Squash and Chickpea with Herby Yogurt

I had no intention of blogging this recipe; in fact I only made it the first place as I was lacking inspiration and I know that C really likes chickpeas. I’ve seen a lot of recipes with variations of this chickpea stew which was probably why I wasn’t too excited by it. The recipe was in Sainsbury’s Magazine, (November 2019). I made a few tweaks to it as I was making it, notably adding the rind of half a preserved lemon to the stew and the other half to the herby yoghurt. I also steamed some kale and added a generous knob of butter through it. We both enjoyed the dish so much that I just had to share it. It’s quick and easy to make and packs a full flavour punch. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 x 400g pack peeled squash, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½-1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled – use gluten-free stock if required
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds, optional
  • 1 preserved lemon, rind only (half for the stew and half for the herby yoghurt)
  • 200g Kale
  • Knob of butter

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and fry the onion and squash for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, 400ml boiling water, harissa paste, the stock cube and half the preservedlemon rind, finely chopped. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, then uncover for another 5 minutes until the squash is soft when pierced with a knife and most of the liquid has evaporated to give a slightly soupy stew.
  2. Mix 1 tablespoon of each herb into the yogurt with the other half of the preserved lemon rind, finely chopped and season.
  3. Steam the kale for 5 minutes and then run the butter through the kale, season with salt. Stir the remaining herbs through the stew. Serve in deep bowls with the kale on the bottom, then the chickpea mixture dollop of the herb yogurt on top and a scattering of pomegranate seeds, if you wish.

Curried parsnip and pear soup

Surely there is no better month for soups than January. Cold afternoons and the aftermath of December’s over-indulgence mean that soups are both comforting and virtuous, depending on how much thickly buttered bread you eat with them. The key ingredients of this soup work well together; the earthiness of the parsnip and the sweetness of the pear are lifted by the heat of the curry powder.  The recipe is from https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/curried-parsnip-and-pear-soup  

The recipe ticks all the boxes for me; it’s seasonal, spicy and just a little bit decadent with its showy but delicious garnish. It’s extremely easy to make and will brighten anyone’s January afternoon.

Ingredients

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder (You can make this by using equal measures of crushed cumin coriander and mustard seeds, turmeric and chilli (flakes or powder)
  • 600g parsnips (about 6), roughly chopped
  • 3 pears, quartered
  • 500ml milk
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • To serve
  • Knob butter
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • Small handful of pumpkin seeds

Directions

  • Heat the butter in a large pan and add the onion and curry powder. Gently sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion softens.
  • Put the parsnips and pears in the pan and stir so that they become well coated in the curry butter. Pour in the milk and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Check that the parsnips are tender before removingfrom the heat. Blend using a food processor or hand blender, then stir through the cream and season to taste.
  • To serve: melt the butter in a frying pan and carefully add the pear slices. Allow the pear to fry for 1 minutes then use tongs to flip it and allow the other side to cook for a further minute.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with pear slices and pumpkin seeds.

Stem Ginger and Cherry Florentines

This Christmas, I’ve whiled away time in the kitchen listening to the Nutcracker Suite and making these stem ginger, cherry and cranberry Florentines to give as Christmas gifts. Of course, you can use whatever type of fruit and nut combination you like.  

There are a few steps to making these delicious morsels, it’s not just a case of throwing everything in the mixer. However, with the Christmas music and the constant quality checking the process went quite smoothly. The Florentines were a huge success bringing Christmas cheer to all.  

Ingredients 

  • 15g plain flour 
  • 25g (1oz) salted butter 
  • 60g (2 1/2oz) golden caster sugar 
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup 
  • 60ml (2 1/2fl oz) double cream 
  • 50g (2 oz/3 rounds, drained) chopped stem ginger 
  • 50g (2oz) dried sour cherries 
  • 50g (2oz) cranberries 
  • 25g (1oz) chopped pistachios 
  • 50g flaked almonds 
  • 180g (4oz) dark chocolate 

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line 2 large baking sheets with no-baking paper. In a saucepan, combine the flour, butter, sugar and golden syrup with a small whisk to prevent lumps forming and melt gently over a low heat. Gradually add the cream, stirring all the time. 
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the stem ginger, sour cherries, glace cherries, pistachios and flaked almonds.  
  3. Dollop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheets, leaving a generous gap between each for spreading. Bake no more than 6 Florentines per sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until deeply golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.  
  4. Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken (but not set) for 5 minutes. Using a palette knife, release the Florentines from the paper. Divide the batch in half and arrange smooth-side up. 
  5. Spoon the dark chocolate over the Florentines. If you like you can use a fork to make a pattern on the chocolate once the chocolate has set a little. Alternatively, you can sprinkle gold stars or something similar onto the chocolate while the chocolate is still wet. Chill until set. 

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Butter and Sage Sauce

I love this time of year; the colour of the leaves, the soft, golden sunshine and the crisp, blue skies. I’m not such a fan of the grey, rainy days.  The autumn produce for me makes up for the sometimes gloomy days. The range of squash and pumpkin seems to be more diverse every year. Despite the stiff competition, I still feel that you can’t beat a butternut squash for its flavour and texture. The original recipe which I found on https://www.recipetineats.com/easy-pumpkin-gnocchi/ uses pumpkin, but the butternut squash works a treat. The ricotta in this recipe gives the gnocchi a lightness and together with the parmesan the gnocchi are tasty morsels of cheesiness. The classic combination of the sage and butter works beautifully; it’s a real ode to autumn.

Ingredients

Gnocchi:

  • 300 g butternut squash, cubed, baked and then pureed
  • 185g ricotta
  • 185g plain flour
  • 30g parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper

Sage Butter Sauce:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 50 g butter
  • 20 fresh sage leaves

To serve:

  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan, grated

Instructions

  1. Cut the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Roastin the oven (180 fan /200/ gas 5). When the squash is cooked, crush with the back of a fork into to puree.
  2. Placethe squashand remaining gnocchiingredients in a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix well – it should be a soft dough.
  3. Dust a work surface with flour, tip dough out, sprinkle with flour then pat into log shape.
  4. Cut into 6 pieces. Roll into ropes, then cut into 2cm pieces.
  5. Use a fork to press down lightly on the cut side of the gnocchi.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to the boilandadd some salt.
  7. Place the gnocchi into the water. Cook for 1 minute or until all the gnocchi riseto the surface, then drain.
  8. Meanwhile, melt about 1 teaspoon of the butter plus oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook, shaking the panuntil the gnocchiare starting to turn brown (about 1 1/2 minutes).
  9. Add remaining butter then once it melts, add sage leaves. Stir and cook for 2 1/2 minutes or until gnocchi are golden, sage is crisp and butter is slightly browned. Add salt if you used unsalted butter.
  10. Serve immediately, garnished with parmesan and pepper.

Pumpkin and Sage Soufflé

I remember making this and thinking how delicious it was. Looking back at the pictures, I can see the time it took to get the styling right. C was waiting for his lunch and got the soufflé that had deflated in the wait, but he still thought it was awesome.

Wow, love that recipe!

pumpkin-and-sage-souffle-2I’ve never made a soufflé before as I’ve always associated them with dinner parties and stress and have seen many failed attempts on TV cookeryshows. When I saw this recipe in the Sainsbury’s magazine (Oct 2016), I thought of all that leftover pumpkin I still had to use up, and despite my fears, I decided I’d give it a go. I did change of few things in the recipe, mainly because I didn’t read it carefully enough the first time round! I also made my own cheese sauce; the recipe calls for shop bought. The recipe can be found here:

http://www.sainsburysmagazine.co.uk/recipes/mains/item/roasted-pumpkin-and-sage-souffle. The version below includes my tweaks. The original recipe was for 4 people, but I halved the quantities and still had enough mixture for 4 ramekins. I made this for Saturday lunch and served it with kale and rye bread. It was of course delicious which is…

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Fig Ice Cream

I am lucky enough to have a fig tree in my garden. It provides wonderful shade in the summer and this year there has been a particularly bountiful crop of sweet, juicy figs. There is nothing better in the morning to wake up and pick a fig or two off the tree for breakfast. In the recent hot weather, I was sitting under the tree and naturally thinking of ice cream and thought of how delicious a fig ice cream might be. I was lucky enough to find a David Lebovitz recipe and by the end of the day I was eating a deliciously creamy fig ice cream. Joyful!

Ingredients

  • 1kg fresh figs (about 20)
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 lemon, preferably unsprayed
  • 150 g sugar
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste

Directions

  1. Remove the hard stem ends from the figs, then cut each fig into 8 pieces. Put the figs in a medium, nonreactive saucepan with the water and zest the lemon directly into the saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the figs are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid, add the sugar and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the figs are a jamlike consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, purée the fig paste in a blender or food processor with the cream and lemon juice. Taste, then add more lemon juice if desired.
  3. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lavender and Honey Ice Cream

When the mercury reaches the 30s the only thing I feel like eating is ice cream! So this bank holiday weekend, I made two types of ice cream; lavender and then fig. I’m a huge lover of lavender, I think it’s both distinctive and elegant. This ice cream in my opinion is sublime! The lavender flavour is just enough to be present but not overpowering so you feel like you are eating soap. We recently visited a lavender farm near Seven Oaks and I was really inspired by the beauty of the fragrant fields and of course the abundance of lavender edible goodies. I’m still very new to ice cream making, but David Lebovitz’s ice cream recipes have so far yielded great results. My pistachio gelato which I posted earlier is his recipe as is the fig ice cream recipe to come.

Ingredients


125ml good quality honey
8g dried or fresh lavender flowers
375ml whole milk
50g sugar
Pinch of salt
375ml double cream
5 egg yolks    

Method


1. Heat the honey and 2 tablespoons of the lavender in a small saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and set aside to steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan.
3. Pour the cream in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
4. Pour the lavender-infused honey into the cream through the strainer, pressing on the lavender flowers to extract as much flavour as possible, then discard the lavender and set the strainer back over the cream.
5. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
6. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling, then scrape the warmed egg yolks mixture back into the saucepan.
7. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
8. Pour the mixture through the strainer and stir it into the double cream and whisk well.
9. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lavender flowers and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator.
10. The next day, before churning, strain the mixture, again pressing on the lavender flower to extract their flavour.
11. Discard the flowers then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.