"Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water"
W.C. Fields

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Soup

2 medium butternut squashes - peel, deseed and dice
2 orange peppers - deseed and dice
1 medium onion - peeled and finely chopped
Coriander to taste
Smidging of olive oil
Blob of cream

Lightly fry the onion in the olive oil in a generous sized pan.
Add the butternut squash and peppers.
Add enough boiling water to just cover the vegetables.
Sprinkle some coriander in to taste, and a bit of salt and pepper if wanted.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a low heat and cook for 20 mins or until the veg is soft.

Add in the cream and stir, then liquidise the soup.

Serve hot with chunky bread rolls.

If you are freezing the soup - add the cream whilst re-heating.

Top Tip - Butternut Squash can be really difficult to peel so I cut them in half and stand them in a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes. This softens the skin enough to be able to peel them easily.

Home Grown and Scavenged!

It's one of my dormant ambitions to grow my own vegetables. At the moment I'm trying to raise the energy to look into it more and hopefully it will be something I can write about in the coming months. In the meantime we went out blackberry picking yesterday, and scavanged enough from the hedgerows of a local nature park to make our annual blackberry pie and some mini blackberry crumbles for the freezer.


Blackberry Pie


Preparing the Blackberry Crumbles

I'd put a chicken in the oven before we went out so that was cooking merrily away when we got back. Our next door neighbours have an allotment and had kindly given us a bag full of green runner beans, so I set Becky the task of topping and tailing those ready to blanch for the freezer. I set to work making a vegetable strudel, an adaptation of a Delia Smith recipe.

Again I like to make things as easy as possible, so I prepared some red pepper, red onions, sweet potato, butternut squash and parsnips ready for roasting in the oven. While Jenny was making the pastry for the blackberry pie, I'd defrosted the ready made stuff which I scored down each side to make a kind of plait effect. I filled the middle with the vegetables, and added some diced cheese. Mozarrella is best, but as I forgot to buy some it was whatever was at hand in the fridge, in this instance some Cathedral Mature Cheddar (memories of Devendra Bernhardt's 'At the Hop' springs to mind). Fold the edges over each other and cook on about 150° for about 30 minutes. I'd made enough for 2 strudles, so one was frozen and there was still enough roast veg left over to have with pasta the next day.


Blanched Runner Beans

I'd steamed a few runner beans to have with the strudel and they were so tasty, much nicer than the tinned ones I usually buy! So scavenged blackberries and home grown runner beans will hopefully be enough to get me off my bum and sort out a vegetable patch of my own!

Around the world!

A few years ago we bought Jenny a box set of 10 recipe books - each book was full of recipies from a different country. Every week she would try something from a different book, home made curries, soups and lovely desserts. It was fun. After our recent trip to Italy she rediscovered the books and this week chose to make some Irish recipies. Both worked out really well, most surprisingly perhaps the applie pie with potatoes! Read on though!

Leek & Thyme Soup

900g Leeks
450g Potatoes
115g Butter
1 large fresh sprig of thyme (we didnt include this)
300ml Semi-skimmed millk
salt and black pepper
60ml double cream to serve (this was too much!)

Top and tail the leeks then cut into thick slices. Wash. Peel potatoes and cut into 2.5cm dice shapes. Melt butter in large pan then add the leeks and thyme (if using). Cover and cook for 4-5 mins until softened.

Add potato pieces and just enough cold water to cover the vegetables.
Cover and cook on a low heat for about 30 mins.Pour in semi-skimmed milk and seasoning, cover and simmer for a further 30 mins. Don't worry that the potato breaks up, this will leave you with a semi-pureé and rather lumpy soup!

Remove the thyme sprig and serve adding a spoon of double cream. We found the soup was creamy enough and adding more made it too rich for our tastes.

I think the soup would be lovely on a cold winters night, but having tried it in the height of summer, it's also really nice for a lightish-tea.

Pralie Apple Pie with Honey

This one I was quite sceptical about - I mean you DON'T put potatoes in apple pie. However, it was delicious and produces a thin crisp crust that melts in the mouth. According to the book. Jenny's came out a bit chewy though!!

225g Potatoes
115g Plain Flour
75g Caster Sugar
2.5ml Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 Cooking Apples
1 Beaten Egg - preferrably five - nil (that's a joke)
30ml tbsp clear honey to serve (optional - I hate honey)

Cut potatoes into even size chunks. Boil in pan then cover and cook for 20 mins. Drain potatoes and dry out over a high heat for 1 min until all traces of moisture have evapourated. Mash well in a bowl. Preheat the oven to 180°/350°/Gas 4.

Add flour, 50g of the sugar, the baking powder and salt and mix to form a soft dough. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Roll out one half to a 20cm/8 in round. Transfer to a lightly greased baking tray/pie dish.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Arrange them on top of the pastry. Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Roll out the rest of the pastry to a 25 cm round then lay it over the apples. Seal pastry edges together and brush with remaining beaten egg.

Bake for 30 mins until golden brown, serve hot in slices with a little honey drizzled over each serving. Maple syrup works well too!

 

Fennel a la Gordon Ramsay

I saw this one on 'The F Word' and thought I would give it a whirl. I love fennel but don't buy it very often as its quite expensive. But it's in season and I reasoned that I don't eat meat, which is more expensive, so what the hell.

Chop the bits off the top and bottom of the fennel then quarter it longways and place it on a baking tray. Generously drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, cook for around 12 - 15 mins in the oven on 200°. I served it on a bed of lettuce with mixed beans. Gordon includes some cooked chicken breast on that, but obviously I don't. I made some vinaigrette made with more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of mustard. It was a little too tart for my liking though so I added a smidgin of maple syrup to tone it down a little.

Over all it was alright, but the fennel was a bit tasteless, I'm not sure what had happened to the slight aniseed taste that it usually has, but it was a little disappointing. I will try it again though (I have to, I've got another fennel bulb to use up!) but might try changing the marinade.

You can find his full recipe here which might be of interest if you want to include the chicken bit.

 

Tomato and Ricotta Tarts

This one is nicked from Tesco's summer magazine and I will admit to not having tried it yet, but it's on the menu for this week.

Roll out some ready made puff pastry. Cut into 4 rectangles and brush with some egg yoke. Spread the centre of each one with a teaspoon of mustard. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Slice the tomatoes and lay on the top. Fold the edges of the pastry by about 2 cm. With a sharp knife make an indent all the way round the sides of the pastry. Bake for 35 minutes then serve warm topped with a spoonful of ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a few basil leaves.

Nectarine Pastry

This is a quick, easy and delicious way to get some extra fruit into your diet.

Slice a couple of nectarines (peaches work just as well too) and place over a ready made sheet of filo pastry. Sprinkle with dark brown soft sugar and cook in the oven for 15 - 20 mins at 180° or Gas Mark 7. You can eat it by itself cold, or serve it hot with clotted cream or ice-cream.

(Nicked from Sainsburys recipies)

 

Melanzane Sott'olio Con Peperoncino

 

 

5kg Aubergines
250g Salt
4 Cloves Garlic
2 Sticks Celery
2 Small Red Chillies

A lot of patience

 

 

 

Wash, dry and then slice the aubergines into thin strips. Mix the strips with the salt and leave them for 48 hours. I put them in a colander over a bowl to catch the water.

Wipe off the salt and wring the aubergines out very thoroughly, squeezing out as much liquid as you can (do not wash!).

Chop the garlic, celery and chillies.

Arrange the strips of aubergine in a jar in layers with the garlic, celery and chillies in between, pressing them down to make sure that there are no air pockets. I had to use a large bread knife down the side of the jar to get all the air bubbles to the surface. As you can see it buggered up the layers a bit!

Cover with olive oil, pressing down again.

Leave for at least 4 months.


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