Roasted Jalapeno and Lime Cream Cheese

We love bagels with plain cream cheese in my house, but I’m always looking for ways to be a little more creative and add other ingredients.

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese

You can buy flavoured cream cheese, but I am always a little disappointed by the flavour. Perhaps it’s because it has sat on the shelf of the supermarket for a while. Using fresh ingredients is always going to taste better and the options are endless.

This is a spicy recipe and so quick to make if you use a gas hob. I have been burning the skins off peppers over gas flames since I saw Jamie Oliver do it many, many years ago, but they can always be roasted under a hot grill or in the oven. So much quicker over the flame though!

Burnt chilli

I have used jalapeno peppers which aren’t super spicy, but it’s always best to taste the chilli to find out just how hot it is first. I used two for this recipe and they add a lovely spicy, smoky flavour that works well with the zesty, fresh lime. An additional 60 grams of cheddar cheese also works well in this too, but I would have cucumber or salad leaves rather than smoked salmon if I added extra cheese.

Ingredients:
1-2 fat fresh jalapeno chilli peppers – depending on how spicy you like it
1 lime
280g pack of good quality cream cheese – I used Philadelphia full fat
2tbs fresh dill – chopped
Freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt

Method:
Prick the chillies all over and using metal tongs, place directly onto a gas flame and burn the skin until it is black all over. If you don’t prick the skin, the chillies can explode!

When the chillies are completely black, place in a plastic bag or a bowl covered with plastic and leave to cool down and steam.

When they are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins, remove the seeds and finely chop.

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese1

Add the peppers and seasonings to the cream cheese. Stir in the zest of the lime and then add the juice of half of it. Stir to thoroughly combine and refrigerate until needed.

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese2

The perfect way to serve this is on a warm, fresh bagel, but equally delicious spread on savoury scones, crackers and oatcakes. It’s good with the traditional pairing of smoked salmon too!

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese3

Smoked Salmon, Jersey Royals and Asparagus Salad

This salad says summer on a plate. A really simple to make salad, but delicious and substantial. Wild smoked salmon, with Jersey Royal new potatoes and asparagus, served with a honey, mustard and dill dressing.

Salmon potato salad2

The quantities here can be adjusted for as many people that you are serving. I normally serve around 200g of smoked salmon and 150g of potatoes per person.

Ingredients:
Wild Sockeye smoked salmon
Jersey Royal baby potatoes
Fresh asparagus, trimmed

Dressing:
1tbsp Dijon mustard
2tsp runny honey
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one small lemon
Small bunch of dill, stems removed and roughly chopped – leave a little for the top of the salad
Salt and pepper
Extra lemon slices to serve

Method:
Start by boiling the potatoes in salted water until they are tender. At the same time put the asparagus into boiling water for just one minute and then plunge into iced water to set the brilliant green colour.

Drain the potatoes and slice any larger ones, but leave the tiny ones whole.

To prepare the dressing, add the mustard, honey, a pinch of salt and pepper to a small bowl and using a fork – whisk in the lemon juice, followed by the oil. The mustard and oil will emulsify and thicken slightly. Stir in the dill.

While the potatoes are still warm, toss in the dressing, so they take on the flavour. You can either leave to cool at this point, or serve warm.

Salmon potato salad

Layer the salmon on a plate and pile the dressed potatoes over the top, with the asparagus and a little more dill, freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

This is a perfect summer salad combination and quantities can be increased as necessary to feed a crowd.  Best served on a summer’s afternoon with a chilled white wine.

Salmon close up

Prawn and Avocado Vol-au-vents

Return of the Prawn vol au vent

prawn plate

The family Christmas party.  My earliest memories are of family Christmas parties – one on Christmas Eve and one on New Year’s day.  This consisted of my parents, maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles taking it in turns to hold the party.  The New Year’s day party sadly got discontinued (something to do with people feeling delicate and not in the mood), but the Christmas Eve one still goes on to this day.

My beloved grandmother who left us several years ago now, was famous, or rather infamous, for her 70s style prawn vol au vents.  Frozen cases filled with defrosted prawns and smothered with a lethal dose of Thousand Island dressing that came out of a bottle. Every year she made them and every year they were left on the buffet table. I used to feel sad for those sad rejects of Christmas.

Long after my grandparents stopped holding the annual parties, I used to wonder why no one ever ate them. She didn’t eat them herself as she suffered from Coeliac disease and couldn’t tolerate gluten.  I decided it was high time to reinvent the prawn vol au vent and make one that people would eat.  What’s not to like – crisp puff pastry, juicy prawns and maybe a bit less of the bottled thousand-island dressing.

When I thought about what to put in the pastry case, my thoughts turned to fresh prawn salads I have enjoyed and I don’t mind a nice 70s prawn cocktail either.  I was thinking dill, lemon and avocado.  These are more summery ingredients, but could still hold their own on a Christmas buffet table I think.

I’ve made my own cases here with store bought puff pastry, but you could easily do this with ready made cases, found in the depths of the freezers in the supermarket.  Another option is to make a larger one would be perfect served as an appetiser or lunch dish served with salad leaves.

Other optional extras could be to add skinned and de-seeded tomatoes, cut into tiny dice, but for my small bite sized ones here, I have kept it simple with prawns and avocados.

prawn closeup

Ingredients:
2 packs of ready rolled, all butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen, but kept fully chilled
450g/15oz cold water prawns/shrimp
2 ripe avocados
Juice of half a lemon
1 egg yolk and a little milk to make an egg wash
6 king prawns with tails left on to adorn the top (optional)

Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 tbs prepared horseradish
Juice and zest of the other half of the lemon
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of hot sauce (Optional)
Small bunch of dill, reserving some for garnish
Paprika (Optional)

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F

Place one sheet of the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and egg wash the top.

Place the other one directly over the top and cut out your pastry cases, they can be round, square, heart shaped, whatever you like.  Then with a slightly smaller cutter, press into the top layer of the pastry, taking care not to cut into the base layer.

Brush the cases with egg wash

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown and leave on a cooling rack to completely cool.

Whisk the dressing ingredients, except for the paprika together in a small bowl.

Scoop the flesh from the avocados and cut into dice, toss with the lemon juice in a bowl. Then add the prawns.

Spoon on enough dressing to moisten, but not swamp the prawns and gently turn to coat.  Fill the cases with the mixture and garnish with sprinkle of paprika and a little dill.  If you are making the larger version and really want to go all out, then top with a king prawn as well and be proud to bring back the prawn vol au vent!

Prawn closeup2