Tag Archives: Parmesan

Random Recipe #8: Three-cheese summer vegetable bake

I have a minor confession: I’m ever-so-slightly addicted to food magazines.  There are worse things to be addicted to though, so it’s all good (flawless logic).  Also, I’m not addicted to any-and-every food magazine out there, oh no, I’m quite picky – it has to be well laid-out and intelligently written, have lots of mouth-watering photos, contain a majority of recipes that I’m actually likely to make and I have to be confident that the recipes will work.  For this month’s Random Recipe challenge, we had to randomly pick a recipe from our collection of magazines or recipe cuttings (we all have them!).  My recipe cuttings are in several different folders and I have some saved on my laptop and some still saved on my old laptop because I haven’t quite got round to transferring them, making randomly choosing a recipe rather impractical.  So I decided to go for the magazine option.

I may or may not have slightly flouted the rules and not picked my magazine randomly.  All with good reason though.  See, to justify my food magazine habit, I’ve made a rule for myself: if I buy a food magazine, I have to try at least two recipes from it (though nothing happens if I don’t).  So I picked out the September 2011 issue of delicious. because A) I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet and B) we’re in September so it should have seasonal recipes in it (if I’d had September issues from previous years, I’d have mixed them all up and chosen one randomly).  Out came the trusty calculator with its random number generator which pointed me to page 19: a mouth-watering photo of a three-cheese summer vegetable bake.  Sounds yummy to me!

It turned out to be very yummy indeed, although there seemed to be an issue with the stated cooking times because they were certainly not long enough to cook all the vegetables (especially the potatoes) through.  Which disappointed me somewhat I’ve never had an issue with the recipes in delicious. before.  Have I just been lucky up until now?  It was hardly a disaster though – on taking the bake out of the oven to remove the foil and scatter the cheese over the top, it was quite obvious that the vegetables weren’t nearly cooked enough, so it went back in the oven for a little while.  No biggie.  Except that we had lunch (which we eat as our main meal, French-style) rather later than planned.  Once it came out of the oven properly cooked, it was rather delicious, filling but not too heavy, which is always a good thing!  Since the recipe uses seasonal vegetables, I’m also submitting it to this month’s Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food.

Three-cheese summer vegetable bake

Serves 4
Adapted from delicious. (September 2011)

I love the combination of vegetables in this dish – I don’t really tend to use fennel much, so it’s something a little different.  I also really liked that this dish was filling, but not too heavy.  I had to increase the cooking times quite significantly to the ones given here so that the vegetables (particularly the potatoes) were cooked through, so do be aware of that, and if you don’t think it’s quite cooked enough, don’t be afraid to pop it back in the oven for another 10 mins or so!


1 fennel bulb
2 large potatoes
1 courgette
1 red pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
Handful fresh parsley
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
100g smoked ham
100g ricotta
250g mozzarella ball
50g parmesan


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Finely slice the fennel bulb, potatoes, courgette and de-seeded red pepper and finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and fresh parsley.  Mix them all together in a bowl with the flour and season well.

3.  Place a third of the vegetable mix in a large ovenproof dish.  Tear the ham into pieces and scatter half of it over the vegetables.  Scatter half of the ricotta and a third of the torn mozzarella over the top of the ham.  Cover with half the remaining vegetable mix, followed by the remaining ham, remaining ricotta and half the remaining mozzarella.  Evenly scatter the remaining vegetable mix over the top.  Set the left over mozzarella aside for later.

4.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour, before removing the foil and scattering the grated parmesan and remaining mozzarella.  Bake for a further 30-35 mins until golden.  Serve immediately.



Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods

How to cause disruption in the quiet carriage whilst enjoying your lunch

Last Friday I went down to Oxford as part of a surprise birthday celebration for one of my best friends from school, Keely.  Around mid-afternoon on Thursday I suddenly realised that I’d be travelling on the train during lunch-time and that I’d forgotten to plan for lunch.  I didn’t especially fancy over-priced, probably-not-so-great train food, which meant that I had to find something that I could make with the ingredients we had at home because it was pouring with rain (for a change), so I didn’t feel like trekking out to the supermarket.  I came across a recipe for parmesan and walnut mini loaves.  We had all the required ingredients, and mini loaves are practical to transport as well as easy to eat on a train without creating a huge mess – perfect!

Once on the train, I realised that I’d forgotten to take photos of the mini loaves at home, so if I wanted to share the recipe here, I was going to have to take photos of my lunch on the train.  Which would have been totally fine if my camera didn’t double-beep very loudly whenever it focusses and if I hadn’t booked myself into the quiet carriage…  I felt awfully disruptive, but I braved the glares and judgement of my fellow passengers and did a mini photo-shoot of my lunch.  The mini loaves were rather delicious though, so I ignored the very pointed throat-clearing started from somewhere behind me after about two photos, until I’d taken a grand total of five photos.  I know, I know, such a rebel in the quiet carriage.

I probably wouldn’t have felt so guilty if I’d known that my weekend would also involve practically breaking into Keely’s house to bake her a cake and madeleines as part of the surprise, making several terrible first impressions on her new housemates that she hadn’t even met yet (she’d moved into her new house the day before) and setting off their smoke alarm by accidentally lighting (indoor) sparklers directly underneath it.  A beeping camera in the quiet carriage seems rather tame in comparison, doesn’t it?  I realise that it sounds like we probably ruined Keely’s life for the near future, but she loved the surprise and thoroughly enjoyed her birthday – hurrah!  For my part, I had a lovely weekend seeing some friends that I hadn’t seen since I left school four years ago, and (most importantly for this blog post) I had an excellent lunch on my way down.  Win!

Parmesan & walnut mini loaves

Makes 6-8 mini loaves
Adapted from Mini cakes

These mini loaves are great for picnics as their shape and size makes them really easy to wrap up individually and transport, and they’re deceptively filling.  It also helps that they don’t create a total mess when you eat them.  They can get a little dry if left for a few days, but slicing them thinly and spreading butter on each slice sorts that out.  To make a large, single loaf of 26 cm in length, apparently you can add an additional ¼ of the ingredients and an extra egg, and cook for a little longer.


190g parmesan
140g all-purpose flour
30g chopped walnuts
2 eggs
70ml olive oil
70ml milk
1 heaped tsp baking powder (equivalent to 5.5g or ½ a French sachet)


1.  Butter and lightly flour the mini loaf tins, or set out silicone moulds.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Coarsely grate 140g of the parmesan into a medium-sized bowl.  Cut the remaining 50g of parmesan into small chunks using a knife, adding it to the bowl, but reserving about ⅓ of the chunks (for sprinkling on top of the mini loaves.  This is optional, and you can just add all the parmesan to the bowl).  Add the flour and chopped walnuts to the parmesan bowl, add some ground black pepper and mix together.

3.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs together with the oil and milk.  Add the dry ingredients, and mix together, taking care not to over-mix (it’s fine if it’s a bit lumpy).  Gently fold in the the baking powder.

4.  As soon as the baking powder has been mixed in, divide the batter between the loaf tins.  Sprinkle the reserved little parmesan chunks over the tops of each mini loaf and bake for about 30 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 mins in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.



Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods

Random Recipe #5: Black olive & sun-dried tomato mini loaves

Having sent all my academic books, folders and files down to Edinburgh with my mum about two weeks ago, my bookshelf here in St Andrews is now looking rather empty.  There’s something awfully desolate about empty bookshelves, don’t you think?  Although I’ve kept all my cookery books with me, so at least it’s not entirely empty yet, but it’s still a very sorry-looking bookshelf.  To be honest, I could easily survive for a month without recipes in book format, so I don’t need my cookery books with me, but they make the bookshelf look less depressingly empty and it also means I can take part in this month’s Random Recipe challenge (asking my mum to dig through several boxes to find the relevant recipe book, then a random recipe and then sending me a copy of said recipe would be a little bit over-complicated).

So, to justify keeping my cookery books up here with me, it’s time to do this month’s Random Recipe challenge, which has to come from our newest gifted cookery book.  In my case, this happens to be a lovely little book entitled Mini cakes, which was a present from one of my mum’s friends in France for my last birthday.  What we call cakes in France translates to loaves and quick breads in English rather than actual cake, which has occasionally lead to some serious confusion between my mum and I when discussing food whilst switching back and forth between languages.  Anyway, back to the recipe book – it contains both savoury and sweet recipes, and those that I’ve tried have all been yummy, so I was rather excited about trying out a new recipe from it.

When I was given the book, it also came with a great set of silicone mini loaf moulds.  Mini versions of things are (almost) always automatically adorable, and mini loaves (or “loaflets” as I sometimes like to call them) are no exception, so I was a little bit more excited than I probably should have been about trying out a new recipe from the book.  The random number button on my calculator directed me to page 26: a recipe for black olive and sun-dried tomato mini loaves, an appropriately summery-sounding recipe which I feel has “picnic food” stamped all over it.  I decided to bake these with a couple of modifications for lunch, and also decided to test the picnic theory by having lunch out in St Mary’s Quad.  They turned out so yummy that I will definitely be making them again soon, and the added bonus is that their mini loaf shape makes them very practical to take as part of a packed lunch/picnic.

Black olive & sun-dried tomato mini loaves

Makes 6-8 mini loaves
Adapted from Mini cakes

The original recipe calls for grated gruyère, but I used parmesan because I thought it would go better and I conveniently had some in the fridge anyway.  I also added oregano, to keep with the Mediterranean flavours.  These are tasty both warm or cold, and would make an excellent picnic food, perhaps accompanied by some chilled white wine…  If you want to make a single loaf of 26cm in length, add an additional ¼ of the ingredients and an extra egg, and cook for a little longer.


100g drained sun-dried tomatoes
100g drained & stoned black olives
70g parmesan
2 eggs
70 ml milk
70 ml olive oil
120g all-purpose flour
2 tsp dried oregano
1 heaped tsp baking powder (equivalent to 5.5g or ½ a French sachet)


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Butter and lightly flour the mini loaf tins or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Thoroughly drain the sun-dried tomatoes before roughly chopping them.  Drain the olives.  Slice 5-6 olives thinly and set aside to use for garnishing.  Halve the remaining olives.  Grate the parmesan.

3.  In a large bowl, gently beat the eggs, olive oil and milk together.  Add the flour, grated parmesan, tomatoes and halved olives along with the oregano and some salt and pepper and mix.  Gently mix in the baking powder.

4.  As soon as the baking powder has been incorporated, split the batter between the mini loaf tins.  Lay some olive slices over the top of each mini loaf and bake for about 30 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack (they’re tasty both warm and cold).



Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods