Festive Recipe – Spinach and Ricotta Christmas Tree

Put a Christmas tree on the table! This Christmas tree makes for a set of beautiful hors d’oeuvres. Wonderfully creamy and cheesy, these little bites of scrumptiousness will be beautiful for your stomach AND your eyes!

Ingredients:
1 tsp vegetable oil for frying
2 red onions, chopped
8 cups fresh spinach
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
255g fresh ricotta cheese
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg beaten
4 cherry tomatoes, halved

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and sauté onions until soft and translucent.
  2. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 5-7 minutes. Remove lid after 5 minutes and allow cooking liquid to evaporate.
  3. Chop spinach mixture and combine with the ricotta and parmesan in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  4. Roll out puff pastry sheet and evenly cover with spinach-cheese mixture to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Tightly wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C, Gas Mark 5/6 or 375-400 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Slice pastry log into 3/4” slices so you have 16-22 pinwheels. Lay pinwheels on baking sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree.
  7. Bake in the oven until lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Decorate with the cherry tomatoes and serve.

Festive Recipe – Brie and Cranberry Bites

These fantastic, bite-sized scrumptious morsels make for perfect hors d’oeuvres. Smooth, creamy brie and tart cranberry in crisp pastry are a classic combination, and it’s very simple to make them. Try serving these fantastic bites at a party this festive season!

Ingredients
8 oz ready roll puff pastry
Cooking spray, for pan
Flour for rolling out
8oz Brie wheel
1/2 cup whole Berry Cranberry sauce
1/4 cup shopped pecans or walnuts
6 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 1” pieces.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit / 190 Degrees C / Gas Mark 7 and grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry and cut into 24 squares. Place into muffin tin slots.
3. Cut Brie into Small pieces and place inside the pastry. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, some chopped pecans, add one little sprig of rosemary.
4. Bake until the pastry is golden (Roughly 15 minutes.) Serve while still hot!

CommUNITY Actions

The aim of the new project, Community Actions (CA), is to build healthy, resilient lifestyles, as well as self reliance and social cohesion within disadvantaged and less resilient communities of Middlesbrough, using a whole system approach to sustainable living. This will be achieved through a programme of support using the One Planet Living sustainability principles as a tool to help local people deliver community led actions to address poverty and improve communal spaces by realising and building upon their community assets.

There will be two key elements of the project:

1. Empowering people so they are able to use their knowledge, skills and lived experiences to improve their own lives and the lives of others.

This will be achieved through a community developed network of support, activities and training and a peer to peer early intervention model to help people experiencing challenging issues, such as isolation, poor physical and mental health or food and fuel poverty, signposting them to additional support. An active support network of volunteers, residents and stakeholders will be developed, bringing people together within and across communities to build stronger relationships and building social cohesion, more sustainable and resilient communities.

2. It will provide support and resources to community groups to develop their own initiatives or actions which will have a positive impact on the social, environmental and health needs of the community.

This will help to increase people’s sense of investment and involvement in where they live and supporting their community to live more sustainably. This will allow communities to kick start or invigorate existing initiatives, allowing communities to do what they do best; work within their local area and with their peers to deliver effective activities that make a real difference. The actions will come from the community and will be owned and delivered by the community. This will allow people to flourish, with communities utilising the assets they have to deliver change that they want to see happen.

Recipe of the Month – November – Pumpkin Soup

Do you still have leftover pumpkin from Halloween? Want to make use of this highly versatile squash but don’t know a good starting point? This cracking pumpkin soup is hearty and packed with a myriad of flavours. Give it a try!

Ingredients:
1 Large Pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 Large Potato, peeled and chopped
50g (2oz) Butter
2-3 cloves of Garlic, chopped
2 x 400g tins of Chopped Tomatoes
300ml Vegetable Stock
Chilli Powder (optional)
Ground Nutmeg (optional)
Seasoning

Method:
1. Melt butter in pan and add chopped onion and potato.  Gently cook until the onion is soft but not coloured.
2. Add pumpkin and garlic and cook until slightly soft. Add a little oil to prevent sticking if necessary.
3. Add tinned tomatoes, stock and pepper and bring to boil. Continue cooking until all the vegetables are soft.
4. Add chilli and nutmeg ( a little at a time) to taste if using.
5. Puree with a hand blender until smooth and serve.

 

Holiday Recipe – Halloween – Dragon’s Blood Soup

Dragon’s are large, serpent-like creatures found around the world, co-existing alongside and sometimes terrorising various communities. In the East, they are wingless and four-legged, but known for their intelligence. In the West, however, they are known for being winged and being able to breathe fire as well. From Asia to Scandinavia, these creatures are both respected and highly feared. However, some chosen warriors may choose to slay one such beast which is terrorising their community and use it to create a hearty dish.

Whilst we recommend using all parts of the dragon in a dish (The scales usually require roughly 48-72 hours of slow cooking to make palatable, so you may choose to use them in crafts instead), this soup makes particular use of the blood. Try and use fresh dragon’s blood in the soup: It gives a much better, spicier flavour.

(Okay, so this soup is actually Beetroot and Bramley Soup! It’s a hearty, earthy dish which is fantastic for those colder nights. Accompanied with sour cream and dill sprigs, it’s a wonderfully unique flavour that dwarfs more run-of-the-mill soups like cream of chicken and mushroom. No dragon’s were harmed in the making of this dish!)

Ingredients
65 grams of Butter
2 Onions, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Celery Sticks, chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 Small Bramley Apple
800 grams of Beetroot, trimmed and sliced (No need to peel) or pre-cooked vacuum packed.
1.5 litres of Chicken Stock, hot

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based pan over a low heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and a splash of water. Cover and sweat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, until the onions are soft.
  2. Peel, core and slice the apple before adding it to the pan alongside the beetroot. Cover and sweat for a further 15 minutes.
  3. Pour in the stock, season and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer,  uncovered, for one hour until the beetroot is tender. If using pre-cooked beetroot, reduce the cooking time accordingly.
  4. Cool slightly, then puree with a hand-held blender, or in batches with a food processor, until smooth. Season and set aside to cool until just warm.
  5. Divide the soup between bowls, season and top with dollops of soured cream and fresh dill sprigs.

Recipe of the Month – October – Minced Beef Cobbler

The cobbler: A hearty, filling dish that is perfect for Autumn. A filling topped with dumplings (or, in America where the cobbler is common, biscuits, referring to the American unsweetened bread that resembles a scone) and usually served out of its baking dish. The humble cobbler has its origins in the British American colonies, where a lack of suitable ingredients and cookware to create  the much-favoured suet puddings led to the need to improvise. This need to improvise led to covering the traditional stewed filling with a later of plain biscuits/dumplings, often fitted together in a circular shape.

Similar but distinct to crumbles, the cobbler (Believed to derive from the 14th century word cobeler, meaning wooden bowl/dish, or the appearance of a cobblestone) is a hearty dish enjoyed extensively across the United Kingdom and the United States (Where one can find over a hundred varieties and variations on cobbler, from the dump cake using dumpling mix over a stewed filling to the Brown Betty. In the UK, the cobbler enjoyed popularity through the wartime years, where it was promoted by the Ministry of Food due to being able to be made with margarine and being a hearty dish that makes a lot of a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 500g pack extra-lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 140g mushrooms, halved
  • 500ml beef stock
  • few shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 140g frozen peas
  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g sunflower margarine
  • 1 heaped tablespoon baking powder
  • 25ml milk
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees (fan)/Gas Mark 6 .
  2. Dry-fry the mince and onion in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Stir frequently to break up the mince, until well browned. Add the mushrooms and plain flour, followed by the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer, then gently cook for 10 mins.
  3. Make the cobbler by sifting the flour, thyme and baking powder into a bowl and rubbing in the margarine, or blitz in a mini processor. Add the milk and stir with a knife until a dough is formed.
  4. Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into rounds.
  5. Stir the peas into the mince mixture, then transfer to a baking dish. Randomly place the cobbles on top of the mince to cover the filling, then bake for 20-25 mins, until cobbles are risen and golden brown.

Tips

Add any herbs you’d like to the cobbler to add a dynamic touch of flavour. You can even add cheese (or top the cobbler with cheese) if you wish to add something extra to the cobbler.