Tag Archives: Tomato

Baked Camembert with Garlic, Maple & Thyme and ‘Things to Serve it With’

First up, I’d going to recommend buying a Camembert and eating it fairly swiftly. You should certainly not buy it, leave it in the fridge for 3 weeks wondering why the fridge stinks every time you open it then pack it into the car boot, spend the day driving to Ikea, back again and then driving to Oxfordshire.  Because by the time you get to Oxfordshire, your car will reek riper than ripe. And you probably will to. This may or may not have happened to me! It is however worth it because whilst rather decadent, a whole baked cheese treated as a fondue is bloody delicious.

My Camembert was sold as a ‘baking camembert’ and came with a little ceramic dish to bake it in. More often than not, they come in flimsy cardboard boxes – simply dispose the lid then line the box with tin foil. The box/dish will stop the cheese from spreading as it bakes.

I cooked this as a lunch to share between two but it would equally make a great starter with some lighter ‘Things to Serve it With’ for 2 or with heavier ‘Things to Serve it With’ for 3 or 4.



1 Whole Camembert
1 Garlic Clove
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes

Things to Serve it With:

 1 Red Onion
2 Thick Slices ‘Cutty’ Bread
6 Baby Potatoes
6 Cherry Tomatoes
Leftover Roast Chicken
2 tbsp Olive Oil

Turn the oven on to 200c or equivalent. Put a kettle of water on to boil.


Slice 1 Red Onion into chunks and lay in a lined oven tray and drizzle with 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil and a small pinch of Sea Salt Flakes. Pop into the oven and keep an eye on them. Remove from the oven when soft all the way through and crispy around the edges.

Prepare 1 Whole Camembert by carefully slicing off the top layer of rind trying to keep it in one piece.

Tip – This will be much easier if the cheese is fridge cold.

Finely slice half of 1 Garlic Clove. Using a sharp knife, poke slits in the top of the cheese and poke the slices of garlic into the slits.

Sprinkle 1 tsp Dried Thyme, 1 tbsp Maple Syrup and 1/2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes over the cheese then replace the lid and press down.

Put the cheese in the dish or foil lined box and pop into the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

Cut 6 Baby Potatoes into quarters and put in a small saucepan, cover with some of the boiled water and put on a high heat to boil.

Meanwhile slice 6 Cherry Tomatoes in half and warm some Leftover Chicken in the mircrowave or small pan.

Toast 2 Thick Slices ‘Cutty’ Bread, rub the remaining half garlic clove over the toast and drizzle over 1 tbsp Olive Oil. Cut into soldiers.

When the potatoes are cooked through, drain and toss with 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil and a pinch of Sea Salt Flakes.


Once the cheese is cooked, serve in the centre of a plate with all of the other elements presented around it.


To eat, remove the rind lid (make sure to eat it or scrape of the gooey cheese!) and dip away.

Have a rennie on standby.


An Alternative Roast Chicken Dinner

On a slightly hungover Sunday (these 30th birthday shindigs are ruining my constitution) and after a probably ill advised trip to Ikea with my new housemates (my Ikea catalogue knowledge is concerning as it transpires) I had the ridiculous notion that cooking a chicken dinner would be a good idea. Due to a lack of suitable ingredients and desire to go for the full roast, I decided to go for a super easy, bung it all in the oven fridge-clear-out type affair. And I have to say, I’d make it again!

My chicken was from my favourite butchers, was less than £6 and was worth every penny. New housemate Alex (later, and not to my face so I think he meant it) declared it “The best chicken of my life“. I’ll take about 5% credit for that and another 5% goes to the amount of butter involved but the rest was down to it just being a damn good bird to start with.

The process here assumes that you have a decent size oven with room to put 3 layers at once. If you only have a smaller oven, you may need to start a bit earlier and  roast the veg while the chicken is resting or roast the veg around the chicken in a larger tray.

Serves 4



For the Chicken:
1 Whole Chicken
100g Salted Butter (soft)
1 tbsp Garlic Paste
2 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
2 tsp Paprika
10 Sage Leaves (or 2 tbsp Dried Sage)

For the Roast Sweet Potatoes:
2 Large Sweet Potatoes
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsbp Sea Salt Flakes

For the Roast Red Onions:
4 Medium Red Onions
4 tbsp Low Fat Cream Cheese
6 Sprigs Thyme
1 tbsp Grain Mustard
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes

For the Maple Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
250g Vine-Ripened Cherry Tomatoes
2 tbsp Maple Syrup
1tsp Garlic Paste
1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes

To Serve:
4 handfuls Baby Spinach
2 tbsp Cornflour

Preheat the oven to 200c or equivalent.

Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, remove the wing tips, parsons’s nose (google it), the neck remnants, knuckles and any extra flaps of skin from around the opening of 1 Whole Chicken.  Place the chicken in a lined baking tray, not much bigger than the chicken.

Mix together 100g Salted Butter (soft), 1 tbsp Garlic Paste, 2 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes, 2 tsp Paprika and 10 finely chopped Sage Leaves. Spread the buttery mix all over the chicken, not forgetting the legs and underside.


Put the chicken on the top shelf of the oven.

While the chicken starts to roast, peel 2 Large Sweet Potatoes and cut into 1 inch chunks. Add the chunks to a lined roasting tray and toss them in 2 tbsp Olive Oil and 1 tsbp Sea Salt Flakes.

Put the sweet potatoes on the middle shelf of the oven after the chicken has been in for about 30 minutes.

Top, tail, halve (horizontally so you can see the rings) and peel 4 Medium Red Onions. Place cut side up in a small roasting tray. Cover with Frylight and put into the oven on the bottom shelf.

Halve (horizontally) 250g Vine-Ripened Cherry Tomatoes and lay in one layer in a small roasting tray. Sprinkle 2 tbsp Maple Syrup, 1tsp Garlic Paste and 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes over the tomatoes and put the tomatoes on the bottom oven shelf.

Tip – You could combine the onions and tomatoes into one tray to save space/washing up.

At this time take the chicken out of the oven and drain the juices into a small saucepan. Set the juices aside and return the chicken to the oven. Give the sweet potatoes a toss whilst you’re in the oven.

Mix together 4 tbsp Low Fat Cream Cheese, 6 Sprigs Thyme, 1 tbsp Grain Mustard and 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes. Set aside.

Once the chicken has been in the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes, drain any further juice and return it to the pan upside down so the bottom will crisp up.

Toss the potatoes again, shake the tomatoes and take the onions out. They should be soft most of the way through by now.

Spread the cream cheese mix over the onions – a generous half tbsp over each onion half should be about even. Put the onions back into the oven.

20 minutes after the chicken last went back in, remove it from the oven, drain any more juices and check that it is cooked by slicing between the thigh and breast and checking if the juices run clear. If the meat is overly pink or juices are a bit pink, put the chicken back in and check it at 5 minute intervals. Don’t panic and overcook – trust your instinct.

Take the chicken out, turn it the right side up and cover with foil. Set aside to rest.  Add any remaining pan juices to the saucepan.

Check the sweet potatoes, tomatoes and onions. They can stay in the oven for anything up to another 15-20 minutes if needs be. They should be crispy around the edges but watch the tomatoes especially closely as the maple syrup can easily catch and burn.

Meanwhile, mix 2 tbsp Cornflour with cold water to make a slurry. Put the small saucepan of cooking juices onto a medium heat and once simmering, add the cornflour slurry a little a time whilst whisking. Keep adding until the sauce is a drizzling thickness of your liking. By this time some further juice will have collected around the rested chicken, add this to the sauce too.

Remove the sweet potatoes, red onions and tomatoes from the oven and carve the chicken. Serve the food between 4 plates along with 4 handfuls Baby Spinach and drizzle the sauce over the whole plate.


Bacon and Cream Cheese Guacamole

I first made this for a Band of Bakers event in May to accompany my Oregano and Chilli Sodabread and as usual I came up with this as a result of staring into my fridge and trying to come up with a way to make 1 avocado go an awful lot further. Well it went down a storm and I’ve made it a couple of times since. I’ll be making it time and time again in the future too.

This is best served as fresh as possible but will keep quite happily in the fridge for a day or so. It’s best served at room temperature.

 Serves 6-8 as part of a meze – 114 Kcal per serving (8)



6 Thick Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon
1 Large or 2 Small Ripe Avocados
1 Tbsp Lime Juice
100g Extra Light Cream Cheese
6 Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 Small Red Onion
50g Fresh Coriander (Optional)
1/2 tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
Sea Salt Flakes

First fry or grill 6 Thick Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon cut into 1cm pieces and set aside to cool on a few squares of kitchen roll.

Tip – I try to buy most of my meat from a local butchers in East Dulwich – William Rose on Lordship Lane. The bacon there is super thick so I’d only use 4 rashers in that case.

Tip – I never use extra oil when cooking bacon – even with the relatively lean stuff, there is enough fat in the meat to lubricate any non-stick pan.

Tip – Kitchen roll is a cooks best friend, I have no idea how anyone operates effectively in a kitchen without it. Buy the good stuff though – cheap kitchen roll is like cheap toilet roll – ultimately pointless.

Take 1 Large or 2 Small Ripe Avocados and decant the flesh into a medium size bowl. Mash the avocado until a mush. Some lumps are fine for added texture.

Tip – To remove the avocado flesh simply and easily, use a sharp knife to cut the fruit in half lengthways, running the knife around the stone. Split apart and using a little height and force, hit the stone in its centre with the knife blade. Twist and pull the knife and the stone should come out still attached to the knife. Using the knife tip, score the avocado flesh in each half right through to the skin (taking care not to go through the skin) into little squares. Use a desert spoon to scoop the flesh out.

Quickly add 1 tbsp Lime Juice and mix through to stop the avocado from going grey. Not the end of the world but it doesn’t look great.

Stir in 100g Extra Light Cream Cheese until well combined.

Tip – You don’t have to use extra light cream cheese but its what I have in the house and this is calorific enough for me as it is! It’ll also be slightly heavier the fattier the cream cheese.

Add 6 Cherry Tomatoes cut into eighths, 1/2 Red Onion finely diced, 1/2 tsp Dried Chilli Flakes and if you like it, 50g Fresh Coriander and stir though, along with the now cooled bacon.

Check the seasoning. You shouldn’t need much Sea Salt Flakes, if any, depending on preference and the saltiness of the bacon.

Tip – You could also add more lime juice if you want it to be a little sharper.