Sunday, 24 November 2013

Recipe: Squash and garlic soup with a kick

This week's bounty from The Village Wholefood Store was three crown prince squashes and a couple of lovely heads of organic garlic. I've never used this squash before, with its grey green skin, but cutting it open revealed the familiar sweet orange flesh which compliments so many herbs and spices.

Winter is here and a mild kick of chilli and ginger makes me feel energised and warm and full of life. You may, of course, add more if you have hotter tastes and aren't cooking for my cafe.

Soup of the week at the cafe!

Three crown prince squashes
2-3 heads garlic
Olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
Fresh ginger according to taste, grated
Dried chilli flakes, according to taste
2 vegetable stock pots or cubes in about a litre of stock

First chop the squash into quarters and scoop out the seeds. Lay out onto two baking trays along with the cloves of garlic. No need to peel them, once roasted they will just squeeze out. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Roast at 160 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and put aside with the garlic.

Finely chop the onions and grate the ginger. Fry them on a medium heat in a large pot until soft then add the squash, garlic and stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste after a few minutes and add chilli and seasoning as needed.

Liquidise the soup until smooth. If it's too thick, add a little water or stock. Serve with a swirl of chilli oil or a sprinkle of chilli if you want to heat it up, a dollop of natural yoghurt if you want to cool it down, and the bread of your choice.

Seasonal, local and sweet with a warming kick, this soup is all kinds of good.

Fish fingers and custard for non-cooks

This is a timey wimey blog, coming to you from the past, when it would have been useful, and brought to you exactly 48 hours too late.

Yesterday at my little cafe we celebrated Doctor Who Day. As part of that I made fish fingers and custard, the only snack the newly-regenerated 11th doctor wanted after eschewing apples and even - in a controversial move - bacon.

I thought I would share the "recipe" here so next time there's a day when everyone goes a bit mad over Doctor Who, and goes to the cinema at 7.30am in Australia, and screams in public at the sight of Peter Capaldi and even Ron Burgundy is involved... then you can make them.

This is a completely store-bought, no cook process which basically involves cutting things up and sticking them together. Like on Blue Peter.

"Fish fingers" and custard
Makes 12-16 depending on size of cake used.

Photo: Clare Leybourne

1 pre-made Madeira cake - I used this because it's firm and won't crumble but you can use any cake.
1/2 jar lemon curd
1/2 packet digestive biscuits

Crumble the biscuits in a food processor or blender or place in a plastic bag and bash repeatedly with a rolling pin until finely crumbed.

Cut the Madeira cakes into fish finger-shaped slabs. Cover in the lemon curd with a knife then dip into the biscuit crumbs. Gently press the crumbs onto the cakes, dip again and shake off the excess. Put on a baking tray to dry off.

Serve with custard. Job done. With the Madeira cake and lemon curd they actually taste wonderful and we're still munching on them today.

My friend took some home and made them beautiful, so I used her picture.

A proper, grown up recipe will be here shortly!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Tomato soup the good way

Well hello again, it's been ages. How have you been? You look great.

A few weeks ago I unexpectedly opened a cafe. I'm busier that I've ever been in my life, which has meant that recreational baking has gone out of the window for a while, as has blogging.

What I have to share today isn't baking at all, it's soup.

When I can I get my vegetables from a lovely little whole food store local to my cafe. Because much of their veg is grown right next door in Forty Hall Farm, you never now what you might get. And because of that, each week's soup is a seasonal surprise.This week's haul was a glut of cherry tomatoes, very ripe and calling out to be roasted.

The following soup, for which I looked at several recipes before more or less making it up, is what happened.

Roasted cherry tomato and red onion soup with basil.

Approx 1.25kg cherry tomatoes
3 large red onions
3 cloves garlic
tsp red wine vinegar (I used red wine instead)
tsp brown sugar
Olive oil
250ml vegetable stock
Fresh basil

Slice two of the red onions thinly and put in a roasting tray with the tomatoes and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at around 200 degrees for half an hour.

Heat up a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add onions and cook over a medium heat for around five minutes, until the onion is soft. Stir in the sugar and wine/vinegar and cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the stock to the pan and stir in well.

Meanwhile, liquidize the tomatoes, onions and garlic along with all the juices. Add this to the pan along with some chopped fresh basil and reheat. Season to taste.

This tastes great with a handful of chopped fresh basil on the top. Alternatively parmesan goes very well. Like all soups, you can basically do what you like with this recipe. If you don't like the bits of onion, puree it up with the tomatoes. Add any other veg you have around. Or coriander instead of basil. Leave the stock out and use it as a pasta sauce. The world is your bouillabaisse.

Next week will be slightly more seasonal as I've been promised some squash. Watch this space