La Différence

La Différence
A passion for food

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Parmesan and Courgette/Zucchini Quiche with Parmesan Pastry and CherryTomatoes

                Parmesan and Courgette/Zucchini Quiche with Parmesan Pastry & Baby Tomatoes

Even though the summer's been cold and wet  the courgettes are still producing well at my allotment.  This recipe is perfect for the ones that have grown a little too big.  I used 2 courgettes for this recipe, both were about  9"/23cms in length.  I also had lots of little Sweet 100 tomatoes ready although any cherry tomatoes will do nicely. 

This dish is just gorgeous... if you love cheese as much as I do then it's a real winner. 
The pastry is rich crisp and cheesy, so delicious and the filling is just lovely.  It's best  served warm or at room temperature.. as with most quiches when the flavours have had time to meld together. 

I made Parmesan pastry but feel free to use your own shortcrust pastry recipe or shop bought if you need to. 

The recipe will serve 4 good portions for lunch or 6 quite comfortably for a starter.  The recipe should make around  10-12 muffin sized smaller quiches if preferred.

You will need a deep 9"/ 23cm greased loose bottomed quiche tin ( or just the same size pie dish if you don't want to remove the quiche) Baking Beans & Parchment Paper

Parmesan Pastry

40gms/ 1½oz /  ½ cup of freshly, finely grated Parmesan Cheese (use Cheddar if you prefer)
225gms/ 7oz/ 1½cups plain flour  (all purpose)
150gms/ 5oz / ½cup + 1tbsp cold butter 
1 level tsp mustard powder or Cayenne Pepper
1 level tsp Sea salt
1 large egg beaten
(a little ice cold water may be needed if the dough won't come together)

The Filling

2 large courgettes mine were 9" 23cms  coarsely grated  or 4 regular sized ones
1 large onion finely diced
2 large Garlic Cloves minced
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4 Large Eggs 
250ml/ 8fl oz /1 cup Whipping/Pouring Cream
100gms/ 3½oz/ 1 cup Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (save a little for sprinkling the top) use Cheddar if you prefer 
A few good grinds of the Black Pepper Mill
1 tsp of Sea Salt
1 tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
around a dozen cherry tomatoes (optional)

To make the Pastry

Sieve the flour, mustard/cayenne & salt into a mixing bowl
Cube the butter into small pieces and add to the flour
Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add the Parmesan to the bowl and combine with the flour & butter "breadcumbs" 
Beat the egg
Make a well in the centre of the bowl and place the beaten egg into it
Carefully bring together to make a soft ball of dough
If it doesn't come together add a tiny drop of cold water and try again.  Don't add too much at a time..the dough will be ruined if too wet.
Wrap the dough in cling film...flatten it slightly and leave to rest for at least ½ hour or until you need it.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until quite thin 
Line your greased tin with it overlapping the edges and tucking the pastry carefully into the corners
Prick over with a fork
Scrumple up the baking parchment and cover with the baking beans
Pop back into the fridge for around 10 mins 
While it's chilling heat up your oven to 220c/ 425f/ gas 7

When the oven is hot place the pastry case on the centre shelf and bake for around 15 minutes,  remove the paper & beans and if the pastry is still not cooked through pop back in until it's lightly brown all over.
Trim off the overlapping edges with a sharp knife ( I always scoff these straight away ...cooks perks)

Reduce the heat 180c/  350f /gas 4

The Filling:

After grating the Courgettes place them in the middle of a clean Tea Towel and squeeze out as much water as you can.
Add the olive oil to a frying pan on a low heat.
Throw in the onions and fry gently until starting to soften
Add in the garlic and continue to cook until completely soft and translucent but not brown
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the cream, Parmesan, Black Pepper & Thyme 
Add the onions & garlic and the courgettes
Mix well together and carefully pour the mixture into the pastry case
Sprinkle over the little grated  Parmesan that you saved 
Cut the tomatoes in half and place around the edge of the quiche 
Place the quiche tin onto an oven tray and put onto the centre shelf of the oven
Bake for around 25 minutes..maybe a little more or less but the top should be beautifully golden and the centre set.
Place on a cooling rack...don't be tempted to remove it from the tin until it's relatively cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature

I served this with a mixed green salad and a few warm new potatoes 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did ♥

If you would like more posts like this then please help &  leave me a comment below 




Sunday, 14 August 2016

Courgette/Zucchini Pakoras with minted yoghurt dip

I always seem to have a glut of Courgettes/Zucchini at this time of the year. I planted up six, two yellow and four green and they are just so prolific that I've been scouting high & low for some new recipes. I'm turning a few into a courgette & blueberry cake later, it's a bit of an experiment but hey ho, if you don't try you'll never know.

Now I love Indian food and any kind of Pakora is my kind of Pakora. I've grated up around 6 courgettes for this recipe. Every last drop of water needs to be squeezed out of them otherwise a soggy greasy mess will ensue. If you try this yourself then please leave the courgettes to one side even when you think you can't possibly get any more water out. 5 minutes later you'll find you can.

Okay here we go.

5/6 medium sized courgettes/zucchini coarsely grated by hand* placed into a sieve and 1 tsp of salt sprinkled over then mixed in. Place over a bowl and leave for a least 1 hour. Rinse under the tap and keep squeezing until absolutely no more water comes out.
4 tbsp Gram (Chick Pea) Flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs separated, lightly whisk the whites just before you fold in
1 large red chilli finely chopped you can leave the seeds in if you like it hot
2 tbsp chopped coriander/cilantro (if you don't like coriander I'd recommend half parsley, half mint)
2 spring onions/scallions finely sliced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp Black Onion (Kalongi) seeds (Optional)
1½ tsp salt
2 heaped tsps pre-prepared curry powder (I used Sharwoods medium Madras) or you can make your own favourite blend.
black pepper to taste
around 1½" of sunflower/veg oil place in the bottom of a frying pan/skillet and heated to a medium-high heat
Sea salt flakes to sprinkle when cooked.

 * Grate the courgettes by hand, a processor seems to make them too wet for me

Place in a sieve over a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for at least one hour.

Rinse, then squeeze out every last drop of water

Add the curry, chilli, spring onion, coriander, seasoning, gram flour & baking powder and the egg yolks, beat the egg whites until stiff but still light and fold in. You should have a thick dropping consistancy, if it's way to thick then just add a drop of fizzy water to help to loosen everything up.

Heat the oil and test with a little of the mixture. It should bubble up straight away. Don't have the oil too hot, just a steady medium heat.
Place dessert spoonfuls in the hot oil about 6 at a time. Fry for just a 2 or 3 minutes a side until golden brown and crispy. Drain onto kitchen towel
Sprinkle over a touch of sea salt.
These are best served hot, but they can be reheated in a hot oven for around 5 minutes. They also freeze well if you don't plan to use them straight away. Defrost and bake in a hot oven for around 8 minutes.

For the minted yoghurt

½ tub of Thick Greek Yoghurt (I used Total) 2%
2 tps concentrated Mint without the vinegar or 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 crushed clove of garlic
a little seasoning

Just mix everything together and it's ready to go.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Apricot, Amaretti, Chocolate Crunch Cake

If like me you're a fan of those deliciously bitter sweet Almond Amaretti biscuits then you're going to love this cake,  A deliciously different bake with the tang of fresh apricots, creaminess of dark chocolate along with the crunch and nuttiness of the Amaretti. I've adapted the recipe from a leaflet that I picked up in Waitrose a while back...sometimes these little giveaway recipes are a real treasure to find.

Here's a little bit of the interesting history of these wonderful little Italian Almond Macaroons that I have sourced from Wikipedia. I didn't realise that they had such a romantic connotation or that the actual crushed kernels of the apricot stone were often used to make these darling morsels.

 Amaretti di Saronno (singular amaretto di Saronno) refer to an amaretto (almond flavored) macaroon that is traditional to Saronno, a comune of Lombardy, Italy. It is one of many types of traditional amaretto biscuits.
The Amaretti di Saronno are widely available commercially, most notably through the brand Lazzaroni. Amaretti di Saronno are unrelated to Amaretto liqueur, which is produced by two other companies based in Saronno - ILLVA and PLF.
The invention of this amaretto has received an amorous Renaissance treatment. In the early 18th century, a Milanese bishop or cardinal surprised the town of Saronno with a visit. A young couple, residents of the town, welcomed him and paid tribute with an original confection: on the spur of the moment, they had baked biscuits made of sugar, egg whites, and crushed apricot kernels or almonds. These so pleased the visiting bishop that he blessed the two with a happy and lifelong marriage, resulting in the preservation of the secret recipe over many generations.


It's a really easy throw everything together recipe that takes only minutes to prepare. We enjoyed this over the weekend with our late morning coffee instead of our normal brunch but it certainly can be eaten at any time of the day and would make the perfect dinner time dessert when served with a dollop of mascarpone.

If you prefer to measure your ingredients rather than weigh them here's a detailed conversion chart


200 gms Skinned and chopped fresh Apricot flesh ( approximately 4 large or 6 small fruits chopped into 1" cubes)
50 gms dark chocolate chips
150 gms Amaretti (roughly crushed)
125 gms Plain flour
1½ tsp Baking Powder
100gms Ground Almonds
3 eggs beaten
175 gms unsalted butter ( at room temperature)
175 gms caster (superfine sugar)
A little Icing (Confectioners Sugar) to dust
A chopped apricot to decorate (optional)

Butter and line a 20cm baking tin (preferably with a loose base) with baking parchment..

Set the oven to 150c 300F Gas 2


Place the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, almonds and eggs into a large bowl and beat together either with a whisk or by hand until well combined.

Now fold in carefully ¾ of the chocolate chips, ¾ of the chopped apricots and ¾ of the Amaretti biscuits.

Place the batter into the prepared tin ...level it and then roughly scatter over the  remaining chocolate chips, apricots & Amaretti.

Place in the centre of the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes.  Check to make sure there is no wobble in the centre of the cake, Test with a skewer if it comes out clean it's ready. Test at 7 minute intervals if it isn't quite baked through.

Leave in the tin on a wire rack until quite cold.  Remove the parchment paper and it's ready to serve
Dust with icing sugar and decorate with a chopped apricot (Optional)

We served ours with deliciously creamy Mascarpone on the side



Monday, 8 August 2016

Warm Halloumi Salad with Pomegranate and Walnuts

Halloumi is known as squeaky cheese in this household...after you've tried it you'll know why.  It's a fabulously different cheese originating in Cyprus, sometimes made from Goat's milk but mainly Cow's milk... it doesn't melt when cooked even at high temperatures so it's perfect for grilling or frying.  It's a brined cheese so it's deliciously salty .. the pomegranate certainly cuts through this saltiness and is a perfect accompaniment along with the toasted walnuts that give that pleasant slightly bitterness to the dish. You should find it at most supermarkets these days if not try your local Deli.  Another alternative would be to use Paneer the lovely Indian Cheese.

 If you've not tried griddled Little Gem Lettuce then you're in for a real's a sweet & tender. Just make sure you serve it immediately to keep that beautiful green colour.    
Try it served with some Lebanese's just wonderful.

To serve 2 as a light main course  or 3/4 as a starter

2 or 3 little gem lettuces. Each cut into quarters lengthwise and keeping the stem intact
1 Pomegranate  ( tip.....roll the fruit on a firm surface, cut in half and tap the bottom of the fruit with a wooden spoon...over a bowl and the seeds will come out easily)   & save any juice, just add to the dressing. Alternatively you can find them already prepared in the salad aisle.
250g packet of Halloumi Cheese cut across into 8 equal slices
50g of toasted walnuts or pine nuts if preferred
a few baby tomatoes sliced in half
a little olive oil for cooking
A little chopped mint, flat leaved parsley or coriander leaves to dress

the dressing (just whisk everything below together)

1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses (*see below for a substitute)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
1 dsp runny honey
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste


Brush the cheese slices on both sides with a little olive oil
Do the same with the lettuce
While heating a griddle pan to very hot mix the pomegranate seeds and the nuts into the dressing.

Griddle the cheese until lightly browned on both sides but turning just the once   remove from the pan and keep warm
Using the same hot griddle, sear the lettuce quarters and tomatoes. The lettuce should be slightly charred. Add any remaining juices to the salad dressing.

Arrange the lettuce the plates, place 4 slices of Halloumi on each and spoon over the dressing.
Sprinkle over some chopped, coriander, mint or parsley and serve immediately.

* if you can't get hold of Pomegranate Molasses substitute with 2 tsps honey, 2 tsps good Balsamic vinegar
It won't be quite the same but a really good alternative

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Gluten-free Peach & Almond Cake

It's that time of year again when beautifuI stoned fruits are cheap & plentiful.  I love to make the most of any seasonal ingredient so when delicious peaches, nectarines and apricots become available I'm so very happy.

I tweaked a recipe I regularly use to make this cake. Based on a  the River Cafe Apple & lemon cake. I've substituted the apple & lemon for peaches & almonds and wheat flour for rice flour to make it totally gluten-free.

This is a great dessert cake for any coeliacs out there. The cake has ground almonds & rice flour instead of regular flour but you could also just substitute the rice flour for gluten-free self-raising flour. If you don't have to worry about the gluten just use regular SR flour. 

You will need a 23cm loose bottomed tin, buttered and lined with parchment paper

Set the oven to 150c/300f/gas2

If you prefer to measure your ingredients rather than weigh them, then here's a Detailed  Conversion Chart... just click onto the link.


4 medium sized ripe but still firm peaches

150gms/5oz ground almonds

110gms/4oz unsalted butter melted

300gms/11oz caster sugar

½ tsp almond extract

2 large freerange eggs

6 tbsp rice flour and   

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder   (sift the 2 ingredients together)      
(or substitute the rice flour & baking powder for 6 tbsps gluten-free SR flour or 6 tbsp regular SR flour)

extra tbsp caster sugar for sprinkling over the cake

a handful of flaked almonds to top

Blanch the peaches and remove the skin
Cut in half and stone them
Slice thinly into slices
Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick & creamy
Slowly add the melted butter & almond extract mixing well
Fold in the ground almonds, rice flour, baking powder
Add 2/3rds of the sliced peaches reserving the remainder for the top and mix gently through the batter
Pour into the prepared tin
scatter over the remaining peaches and sprinkle with the tbsp caster sugar and the flaked almonds
place in the centre of the oven and bake for approximately 1 hr 20 mins -1 hr 30 mins
Check after  1 hour 10 mins  but mine has always taken a while longer
This is a moist cake but a skewer should still come out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
remove from the oven and leave in the tin until completely cold.
I like to put the cooled cake in the fridge for an hour or so, it makes it so much easier to slice. If you can't wait just dig in
Remember this is a dessert although it would make a great afternoon tea.
 It's delicious with whipped Cream or Greek Yoghurt in fact I had the last slice of this one for a cheeky little breakfast this morning with my coffee  shhhh!!!! don't tell a soul

Mmmm!!! so delicious

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Easy Cheesy Gannet Bread

Easy Cheesy Gannet Bread
 This is a lovely quick and easy bread as there's virtually no kneading involved.  I managed to make and bake it in just over an hour which is perfect for all of you busy mums. The bonus is that it is absolutely delicious with a wonderful light and fluffy texture. Great for sandwiches, burgers and perfect with a bowl of soup or casserole. It's so moist that you won't need to butter it either.  

I made this into a crown simply by dividing into 6 balls and placing 5 around the inner edge of a Victoria Sandwich tin and 1 ball in the middle. Alternatively you could just press the dough into the tin to make one round loaf.    Don't be surprised if the dough doesn't rise much on proving because as soon as it hits the hot oven it rises brilliantly.

If you prefer to measure your ingredients rather than weigh here's a Handy Conversion Chart

The Ingredients:-

1 level tsp Easy Bake Yeast
225 gms  Strong White Bread Flour
½ tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs beaten
105ml / 3 fl oz milk  plus a little extra for glazing
55gms Butter Melted
110 gms Mature Cheddar ( or any strong hard cheese) grated
a pinch of Cayenne Pepper
a pinch of Colmans English Mustard
Freshly milled black pepper ...2 or three twists


Sieve the flour & Salt into a warm bowl
Add the yeast and sugar and combine
Warm the Milk to tepid ie blood temperature
add the melted Butter
add the Eggs and beat together
Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk, eggs & butter mixture
Mix well together
It will form a sticky ball.
Cover and leave to rest for around 5-10 minutes... somewhere warm
It will hardly rise at all but don't worry.

Add ¾ of the grated cheese to the dough along with the Cayenne, Mustard Powder & Black Pepper 
and mix together
Flour your surface and place the sticky dough onto it
Knead very lightly to bring the dough together
Make the dough into a cylinder shape and cut into 6 equal pieces 
Roll each piece into a ball
Place 5 balls on the inner edge of a greased Victoria Sandwich tin ( mine was 23cms /9")
Now place the 6th ball in the centre of the tin
Cover and leave to prove for around 10 to 15 minutes in a warm place

Whilst it's proving heat your oven to 220C/ 425F/ Gas 7

Bake in the centre of the oven for exactly 30 minutes
Remove from the oven and brush with a little milk
Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese
Return to the oven for the final 5 minutes  

Leave to cool for around 5 minutes or so before removing from the tin.
Delicious served warm from the oven



Monday, 18 July 2016

Chelsea Buns with a little twist

Chelsea Buns with a little twist

Whenever I bake Chelsea Buns it brings back memories of my school's Home Economics classes or Domestic Science as we used to call it in the old days back then.  It was one of the first things I remember baking with the use of yeast.  Of course back in the 60's when I was at school there was no such thing as dried yeast, it was, of course, the real McCoy that we used, creaming it together with sugar and milk to make a bubbling brew before adding it to the dry ingredients. We all found the whole process of yeast fermentation absolutely fascinating, in fact, I'm still intrigued as to how this little fungus can transfer flour and liquid into the most delicious concoctions known to man when baked.

The traditional recipe uses Sultanas & Currants for the fruit filling,  I've twisted this a little by adding dried Cranberries and a few crunchy Pistachios to the dough, along with a lemon glaze instead of the regular apricot jam glaze... either way both my recipe and the traditional one remain firm favourites here at home. Perfect for Breakfast or Brunch,  I do hope you try them, I'm sure you'll love them as much as we do.

If you prefer to measure your ingredients then here's a handy Conversion Chart. There's another link further down the conversion post which is far more comprehensive too.

The Ingredients:-

2 tsps of Easy Bake Yeast
85g Caster (Superfine) Sugar
450g Strong Plain Flour (Bread Flour)
1tsp sea salt
85g Butter
1 Egg
225ml Milk (tepid)
grated zest of half a Lemon
½ tsp mixed spice ( pumpkin spice will do)
60g Sultanas & Raisins mixed together
50g Dried Cranberries
30g Pistachios (shelled)

for the Lemon Glaze

150g Icing (Confectioners Sugar)
juice of half a Lemon ...a little more or less depending on the size of the lemon


Sieve the flour and salt into a warmed bowl
Add the dried yeast and 1tsp of the caster sugar
Now rub in half of the butter
Beat the egg into the tepid milk
Make a well in the flour bowl and add the egg & milk.
Use a spoon to gradually draw the flour into the liquid
Now get your hands in and bring everything together to make a ball.
Knead until smooth.

Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for around an hour or until the dough has doubled in size

Knock the dough back and knead it on a floured surface and roll it out into a square approximately
9"/ 23cms

Halve the sugar that's left
Mix with the first half into the remaining butter to form a paste
Spread this paste over the dough square

Mix together the remaining sugar with the mixed spice, lemon zest, fruit and pistachios
Sprinkle on top of the butter & sugar paste.

Carefully roll this square up into a Swiss roll shape

With a sharp knife cut into ½ inch /3.5cm slices

Place the slices, cut slice facing upwards on a greased baking tray

Now cover & leave to prove in a warm place for around 15 minutes

Sprinkle over a little extra sugar (not included in the recipe)

At the same time set the oven to 220C/ 425F /Gas 7

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes

While they're baking make up the glaze simply by adding enough lemon juice (little by little) to the icing sugar to form a thickish yet still loose icing glaze.

Leave the buns to cool until just warm then drizzle over the lemon glaze.

These delicious buns are best eaten on the day they're made although they are lovely toasted the next day.

They also freeze well and will keep for around a month quite well in the freezer.