The Croque Monsieur aka Posh cheese toastie

Croque monsieur

Firstly, apologies for the state of my blog. I have had such a bad time with my – now ex – hosting company, meaning my blog is well and truly hammered at the moment. I am in the process of laboriously re uploading each and every image post whilst also trying to sort out the mess that’s been left in the wake of leaving said hosting company. I won’t bore with the details, but let’s just say that I will not be using them again.

Back to the food…

I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit of a cheese addict. We have a relationship. I love it, and it loves me, it’s that simple. If someone tried to make me give it up, I think I’d commit horrific crimes….

I remember a good few years ago in the states, the FDA banned mimolette (a cheese with live mites in) on the advice of some people in suits that probably never experienced cheese outside the realms of dairylea, or luminous squared burger cheese. Needless to say, it seems it has made a return to the tables of cheese connoisseurs that simply wont be dictated to by the government. Good for them.

Would I try a cheese with live mites in? Yes, I probably would.

You may or may not be pleased to know, that this recipe does not call for mite infested cheese, but more of a soft, nutty, mellow, buttery cheese called Gruyère. It’s one of the best melting cheeses, and no substitute will do for a Croque monsieur. Yes you can use cheddar, yes you could use edam, but it just wouldn’t be half as good.

A croque monsieur is basically a posh ham and cheese toastie, posh because it requires a little more effort than just putting slices of cheese between bread and toasting it. However, the reward is much more satisfying. I added a smidgen of Dijon mustard to mine, if you don’t like it then you can just omit it from the recipe.

How to make a Croque Monsieur (makes 2 sandwiches)

Ingredients

for the bechamel

  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 250ml milk
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 50g grated Gruyère cheese
  • Salt and white pepper

To make the sandwich

  • 4 slices of thick cut bread such as a farmhouse loaf
  • Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 100g good smoked ham
  • 80g grated Gruyère

Method

  1.  First thing to do is lightly toast the bread, you just want a light brown, even colour, not too dark otherwise it will burn when you finish them in the oven. Put them to one side to use when ready.
  2. Now to make the bechamel sauce. Place the flour and butter in a pan on a low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter melts and forms a paste with the flour. Cook it for a minute or two in order to cook out the raw flour taste. Now turn up the heat to medium and add a little of the milk, say about 35ml ish. Stir it in until it’s absorbed into the flour, it will thicken up into a lump, this is normal so don’t worry. Repeat by adding more milk and stirring in until the lumps dissolve through the sauce. You should end up with a thick smooth sauce but it doesn’t matter too much if you have a few lumps, just strain them out. Finish the sauce by adding the grated Gruyère, nutmeg and season with salt and white pepper. Mix on a low heat until the Gruyère has melted completely. Take off the heat and cover until needed.
  3. To assemble the sandwich is easy. Take one slice of your pre done toast and lightly spread with Dijon mustard, then add 50g of ham for each sandwich, then spoon over some of the bechamel you have made, before finishing with around 40g of grated Gruyère per sandwich. Place the other toast on top before lastly spooning over even more of that delicious bechamel sauce over the top. Now place the sandwiches on a baking tray lined with parchment, and bake in a hot oven for about 5 minutes until golden and bubbling. Be careful they don’t burn though, they can catch quite easily.

Enjoy

 

Sausage and egg muffins

sausage muffins

Well, my new camera lens has arrived! As you can probably tell, it has made a vast improvement over my kit lens – which lets be honest, has produced some pretty dire pictures on this blog. I’m really happy with what this inexpensive 50mm lens can achieve, and photographing these sausage and egg muffins was much, much easier. I simply just don’t know why I didn’t make the purchase sooner. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though, right?….

You may have guessed by now, that I’m an advocate for eating what the ruddy hell you like, when you like – in moderation of course. If it tastes good, and happens to be healthy, then great. However, I don’t generally go out of my way to create healthy alternatives of food, that is meant to trip you over the edge in to a fat-laced, hedonistic moment of euphoria. I mean… who wants a cheesecake made with quark and ryvita? Not me that’s for sure, I’d rather go without thanks and eat a salad (a nice one though).

That being said, it is easy – and beneficial – to make your own versions of your favourite fast food. I don’t know what the famous burger chain puts in theirs, but I know that I shouldn’t feel miserable, bloated and hungry after 5 minutes of eating it. I think the last time I actually bought one of these, I felt extremely ill. I spat it out – got so mad that I’d wasted money on it – and kicked the remainder of it violently at a wall. I realise I probably need some sort of anger management, but when something that should be simple and tasty, is cheapened so much it makes you sick…. I’m gonna get mad folks. On the plus side, the pigeons were happy about it.

sausage muffin closeup

Relax, mine won’t make you sick. It just contain nice things.

Making them is a pretty easy affair. You need only to assemble some pork mince in a bowl with some herbs, add a bit of seasoning and they’re ready to go. The muffins are way better toasted by the way. I’ve made these without before, and for some reason they’re just not quite as good. I think the toasting adds texture, and a bit more of a savoury kick. You can also swap the cheese if you like. I’ve gone for the classic American cheese, because it does add something that others don’t, call it cheese wizardry if you like. You could use cheddar, Emmental, Gruyère or even slices of camembert. It’s up to you.

Top these off with a nice, runny, crispy edged fried egg, and you’ll wonder why you even spent £2 on gut rot and depression.

Sausage and egg muffins – makes 5-6 muffins

 

Sausage and egg muffins
Recipe Type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Adam Garratt
Serves: 5-6
A much tastier healthier version of that famous sausage and egg muffin.
Ingredients
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1/2 a medium onion finely diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 + 1/2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • Black pepper and salt for seasoning
  • Small knob of butter
  • Oil for frying
  • 5-6 Muffins cut in half and toasted
  • 5-6 eggs
Instructions
  1. Take the pork mince and add to a bowl, then add the thyme, sage, breadcrumbs, parsley and pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.
  2. Next put the knob of butter in a small pan and gently fry the diced onion until translucent and soft. Remove from the pan and spread out on a plate to cool.
  3. Once the onions are cool, add to the pork mince then mix everything together with your hands. This part is important as you don’t want to find a lump of herbs in a finished patty!
  4. Pinch off a tiny piece of the mix and fry it off in a pan. Once cooked, taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  5. If the taste is to your liking, form in to patty’s by pulling off lumps a bit bigger than a golf ball and shape in to burger patty’s, about an inch or so bigger in diameter than the muffin bases, to allow for shrinkage.
  6. Place them in the fridge for about an hour just to firm up. You can also freeze these by stacking them on top of each other with a round of baking paper in-between each one.
  7. When ready, fry 2 or 3 at a time in a little oil for around 4-5 minutes each side, on a moderate heat until golden brown and cooked through. Place on some kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
  8. To assemble, place a 1 or 2 squares of cheese on the base of the muffin, then the sausage patty, then lastly, top with a runny fried egg. Place the muffin top on and devour.

 

 

15 things cosmo got completely wrong about bloggers

blogger

I’m a blogger, which means I’m a self-absorbed, neurotic, attention seeking, bitter, opinionated, shallow, materialistic, sycophantic liar that lives on free stuff. Well, according to Cosmopolitan magazine that is.

My Sunday was going along smoothly. I awoke at lunch time lying in bed, thinking about what I wanted for dinner. Then I whacked the heating on full as I logged in to my pc to see what was going on in the world of blogging. That’s when I came across an article by the lovely folks at cosmopolitan, generally having a dig at the bloggers that they have so loquaciously supported in the past. ’15 things you should know before dating a girl who blogs’. A title that screams clickbait from the word go. Of course I read it, despite it being aimed at female bloggers, I wanted to know what on earth could be contained in this splendidly titled article *insert sarcasm.

The article itself pretty much undermines everything we bloggers do. It’s frightfully inaccurate, and even if you tried to spin it as a humorous post, it still isn’t funny, nor cleverly written. Let me make this clear to all those high and mighty, odious, and down right cheeky ‘Journalists’ that work at cosmo, that think it’s OK to stridently abuse bloggers on one hand, yet dish out awards to them with the other. Our work is just as important as yours. Just because we hold down a normal day job at the same time as blogging, and we accept invites to launch parties, it doesn’t make our work any less valid.

In this post, I’m going to go through each of the 15 points they have made, and answer them correctly. You may want to read the original article to know what I’m on about of course, so do a clicky bit here to have a read. And in future cosmo, it might be an idea to just ask bloggers what it’s like, rather than making banal assumptions based on your own ideas of what we do.

  1. No, we enjoy every single like, share and read. Our readers matter to us greatly, we love each and every one of them. If someone we know happens to read it, it makes no odds. Who would get mad at someone for reading their posts!?
  2. I don’t send texts, I use whatsapp. And when I do, I don’t have the time to write long sentences, as I’m too busy writing long sentences on my blog.
  3. I have deadlines. I don’t always meet them because I have a full-time day job, and so I have to work around that. I am sure most bloggers are in the same situation, and I am also pretty sure if they say they have a deadline….then they have a deadline.
  4. Whenever I get asked to go to an event, I will ask friends, family, and my beloved if they would like to come along. I don’t think any blogger would relish going to an event alone. It’s not about impressing anyone, it’s just nice to have a face you know go with you.
  5. I love it when someone reads my posts. It means they have taken an interest, and bothered to read my work. I’ll ask them if they liked it, and expect an honest answer, then I’ll move on. I won’t spend the next day trying to bring anything up….. other than my own confidence, after people like YOU have squashed it!
  6. Beer, wine, tea, whiskey, whiskey in tea…never coffee. It tastes like misery.
  7. I’ve met some amazing bloggers, many of which are more apt at writing than I am, have a better grasp of grammar, and take better photo’s than me.
  8. Whoever is coming with me to a PR event, we usually go straight to the pub afterwards. Need I say more.
  9. I absolutely would love to hear about a post they read. It may give me ideas, inspiration or just be a good yarn.
  10. My phone is an ancillary to my life, it contains everything I need on the go. I don’t however, have a massive strop and punch a kitten if the battery dies.
  11. I have never – nor would I, give my better half a gift I got for free. Firstly, because it’s cheap, and secondly, I don’t know what she would do with half a dozen packets of tea and a bottle of soy sauce. WE DON’T LIVE OFF FREEBIES.
  12. What the piss is a ‘artisan coffee shop’?!? I often spend a free day in a onesie, eating ripe french cheeses, but I’d do that anyway even if I wasn’t a blogger.
  13. I know not of a single blogger that has ever done this. Although, I might start calling myself baba ganoush. Makes me sound like a Mexican drug lord.
  14. I think a lot of bloggers are pretty self doubtful, particularly when magazines trash them in articles such as this.
  15. I’m sorry, is this an episode of friends, or real life? Who dates a twitter follower? I’d like to know.

Bloggers work exceptionally hard at what they do. We receive little – if any – remuneration for it, and our work is offered up to our readers for free. We hold down day jobs to help fund the running of the blog, and all we ask in return is for someone to come along and say, they like what they read. Articles like the one cosmo posted is one of many reasons why bloggers just give up and call it a day, crushing any dream that blogger might have had for the sake of a bit of clickbait. If cosmo really supports bloggers, I suggest they reflect it better in their articles.

Don’t worry, i’m not dead

Nor have I ran away to join the Russian ballet, the French special forces, or joined a cult.

So where have I been since November?

Well, real life unfortunately. For those that know me personally, will know I work in retail. As much as I loathe it, it does pay the bills, and also keeps this blog going. From about the middle of November, up until…. well now, I am one extremely busy individual, as a result, the blog has to take a back seat for a while. I wish it wasn’t so, I wish I could spend Christmas writing up recipes, tips, tutorials and whatnot, but real life just doesn’t let me. Sorry about that.

The good news is, I’m back in business. It’s 2016, which means my blog is now almost 4 years old! Imagine that? Still pretty much a baby in terms of blogging, but I’m still here, slogging it out with the best of them.

I’m also glad to see that the food blogging fraternity is as vibrant as ever, and that some of my favourite bloggers are still going strong. Happy new year Alex, Emily, Danny, Karen, Camilla and of course Dom.

What to expect in 2016

Well, much the same as last year really, I still very much wish to invest in a better camera, mostly so that I can make videos, as I feel the world is not complete unless you see me in film, because I’m such a magnanimous, creative and brilliant person.

I’ve got a post coming soon about the dodgy trade of fake food made in China. Yes that’s right, they don’t just make cracker toys and cheap clothes. They can make rice from plastic, and eggs complete with shell. More on that soon…

I want to make a conscious effort to find a new job, one that fits around my blog and is more structured. I’d dearly love to write for a living – of course. That however, isn’t going to happen overnight, nor any time soon. I am tired doing what I do, and that impacts greatly on this blog, so that needs to change.

I also need to be more organised. I said this last year, and I failed at it terribly…because of my day job. This year I will try my damned hardest to be more routine with my posts, more active on social media and to get more involved within the blogging community.

I am going to learn how to take better pictures. The times I have taken a picture of something, not been totally happy with it…yet still published it! I am investing in a better lense shortly, as mine has pretty much given up and, I am going to be learning more about DSLR photography. This will – in some way at least – mean much better pictures, meaning you won’t have to look at half-baked attempts all the time.

Well, that’s it from me. I hope you all had a great christmas and new year, and I wish you all the best for 2016. Lets make it a good one :)

Love,

Adam

Super sausage rolls

sausage rolls

Super sausage rolls

I love Christmas, in fact, I would go as far as to say it is my favourite time of year. Not just for the fact you get given stuff for free, and you’re allowed to drink booze at 9 in the morning, but because it’s just nice isn’t it? Being together with friends and family, forgetting the worlds problems, and watching your aunt descend in to a Bailey’s fuelled marathon of monopoly and charades – or in my case ‘animal mineral vegetable’. Which is a game everyone in our family groans at, yet loves to play!

One of the mandatory ancillary’s to any christmas gathering, is the sausage roll. It is ubiquitous in its hunger busting deliverance, but also its un faltering ability to completely disappoint your senses. ‘Oh, hello you, you lovely looking thing, I’d love to eat you, you look so tempting and savoury!….No, no you’re not, you are dry, pappy and annoying, but i’ll still eat you, and pretend you taste nice’. I don’t get it, I reside ALL shop bought sausage rolls to the realms of ‘okayishness’, which isn’t even a word, but it best describes how mundane they are. Even the ones you can buy from that famous high street bakery chain are cack. Have you ever sniffed one of those things before you put it in your mouth?…..No? well I suggest you don’t, unless that is, you like the smell of hot pig bum! A sausage roll should – in my opinion – be a meaty, flavoursome, porky thing. All encased in a light, buttery puff pastry. Simple really isn’t it?

So, in my quest to enlighten everyone’s Christmas experience, I have created this easy – yet tasty –  sausage roll recipe. So…. you know, you don’t have to gingerly pass that plate of ‘misery nuggets’ around.

Sausage rolls – makes 13-16

 

Super sausage rolls
Recipe Type: snack
Cuisine: British
Author: Adam Garratt
Serves: 13-16
A super, simple, sausage roll recipe that requires so little effort, that buying them frozen would be more work.
Ingredients
  • 16 Cumberland sausages
  • 1+1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (crushed)
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 level dessert spoons of breadcrumbs (shop bought is fine for this)
  • 2 tsp of red onion chutney
  • 2 x 320g ready rolled puff pastry sheets
  • 1 beaten egg
  • sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. First, remove the meat from the sausage skins in to a large mixing bowl. Now add the sage, crushed fennel seeds, and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together with your hands until all of the ingredients are combined.
  2. Next, put a frying pan on a low heat and trickle in a little olive or vegetable oil. add the diced onion and fry gently for about 10-15 minutes until soft. Next add the red onion chutney, and fry on low until the chutney has melted in with the onions. Leave them to cool to one side.
  3. Once the onions are cool, add them to the sausage mix along with the breadcrumbs. Mix again with your hands, then take a small piece off and fry. Taste the cooked piece and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  4. Place the pastry sheets on to a lightly floured surface and roll out until about half the thickness. Pre heat the oven to gas mark 5, then divide the sausage mix in half. Place each half of the mix near the centre of the pastry sheets lengthways and form into a long sausage shape, leaving about an inch of pastry at each end.
  5. Now, egg wash the pastry edges and fold one side over, so that the meat is encased in one long sausage. Press the edges down before crimping along the edge with a fork. Trim off the excess edges, but make sure you leave a good inch around th rim.
  6. Slice the top of the pastry at an angle before brushing the tops with the remaining egg wash, top with sesame seeds ( I like a lot, but use as much as you want). Then bake for about 25-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffed up. Leave them to cool on a wire rack for about half an hour, then cut in to individual sausage rolls using a bread knife. Enjoy.

This post has been brought to you by me, with the help of the wonderful folks at the co-op. Visit their page here for more recipes and whatnot.