Leek, potato & cheddar pie

Leek, potato & cheddar pie

If there was ever a time to bake a pie…


Leek, potato and cheddar pie
Serves 4-8 / Hands on time 1 hr 45 mins / Total time 2 hrs 15 mins  + resting  / V
You’ll need: 25cm flan tin (preferable with a removable bottom) / baking paper / rolling pin /
For the rough-puff pastry: 
250g strong white bread flour
250g cold unsalted butter
1tsp sea salt flakes
100 ml cold water
For the filling:
150ml tap water
½ vegetable stock pot or cube
250g potatoes, cubed
250g leeks, trimmed and roughly chopped
½ white onion, peeled and chopped
100g mature vegetarian cheddar
1 egg, beaten


TIP: This recipe is split into 3 parts to give you the option of making the pie in stages – making a pie all in one day can be exhausting. I usually make the pastry the day before filling the pie and then refrigerate the pie over night before baking.


TIP: Alternatively, you can always use shop bought puff pastry.


PART 1:
Make the rough-puff pastry (Hands on time 45 mins + 30 mins resting)
1.
Mix the salt and the flour together in a large bowl before grating in a third of the cold butter. Using your hands, coat the butter in the flour before grating in another third of the butter and repeat with the last third. Adding the butter in batches makes it easier to incorporate.
2. Using your fingers, rub the butter loosely until it resembles breadcrumbs. This should take 10 to 15 mins so pop the radio on.
3. Make a well in the bowl and add 100 ml of cold water. Mix with a butter knife before using your hands to bring the crumbly dough together – being careful not to over work the dough.
4. Turn out onto a large piece of cling film and gather up the corners until you have a firm ball of pastry. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins. If making the filling the same day, use the next 30 mins to jump to PART 2. 


5. Once the pastry has rested, remove from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, mould the crumbly pastry into a rough rectangle (the pastry will be very crumbly but don’t let that scare you, it will start to come together at you roll it out). Flour your rolling pin and roll the pastry away from you in one direction only, until roughly three times the original length, flouring the surface as you go if needed.
6. Fold the top third of the pastry down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn to the left or right, flour the surface and your rolling pin if needed and roll out again to three times the length in one direction.
7. Fold as before, before wrapping well in cling film and refrigerating again for at least 20 mins. The pastry can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.


PART 2:
Make the filling (Hands on time 25 mins + cooling)
1. Chop 250g potatoes into cubes (I leave the skins on, but you can peel them if you prefer) and add them to a medium sized saucepan along with 150ml of tap water and half a stock cube or stock pot. Bring to the boil and cook over a high heat for 5 mins.
2. Add 250g of chopped leeks and half a chopped onion to the pan and simmer with the lid on for 8 mins or until the vegetables are tender and all the liquid has evaporated, stirring regularly.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool fully. The filling can be refrigerated for up to 5 days if you’re planning on assembling your pie another day.


PART 3:
Assemble the pie (Hands on time 30-35 mins + 30 mins baking time)
1. Grease the tin well and dust with flour before lining the base with baking paper. Put to one side.
2. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut a third of the pastry off and put to one side (this will be your pastry top). Roll out the pastry until it’s a few millimetres thick and big enough to comfortably line the tin, flouring the surface and the rolling pin as you go.
3. Drape the pastry over the tin and carefully push the pastry into the edges and up the sides using your fingertips. You will need the overhanging pastry but trim off any excessively long pieces and put to one side (these will be used to decorate your pie later). Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and turn your attention back to the filling.
4. Grate the cheddar and incorporate into the cooled leek mixture. Season well with salt and black pepper before spooning into the tin. Spread the filling out evenly and put the pie to one side. Before you preheat your oven, line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch any melted butter. Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7.
5. Mould the third of the pastry you saved for the top into a ball and roll out on a floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut out a circle, big enough to fit snugly over the exposed filling (this doesn’t need to be too perfect, if the pastry is slightly too big to sit comfortably in the tin simply trim more off).
6. Fold the excess pastry back in on top of the pie lid and crimp around the edges to give a decorative crust – again, this doesn’t have to be perfect.
7. Use any excess pastry you removed earlier to decorate the pie. I cut out leaf shapes but you can decorate your pie however you like. If you are planning on baking the pie another day, now is a good time to wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.
8. Egg wash the pie all over before making 2 small incisions in the centre to allow steam escape. Bake on the middle shelf for 30-35 mins or until the pastry is golden.
9. Allow the pie to cool for 10-15 mins before removing carefully from the tin and discarding the baking paper. I do this by placing a lightweight chopping board or plate over the top of the pie and flipping it on its head. This allows you to lift off the tin (do not do this when the pie is still hot as it may not hold its structure). Repeat the same trick with a cooling rack to get the pie right side up.
10. Serve warm or cold with a simple green salad.
The pie will last for up to 4 days wrapped up in the fridge.

Leek, potato & cheddar pie

Want more? Take your pie making skills to the next level by enrolling on the ultimate pie making course with River Cottage chef Tom Morrell. He will teach you all the skills necessary to make a variety of savoury pastry recipes – including shortcrust, rough puff, hot water crust and suet.


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V – Vegetarian



Three warming vegan soups for cold winter nights

Veganuary may be coming to an end… but that doesn’t mean we should start loading up on the bacon butties. Incorporating more plant-based meals into our everyday repertoire can only be a good thing, so let’s get started with these tasty vegan soups to warm the body and soul.


Carrot & ginger soup with cashew cream

Carrot & ginger soup with cashew cream
Serves 4 / Hands on time 35 mins / Total time 50 mins + soaking
You’ll need: A food processor
1 tbs olive oil
600g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
1 large knob of ginger (roughly 50g), grated
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 ½ litre of vegetable stock, I use 1 ½ Knorr stock pots
Cashew cream
150g cashews
¼ tsp salt
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
150ml water

Method
1. The night before, soak 150g of cashews in a bowl of water overnight.
2. Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/400°F/gas mark 7. Peel and roughly chop the carrots and put them in a large roasting tray, along with the grated ginger, chopped onion, bashed garlic, nutmeg and olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and give it all a good mix, before roasting in the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. Rinse and drain the cashews and put them in a food processor along with 150ml of water, a crushed garlic clove, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blitz for around 5-7 minutes or until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Put to one side.
3. Once the carrots are roasted, carefully pour them into a large cooking pot before adding a litre of vegetable stock and a drained can of chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes before blending either in a food processor or with a hand blender.
4. Pour into bowls, top with lashing of cashew cream and serve with bread.


Winter ribollita
Winter ribollita

Winter ribollita
Serves 4 / Hands on time 10 mins / Total time 50 mins 

1 tsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
½ tsp salt
1 can plum tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 litre vegetable stock, I use 2 Knorr stock pots
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
100g cavalo nero or kale, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil to serve

Method
1. In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, add 1 tsp of olive oil over a low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic, celery, parsnip, carrot and the salt. Give it a good stir, cover with a lid and leave to soften for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
2. Add a can of plum tomatoes and break them up with a spoon. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and the vegetable stock before upping the heat and bringing to the boil. Simmer uncovered for 15 mins before adding the cavalo nero and parsley. Give it a stir and cook for a further 5 mins.
3. Take off the heat, ladle into bowls and top with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve with crusty bread and good crack of black pepper.


Fragrant Coconut Soup
Fragrant Coconut Soup

Fragrant coconut soup
Serves 2 / Hands on time 25 mins / Total time 30 mins

2 cans light coconut milk
1 vegetable stock pot, I use Knorr
2 sticks of lemon grass, bashed (I use a rolling pin)
½ white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
1 medium sized red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 knob of ginger, roughly grated
2 tsp caster sugar
28g bunch coriander, chopped
145g nest of rice noodles
2 tsp miso paste or light soy sauce
5 chestnut mushrooms, roughly sliced
2 bulbs of pak choy, roughly chopped
3 Chinese leaves or a handful for kale, roughly chopped
Juice of a lime

Method
1. In a large saucepan, add the 2 cans of coconut milk, vegetable stock cube or pot, chopped onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, bashed lemongrass and sugar. Roughly chop the coriander stalks (saving the leaves) and add to the coconut milk. Give it a good stir and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook your rice noodles in small saucepan according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and cover in a stream of cold water until completely cold (this will stop the noodles from continuing to cook). Drain again and divide the noodles into two large soup bowls. Put to one side.
3. Turn your attention back to the soup and give it a quick stir. Roughly chop the remaining coriander leaves, Chinese leaves, pak choy and mushrooms.
4. After 15 minutes your soup should be well infused and fragrant. Over a large bowl, carefully pour your soup through a sieve. Discard the contents of the sieve and pour the remaining soup back into your saucepan.
4. Stir through 2 tsp of red miso paste and add the pak choy, mushrooms and Chinese leaf. Give it a good stir and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes or until the veg is tender. Take the saucepan off the heat, squeeze over the lime juice and stir. Finally, ladle over the cooked noodles and top with fresh coriander.


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.

 



Cheesy pasta bake

Cheesy pasta bake

As we’re not set to leave the house anytime soon, I don’t see the point in embarking on a silly new year diet. New year, new you? No thanks. I choose cheese. Our fridge is still overflowing with the stuff from Christmas, so what better way to use it up than in a deliciously indulgent, cheesy pasta bake. This is what cold winter nights are made for after all. So, grab a spoon and dive into my melty cheese dream, where Covid no longer exists and I can visit my mum anytime I like.


Cheesy pasta bake 
Serves 4 / Hands on time 20-25 mins / Total time 40 mins / V* 
You’ll need: A deep oven dish approx 25cm (5cm deep)
3 tsp rapeseed oil
1 aubergine, cubed
1 pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
½ red onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp sea salt flakes
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chopped tomatoes
200g wholemeal penne
4 tbs red pesto
2 handfuls pitted black olives (optional)
100g soft cheese – I used goats cheese but stilton, camembert, mozzarella or even brie would work.
80g mature cheddar, grated
20g Parmesan* or vegetarian hard cheese, grated (optional)


Method
1. Preheat an oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7. Roughly chop the red onion and the pepper and add to the baking dish along with the cubed aubergine. Sprinkle over the dried oregano and the salt before drizzling over the oil. Give it a good stir to evenly distribute the seasoning and the oil and bake in the oven for 15 mins.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions minus 2 minutes (this ensures the pasta doesn’t become too soft during oven cooking later. While the pasta is cooking, use this time to grate the cheddar, parmesan and chop/crumble your chosen soft cheese.
3. Remove the vegetables from the oven and give them a good shake before adding the cherry tomato halves. Mix well and return to the oven for a further 5 mins.
4. Drain the pasta and give it a quick blast of cold water (this will stop it from continuing to cook). Stir in a tsp of oil to prevent the pasta sticking to each other and put to one side to continue to drain.
5. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven (leave the oven on) and add the can of tinned tomatoes, red pesto and black olives. Stir until the sauce is evenly distributed before adding the pasta bit by bit to ensure it gets fully incorporated.
6. Finally, submerge the soft cheese throughout the pasta bake and top with the grated cheddar and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15 mins. Switch the oven to a hot grill setting and grill for a further 2 mins or until the top is golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 mins before serving with a simple green salad.

Cheesy pasta bake

For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V – Vegetarian
*Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.



Peppermint creams: The classic edible Christmas gift

A vintage classic and reminiscent of my school days, peppermint creams make the perfect and utterly delicious edible gift! So why not forgo the After Eight mints this Christmas and pass around a plate of homemade peppermint creams? My mini versions are dipped in dark chocolate and cut into bitesize rounds but it is Christmas, so get creative and dig out whatever cookie cutter you have and get stamping!


Bitesize peppermint creams
Bitesize peppermint creams

Bitesize peppermint creams
Makes 20-30 mini rounds / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 40 mins + setting time / V Gf
You’ll need: Baking paper, rolling pin and a small round cookie cutter
300g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
¼ tsp peppermint flavouring
1 egg (the white separate from the yolk)
1 tsp of lemon juice
90g Green and Black’s Organic 70% dark chocolate


Method
1. Separate the egg yolk from the egg white in a small bowl and discard the egg yolk. In a large mixing bowl, sieve the icing sugar before adding half the egg white along with a ¼ tsp of peppermint flavouring and a tsp of lemon juice.
2. Mix slowly with a wooden spoon to avoid the icing sugar flying everywhere. The mix will seem very dry but keep mixing until the icing sugar comes together to form a firm dough. If you need more liquid add more egg white.
3. Once the dough has formed, remove the spoon from the bowl and knead the dough with your hands – like you would a bread dough. If the dough is too sticky you may need to add more icing sugar.
4. Line a large chopping board with a piece of baking paper and sprinkle with icing sugar, put to one side. Cut out another large piece of baking paper and place on a clean dry surface. Sprinkle with icing sugar and turn the dough out onto it before sprinkling with more icing sugar. Roll out the mixture with a rolling pin to roughly 1 centimetre thick.
5. Insert the cookie cutter into the dough, give it a twist and extract a little round of dough. Place the round onto the lined chopping board and repeat (gathering up and rolling out the dough if necessary). Cover the peppermint creams loosely with cling film and leave to set for at least 3 hours or preferable over-night.
6. Once set, it’s time to melt the chocolate. Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, take off the heat and place a small heat-proof bowl over it. Break in the pieces of chocolate and wait for it to melt (try not to stir it until nearly all the chocolate has melted). Meanwhile, line a baking tray or cooling rack with baking paper sprinkled with icing sugar.
7. Once melted, tilt the bowl slightly to the side to allow a deeper pool of chocolate for you to dip your peppermint creams into. One by one, dip each peppermint cream into the chocolate, wait for the drips to stop and place on your newly lined cooling rack. Repeat until all of your peppermint creams are coated.
8. Leave in a cool dry place for the chocolate to set. Once set, carefully peel the peppermint creams off the baking paper before boxing up and gifting to a lucky family member or friend.

Bitesize peppermint creams
Bitesize peppermint creams

For more Christmassy ideas visit my new Christmas page.


For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.


 

Lebkuchen: The German festive treat

Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen

Okay, it’s time to give in. The first of December is rapidly approaching, accompanied by Christmas adverts and festive Instagram posts. Soon, highstreets will be twinkling with jolly festive lights and Christmas trees will go on sale in Sainsbury’s – there’s no escape. So, we may as well get into the swing of things with a spot of festive baking, and what better way to get the Christmas juices flowing, than a batch of Lebkuchen. These traditional German Christmas biscuits are cakey in texture, gently spiced and make a great introduction to the festivities.


Lebkuchen
Makes 16-18 biscuits / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 30 mins + cooling and icing / V
250g plain flour
80g ground almonds
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
2 tsp cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of half a lemon
200g honey
50g dark brown muscovado sugar
80g unsalted butter
110g icing sugar


Method
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with all the spices, cocoa powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and the zest of half a lemon. Mix until the ingredients are well distributed.
2. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the honey, butter and the dark muscovado sugar together. Once melted take off the heat and pour straight into the dry mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a wet dough. Leave to cool for a few minutes or until the dough is cool enough to handle. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
3. The dough will still be warm but easy to work with. Using your hands pick up around 35g of dough (about the size of a walnut) roll into a ball and divide between 2 lined baking trays, spacing out evenly to allow room for the biscuits to expand. Using the back of table spoon, flatten each ball slightly into a disk shape (although they should spread out slightly naturally on their own).
4. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins. Once expanded and golden in colour, remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for 5 mins before twisting each biscuit carefully with your fingers to loosen it and transferring to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
5. To ice, mix 110g of icing sugar with 1 and a half tbs of water until you have a thick but loose paste. Place a sheet of cling film under the wire rack to catch any drips. Spoon 1 tsp of icing over each biscuit and using the back of the spoon, push the icing to the edges using a circular motion (don’t worry if these drip, that’s the idea). Grate over the remaining lemon zest (optional) and leave to set before serving. Store in a tin lined with a baking sheet for up to a week.


For more Christmassy ideas visit my new Christmas page.


For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.


 

A squash is for life, not just Halloween

On my daily stroll around the block (gotta’ get those lockdown steps in) my route is surprisingly still peppered with shrivelled decaying Halloween pumpkins. Staring at me with their empty eyes from windowsills and porches got me thinking. After the 31st of October, do pumpkins and squashes get a little forgotten about? A squash is for life not just for Halloween… Well perhaps not for life, but this versatile ingredient can be baked, curried, squashed (literally) and stuffed – which is my favourite method, especially when it involves cheese. I opted for an onion squash for this recipe but feel free to experiment as you’ll be spoilt for choice this time of year.

Mini Squash Fondues
Mini Squash Fondues

Mini squash fondues
Serves 2 / Hands on time 30 mins / Takes 1 hour
2 mini squashes (roughly 550g each) I used onion squash
75g vegetarian Emmental
75g Gruyere or medium cheddar cheese
50g Parmesan
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
4 tbs white wine or prosecco
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Crusty bread and salad leaves to serve


Method
1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6. Finely grate the cheeses and mix them together in a large bowl. Put to one side.
2. Using a sharp knife carefully cut the tops off the squashes to create the lids and put to one side. Carefully hollow out the squash by cutting a hole in the top and then scooping out the seeds with a spoon.
3. Once you’ve hollowed out the squash, check to see if each squash stands up on its own. If they’re uneven and tilt, carefully level off the bottom of your squash with a knife, taking care not to cut too deep (if you do accidently create a hole, pop the bottom back on and make a little foil coat for your squash to sit in to prevent it from leaking). Alternatively, use foil to create a stable bed for your squashes to sit in.
4. Crush a garlic clove into each squash, followed by a small sprinkle of parsley and 1 tablespoon of white wine into each. Season well with salt and pepper.
5. Fill each squash with half the cheese and then add another tablespoon of wine to each squash. Season again and stuff the squashes with the rest of the cheese. Top with the remaining parsley, season with salt and pepper and pop the individual squash lids on.
6. Put both squashes on a baking tray and bake them for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the lids and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately with a simple green salad and stale for dipping and scooping.

Mini Squash Fondues
Mini Squash Fondues

For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.

 



Is that an aubergine in your pocket or are you … Oh, it is an aubergine

Aubergine & Chickpea Stew

At their best from July to September, now is the perfect time to get your hands on the nations favourite emoji. The aubergine. With its glossy purple skin and spongy centre, this vegetable loves nothing more than to soak up flavours and I have just the recipe! This aubergine and chickpea stew is warm with cinnamon spice but fresh with mint and yogurt, perfect to see out the last of the Summer nights before welcoming Autumn in all her golden glory.


Aubergine & chickpea stew
Serves 4 / Hands on time 30 mins / Total time 1 hr / V Vn Gf Df 
1 tsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 aubergines, cut into large chunks
6 medium sized tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 can tinned chickpeas, drained
500ml vegetable stock, I use Knorr stock pots
3 bay leaves
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dried parsley
100ml *vegan red wine
To serve 
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Greek or dairy free yogurt (optional)
Drizzle of Pomora extra virgin olive oil
Serve with crusty bread or couscous


Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and the garlic and add them to a large cooking pot with a teaspoon of oil. Over a medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic for around 5 minutes or until softened (if the onions are getting a little too much colour, add a dash of water to the pot to help them to steam).
  2. Add 1 tsp of cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika and 1 and a half tsp of cinnamon then give it a good stir. Add a little water to the mix if again it’s looking a little dry and to allow the spices to release their lovely aromas.
  3. Cook the spices for a couple of minutes before adding the freshly chopped tomatoes, 500ml of vegetable stock, 100ml red wine, the aubergine chunks, drained chickpeas, 3 bay leaves and 1 tsp of dried parsley. Give it a good mix and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil.
  4. Turn the heat down to a simmer, pop the lid a jar and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, take the lid off, give it another stir and continue to cook without the lid for a further 15 minutes (this allows the sauce to thicken). Meanwhile, use this time to prepare your chosen accompaniment – I like to serve it with couscous or with a loaf of crusty bread on warmer days and mashed potato on cooler ones.
  5. Take the stew off the heat and carefully pick out the bay leaves. Divide into bowls along your chosen accompaniment, a generously sprinkle of fresh mint, yogurt (optional), and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
    Aubergine & Chickpea Stew
    Aubergine & Chickpea Stew

    For more foodie blogs, recipes and courses, visit learningwithexperts.com.

Carrot cake loaf: A slice of seasonless happiness

Come rain or shine (and I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a lot of both recently) there is always a good time for carrot cake. Although bursting with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre we all know the healthiest thing about a carrot cake is its name and the minuscule amount of cardio that goes with grating carrots – which frankly is the worst part about making carrot cake. But there is a reason this sweet vegetable deserves its place in the cake hall of fame, and that’s because it’s utterly delicious and worth grating your finger nails for. So why not whip up this seasonless classic and enjoy slice after slice with numerous cups of tea, because that is how carrot cake should be gobbled up – by the wedge load. Although I’m pretty sure Bugs Bunny would have a few words to say about that and not all of them so savoury.

Carrot cake loaf
Carrot cake loaf

Carrot cake loaf
Make 1 loaf / Hands on time 35 mins / Total time 1 hr 45 mins / V
You’ll need: 2 lb loaf tin, electric hand whisk
Juice of 1 orange
45g sultanas
150g carrots, peeled and grated
150g soft brown sugar
80g self-raising flour
80g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
50g pecans, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt
150ml rapeseed oil
2 eggs
For the icing:
130g cream cheese
30g soft unsalted butter
65g icing sugar


Method
1. In a small saucepan, heat the juice of an orange over a low to medium heat and add the sultanas. Warm through for 10 minutes before putting to one side to cool.
2. Meanwhile, grease the base and sides of a loaf tin with a bit of extra rapeseed oil and line the bottom with baking paper. Put to one side and preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ 350°F/gas mark 4.
3. Peel and grate the carrot before weighing out the sugar, self-raising flour, wholemeal flour, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the roughly chopped pecans and give it a good mix before incorporating in the grated carrots using a wooden spoon.
4. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the rapeseed oil and the eggs until combined. Pour into the carrot mixture and mix thoroughly. Spoon into the loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hr or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese icing by whisking the butter and the cream cheese together in a bowl with an electric whisk. Fold in the icing sugar with a spoon before whisking again for a couple of minutes. Cover loosely with cling film and refrigerate.
6. Allow the carrot cake to cool completely in the tin before turning out and topping with lashings of cream cheese icing.
7. To store, keep the cake refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container or wrapped in cling film. Ideally, allow the cake to come up to room temperature before serving.

Carrot cake loaf
Carrot cake loaf

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


 

Broccoli fusilli with kale & walnut pesto

Broccoli fusilli with kale & walnut pesto

In the back of the vegetable crisper it waits patiently. Its bushy green head turning ever so slightly yellow, it’s pine coloured leaves wilt and shrivel whilst its branches begin to soften. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Liberate your head of broccoli by chopping it up (stalk and all) and serving it al dente stirred through wholemeal pasta with a vibrant kale and walnut pesto. Delish! Alternatively, leave the dish to cool fully before refrigerating and serving as a summery accompaniment to any barbecue. Adding crumbled feta or parmesan shavings add a bit of extra indulgence or leave it as it is to please any plant-based guests you may be entertaining.


Broccoli fusilli with kale and walnut pesto
Serves 2 / Hands on time 15 mins / Total time 20 mins / V Vn Df
You’ll need: A food processor
50g walnuts (about 2 handfuls)
½ regular sized garlic clove, peeled and roughly sliced
1 handful of kale, heavier stems removed and discarded
20-30g fresh basil
4 tbs Pomora extra virgin olive oil
150g wholemeal brown fusilli
1 head of broccoli


Method
1. Put a full kettle on to boil and pour the pasta into a large saucepan (big enough to accommodate an entire chopped head broccoli).
2. Meanwhile, make the pesto by peeling and roughly chopping the garlic before adding it to a food processor, along with the walnuts and a handful of kale (heavier stems removed). Blitz on full for about 10 seconds or until you have a rough paste.
2. Add the fresh basil, a good sprinkle of salt and pepper and give it another blitz – this time for a bit longer until you have a slightly smoother paste.
3. Lastly, add 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil before blending for a final time (how long you blend is up to you depending on how smooth you like your pesto). Put to one side.
4. Pour the boiling water from the kettle over the pasta and add a half a tsp of salt to the water. Use more water than you would usually as you will need to boil the broccoli in it too. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until 4 mins before the end of the cooking time. Meanwhile, pull he florets off the broccoli with your fingers and chop into big chunks include the stalk and the leaves.
5. Four minutes before the pasta is cooked add the broccoli florets to the pasta pan and boil for the remaining cooking time.
6. Strain the pasta and the broccoli well before transferring back into the saucepan off the heat. Add the pesto and stir well until evenly distributed. Divide onto plates and serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a crack of black pepper.

Broccoli fusilli with kale & walnut pesto

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V – Vegetarian    Vn – Vegan     Df – Dairy free



Better feta

Feta isn’t just for crumbling over salads, this ewe’s cheese is much more versatile than you may have originally thought. Softly brined, tangy, salty and ever so slightly sour and sweet in flavour, feta can add a welcome depth and texture to a number of dishes. Whipped, baked or even fried, this pleasing block of ‘white gold’ deserves to be centre stage to bring the taste of Greece to your dinner table.


Whipped feta and avocado dip

Whipped feta and avocado dip
Add 100g of feta to a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a handful of fresh mint leaves and blitz again until combined. Add the flesh of a whole avocado along with 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Blitz for a final time until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Serves 2.


Fried feta on toast with honey & thyme

Fried feta on toast with thyme and honey
On a small side plate, add a heaped tbs of flour. Slice 100g of feta into two even slices and dust well in the flour. Beat an egg in a small bowl, season well with salt and pepper and pour onto a plate. Dip the cheese into the egg and cover evenly. In a small frying pan on a medium heat, add a tbs of oil. Once hot, carefully place the cheese in and fry gently on each side for a couple of minutes or until golden. Serve on a piece of toasted sourdough, drizzled in good quality honey and sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves. Serves 1.


Baked Feta

Baked Mediterranean feta
Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400F/gas mark 6. Slice 1 red pepper along with half a red onion, 8 cherry tomatoes (halved) and 2 handfuls of black olives (halved). Smooth out 2 large pieces of kitchen foil and divide the chopped red pepper and arrange in the centre of each piece of foil. Season well with salt and pepper. Slice 200g of feta in half and pop each slice on top of the bed of sliced peppers. Top the feta with the onions and the cherry tomatoes (it doesn’t matter if a few fall off, just leave them at the side). Scatter over the olives and sprinkle with dried oregano. Season with salt and pepper before folding up the sides of each parcel and scrunching the top until sealed. Place both on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 mins. Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and open the parcels up just enough to drain away any excess liquid before sliding onto plates. Serve with warm pita bread and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Jamie’s Feta & Cherry Tomato Rigatoni

Feta and cherry tomato pasta sauce
Half 20 cherry tomatoes and put in a large saucepan with 1tsp olive oil and 1 tsp of oregano. Cook on a medium heat for 5 mins until softened. Add 3 tbs tomato purée, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1 grated courgette and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium to low heat with the lid on for a further 10 mins. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water (follow packet instructions). Drain the pasta and pour straight into the sauce. Stir well before adding the chopped basil and 150g of crumbled feta. Stir again until combined and the cheese begins to melt. Serve topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good crack of pepper.


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