Monday, 29 October 2007

Another Butternut Squash Soup

Today it was dark when we got home. How depressing.

To cheer us up I made the Pumpkin Soup from the November Sainsbury magazine - a recipe by Tana Ramsay. The recipe says that you can you use any squash so we picked up two butternut squashes - I think all the pumpkins must have gone to good homes in time for Halloween.

Serves 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
10g butter
2kg (4lb 8oz) squash of your choice - diced
3 sprigs rosemary
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 litre chicken stock

optional - 2 Parmesan rinds

Heat oil & butter in large pan
Add garlic & rosemary
Add the squash and let it cook for a few minutes until the squash starts to colour
(If you are adding the Parmesan rind pop it in at this stage and let it melt a little bit)
Add stock & a pinch of salt
Let everything simmer for 25 minutes - the squash will be soft
Cool slightly then remove the stalks from the rosemary and the Parmesan rind
Using a liquidiser or hand held blender blend until smooth
Warm the soup back up & serve with crusty bread
I have to hold my hands up & say I ended up making half the quantity above, cutting a raw butternut squash is blumin' hard work!

Now I need to find a recipe that calls for roasted squash - I think I've seen one with feta cheese lying around here somewhere...

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Breakfast Eggs

It may be the onset of Autumn but for the last few weekends I've been hankering after a Sunday morning breakfast of eggs. So far we've had boiled, poached and today we had Oeufs en Cocotte.

Last weeks poached egg were two of the best poached eggs I've cooked. We invested in these contraptions a few weeks ago & they do help the egg stay together - but it confuses me just how you get the egg in the holder & then in the water without the whites running through the holes?!
Last week I kind of positioned the holder on the side of the pan, cracked the egg & in the midst of throwing the shell down, I gently maneuvered the holder to the bottom of the pan. Anyway, the result, as I say was not too bad. the only problem was we only had a white loaf (albeit organic) in the freezer...
Today I tried to make Oeufs en Cocotte from Nigella Express. Basically you butter a ramekin & crack your egg into it. Sprinkle with salt & add a tablespoon of double cream. You then pop the ramekins in a dish & top up half way with water - pop in the oven for 15 minutes at 190 °c and you get this (sorry the photo does it no justice at all and it's blurry) -
Yes it was ok, too salty & next time I don't think it needs the cream. Nigella suggest 1/4 teaspoon of truffle oil on top before cooking but she does serve hers for a starter!! However with a few soldiers dipped in it went down with a nice cup of Yorkshire tea.

We may try it again without the cream - but I'm still in search of the perfect way of cooking an egg to achieve a really dippy yolk but cooked white.

However next week we may just have to have a bacon buttie after reading Wendy's post this morning!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Dinner to watch rugby by...

One of my brothers is quite superstitious when it comes to watching sport and the Rugby World Cup was no different. I mean, this time around once he'd watched England win he had to do the same thing the next time they were playing - just for good luck. Whilst his luck ran out last night, I hope it wasn't because of my cooking.

This years rituals included eating dinner at our parents house, drinking wine from the home of the opposition and sitting in the same seat. My parents were away this weekend but that didn't stop us all piling round there for food & drink before sitting down to enjoy the match.

I had offered to cook - but then I realised it would be for 6 people, including my brothers who prefer their meat. I don't eat much meat & really cant bear the smell of red meat cooking so I opted for a cheeky Cornbread Topped Vegetarian Chilli served with homemade Guacamole, Sour Cream & Grated Cheese.

The recipe I took from Nigella's book Feast.
Serves 10 (0r 6 hungry peeps + leftovers for freezing)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red peppers, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cardamon pods, crushed
300g red lentils
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
750ml water
2 x 400g kidney beans
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
4 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon cocoa

1. In a VERY large pan - heat oil & fry onion, garlic and pepper until soft
2. Throw in the spices - chilli, coriander, cumin and cardamon pods. Stir
3. Add lentils. Stir
4. Next, add the other ingredients - water, tomatoes, kidney beans, ketchup, tomato puree & cocoa.
5. Bring this mixture to the boil and simmer (with lid on) for 45 minutes - though check & stir regularly.
6. At this point you can proceed to cook or pop it in the fridge until your ready for the next stage (or cool it down and freeze it). It was at this point I packed everything up & took it to my parents house to finish.

Cornbread Topping
3/4 teaspoon salt
325g Cornmeal (I used ground corn as this was the nearest we could find - in Sainsburys)
3 tablespoons plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
375ml buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
75g cheese

7. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl - salt, cornmeal, plain flour, baking powder & cinnamon
8. In a jug, whisk the wet ingredients - milk, oil, eggs & honey
9. Throw the liquid into the dry mixture & whisk to a batter NB. mine was more like a thick dough, maybe caused by measuring problems, but it worked.
10. Put you chilli mixture in a large dish (Nigella suggests 23cm x 32cm with a 7.5cm height)
11. Pour (or scoop) the batter on top of the chilli
12. Top with grated cheese.

Cook for 25 minutes at 220°c

Serve with guacamole, grated cheese & sour cream.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo in the rush to get warm food on the table. I do have a photo of the left overs though!
For pudding a quickly made some Passion Fruit Creme Brulee's - a recipe from Delias website which can be found by clicking here.

The before cooking stage:
And the readyto eat stage:
Unfortunately England played well but couldn't manage a win against those pesky Sarf Africans - nevermind. Maybe in another 4 years ;)

Sunday, 14 October 2007


I am loving my magimix -its letting me make and try new things and it speeds up others. For example:

New things
I quite like fish, but don't eat much of it - with the reason mostly being that Mr C doesn't really like fishy fish. He enjoys the Tuna Burgers I make but has never really enjoyed any of the salmon dishes I have tried.

Today, however, with the help of a fish booklet that fell out of Delicious Magazine we may now have a salmon dish to add to our menu. The salmon fillet is coated in a Chermoula which was very tasty and served with a light accompaniment of couscous...

For 2
2 salmon fillets

1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
just less than 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chopped red chili
Pinch saffron strands
1/2 tbspn lemon juice
small handful coriander & same of mint
1 tbspn olive oil
small pinch salt

1 red pepper
175ml chicken stock
140g couscous
1 tbspn extra-virgin olive oil
1 knob of butter
1/2 lemon juice
1 tbspn chopped mint

Pre-heat oven to 200°c (fan)
Roast pepper for 30 mins & the pop in bag to cool - once cool remove skin seeds - chop finely
Once pepper is cooked tun oven up to 210°
Make the chermoula - put all chermoula ingredients into magimix & blend
Line baking tray with baking paper.
Season skin side of salmon with salt & pepper then spread with some chermoula.
Turn fillet over, season again and add chermoula.
Cover the baking tray with tin foil - seal tightly
Pop salmon in over & set timer for 12 minutes
As soon a s salmon goes in the oven, make sure the stock is in a pan & boiling. Take it off the heat, add the couscous & cover (keeping it off the heat).
After 5 mins, fluff up the couscous, add butter & olive oil and mix well - popping back on heat briefly to ensure its warm through.
Take off heat again and add lemon juice, roasted pepper, chopped mint and season well.
Serve couscous and salmon for a very tasty meal...

Speedy things
I've used the magimix to make cakes twice. The first time we weren't impressed by it but yesterday, due to time constraints, I used it to make some cupcakes and they worked much better. I did take a photo but the camera isn't brilliant so you'll have to wait until next time ;)

Its Mr C's birthday on Tuesday though so I will be baking again but I think I'll stick to my Dualit hand mixer for that!

Today I made some more bread & the magimix comes with a dough hook so I thought it silly not to give it a go. The outcome was a tasty fresh loaf and hardly any mess. All the ingredients are thrown in the magimix, it forms a dough ball and then you leave it in situ for half an hour. After this time you need to pulse the magimix 3 or 4 times and effectively, knock the dough back. The mixture then gets transferred to a big bowl and left to rise for 2 hours in the airing cupboard.

After two hours the dough is tipped out, gently moulded into a rectangle and placed in a loaf tin. I left it settle and rise again for 10 minutes whilst the oven heated up to 200°c. It cooked for about 35 minutes and produced a really nice loaf...

Monday, 8 October 2007


The nights are drawing in and soup is most definitely the order of the day. This years soup making started up in Scotland when I made a hearty pan of Yellow Split Pea Soup - it was thick and filling and extremely tasty.

I think one of the best things about soup is that simple ingredients produce flavours that normally exceed your expectations. For example tonight I made Butternut Squash & Rosemary soup:

Serves 4

1 Butternut Squash
Few sprigs Rosemary
150g well rinsed red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Pint Vegetable Stock
salt & pepper

Set oven to 200 °c
Halve squash - scoop out the seeds & fibrous flesh, then cut squash into large chunks
Put squash pieces on baking tray, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with rosemary
Cook for 45 minutes

Whilst the squash is in the oven -
Rinse lentils well then put in a pan & cover with water - boil rapidly for 10 mins. Drain well
Wash out pan & then put lentils back in with the chopped onion and vegetable stock
Simmer for 5 minutes

When squash is cooked, carefully scoop out the flesh & mash with a fork.
Add squash to soup & simmer for 25 minutes

Serve with crusty bread.
We both had a hearty bowlful for tea and now there should be enough left to take to work for lunch.

Since we have been back from Scotland I've made soup at least four times & I've made enough to take for a lunch. We bought some cheap flasks from Tesco & so far they work very well. I may even invest in something a little more substantial as 'real soup' makes such a difference to a 'cup-a-soup' which is what I have resorted to in the past.

I'll post some more recipes soon, but so far we have tried & thoroughly enjoyed the Yellow Split Pea soup and Fennel & Lemon soup.

I also have quite a few parsnips in the cupboard which I need to use up, so if you have any good parsnip soup ideas let me know!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Saturday Evening Feast

As part of the 'bags weekly challenge I decided to cook scallops this weekend. Now this is something I've been wanting to try for ages and ages but Mr C is not a fishy man at all but I persuaded him with a starter sized portion and combining it Nigella style with Chorizo. Very quick & simple - I enjoyed it & would love to try scallops again.
For mains I cooked something that was on my To Do list - Spicy Chicken with Aubergine and Naans:

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 lime, juice only
salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts, boned, skinned, halved horizontally and flattened slightly
1 small aubergine, sliced horizontally into eight
Natural low fat yoghurt (we used a small pot)
1in piece cucumber, diced
1/2 tsp mint, chopped
4 mini naan breads (or 2 normal sized)
fresh coriander
lime wedges to garnish

1. To make the marinade, combine the oil, cumin, ground coriander, ginger, chopped coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper.
2. Pour the marinade over the chicken and chill for 15 minutes (though I left for about an hour)
3. Brush the aubergine with oil, season and grill on both sides until golden.
4. Grill the chicken for about 12 minutes until golden. Slice into pieces.
5. Make the dressing by mixing the yoghurt, cucumber, mint and seasoning.
6. Warm the naan and layer the aubergine, chicken pieces and yoghurt dressing on top.
7. Garnish with coriander and lime wedges (if you remember before you eat!!)

It really was very tasty and something we'll have again.