Category Archives: Comfort food

Thai style parsnip, butternut squash and ginger soup

Parsnip, butternut, ginger soup

So this is my final parting recipe for this blog. I had intended to post a few recipes over the Christmas period, but a combination of illness and family commitments put paid to that, and so this has crept into 2016.

This is a lovely creamy soup, with the warmth of ginger making it perfect for a cold wintry day. As I came down ill on Christmas eve, I just about managed to cobble together some good old leek and potato soup which slipped down perfectly. This one would have been good too.

It has used up the very last of my final butternut squash, but sweet potato would be a good substitute.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion or a couple of shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic (more if you prefer)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • roughly 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • roughly half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint / 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  1. In a large saucepan, add a little oil or butter and gently sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Add the garlic (peel and chop if you like, I just peeled and threw them in whole) and ginger, continue to cook for another minute.
  3. Add the chopped parsnips and squash, then cover with the stock. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a gentle simmer for 15-20 mins.
  4. At this point I use a potato masher to break the vegetables down which makes it easier to blend them. It’s not essential.
  5. Add the coconut milk and then blitz everything together with a hand blender, or else transfer everything to a blender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste while you reheat it slightly. Enjoy.

Parsnip soup ingredients Parsnips

Rustic butternut and mustard mash

squash mash 1

Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best, so after debating whether this is really worthy of a recipe post, I decided to add it in celebration of those simple, comforting, but sometimes overlooked dishes.

Aim for roughly an equal amount of potato to squash, and cook as much as you need for the amount of people you are feeding. Peel the butternut or winter squash, deseed and chop into roughly 1 inch square chunks. Peel the potatoes only if they’re very rough skinned, otherwise just give them a good scrub and chop into similar sized chunks as the squash.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the squash and cook for another 5-8 minutes until both are soft.

Drain the vegetables, put them back in the warm pan, add a knob of butter, some cream if you have it, a twist of salt and pepper and a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard. Mash all together.

Perfect on a cold night with sausages or pork chops and onion gravy. If you have any leftovers the next day you can add it to hot chicken or vegetable stock and blend it into a soup.

squash mash 2

Butternut squash, spinach and ricotta lasagne

lasagne1

The spinach typically bolted in the dry heat of the summer (which now happens around May – June time). But we decided to sow another row around late July – August, just in time for the torrential downpours that signal that period of the year that the schools still oddly call the ‘summer holidays’.

Spinach is very happy in wet weather, so it grew much better this time. Annoyingly though, it was growing right in the middle of a bed I wanted to use for next years garlic. So just at the point it was growing lush and strong, I pulled it all out. The carrier bag I fished out of the shed was too small to hold it all and I had to go back and find a bigger bag.

I made a potato and spinach curry with the first bunch, and then I stripped off the best leaves from the rest, washed it thoroughly and squashed it all into a bag for the freezer. This seems to have worked well. I wasn’t sure whether to lightly cook it first, but in the end I decided to freeze it fresh, and then I just had to slice a chunk off with a knife and cook in down in a pan in a matter of minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • a handful of spinach
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tub of ricotta cheese (250g)
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten.
  • lasagne sheets
  • creme fraiche or cream (might not be needed).
  1. Firstly puree the squash by peeling, de-seeding and chopping the squash, placing it all in a roasting pan with the garlic cloves, drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast in the oven for around 30 mins. Take out the garlic cloves and squeeze out the garlic, then tip it all into a food processor with a splash of milk and a pinch of nutmeg, half the ricotta cheese and whizz until smooth.
  2. Cook the spinach lightly until wilted, allow to cool and then chop. Mix with the remaining ricotta cheese, the egg and a little more nutmeg.
  3. Take a baking dish and cover the bottom with a layer of the squash puree. Add a grating of parmesan cheese, then a layer of lasagne sheets and finally a covering of the spinach and ricotta mixture. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a spinach and ricotta layer. If there isn’t enough of this for the final topping, mix in a spoonful of creme fraiche or cream to make it go further. Finish with another grating of parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake in a moderate oven for around 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.

lasagne2

Butternut squash, apple and stilton galette.

squash apple and stilton galette

This recipe came about while making apple pie and soup at the same time. Once I find the time for a spot of baking I tend to go all out! I had some spare shortcrust pastry from the pie, and I decided I could use a few of the vegetables that were being roasted for the soup in order to make this. So it’s only a small individual portion, but you could easily scale this up to feed more mouths.

Method (ingredients listed in bold):

Preheat the oven to 200ºc. You need about a fist sized ball of pastry dough for a single portion galette, which at a guess would be around 100g flour rubbed into 50g butter with a splash of water to bring it all together. Chill in the fridge for 20 mins before you roll it out into a circle. Then add some chopped apple, onion, and squash. I used the apple raw, but the onion and squash had roasted for around 20 mins in the oven. You could also just cook them slightly in a pan with some butter instead. Top with a few chunks of stilton or other blue cheese, then brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg. Bring the edges up and overlap slightly, try to avoid creating any holes where juices could escape. Brush the outside edges with more egg and then put onto a roasting tray and bake for around 30 mins.

Roasted butternut, apple and garlic soup.

squash, apple, garlic soup

How lovely it is that the squash season arrives just in time for the weather to chill and the nights to darken, which dictate that it’s also now soup season.

I had a glut of squashes this time last year, 14 in total from 2 plants, so I decided to scale down to just 1 plant this year and now I have 3 squashes! You can never tell whether mother nature will be generous or mean with her offerings from year to year, but I am strangely enjoying my more meagre harvest all the more for it. Sadly, a glut can really put you off a vegetable.

I made this soup along with a galette (a rustic one crust pie) because the ingredients were more or less the same, and it meant I could make the two together and save time. I will be posting the galette recipe next, and I’ll add a link here once it’s done.

The roasted apple adds a lovely sweetness to this soup, and the roasted garlic turns into a delicious sweet nuttiness that adds depth rather than heat. A very moreish soup.

Method (ingredients highlighted in bold):

Preheat the oven to around 200ºc. Trim, peel, deseed and chop 1 small squash of choice and put the chunks into a roasting tin. Do the same with 1 large or 2 small apples, and 1 onion and add to the squash (keep back some of the apple if also making the galette). Take 1 whole bulb of garlic and trim the top off to expose some of the cloves, and add that to the roasting tin. Drizzle all with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put into the oven and roast for about 20 mins.

At this point I took the roasting tin from the oven and took out some of the squash and onion in order to add to the galette. Otherwise, just give everything a turn and put back into the oven for another 10-15 mins.

Once roasted, take out of the oven, take out the garlic and put that to one side, then tip everything else into a saucepan. Squeeze the garlic from their papery shells straight into the saucepan. Then add chicken or vegetable stock, 1/2 pint per person. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 mins, then either tip into a blender and blitz, or use a stick or hand blender to do the same. Have some water ready boiled in the kettle and add a little more water if needed.

Finish with a swirl of cream if you like and enjoy.

roasted veg for soup

Tartiflette

 

tartiflette4

Until recently I’d never even heard of tartiflette, but I have made it twice now and I know it will become one of our staple meals from now on because it ticks two major boxes – easy – tick, and delicious – big tick. This is what I call a proper comfort dish. Like a big, soft blanket wrapped around you, perfect for when the weather turns nippy. A great way to use up those homegrown potatoes and onions, with a bit of hot chilli pepper if you like. The bacon can be substituted for a little chopped ham or chorizo, or if you’re veggie just leave it out.

Thanks to the BBC Good Food for this recipe and many others that I’ve come to rely on. They really are my favourite recipe site.

A few slight alterations I made were – not to peel the potatoes, skins on works fine for me and stops the potatoes breaking up too much, I added a heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard (leave this out if you’d prefer), and I didn’t bother with the addition of breadcrumbs on top at the end. If I’d had some I probably would have added them, so feel free to do so if you wish, but it still tastes great without them. On the matter of cheese, the original recipe uses vignotte, which I’ve never been able to get hold of, I have tried it with cambozola and brie, both of which were lovely. I bought some reblochon specially for using in this dish, but then ended up eating it all before I had chance to make it! I reckon it would taste great with any old cheese, so just use whatever you have.

Scrub clean and thickly slice 2 large potatoes or 4-5 smaller ones, boil in salted water for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, slice 1 onion, add a little oil to a hot pan and fry the onion gently until soft. Add some chopped bacon and continue to fry until cooked. Remove the onions and bacon and add a little more oil to the pan. Add the potatoes and fry until they start to brown. Heat a grill to hot. Put the bacon and onions back in the pan, and mix everything together. Don’t worry if anything starts to stick, just keep stirring. Add around 100ml of double cream (or, as I do, use creme fraiche with a splash of milk to loosen it). Add 1 heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, stir together. Nestle some chunks of soft cheese in between the potatoes, sprinkle over some chopped chilli, and then place the pan under the hot grill (protect the handle with foil if necessary) for around 5 minutes or until everything turns a lovely shade of golden brown.

tartiflette3 tartiflette2 tartiflette1

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