Stilton, Spinach & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms

I don’t care what people think, life is definitely not too short to stuff a mushroom!

Stuffed mushrooms2

I love stuffed mushrooms and these meaty, Portobello ones have delicious Colston Bassett Stilton cheese, fresh spinach, walnuts and sage.  They make a really nice lunch that’s perfect for this time of year and make a great side dish for nice juicy steak.

I have also made smaller versions of this recipe, using chestnut mushrooms and served them warm as a canapé.

Stuffed mushrooms

Serves 2

Ingredients:
3 Portobello Mushrooms, with stems removed
1tbs olive oil
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
Freshly chopped sage
Large bunch of fresh spinach leaves
180g Stilton cheese, broken up into large crumbles
Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
Two slices of lightly stale white bread, just leave it out for an hour. Remove crusts and whizz up in the food processor until you have crumbs
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
4tbs double cream

Stuffed mushroom

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Add the parsley to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick pan.

Very finely chop one of the mushrooms and add to the pan, along with the chopped onion, sage and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until the onion has softened, add the spinach until wilted and then stir in the cream. Cook for a further minute, before turning off the heat. Stir in the stilton, walnuts and herby breadcrumbs.

Stuffed mushroom closeup

Using a spatula, gently press the mixture into the mushroom caps, dividing the mixture equally between the two mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushroom slice

Bake for around 30 minutes, until melted, golden and crisp. Serve as a first course with salad, or on the side of a steak.

Butternut, Kale and Sage Derby Quiche

I love all kinds of cheese and experimenting with recipes that contain cheese. When I was a child I used to look at Sage Derby in the delicatessen and think because it was so green, it must be really strongly flavoured, or pungent. However, when I actually tasted it, I loved it. Not strong at all, but a lovely fragrant, herby cheese that’s good for eating and cooking with.

butternut quiche

I discovered Fowlers Sage Derby cheese recently and it caught my eye as it didn’t have the usual bright green marbling. It was however, full of sage. I tried it and absolutely loved it, so of course I had to try and cook with it.

The autumnal weather we have been having lately has been making me think of the flavours of autumn – kale and butternut squash and of course sage goes so well with it. I decided the best way to showcase the cheese was in a quiche. Roasted butternut squash, wilted kale cooked with a little fresh sage and lots of the Sage Derby cheese. The result was completely decadent and delicious.

Butternut quiche side

Crust:
300g/10.5oz plain/all-purpose flour
1tsp salt
227g/8oz butter cut into cubes and chilled
1 large egg, beaten
1-2tbs iced water

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeds removed (a small pumpkin would also work well)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 bunch of Cavalo Nero/Tuscan Kale, washed, ribs removed and roughly chopped or torn
5 fresh sage leaves, finely shredded
6 extra large eggs
280g Sage derby cheese – grated
¾ pint double/heavy cream
Salt and pepper
A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg
A little olive oil and butter

Method:
Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas, or rough breadcrumbs.  Add the iced water a little a time until the dough just comes together.  You might not need all of the water.

Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Leave to chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry and, without stretching, line the base and sides of a 10inch/25cm tin. Return to the fridge and chill for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F

Line the pastry with parchment paper or foil, leaving plenty to come up the sides. Fill with baking beans and place in the oven to blind bake for 15-20 minutes.  Take the pastry shell out of the oven, remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for further 5 minutes or until the pastry feels dry.  Leave to cool a little before adding the filling.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F and slice the butternut squash just under 1cm thick and cut the slices in half. Toss in 1tbs olive oil with 1tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast in the oven until the squash is tender and catching on the edges. This will take around 25 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, heat ½tbs of oil and a small knob of butter in a pan and sauté the onion slowly with a pinch of salt and pepper until they are soft and golden. Set aside to cool

Then in the same pan, add a tiny bit more butter if the pan is dry and sauté the kale and shredded sage until wilted, set aside with the other vegetables.

Lower the oven to 180°C/360°F

Roll out the pastry on a floured board and line a 25cm/10inch tin, leaving an excess to trim off later.

Butternut quiche close up

Place baking paper in the tin and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and then return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and cream with the nutmeg, another ½tsp salt and a little more black pepper. Stir in the grated cheese.

Layer the onions, squash and kale in the pastry case and cover with the cheesy egg mixture.

Carefully place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until just set in the middle. The quiche will be puffed and golden brown and smelling delicious.

butternut quiche slice out

This is lovely eaten warm with a salad, but equally good cold. We had some of this one cold with some pickled shallots which went together perfectly.

Quiches are always good to take on a picnic or put in a lunchbox too. I think this one is good any time of year, but would be perfect for an autumn picnic and could easily hold its own on a festive table at Christmas.

Butternut quiche slice

It’s still summer now, but the butternut squash and sage combination is a precursor for all the Autumnal flavours – coming soon!

Stichelton & Smoked Bacon Salad

Stichelton is a delicious, unpasteurised blue cheese, made to the original Stilton recipe at the Welbeck Dairy in Nottinghamshire.  I first tried this at the School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck estate, at one of their amazing lunches during a baking course.

Stilton and bacon salad plate

I bought my cheese from the Welbeck farm shop, where I can easily spend way too much money as there are so many good things to buy!  I love it with the apple sourdough that I always buy a loaf of when I go there too.

Stilton and bacon salad

Blue cheese and bacon go so well together and with the addition of toasted pecans and a few tart, dried cranberries, this salad is one of my favourite lunches.  Sometimes I add grilled chicken for a substantial warm salad that is good any time of the year.  I serve this with a simple honey and mustard dressing

I usually use smoked streaky bacon for this salad, but I bought some black treacle cured, smoked back bacon today, which worked really well.

Stilton bacon salad closeup

This is enough for 1-2 people, but the quantities can easily be increased.

Ingredients:
Mixed salad leaves – baby leaves, spinach, Rocket/Arugula, Romaine – anything you like
4-6 slices of good quality smoked streaky bacon with the rind removed or 2-3 slices of black treacle cured smoky back bacon
Stichelton or Stilton blue cheese at room temperature with the rind removed
Red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of pecans, toasted in the oven for 5 minutes
A few craisins (dried cranberries)

Dressing:
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp Wholegrain mustard
2tsp Runny honey
4tsp Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper if desired

Pre heat the oven to 220°C/430°F

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon on the sheet. Cook for around 10 minutes or until crisp and chop into rough pieces.

Arrange the leaves, warm pecans, cranberries and tomatoes on the plate and whisk the ingredients for the dressing until you have a nice, slightly thickened consistency.

Stilton bacon closeup

Toss the salad gently in the dressing. Break the Stichelton into large crumbles and top with the hot bacon, toss gently once more and serve immediately.