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Steak & Stilton Hot Pot

Steak & Stilton Hot Pot

We don't eat a lot of red meat in our home, but we do enjoy it once in a while.  I tend to gravitate more to the cheaper cuts, and I do this for several reasons. One is price (no surprise there) and the other is that they tend to come from the parts of the animal that have gotten the most use and which have developed the most favour!  And if you know me, you will know I am all about flavour!

Red meat tends to be a bit on the expensive side over here and I think it has probably always been so.  I can remember when I lived in Suffield, Alberta, which was a British Army Training Unit Services base.   We were friends with quite a few Brits and were invited to a home for a dinner party one night.  They loved to entertain, and were quite entertaining people! We loved them to bits!

On this particular occasion the hostess served some lovely trout as a first course, and then she cooked a whole round steak for each person.  Apparently meat was very cheap in comparison to the UK and she wanted to treat everyone to a nice piece of meat.  The servings were huge to say the least and tougher than blazes!  Round steak begs to be simmered long and slow and is what they would call braising steak over here in the UK!

This hot pot here today is gorgeous . . .  with a tender beef filling made with flavourful braising steak, braised with mushrooms and shallots until it is meltingly tender . . .

A goodly bit of stilton cheese gets stirred into the juices and then it gets spooned into either individual casseroles or one large one and then covered with a thatch of mashed potatoes prior to baking until it is golden brown and bubbly. 

*Steak & Stilton Hot Pot*
Serves 6
Tender delicious stewed beef beneath a thatch of potato.  This is a real family pleaser. Plan ahead as you need to marinate the meat overnight. 

For the mash:
1 1/4 pound of mashing potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 TBS butter
60ml whole milk, warmed (1/4 cup)
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg 

For the steak filling:
1 KG stewing steak (2.2 pounds)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
400ml of pale ale  (1 3/4 cup)
2 TBS plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS butter
100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
8 shallots, peeled and sliced
500ml beef stock (2 1/4 cups)
75g crumbled stilton (2/3 cup)
You will also need a few TBS of grated cheese to top the potatoes (optional)  

Cut the beef into cubes and place into a non-reactive bowl along with the garlic, thyme leaves, and black pepper. Pour the ale over top and toss to mix. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator over night to marinate.

The next day remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry.  Dredge with the seasoned flour.  Strain the marinade and reserve.

Heat the oil and butter in a large flameproof casserole.  Brown the beef in batches, removing it with a slotted spoon to a bowl, as it browns.  Repeat until all the beef has browned.  Add the shalots and mushrooms to the pan and  saute for 5 minutes or so until beginning to soften. Return the beef to the pan along with the reserved marinade and the stock.  Bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

About 45 minutes before the meat is done make the mash for the topping. Place the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water to cover.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until tender.  Drain and mash well.  Stir in the butter and warm milk.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F gas mark 5.   

Divide the meat between six individual casserole dishes, or place into one large shallow casserole dish.  Strain off and discard half of the liquid in the pan.  Crumble the stilton into the remaining pan juices and then divide them equally amongst the casserole dishe(s), spooning  them over the meat.  

Pipe the mashed potato on top decoratively or spread it over top and rough with the tines of a fork.  If you are doing individual casseroles, place them on a baking tray.  Pop into the preheated oven in any case and bake for 35 minutes until the potatoes are starting to turn golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  Sprinkle a few TBS of cheese over top if desired and return to the oven to melt.

Let stand a few minutes before serving.

I served this with some steamed broccoli and sweet corn, but a salad would also go very nice!  I don't mind me saying this is supremely delicious.  Note, the stilton I used was not blue stilton, but regular stilton!  Bon appetit!

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Marie Rayner
Ham, Leek & Potato Gratin

Ham, Leek & Potato Gratin

This is a really simple and yet  delicious bake which makes great use of any leftover ham and potatoes you might have that you want to use up. I don't always have leftover ham, and in that case I simply buy some slice ham, or a chunk of ham that I will shred and use in its place

I always have leftover potatoes however. They are a favourite vegetable in this house and so when I am cooking them, I will usually cook extra as they come in very handy for dishes like this, or simply for fried potatoes.

If you can make a cream sauce (or bechamel) or cheese sauce, then you can make this sauce.  It is made from sliced leek and some garlic . . . cooked until meltingly soft in some butter  . . .

A bit of flour gets mixed into them to make a roux, and then you simply wisk in warm milk . . . and keep whisking until you get a smooth velvety thick sauce.

I add a bit of mustard for flavour and some seasonings.  You don't need a lot of salt really as ham can be fairly salty, but you will want a bit to counter act the blandness of the potatoes . . .

You layer the shredded ham in the casserole dish and top with sliced cooked potato.  Simple . . .

The sauce gets poured over the whole top.  I like to use a fork to gently lift the potatoes here and there, which enables some of the sauce to leak down into the bottom. You don't have to do this, some will make its way down there anyways,  but I always do

Finally you scatter some buttered bread crumbs on top, not a lot, just one slice.  You can remove the crusts or not as you wish.

A smattering of cheese gets sprinkled on top of them . . . I like a combination of strong cheddar and gruyere (Swiss).  Its a great combination.  After that you bake in the oven until the sauce is bubbling up and the whole thing is golden brown and a bit crispy on top.  Comfort food indeed.

*Ham, Leek and Potato Gratin*
Serves 4
A tasty gratin that makes great use of leftover baked ham, boiled ham, or cooked ham hocks..  Its delicious! 

340g cooked ham, shredded (Can use leftover roast ham,
boiled ham, cooked ham hocks, etc.) (2 cups)
4 large potatoes, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and then sliced
1 large leek, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
1 small clove, garlic peeled and minced
2 TBS plain flour
480ml whole milk (2 cups), gently heated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper to taste
1 slice of buttered bread made into crumbs
4 TBS grated cheese (I like a mix of cheddar and gruyere)

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the leek and cook, stirring frequently over medium heat, until totally softened.  Whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Slowly whisk in the warm milk, whisking contantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Whisk in the mustard and cook for a few minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, remembering that the ham will be salty. 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Butter a shallow gratin dish.  Spread the ham out in the bottom of the dish. Top with the sliced potatoes and pour the  sauce over the potatoes, Take a fork and kind of lift the potatoes a bit here and there to let the sauce run down into the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle with the buttered bread crumbs and the cheese. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.  Serve hot. 

This is a great way of using up any leftover bits of ham you might have after the holidays, and truth be told I sometimes buy a small chunks of ham just to make it.  I like to serve it with steamed green beans and a salad on the side, and for Todd some crusty bread. It always goes down a real treat!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner
The Heart and Soul of My English Kitchen!

The Heart and Soul of My English Kitchen!

Can you see it in this picture?  This was me, a budding writer, on Easter Sunday, back in 1960.  I was wearing my Sunday best and holding the little white bible my father had given me,as I stood outside of my Grandparent's home in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia.  I think I was a somewhat peculiar child in a lot of ways.  I loved books, and reading.  I loved food and recipes, and I could be found most days creating mud pies or grass and weed salads  sat on the laundry stoop in our back yard.

As a child I dreamt of visiting faraway places, cooking for the Queen, marrying one of the Beatles and becoming a writer and writing a book.  I even remember borrowing a friend's typewriter, much like this one, and penning a few stories on it before tiring of the laborious, one letter at a time, procedure. 

As an adult I have travelled to faraway places, married an Englishman, worked as a personal Chef in a Manor house, gotten to stand in the Cavern in Liverpool where the Beatles got their start, and I have been penning my writings to my loyal readers on not one, but two,  daily blogs . . .  in one form or another over the past 13 years or so.  

I have written many self published cookbooklets and even a full self-published book (Recipes From the Big Blue Binder) over the years but the opportunity to write an officially published book eluded me until last year when the publishing company Passageway Press contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in writing a Cookery Book for them.  They did not have to ask me twice . . . another of my childhood dreams coming true.

A year later and many hours of work on both my part and
the part of my Editor and his team, this is the result!

I proudly present!

 Writing this book has been a real labor of love for me. It is the culmination of all of my years experience as a capable home cook, and as a professional chef, and is based around my love for the UK and all that it has to offer you in the way of good food and tradition.   I have a deep love for my adopted home, its people and its cuisine.  There are over 500 recipes in the book, taking you from breakfast to spur of the moment  midnight snacks! 

There are bakes and cakes, and soups and grills and a few surprises as well.  I have celebrated some of our more popular holidays with some tasty offerings, and honored the great British takeaway as well as firm favourites gleaned from a childhood of drooling over feastworthy Enid Blytonesque treats! 

I also share a compendium of my years of knowledge and experience in both my home kitchen and and as a working Chef, and I embroidered all of it with a huge chunk of my anglo-loving heart.  I like to think that it reads like a good friend sitting down with you, and sharing a nice hot cuppa  across te table along with a good recipe, or two or three! 

It is available now via Amazon world wide in both the hard copy and kindle versions.  For links please see my upper side bar.

Here are the links to some of the reviews on the book if you care to take a look at them:

"I received my book yesterday and I am so impressed!! There are pages upon pages of beautifully illustrated recipes with easy to find ingredients and easy to follow instructions. I know Marie's recipes and they are always a winner. It is clear she has put her heart and her multiple talents into this book. I look forward to purchasing more of these beautiful books to give as Christmas gifts this year! Well Done, Marie!!"  ~Bev

Also, if you buy the book and would like a signed book plate, I am happy to send you one.  Just message me your mailing address! Many thanks for reading!  I promise not to talk about it again! 
 Many thanks to Glyn and the people at Passageway Press for affording me this wonderful opportunity!
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Marie Rayner
Custard Filled Corn Bread

Custard Filled Corn Bread

I have a long standing love affair with corn bread of any kind.  As a bread, as a muffin, as a cake, as stuffing  . . .  corn bread and I have had a very long relationship with each other.  This particular recipe I am sharing with you today is one of my long time favourites!


It is a basic corn bread batter, filled with sour milk (for moistness), butter, some corn for added texture, and of course the usual flour, cornmeal, etc. But it goes beyond that because, it also has all of the appeal of a corn pudding!

You generously butter the baking tin and pop it into the oven while you stir together the bread batter.  Take the hot pan out, pour in the batter, and then you pour a whole cup of delicious heavy cream right into the middle of it . . . no mixing, no stirring . . .  just leave it be . . .  a puddle of cream in the middle.

I'm not sure how it works or why it works, but . . .  that cream somehow forms a delicious rich custard layer in the bread  as it bakes . . . .

This has to be my favourite of all the cornbreads I make and it makes a beautiful holiday breakfast when you serve it warm, cut into squares with Maple syrup for pouring over the top.

You get the crunch of the cornmeal . . . the moist cake batter, the chewiness of the corn niblets and that rich custard . . .  and then the smoky sweetness of the maple syrup gilding that most delicious lily.

It reminds me of one time when we were driving through Vermont, and we were up very close to the Quebec border.  We were starving because we had been out and about very early that  morning and so we stopped at a little cafe near the road . . .  there was a lake across the road . . .

We had beautiful crisp edged pancakes . . .  with a slight crunch of cornmeal in the batter  . . .  with lots of butter and warm Vermont Maple Syrup.  They were so delicious. So much so that I still think about them today.

Nothing has ever quite come close to that memory, but then taste memories are like that aren't they?  We look at them through the rose coloured glasses of bygone days and romanticise them a bit I think.

Everytime I make this I think about those pancakes . . . . so this must be tweaking my Vermont Pancake tastebuds in a good way.  In any case, this is very, very, VERY good!!

*Custard Filled Cornbread*
Makes 1 8-inch square pan

This is the most delicious and moist cornbread you will ever eat.  It goes wonderfully with stews and soups, and to be perfectly honest . . . a piece of this all warm and covered with Maple Syrup is a wonderful, wonderful breakfast . . . one bite and you will be totally smitten.  I kid you not. 

2 large free range eggs
3 TBS sweet butter, melted
(plus extra to butter the pan)
3 TBS sugar
3/4 tsp salt
480ml whole milk (2 cups)
1 1/2 TBS white vinegar
140g plain flour (1 cup)
130g yellow cornmeal, or polenta (3/4 cup)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
 225g tinned sweet corn, well drained (about 1 cup)
 240ml  heavy cream (double cream) (1 cup) 

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. gas mark 4.  Butter an 8 inch square pan really well with some butter, and then put the pan into the oven to get it hot while you mix up the batter. 

Beat the eggs together in a mixing bowl.  Beat in the butter and the sugar until well blended.  Stir in the milk, salt and vinegar.  Beat well. 

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda.  Mix well.  Pour this mixture all at once onto the wet mixture.  Mix together just until the batter is uniformly moist, fairly smooth with no lumps.   Stir in the corn kernels.  Pour into the hot dish.  Immediately pour the cream right into the middle of the dish.  Don't stir it at all.  Just pour it in and leave it. 

Bake in the heated oven for 50 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.  Serve warm. 

   Mmmm . . .  this is so very good.  I hope you will try it at some point in the coming months.  I think you'll agree with me!  Bon Appetit!

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Marie Rayner
The Degusta October 2017 Box (Review)

The Degusta October 2017 Box (Review)

Every month I am the happy recipient of a Degustabox. I love these boxes. Opening each one is a bit like opening a Christmas box. Always a surprise and always filled with things I want to try. Degustabox is a monthly foodie subscription service that sends out a range of specially selected foodie products. There's always a great mix of new products that I haven't tried before, as well as plenty of treats from more established brands. Quite often you will have the opportunity to try new products before they arrive in the shops, so it can be a bit of a sneak peak! Each Degustabox costs £12.99, delivery costs are included in the price, and there is no fixed contract involved - you can cancel at any time. I love getting these boxes!!  Normally I am able to use at least one of the products and create a recipe to use it in, but alas that was not the case this month.  Each product stood well enough on its own. Now a bit about the October Box.

PECHEKS Misfortune Cookies 1 X  £1.50

These cookies are like a left hook.

You can't explain how much they hurt. But they're also perfect for people who like to laugh. Who don't take life too seriously, or don't mind a dose of reality now and then. They are for friends who you really like. Or acquaintances who you can't stand. And for any party that needs some added fun, or any meal that could do with a bit more spice.

Black cookies, black humour: ideal for Lucky Lukes and Bad-Luck Brians, superwomen and high-flyers, crybabies and wussy wimps, iron ladies and tough guys. 

The Cookies are available online on our webshop, on amazon and lots of different shops all over Europe. There is a shopfinder on our website, but if you need any help buying our mercilessly funny and brutally honest products just contact us via e-mail and we'll help you!  

I got one of these last year on Halloween also. Fun! 

HEINZ No Sugar Added Hoops 1 X £0.75 

No Added Sugar Hoops give consumers another great option for mealtimes. With no artificial sweeteners, colours, or flavours and 1 of your five a day they are a nutritious and convenient solution for families. No added sugar - great Heinz taste!
It is nice to see a company jumping on the bandwagon and being pro-active in presenting products that have no artificial sweeteners, colours or flavours. As a parent and grandmother, I am all for that!
Oversized cookies with a melty middle and big chocolate chips, made with real fresh butter, free range eggs and love. Take a bit of our super cookies with melty middle milk chocolate and real hazelnuts. Enjoy an incredible taste. Warning: taste buds will be tickled ;)

CIRO Valfrutta 1 X £2.29 

A new range of tasty ready to eat Mediterranean dishes, soon to be available in new packaging; Cous Cous with Mixed Vegetables, Bulgur, Quinoa, Red Rice, Tomatoes and Green Olives, Basmati Rice & Lentils and Spelt with Black Olives, Dried Tomatoes and Capers. Delicious cold in salads or heat for a tasty meal. Tear open and microwave for 1 minute or pan heat for 2-3 minutes. 

Aready a fan of Ciro products I received the CousCous with Mixed Vegetables and it made for a nice light lunch.

KABUTO Noodles Thai Green Chicken Curry 1 X £1.99

Our new gluten-free rice noodle dish is inspired by the fragrant green curries from Thailand. They are a delicious combination of Asian inspired flavours and real quality natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives. Ready in minutes they are quick to make and long to savour! 

I love Kabuto Noodles.  This also made a nice light lunch.  I adore Thai Green Chicken Curries as well, so this pleased on many levels.

PULSIN Kid's Fruity Oat Bars Orange Chocolate Chip 1 X £0.59

Deliciously wholesome orange choc chip oat bars are packed with gluten free UK oats, real fruit and natural ingredients, making them the ideal snack for kids on the go.

Pulsin use tooth-friendly xylitol to sweeten the chocolate, which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and blend it with premium orange oil, gluten free oats and real fruit to create a mix of flavours that kids love.

The Kids' Fruity Oat Bars are designed to count as 1 of a child's 5 a day and the fun new packaging is an ideal way to brighten up lunch boxes.

Plus, with 1/3 less sugar than the average kids' fruit snack* and high in fibre, this range makes the perfect healthy alternative to other lunch box snacks. 
Once again I am pleased that this product is designed to target childen with a treat containing less sugar, more fibre and containing one of their five a day

LO SALT free gift sample 

Too much salt (sodium chloride) in the diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. With 66% less sodium than regular table, sea and rock salts, switching to LoSalt will help you to maintain normal blood pressure. The perfect blend of two natural mineral salts – potassium chloride and sodium chloride – LoSalt is the healthier alternative for seasoning, cooking and baking without compromising on flavour. And it's easy to use – if your recipe calls for 1tsp salt, switch for 1tsp LoSalt – it does the same and tastes the same! LoSalt – the natural choice for your table and kitchen cupboard. 

The full size 350g of LoSalt can be purchased for £1.75 
We already use the low salt and thik it is a great product.
MILLIONS Vimoto Millions Gift Jar 1 X £2.99

Millions gets Seriously Mixed Up with Vimto. Vimto Millions are available in a variety of formats, 40g count line, taper jars and a £1 PMP. Millions aren't just unique in shape and size, they're known for their fabulously strong, punchy flavours. That's why Vimto's distinctive taste is the perfect fit. 
The Missionaries enjoyed this.
LEE KUM KEE - Sauce for Tomato Garlic Prawns 
& Honey Garlic Spare Ribs         2 X £0.85 

Lee Kum Kee sauce sachets offer a wide range of classic Chineseflavours and save you time in the kitchen. We have two from the range for you to try, other flavours include; Sauce for Kung Pao Chicken and Sauce for Broccoli Beef in Oyster Sauce.

  • Sauce for Tomato Garlic Prawns - prepared from tomato, chilli peppers, honey and garlic. Best for stir-frying with prawns, but also great for cooking with meat and vegetables. It can also be used in a sauce mix for salads and as a dressing.

  • Sauce for Honey Garlic Spare Rib - made with honey and garlic. Best used with meat in stir fries or marinades, but also as a sauce mix and dressing.
I haven't actually used these yet.  I was also sent a tiny pack of sweet soya sauce.

NUTTVIA Nuttvia Breadsticks Snack Pack 1 X £1.70

Nuttvia is a tasty hazelnut spread made with ZERO palm oil and 97% less sugar. It also has a 5 star health rating and has been certified with the Orangutan Alliance No Palm Oil Seal. The full range includes the Nuttvia 600g jar perfect for the whole family; the 350g jar for all the hazelnut spread lover out there and Nuttvia on the go breadsticks snack pack. 

Small in size but big in flavour, the Nuttvia breadsticks snack pack is the ideal sweet treat on the go. Indulge in the deliciousness of hazelnut spread with ZERO palm oil 97% less sugar. Perfect in the school lunchbox or as a snack, the Nuttvia breadsticks taste delicious and can go anywhere you go. 

No palm oil and less sugar?  I am all for that!

We believe that if you drink good, you feel good. Feel Good Drinks use 100% natural ingredients only - made from a simple blend of water, fruit and natural flavourings with a refreshing taste. There are three uplifting and contemporary flavours in each of our drink ranges.  
I received the Orange Mango and the Strawberry Mint.  I have really enjoyed both of these.  I am not a lover of hot drinks and these make a tasty alternative.
HIPPEAS Organic Chickpea Puffs 1 X £2.29

Hippeas is the all new range of organic chickpea puffs which is set to shake-up the global snacking market with a bold brand story and purpose, clear health credentials and exciting flavour profiles.

Light, crunchy and airy, but packing a serious punch of protein and fibre, HIPPEAS is the vegan friendly, on-the-go snack that plans to spread #PeasAndLove across the world.

Available from Tesco, Waitrose, Boots, Holland & Barrett, Asda, Planet Organic, Whole Foods, WH Smith and online at Ocado and

Crunchy and  quite tasty. I got the Herb flavoured ones and they were actually very nice.  They have a very similar texture to Cheese Doodles. 

So, that was the October Degustabox - a nice selection of products as always. We loved it. The price of each Degustabox is £12.99 (including delivery). To order your box, visit Many thanks to Degustabox UK for sending me this box. I have to say I really look forward to getting my box each month. There are always lots of things in it to enjoy and new products to try out. I highly recommend. You can also tailor the boxes to your own likes and dislikes by filling in your own Taste Profile.  Do you like the sound of the Degustabox October 2017 box? Why not sign up now! I find them to be really good value for money spent and I really enjoy trying out new products that I have not tried before.  

Follow them on Facebook 

Follow them on Twitter 

Note - Although I was sent a box free of charge any and all opinions are my own.
Bon appetit!
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Marie Rayner
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Broccoli wasn't a vegetable I ever remember eating when I was growing up.  I don't think it was available anywhere that we lived, or if it was, it wasn't something my mother ever bought.  My father always said he hated broccoli, and he still does, so that could very well be the reason we never had it.

I believe the first time I had broccoli was at a Chinese restaurant, and it was love at first bite.  I can say with impunity that it is one of my favourite vegetables.

When I visited Utah several years ago I had occasion to eat in the lovely Roof Restaurant on top of the Joseph SmithMemorial Building in downtown Salt Lake.  I had Deep Fried Pickles and I remember having something, probably a sandwich which came with Sweet Potato Fries. Both were very good and I am sure the sandwich was also, but for the life of me I cannot rememer what it was.

It was such a wonderful experience and the food so good that Todd bought me the cookbook, Recipes from The Roof, the 100th Anniversary of The Hotel Utah ad Joseph Smith Memorial Building for Christmas.  I am ashamed to say that although I have drooled over many of the pages, today was the first time I have cooked one of the recipes.

I found myself with an abundance of fresh broccoli and I spent some time this morning going through a lot of my books, looking for something to use it in.  This recipe caught my eye and I was reminded of the lovely visit I had there with my friend Lura and so, I decided to make this soup.

This recipe is adapted from the one in the book.  Its very rich.  The original uses heavy cream, but I chose to use single cream.  I just could not bring myself to eat that much double/heavy cream.  My arteries started to clog just thinking about it!

I also used low fat cheddar with no problem, and semi skimmed milk.  It still tasted rich and delicious.  I dare say you could even use low fat evaporated milk instead of the cream with no  problem which would take the fat content down even further!

In any case this was rich and creamy, simple and quick to make, filled with fibre, and most delicious.  I highly recommend!  (I also cut the recipe in half very successfully so if you are a smaller family you can bear that in mind.)

*Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Cheese*
Serves 6
This is rich and delicious.  It would make a perfect first course for the holidays!  It is quite indulgent, but that's what holidays are for! 

4 TBS unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 large broccoli crowns, broken into florets and steamed
just until crispy tender, about 4 minutes
(rinse in cold water to halt the cooking after steaming!)
45g plain flour (1/4 cup)
960ml of single cream (4 cups, whipping cream)
240ml chicken stock (1 cup)
180g of grated cheddar cheese, divided (1 1/2 cups)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
fine sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste
broccoli florets, to garnish 

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, garlic and broccoli.  Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are very soft.  Sprinkle the flour over top and stir to make a roux, cooking it for about a minute. Pour in the cream and the chicken stock.  Stir well to combine.  Cook, until the soup thickens.  Stir in 120g of the cheese (1 cup), stirring to melt the cheese.  Season with the Worcestershire sauce and salt and black pepper to taste. 

Ladle into heated bowls.   Top each with a sprinkle of the remaining cheese (1/2 cup) and a warm broccoli floret. (You can warm them briefly in the microwave for a few seconds.  Nobody wants a cold piece of broccoli on their soup.)  Serve immediately!

This is rich and creamy and more than just a bit decadent!  Todd thoroughly enjoyed it and broccoli isn't his favourite vegetable either!  It would an excellent first course for your celebratory meal in the holidays, or even for a dinner party!  Quick, easy and delicious!  Bon Appetit! 

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Marie Rayner

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