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

Heritage Tomato Salad with Goats Cheese and Balsamic

Lovely tomatoes that taste of the sun, fragrant basil, cool goats cheese and spiky balsamic – a simple but really good salad for a hot summer’s day.

Heirloom Tomatoes

You can get tomatoes all year round in the supermarket, but most of them have been grown in a poly tunnel and travelled half way around the world and taste of nothing. A tomato that has been grown in sunshine is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated.

These big, juicy, seasonal tomatoes don’t have a long shelf life, so if you are lucky enough to get hold of them, make sure you enjoy them while they are at their best.

Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil

One of the best ways to enjoy them is a simple salad. This one uses very few ingredients as the tomatoes are the star of the show.

You could dress the tomatoes with an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, but simple balsamic vinegar, reduced until thickened, is really good here. Reducing the vinegar, really insensifies the depth and flavour. You could of course, just buy a bottle of ready made balsamic glaze which is the speediest option, but it’s really worth making your own for the best flavour.

Tomatoes and basil

I’ve made a large platter here, which is nice for people to help themselves, but this could easily be scaled down for two people to enjoy.

Ingredients:
Assorted heritage tomatoes – as many as you like, I’ve added a few cherry tomatoes too
Goats cheese – around 100g per person
Fresh basil
Balsamic vinegar – around 3/4 of a cup
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
To reduce the balsamic vinegar, place in a saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to low and leave for around 10 minutes or until thickened. Set aside and then refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Tomato Salad

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on your serving plate, sprinkling a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the slices.

Tear some of the basil leaves and make sure some of the leaves are between the layers, leave some of them whole too.

Heritage Tomato and Goats Cheese Salad

Break up the goats cheese and scatter over the tomatoes, you can remove the rind, or leave on.  I’ve tucked a few crumbles of cheese in between the tomatoes too.

Drizzle over the balsamic reduction and serve immediately.

Tomato Goat Cheese Salad Balsamic

This is one of the nicest salads to enjoy on a hot summer’s day.  You can scale up or down, add pita chips if you would like some crunch, or slices of toasted baguette make a nice addition too.

Tomato Goat Cheese Salad

Some very cold white wine would be another nice addition to this salad!