, Oregano and SHOCK/HORROR dried mixed herbs. Ooh I’m such a rebel! But seriously, it works better with the woodier herbs (rather than parsley/fennel) mentioned. Since I find that soft herbs are better mixed with butter and oil, then slathered into a baguette/ciabatta (part bake baguettes work well for this!).
Until next time, I hope you have fun giving this recipe a go and enjoy feasting with whoever you share it with.
See you soon. Sammie xx
No part of this blog post may be replicated without written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.