Sunday, 20 June 2010

Broccoli Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons

Wordle: UntitledIt has been such a beautiful week that I have laid aside all thoughts of cold weather soups and instead have become obsessed with salad platters, barbecue food and picnic parties. The Green Apple Cafe has been busy but we are approaching the new summer season and I need to plan a whole new menu. I'd love to attract tourists holidaying the in the area and families looking for a relaxed place to visit during the summer holidays as well as keeping all our regulars coming to the cafe during the summer break.

We are open thursdays and fridays all through the summer holidays and seasonal salads, tapas-style plates and freshly made paninis and sandwiches will be on the menu along with frappés, milkshakes and smoothies. All this warm weather food means I am experimenting like mad at home trying to come up with new salads, soups and fresh flavours for summer. Blue cheese and broccoli are a magical combination, the blue cheese transforming the soup from a light and frugal meal into a rich and complex supper dish.

If the weather stays as beautiful, come and enjoy the gardens and playpark. If the skies open, just come along and enjoy the food! 

Broccoli Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500ml vegetable stock
350g broccoli, chopped roughly
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
Salt, pepper and fresh nutmeg
4 thin slices of baguette or other crusty bread
2 tbsp olive oil
100g blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 160C.
For the soup:
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic together until soft.  
Add the stock and broccoli together along with the chopped potatoes. 
Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. 
Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. 
Season to taste with salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg.

For the croutons:
Brush the bread with olive oil then top with sliced or crumbled blue cheese (depending on the texture of the cheese)
Place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until the bread is crispy and the cheese melted. 
Cut the bread into small squares. 
Serve the soup scattered with a few blue cheese croutons.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Treacle Scones

I've abandoned my blog these past few weeks. There has not been a moment to spare between getting the cafe up and running, creating menus, shopping, testing, advertising and trying to get up to speed with all the legal paperwork required. We've been catering birthday parties, business lunches, training days and somehow trying to create routines and organise the cafe into the bargin. So trying out new recipes has not been a problem, just finding the time to write them down and take photographs of them!

This month I have been experimenting with scones, cranberry and orange, vanilla rhubarb, blueberry, cheese and dill and maple syrup. Many of our customers love the traditional plain scone that has been a staple of most cafe menus for many years but most seem to be attracted to the more unusual fruit-filled versions.

In search of a toffee flavoured scone, I started to search through all my oldest cookbooks. Treacle scones are a very old-fashioned and traditional Scottish tea-time treat. All the leather bound cookbooks I've inherited have recipes, and all the wee Scottish cookbooks picked up on holidays or in charity shops feature their own versions. This is an amalgam of various very similar recipes. The treacle (molasses) can be replaced by golden syrup for a lighter version.

Treacle Scones
225g self-raising flour
55g butter
25g caster sugar
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons black treacle
Pinch of salt
Approx 115ml milk

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
Rub in the butter lightly until the mixture has the texture of breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and treacle then add just enough milk to make a soft dough.
Bring together and roll out on a floured board.
Cut into rounds with a 10cm pastry cutter.
Butter a baking tray and place the scones on this.
Brush with a little milk and bake for 12 minutes until golden and aromatic.
Cool on a wire rack and serve dripping with butter and jam.