Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they weren't fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.
“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, and whispered to her neighbor . . . "Winter is dead.”
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A delicious Blueberry Cake for Easter



This is a cake that I haven't made in a very long time. I had actually forgotten all about it, but then as I was going thru the Big Blue Binder the other day, I happened upon the recipe and remembered how very good it was . . . this is the perfect recipe to make for this weekend when we are celebrating the end of Lent, and Easter.  Simple and delicious.



It's one of those delicious cakes that are simple and yet delectable. The top is a bit crunchy . . . almost like a crust . . . the cake tender and moist . . . and stogged full of lovely blueberries!



I love the sugar that blankets the top . . . sweet . . . adding that extra bit of crunch. Moreish. Scrummy. Oh so delicious . . .



You cut a square and you eat it . . . it melts in the mouth, and tastes so delicious that you just can't help yourself . . . you go back for more. It's inevitable . . .



Perfect plain, cut into squares for that elevenses treat . . . with a nice hot mug of whatever drink strikes your fancy. We do hot chocolate here, but I can well imagine it would taste lovely with a nice hot cup of tea . . .



Just look at all those berries nestled into that moist scrumminess . . . begging your fork to dig in for just . . . one . . . more . . . mouthful . . .

Oh go on . . . how about another piece, this time with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top . . . or why not tempt the devil and have a nice dollop of clotted cream. In for a penny in for a pound . . . and why . . . not???



*Blue Ribbon Blueberry Cake*
Makes 16 squares
Printable Recipe

A delicious cake with a ribbon of fresh blueberries running through the middle. I like to serve it with some whipped cream, or not, as you will.

135g cake flour (see note*) (1 1/2 cups) sifted
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125ml milk (1/2 cup)
2 ounces butter (1/4 cup)
145g granulated sugar, plus 2 TBS for sprinkling (3/4 cup plus 2 TBS for sprinkling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large free range egg, beaten
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and dried (8 ounces, 2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/ 350*F/ gas mark 4. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch square pan with foil, shiny side up. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Whisk the flour and cream of tartar together in a bowl. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the milk.

Cream together the butter, 145g of the sugar (3/4 cup) and the vanilla in the bowl. Beat in the egg. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the batter in thirds, alternating with the milk, beating together until blended. Fold in half of the blueberries.

Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. Level the top of the spatula. Sprinkle with the remainder of the berries. Spoon the remainder of the batter over top and smooth out. Sprinkle the top with the 2 TBS sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Place onto a wire rack to cool completely. Remove from the pan and cut into 2 inch squares to serve. Store under a cake dome or covered with parchment paper at room temperature.

Note* - To make your own cake flour whisk together 175g of plain flour (1 3/4 cup) and 38g of corn flour (1/4 cup cornstarch) . Measure out afterwards as per recipe.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fine Dining on Chocolate, a beautiful experience

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I just have to tell you about these lovely chocolates that were went to me from Dermarquette Fine Chocolates!  They were kind enough to send me a box of "Britannia's Kitchen Garden Caramel Chocolates."  

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Britannia's Kitchen Garden is a collection of quintessentially British caramel chocolates flavoured with classic garden herbs and spices.  Inspired by the nation's love of the British Allotment garden, the collection was launched to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Chelsea Flower Show in 2013.

Each chocolate contains a luxurious creamy caramel centre flavoured with classic British produce, herbs and spices and fresh ingredients found in the UK's finest allotments.

There are six lovely flavours which are quite unusual and I have to say quite surprisingly tasty!

The Dark Red with two bands are the Hot Chili -  Dark chocolate with a kick!  Another traditional and favourite flavour combination inspired by the Incas.  (These packed quite a punch, but not unpleasantly so!)

The Blue one - Fennel and Honey, a dark chocolate with the aromatic anise-flavoured fennel spice softly sweetned with pure honey.  This one is a Great Taste award winner and I am not surprised!! (lovely, just lovely)

The Orange one -  Carrot, Rosemary and Sea Salt, a classic combination using a pinch of sea salt, sweet carrots, rosemary and a mantle of dark chocolate.  (A bit odd, but not bad)

The Green one - Garden Mint, a classic combination of dark chocolate and the freshness of cool garden mint.  (What can you say  . . . it's mint, but very nice mint.)

The Yellow one - Lemon Thyme,  smooth milk chocolate carrying the sweet aromatic and citrus flavour of the fragrant culinary lemon thyme herb.  (Lemon and chocolate, a marriage made in heaven.)

The Red with a Green Flush one - Roasted Peppers and Olive oil, a little more savoury in flavour, milk chocolate enhanced with sweet notes of roasted peppers and subtle smoky notes. (Odd at first, but quite pleasant.)

Some of the flavours were quite subtle.  I have to say the Roasted Pepper and Olive Oil was surprisingly delicious.  At first I wasn't quite sure . . . it tasted very strongly of roasted peppers, and yes . . .  there was almost the smokiness of chipotle there, but no heat of course.   Afterwards the flavours settled in quite pleasantly and I quite enjoyed it actually.

I think my favourite was a toss up between the Fennel and Honey and the Lemon Thyme, but those are flavours I am quite fond of anyway.  I have to say that these chocolates were quite like fine dining . . . except it's chocolate.   A very nice experience indeed.  Pretty colours and shine.  A nice snap when you bite into them.   Beautiful flavours.  Win, win, win!

These individually hand-painted caramel chocolates are delicately moulded into half sphere-shaped shells made of Demarquette's highest quality award-winning 71.1% dark chocolate (CacaoLux) and 40% silky smooth Malagasy milk chocolate. Each is then infused with a luxurious creamy caramel made with pure Hampshire Cream, British Beet sugar, and fresh ingredients sourced from local gardens.

To find out more and to check out their other collections (They have some really lovely collections!)  please out their home page at www.demarquette.co.uk.

Many thanks to Kim for sending these to me.  I quite, quite enjoyed them!  Of all the chocolates I've been sent through the years, these were the most exciting and interesting ones!  OH, and tasty too!  Don't forget to check out their Easter Line!

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Mediterranean Herb Baked Chicken and Knorr Flavour Pots

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I recently received a lovely hamper from the people at Knorr, in honor of their new Flavour Pots.  Oh what a lovely hamper it was . . .

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There was a lovely variety of fresh ingredients . . .  kale, peppers, okra, a pineapple, fennel, a coconut, radishes . . .

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Chickpeas, anchovies, chocolate . . .

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And of course several packs of their new flavour pots.  Developed by Knorr, the creators of Stock Pots, the new range of flavour pots are set to revolutionize the way we use herbs and spices.  They come in five unique varieties, each infused with all of the fantastic flavours of fresh herbs, but with the convenience of dried.  Knorr Chef, Cameron Healy as captured these fresh flavours by working them into a paste and then adding a drop of oil to retain their natural aroma, colour and flavours.

The Green pack is Mixed Herbs -  With its combination of thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil, this versatile pot is a store cupboard essential and will ensure your herby flavours are perfectly balanced.  Use to complement your cottage pie and perfect your pasta.

The Pink Pack is Garlic - Packing a punch, this pot will deliver perfect results every time and enhance an array of dishes from spaghetti carbonara to stuffed chicken.  Simply stir in and savour the flavour.

The Red Pack is Mixed Chillies -  This pot is crammed with vibrant chillies that will liven up your meals and  leave your taste-buds tingling with a hint of heat.  You can use this pot to add a subtle kick to your stir fries and pasta sauces.

The Yellow Pot is Curry - This complex combination of 13 traditional spices including cumin, cardamom and cloves will definitely add a special something to your curry.  Use when you want to impress, for a Korma that never tasted so good.

The Purple Pot is 3 Peppercorn -  This mix of 3 peppercorns will add a depth of flavour to your dishes.  Whether used in a straightforward steak sauce, or a luxury pork stroganoff, this little pot will instantly add a touch of indulgence to your meal.

There are a multitude of delicious recipes that you can create using each Knorr Flavour Pot, from aromatic Indian curries and rich Italian pasta dishes to zingy Chinese stir fries and sumptuous French sauces.  For more recipe inspiration and ideas visit www.knorr.co.uk.  

Flavour Pots are available at Asda, Tesco, Morrison's, Waitrose and Sainsbury's with an RRPof £1.59

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With the flavour pots I created a fabulously delicious chicken dish, filled to the brim with fresh  Mediterranean flavours . . .  I used one each of the garlic and the 3 peppercorn pots . . .  combining them with a variety of dried spices and fresh herbs and a tin of tomatoes  . . .

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Dried turmeric, cumin and sweet paprika  . . .  pickled caper berries, sliced green olives . . .  chopped coriander and flat leaf parsley . . . lemon zest and lemon juice . . .

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I used chicken thighs because their succulence makes them perfect for oven braising in just such a gorgeous and rich sauce such as this.  It was also so very simple to execute.  You just mix everything in a shallow casserole dish, rolling the chicken around in it . . . and then place it into the refrigerator to marinate for anywhere from a couple of hours to 8 hours, which makes it the perfect dinner party dish as you can throw it together early in the day, ready to bang into the oven later on.

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The flavour pots were the perfect addition and added a beautiful depth of richness to the dish . . . with the subtle hint of 3 peppercorns and lots of sweet garlic . . .  it smelled fabulous when it was baking.  The end result was beautifully tender pieces of chicken in a fabulous sauce, which was herby, and spicy  . . .  with a piquancy from the capers and green olives . . . and to be honest just wonderful spooned over the rice I cooked to go along with it, and the leftovers were even more delicious warmed up the day after!   You will want to serve some crusty bread along side so that you can mop up all of that fabulous sauce!

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*Mediterranean Herb Baked Chicken*
Serves 4

Deliciously exotic and spicy.  The chicken does need to marinate for several hours, so make sure you leave time for that.  Rice or couscous are nice with this.  It is a nice dinner party dish as you can throw all of the ingredients together early in the day and leave it to marinate, and begin cooking it about an hour prior to your wanting to eat.

1 large handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup)
about half as much again of chopped fresh coriander (about 1/4 cup)
1 Knorr Garlic Flavour Pot
1 Knorr 3 peppercorn Flavour Pot
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
3 pounds of skinless chicken thighs or chicken pieces
1 400g tin of chopped plum tomatoes in juice (14 1/2 ounces)
120ml of chicken broth (1/2 cup)
90g chopped green olives (1/2 cup)
1 TBS capers, rinsed
1 TBS finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste
Chopped coriander to garnish (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a baking dish.  Roll the chicken in this, and arrange it in an even single layer.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 8 hours, turning the pieces occasionally.  When you are ready to cook it, remove it from the refrigerator about half an hour before you wish to begin.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.   Place the tightly covered baking dish in the oven.   Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and tender and the juices run clear.

Serve the chicken hot along with some of the cooking juices spooned over top.   Sprinkle some coriander on for a garnish.  Serve with hot rice or couscous.  

Many thanks to Knorr for sending me this lovely hamper.  I have only just begun to touch on the wonderful adaptability of these gorgeous little pots of deliciousness!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Spring Into Summer with the English Kitchen

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I am really pleased to be able to offer you my latest Illustrated Cookbooklet, "Spring into Summer."  I am really proud of this one folks.  There is even more art than in the other ones, including not one or two printable recipe posters, but TWELVE.  Suitable for you to print out and frame and hang on your kitchen wall.

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Thirty five pages containing 25+ new and fresh recipes for spring, created to use and make the best of all the goodness that this season has to offer our tables.

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With beautiful illustrations througout and tips on how to get the most out of seasonally fresh spring ingredients, storage, etc. I feel that this is the best yet.

It comes via e-mail in PDF form, which you can either read or print out in it's entirety. Thirty Five delightful pages in full colour. Please note that you will need the latest version of Adobe Reader enabled on your computer in order to read. The cookbooklet will be delivered via e-mail within 24 hours of your ordering it. Cost £5.00  (Note - you will need to add my e-mail address mariealicejoan at aol dot com to your safe list.)




A little Taste of Greece, Souvlaki in a Pita



Now I have never been to Greece, but it is a place I have always wanted to go . . . since I was about 10 years old and saw Haley Mills in the Moon Spinners. It looked like a fabulous country to visit and it is still my dream to one day visit. I am sorry they are having so many problems at the moment. I hope that they are able to work their way through this hard time they are having.



I have had a kebab though . . . a kebab is a very popular takeaway dish here in the UK. (Especially when all the pubs and bars start to empty out on a Friday and Saturday night!)You see them in all of the takeaways . . . big slabs of mystery meat, on a huge skewer, rotating in front of a heat lamp thingie. They slice the meat off onto a pita bread and cover it with salad and sauce. They sell tons of them . . . I have had a chicken one before and it was quite good. I have never had a mystery meat one though . . . and I somehow don't think I ever will . . .



And really . . . after having watched The Food Inspector the other week . . . I doubt that I ever will have a chicken one again either. UGH!!



These tasty Souvlaki are so much nicer . . . and healthier too. Plus you know exactly what is in them.



You are supposed to zip open the pita bread and pile all the fillings inside . . . but in all truth that has never worked for me . . . they always fall apart. I would rather just put the warm pita bread on a plate and pile everything on top of it and eat it with a knife and fork.



I know. Me = party pooper! Nevermind . . . it doesn't matter how you eat it. It's delicious. End of.



*Souvlaki in Pita*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This is considered to be the Greek Equivalent of the Kebab! We sell enough Kebab's in this country on Friday night. I reckon this is a much healthier option and a lot tastier as well!

4 large pita breads
water and olive oil to moisten
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 medium onion, peeled and coarsely grated
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
500g lean pork or lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes (1 1/4 pound)

For the Salad Bits:
lettuce thinly sliced
cucumber, sliced
red pepper, sliced
tomatoes, cut into wedges
radishes, sliced
1 small red onion, tpeeled and thinly sliced
flat leaf parsley leaves, torn

For the Garlic Dressing:
100ml of thick, strained Greek Yoghurt (about 3/4 cup)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 inches of cucumber, coarselyated and then squeezed dry
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Metal skewers for grilling



Sprinkle the pita breads with water and olive oil. Either grill them, or bake them at 180*C/350*C/ gas 4 for 3 to 5 minutes, just long enough to soften them, but not dry them out. Place them in a warm place and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.

Put the oregano, lemon juice, grated onion and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Add the meat cubes and mix them into coat them completely. Allow to sit and marinate for at least 20 minutes. Drain and then thread onto metal skewers. Cook on a preheated barbeque, or on a stove top grill pan, turning occasionally until golden outside and cooked through. (5 to 8 minutes)

While they are grilling toss together your salad choices in a bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the yoghurt, garlic, cucumber and salt in a bowl.

Add a dollop of this to each warmed pita bread. Top with some salad and push the meat off of the skewers on top. Drizzle with a bit more of the garlic dressing if you want. Serve immediately, while the bread and meat are hot, but the dressing and salad are cool.

PS - I don't want a lot of Greeks messaging me and telling me this isn't authentic. It's not supposed to be. This is The ENGLISH kitchen. 'Nuff said.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Be Inspired This Summer with Leisure

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Indulge in some kitchen therapy with a little inspiration from Leisure range cookers.   The warmer summer months signal the arrival of lighter meals, fresher flavours and relaxed al fresco dining.

Try this menu of a starter of a grilled asparagus with mozzarella panzanella salad - divine with a generous drizzle of vinaigrette, followed by a flavoursome main course, Mediterranean baked fish with vegetables, and if you're seeking the true taste of summer, a bowl of lemon possets with fresh raspberries.

Whether feeding the family or hosting friends, a Leisure range cooker is the perfect kitchen companion. With features that include a griddle, slow-cooking functionality, dedicated grills and wok burners as well as large oven capacity and multiple hob burners, you can be certain of greater flexibility in the kitchen.  Whilst you're grilling your asparagus, you can bake the fish in one of the other ovens and start prepping the posset too.  With multiple cooking spaces, you can be sure that your menu is timed to perfection without contaminating flavours and smells.

MENU IDEAS

STARTER  

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Grilled Asparagus with Mozarella Panzanella Salad
Prep:  20 minutes   Cooking:  15 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 TBS lemon juice
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 125g thin asparagus tips, woody ends snapped off
  • 2 pitta breads, halved and cut into small triangles
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 1 ball mozzarella, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large bag of salad leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

For the dressing:
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oi
  • 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Method:

  1. Mix the oil, lemon juice and thyme together and pour over asparagus and leave to marinate for 1 hour.  Drain off marinade. 
  2. Preheat Leisure oven to 200*C.
  3. Arrange the pitta triangles on a baking tray, brush with a little olive oil, season, and then bake for 6-7 minutes until golden.  Set aside until needed. 
  4. Preheat Leisure Grill or griddle on a medium heat for 5 minutes.  Put asparagus under grill or on top of griddle for 6 - 8 minutes or until cooked, turning over once.  Slice in half and arrange with salad leaves, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes onto a serving dish with the pitta toasts.
  5. Place all dressing ingredients into a screw top jar and shake together, and then drizzle over salad before serving.


MAIN  

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Mediterranean Baked Fish with Vegetables
Prep:  10 minutes  Cooking:  20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 675g new potatoes
  • 200g cherry tomatoes on the vine, snipped into sprigs
  • 200g courgettes, sliced thickly
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 1 handful of fresh oregano or basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 X 200g chunky white fish fillets, like haddock, hake or cod


Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200*C
  2. If potatoes are too large, cut in half.  Put all ingredients except for fish into a bowl and toss until the vegetables are coated in oil.
  3. Place onto a baking tray.  Cook for 20 minutes before placing fish on top.  Drizzle a little oil and juice from the tray over the fish and cook in centre of oven for 15 - 20 minutes. 



DESSERT  

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Lemon Possets with Fresh Raspberries
Prep: 6 minutes  Cooking:  3 minutes (2 hours refrigeration)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 600ml double cream
  • 120g caster sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • few raspberries


Method:

  1. Put the cream, sugar, lemon juice and nearly all the zest into a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil and boil on medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Leave mixture to cool slightly before pouring into ramekins or glasses.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Serve with raspberries and the remaining zest sprinkled over.


For more information on the new models as well as recipes and stockists visit www.leisurecooker.co.uk  

About Leisure:

Leisure is part of Beko pls., one of the largest domestic appliance manufacturers to the UK, the second largest in Europe and one of the top ten appliance brands in the world.

Leisure remains true to it's history of over 120 years manufacturing the  highest quality range cookers.  This manifests itself today in Leisure's Cookmaster and Cuisinemaster models, available in a new "family" of sizes:  110cm, 100cm, and now 90cm, with a 60cm gourmet model available.

Synonymous with quality and design, Leisure develops cutting-edge cooking technology in new and state-of-the-art production facilities, ensuring excellence in design, materials and construction of all it's range cookers.  Leisure has been awarded the 2014 GHI accredation for the 100cm and 110cm Cookmaster an Cuisinemaster models.







A Hearty Salad Sarnie . . . Bacon Alert!!

 

I just love sandwiches . . . and I'm not alone in that either. The British all love sandwiches! They're a big business over here.  They're sold in all the shops, convenience stores, grocery shops, coffee shops etc.  Of course if you hadn't guessed already . . . Sarnie is another name for sandwich!

 

Makes it sound like something  quite exotic doesn't it?

 

One of my favourite places to buy a ready made sarnie is in M&S.  Their sandwiches are the best.  The bread is always fresh and the filling generous, and spread to the edge . . . not like some of the cheaper places where you get a dollop of filling in the  middle of two slices of dry bread . . . with more bread than filling!  Ugh!  Nasty.



I was quite suprised when I moved over here to the UK at the different varieties of sandwiches that were on offer as well.  Cheese and onion . . . delicious!  Cheese and tomato . . .  likewise!  There's salad sandwiches, sandwiches made with crab, or prawns or tuna.  Tuna and Cucumber seems to be quite popular.  As is Tuna and Sweetcorn.

 

Then there are Egg & Cress, Coronation Chicken, Corned Beef (made with tinned corned Beef, which is actually quite nice),  and a host of others . . . too many to list here I think, but you get the idea, I'm sure!



Anyways, the point of all of this is that I made Todd and myself a couple of very tasty sandwiches for our lunch one day at the weekend.  In  my quest to cut back a bit, I made them open faced sandwiches, so only half the bread.

 

I added some sliced ham, sliced turkey, half fat swiss cheese, lettuce, a delicious homemade dressing . . . kind of tangy and yet at the same time a bit sweet . . . some sliced egg, tomato and  . . . naughty but nice crisply cooked streaky bacon.  (Really nice . . .  dry cured and unsmoked is my choice!)



A gal can't be 100% good all of the time can she??  I thought not!!



 *Dressed Club Salad Sarnie*
Serves 2
Printable Recipe

An open faced, knife and forker!  Delicious!  (Easily upped or downed to serve more or less people.)

2 slices sour dough bread
2 slices of baked deli ham
2 slices of Leerdammer cheese (Swiss type of cheese, I use the low fat one)
2 slices of deli turkey
1 cup of shredded cos lettuce (Romaine)
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
4 slices of streaky bacon, rind removed and cooked crisp

For the dressing:
1 heaped dessert spoon of low fat mayonnaise
1  tsp of tomato ketchup
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp of chopped sweet pickle
1/2 tsp of finely grated onion
pinch of salt and black pepper

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Lay one slice of bread onto each of two plates.  Top each with 1 slice of ham.  Top the ham with the cheese.  Top the cheese with the turkey.  Divide the lettuce between the two and drizzle each with half of the dressing.  Top each with half of  the sliced egg, sliced tomato and two slices of bacon criss crossed.  Serve immediately.  Pass the knives and forks!