Leaf Shaped Paprika Crackers

I don’t make crackers all that often, but its nice to serve something made from scratch and the children like to get involved in anything that involves a cute cutter!

These are buttery, crunchy and just the thing to serve with a cheese ball!

The only thing to remember is that crackers need to be rolled out super thin and pricked with a cocktail stick or they might not be very crunchy.  You can leave them plain, or brush with melted butter when they come out of the oven and sprinkle with sea salt, seeds or crushed chillies.

I served these with my pumpkin shaped cheese ball here

Ingredients:
250g plain/all purpose flour
1tbs paprika
1tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
60g very cold butter, cut into dice
1tbs olive oil
Chilled water, around 180ml – enough to form a dough

Toppings:
A little melted butter
Sea salt
Nigella seeds
Sesame seeds

Method:
Place the flour, paprika, baking powder, salt and butter into the food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Pulse in the olive oil and then adding the water, pulse until a rough dough is formed.

Halve the mixture and flatten into two discs and chill for around 30 minutes.

You want to roll out the dough as thin as possible, so I actually roll it out on the lightly floured liner before transporting it to the baking sheet.

When the dough is rolled out, stamp out the leaves (or whatever shape you are using) and prick with a cocktail stick.  You need to do this step or the crackers will puff up.

Put the remaining dough back in the plastic and back into the fridge and bake the crackers for around 10 minutes until golden.

When they are taken out of the oven, place on a cooling rack, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with your chosen topping.

Continue until all the dough is used up, or you can freeze and use at a later date

Pumpkin Shaped Cheese Ball

There is nothing particularly sophisticated about a cheese ball, but they are so good to eat!  I’ve made lots of them over the years as they are super easy to make and use just a few ingredients so you can whip one up in no time at all.

This one is fairly traditional with equal quantities of cream cheese and hard cheese and dusted with spices but shaped into a pumpkin!  Great for an autumn party, Halloween or Thanksgiving.

There are a million of these on Pinterest and everyone uses a pepper stalk, but I used one of my faux pumpkin stalks – I knew they would come in useful one day!  (My husband thinks I’m a hoarder btw).

A cheese ball will keep for a few days in the fridge, but you can also freeze them.  I think they taste at their very best when they are room temperature, so of course they make a great choice for a buffet table.

You can go spicy or non-spicy.  I normally put chilli in mine, but just taste your chilli first for heat.  I had pretty mild ones here, so put a green and a red one in.  I burn the skins of the pepper and chillies over the gas flame and then put them in either a plastic bag, or a bowl, covered by a plate and rub off the skins when cool enough.

Ingredients:
Cream cheese at room temperature – I used a 280g family pack
Grated cheese, I used a mixture of Cheddar, Red Leicester and Double Gloucester, use whatever cheese you have, just use equal quantities of cream cheese and hard cheese
1tbs tomato puree
1-2tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 chillies, grilled and skin removed, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, grilled and skin removed, finely chopped (reserving the stalk to use to decorate the cheese ball later)
1tsp paprika
1tsp Worcester sauce
Salt and pepper

Coating:
2tbs paprika
1tbs mild curry powder

Method:
Beat everything together with a wooden spoon and check the seasoning.

Form into a ball and wrap with plastic and chill for 30 minutes

When it has had chance to firm up a little, wrap fairly tightly with string (or elastic bands) to form a pumpkin shape before leaving to chill until firm – at least another 30 minutes.

Place the paprika and curry powder into a bowl and mix together.

Unwrap the chilled cheese ball and place onto the spices, before dusting with the coating all around and brushing off any excess using a dry pastry brush. The pumpkin is now ready for its stalk – use the stalk from the pepper you grilled earlier (if you don’t happen to have a hoard or faux pumpkin stems!)

Serve with crudites or crackers, I used my leaf shaped paprika crackers here

Skillet Baked Eggs with Creamed Greens and Mushrooms

I loved baked eggs and I make them a lot, I normally use ramekins see here and here, but its a great idea to do the whole lot in a skillet as there is less washing up and the edges get all crispy in the oven.

This recipe uses my favourite cavolo nero kale and rainbow chard, but any dark green leafy vegetables can be used like spinach, savoy cabbage or spring greens. I like to use the stems on the chard too, but they do take a little longer to cook.

I’ve used Comte cheese here, as it’s such a good melting cheese and is great with the eggs too. Gruyere, Emmental, Gouda or good old Cheddar would all be good too.

Lots of people add garlic to their baked eggs and if that’s your thing, go for it. I’m not a big fan and prefer this without, but sometimes add a few chives for extra flavour.

I’ve used an 8 inch cast iron skillet here which is nice for two people to share but you can always double the recipe in a larger skillet for a family size dinner. Just cover the handle of the hot skillet if any children are eating!

Ingredients:

2 Eggs
Large bunch of your chosen dark leafy greens I have used kale and rainbow chard – well washed
A handful of chestnut/cremini mushrooms
Comte cheese
150ml Double/heavy cream (a small pot)
1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
A little butter and olive oil for sautéing
Thyme, a couple of teaspoon of the leaves stripped from the stalks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread and butter to serve – I’ve toasted mine using a griddle

Method:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Wash and prepare the vegetables by first stripping off the tough ribs from the kale and then if you are using both parts of the chard, remove the stems and chop them fairly small.

Plunge the kale and chard greens into the boiling water and blanch for just one minute. Take them out and place in iced water to stop the cooking. When cold, drain, squeeze out the excess water, roughly chop and place to one side.

Heat your skillet and add a little butter and olive oil (which will stop the butter burning). When sizzling, add the chopped chard and sauté for a couple of minutes or until translucent, then add your sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are nicely browned and then add the thyme and the rest of the greens until heated through.

Add the cream and mustard, heat gently until thickened and check the seasoning. Turn off the heat and stir through the cheese.

Make a couple of hollows with the back of a spoon and carefully crack an egg into each one, taking care not to break the yolk if possible. Then season the yolks with a little salt and bake until the whites are just set. The idea is for the yolks to stay runny so you can dip your toasted bread in, so keep an eye on them.

This recipe can easily be scaled up for more people and its nice to place on the table for people to tuck in.