Soup has always been a starter for me rather than a meal in itself. Any suggestions in the past by Hubby to have soup and nothing but soup was met with my sulky face and a not very under my breath mutter of “It’s a waste of food inventory…” And then he made me his so-delicious-its-almost-indecent butternut squash soup last year… After eating my own body weight in the stuff and finding myself feeling not at all cheated of a meal I didn’t really have any choice but to revise my opinion of soup, including the putting away of the sulky face (!)
So with the onset of Autumn I thought I’d try and expand my quite limited soup portfolio this year with a some new recipes. This weekend was the first quiet weekend we’d had in ages, perfect to get souping, starting with something distinctly seasonal. It turned out rather well, if I may say so myself 🙂 And I’m sure the skies turning dark and the heavens opening just as we sat down to eat this with a few cheeky posh sausage rolls only added to the comfortingness of the soup.
The original recipe is by Flourishing Foodie as discovered and drooled over on Foodgawker, and I was as inspired by the photo composition as I was by the idea of a soup made out of roasted parsnips. I love parsnips, and roasting them really heightens their sweetness and that nutty flavour they have. And any worries I might have harboured about the combination of parsnips and apple being too sweet were sorted out by Flourishing Foodie’s quite inspired topping of a few shavings of parmesan, adding a lovely deep savoury note (umami for the win!).
I’ve frozen the leftovers in single portions for later, including the leftover half loaf of sourdough (croutoning up a whole loaf for just two of us seemed a little daft) so that I can make those delicious croutons again too. And I’m thinking of adding a wee drizzle of garlic flavoured olive oil over the soup before decorating with the croutons and herbs next time. I’ll let you know how that turns out 🙂
And I’m never ever buying store bought croutons again, EVER!!
Roasted Parsnip & Apple Soup
Nutty parsnip and sweet apple is perfectly offset by lovely savoury parmesan shavings.
fresh loaf of bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (cannot recommend sourdough enough!)
fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved
herbs to garnish (parsley, basil, oregano or tarragon should all work)
Preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Toss the chopped parsnips in the olive oil until all the pieces are mostly coated, then lay them out on a baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 60 minutes, turning them every 20 minutes until they’re tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
Set the stewpot over a medium heat and add the butter. When it’s beginning to foam and has turned a light brown add the onions. When they’re lovely and translucent stir in the nutmeg.
Next, add the apples, potato, and roasted parsnips to the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Give it a stir every now and then to stop it from sticking or burning.
Then add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil before reducing the heat right down until the stock is simmering and leave it to bubble away gently for half an hour.
After that, check the veg is ready – you want it soft enough again to pierce easily with a fork. If you’re using a traditional blender scoop the veg out, or sieve it over a large bowl to catch and keep the liquid bit of the soup , and blend until it’s a lovely smooth puree (you might need to do this in batches).
Add the pureed veg back into stewpot with the liquid soup, add the double cream, stir well, and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Keep warm on a low-medium heat until you’re ready to serve. If the soup is a little too thick then add some milk or water to thin and recheck your seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Slice the bread in one inch cubes – if you want an extra crispy crunch leave the crusts on. Toss your bread cubes in a light drizzle of olive oil and salt and then lay them out on a baking tray in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes, or until they’re as brown (or not brown!) as you like them.
Dish up your soup and drop in some of the fresh croutons (be generous!), shave some Parmesan cheese over the top, and garnish with a leaf or two of your herb of choice (or a light sprinkle of dried herbs).
A seasonal recipe! Cauliflower is very October, which is all the excuse I needed to make this tonight. I’m sure I must have learnt this from my mum although I can’t actually remember her making it in living memory… Anyway! Promise you it’s better than its takeaway equivalent 🙂 Don’t be put off by the prep and cook time, mostly it’s time spent leaving stuff to do its thing so is not as heinous as it might look at first glance.
Cut up the cauliflower and put the pieces into a collander, wash thoroughly and leave to dry. Slice the onions, and mince or finely chop the garlic.
In a medium sized bowl (anything bigger than a cereal bowl should be fine) mix the oil, cornstarch and sugar for the marinade. You’re aiming for a consistency like runny honey so add a little more oil if its too thick or a little more cornstarch if its too thin.
Next, slice the rump steak very thinly – a Chinese cheat is to put it in the freezer an hour beforehand – and then add the slices to the marinade bowl and stir well to coat the steak. Leave for 15-30mins.
Heat a generous tbsp of oil in the wok over a medium high heat and then add the cauliflower pieces and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes (I like to let the edges singe a little). Season well with salt (and a spinkle of chicken powder if you have any) before adding a cup of water. Put a lid on it and turn the heat right up until all the water has evaporated. When the wok is “dry” again remove the cauliflower to a plate and set aside.
Put the wok back on a medium heat and add about a tbsp of oil. When it’s hot add the sliced onion and stir-fry until they are soft and translucent. Add the minced/chopped garlic and keep it moving about in the oil for about a minute without letting it burn before adding the marinaded steak. Keep moving everything to break up any clumps of steak or onions and to ensure an even stir fry.
As soon as the steak is sealed and browned all over (don’t worry if there are a few bits still pink) tip the cauliflower back into the wok and then add 4-5 good shakes of oyster sauce straight out of the bottle.
Stir to coat everything in the wok well, then add 1/2 to 1 cup of cold water and stir again. The cornstarch in the marinade should thicken the sauce a little as the added water heats up. When the liquid starts to bubble at the edges turn the heat down until the sauce is simmering and leave it for about five minutes.
Well, as fifi mentioned in her last post, Autumn is right upon our doorstep, and with it comes crisp air, the rich, musty scent of Autumn leaves, and warming food that sticks to your ribs. Count me in!
Being an American, cold-weather food for me will always have to include casseroles, and this is just one of many that I like to foist upon Fi. This one’s a bit different though; a result of a lot of tinkering with combinations, that owes a lot of its influences to Asian flavours, and on paper, doesn’t look like it should work. Trust me, it totally does, and you won’t be sorry to try it. Other Americans may be tempted to cover this with cheese (let’s be honest, it’s the go-to topper for casseroles) but, while tasty, it doesn’t need it at all. This manages to be tasty and fulfilling without needing a lot of heavy cream and the like. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!
Without further ado, then… time to get cooking!
Chicken, Mushroom & Broccoli Rice Bake
A delicious rice bake that is perfect for when the weather starts to turn.
2 medium leeks (one large white/yellow onion works too)
4-5 large portobello mushrooms
2 chicken breasts or 4-6 thighs (boneless and skinless all around)
1 small bottle (20 cl/1 cup) white wine – Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc both really suit this dish.
150 ml double (heavy) cream
1/2-1 tsp ketjap manis (or use dark soy sauce and add 1/2 tsp molasses or treacle, and mix well)
1/2-3/4 tsp Knorr chicken powder (optional, you can crush and fluff a chicken stock cube if you can’t find Chicken Powder)
couple of dashes of Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
salt and pepper to season
1/2-1 tsp Tarragon (dry or fresh, but remember that fresh will be much more strongly flavoured)
oil or butter for cooking
1.5 cups of uncooked rice (long grain or Thai jasmine rice both work well, 2:1 ratio water:rice when cooking)
Other stuff you’ll need…
Wok or large frying pan
Shallow casserole dish or high sided baking tray
Rice cooker (Cooks rice perfect every time. If you don’t have one, you can cook it in a covered saucepan on stove top).
First things first, get your rice on. It’ll take about 45 minutes to cook through, in the measures given, which gives you plenty of time to get the prep done.
Pop the broccoli florets into a saucepan, and set them aside for now.
Next, finely slice your leeks (or onion), peel your mushrooms of their thick outer skin and remove the stems before cutting into slices, and cut your chicken into bite sized pieces.
On a medium flame, heat a wok or large frying pan before adding oil/butter (or drizzle a little oil over the butter, which will give you the best flavour while preventing the butter from burning). Now add the leeks/onions and season with salt (this, again, helps to stop them burning) before frying gently for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.
When the leeks/onions are cooked, add a bit more butter, and then add the sliced mushrooms. Season these with a little more salt (this helps to get the moisture out) and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
In the meantime, put the kettle on and preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
Retrieve your saucepan of broccoli florets and sprinkle on 1/2-3/4 tsp chicken powder (optional), 1tsp fishsauce and a splash of dark soy. From the kettle, add just less than 1/3 cup of hot water (the water doesn’t need to have just boiled). Cover, and steam, covered, on high heat for approximately 5 minutes.
While the broccoli is cooking, go back to the leek and mushroom mixture and add the wine to it before turning the heat up to medium/high. Reduce the liquid right down, until its about a quarter of the original volume. Stir now and again while it’s reducing down.
When the wine has reduced down, lower your heat to medium and add the chicken to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.
By this time, the broccoli should have cooked for approximately 5 minutes, in which case turn the heat off but leave the lid on to steam cook the last of the hardcore crunch out.
Back to the wok, and season the chicken, leek/onion, mushroom and wine mixture with black pepper and approximately 1/2-1 tsp of tarragon, or to taste. Then add the double cream and stir everything in. Cook for an additional 2 minutes on a low heat before tipping in the broccoli, liquid and all. Add about 1/2-1 tsp of ketjup manis and a few dashes of maggi seasoning (optional) and stir the lot gently before turning the heat off completely.
Now add the cooked rice to the wok, and stir until the rice is evenly coated with everything. Ideally, you want the rice to be a bit wet with the sauce rather than bone dry, so you may not need to use all of the cooked rice.
At this point, transfer the rice mixture into a shallow casserole dish or a high side baking tray and use the back of a wooden spoon to spread it out to an even thickness. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 12-14 minutes. I find that covering the dish with foil helps to prevent it from drying out, and cooks it through more quickly.
Wow. Where did Summer go?? Not that it was much of a Summer all things considered, but I swear I blinked and missed it. So here we are, looking Autumn in the face, and I’m ready for it to be honest. More than that I’m looking forward to it! And here’s why… Autumn is for the return of guilty pleasure TV (Dallas and Downtown Abbey, I’m looking at you!), Hubby snuggles (preferably while indulging in aforementioned guilty pleasure TV), my wardrobe being in season again, and comfort food. Hello comfort food! You’re far more fun to blog about than salad!
So I’m back, and I’m going to start off the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness with a curry, even if Hubby is arguing that it should kick off with a Shepherd’s Pie 😉 It’s a lighter curry than my usuals, but I love it for that very reason. That and I keep calling it “Harakiri Chicken” by accident, which cracks Hubby up no end…
This is adapted from another gem of a recipe found in Delicious magazine with a few liberties taken on the ingredients and prepping, but I really didn’t notice a big enough difference in the tasty to warrant the harder work. That said, there’s still an awful lot of chopping to do, but its worth it because the freshness of the ingredients really shines through.
The key to this recipe is keeping the chicken pieces quite big, NO slicing into bite sized pieces because the smaller they are the quicker they’ll dry out and as we’re leaving this all to cook for half an hour then I wouldn’t cut each thigh into more than 2 pieces, 3 pieces max. The same holds true if you’re using chicken breasts instead, they’re even more prone to drying out so keep the pieces big.
A light and fresh curry that is perfect for when the weather is between season.
Put the oil and the butter in your pan, or wok, over a medium-high heat and fry the chicken until its browned all over but not cooked through – if you have chicken powder then sprinkle a little over the pieces while they’re browning to really bring out their savoury flavour – and then transfer to a bowl.
In the same pan, add the onion and lower the heat. Soften the onion for 10 minutes, stirring until they are coloured.
Next add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and give them a minute or two to cook down.
Add all of the spices to the onion mix and cook for about a minute.
Next, pour over the coconut milk and add the browned chicken pieces back in. Season well, stir well and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finally, stir the lime juice through just before you’re ready to serve, then dish up on a steamy bed of white rice.
When my little brother was at University he used to come home at the weekends with a pack of hungry lost boys in tow and I’d go into surrogate big sister mode and feed them all. One even took to phoning me on a Thursday night to put in a request for his favourite dish! But my culinary repertoire must have been getting repetitive because my brother bought me a cookbook one weekend, and then pointed out which of the recipes in it he’d like me to make… Cheeky! Years later, the cookbook still gets hauled out every couple of months, primarily to make this which is still one of my favourites. It’s more of an Autumn/Winter kind of a dish, but seeing how this has been the wettest summer since records began in 1910 (!) forgive me while I opt for a little comfort food this weekend 🙂
This recipe has become “a little” adapted over time, I like more Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice than the original recipe because I like the sauce seriously tangy (and it is!). If you find it too much, a spoonful of creme freche stirred in at the end will mellow it out, or cut back on the Worcestershire sauce/lemon juice the next time you make it.
This is good with a heap of creamy mash but its even better with boiled rice, but then, I think everything is better with boiled rice… When it comes out of the oven I like to slice the pork chops up and then mix them back into the sauce to coat every last bit before ladling up over rice. Serve with something green, like stir fried broccoli or garlicky butter-fried courgette slices, and get stuck in!
If you are going to eat it with mash you can double the number of chops to four and use the measures for sauce as per the recipe. Rice just soaks up “jup” in a way that mash doesn’t (because rice > mash!) If you don’t believe me, scroll down to the bottom of this page to see my proof 😉
Piquant Pork Chops
Tender pork chops in a tasty tangy sauce, great with creamy mash but even better with rice!
Dice the onions. Mix the sugar, dry mustard, tomato puree and beef stock cube together (if using a beef stock pot rather than a cube leave it out)
First things first, get the oven on to 180 C/350 F.
Pan fry the pork chops on a high heat for a couple of minutes each side to seal and brown the meat. Remove to an ovenproof baking dish.
In the same pan, heat the oil and fy the onion gently until it is lightly browned.
Stir the sugar, mustard powder, tomato puree and beef stock cube into the cooked onion and mix it all together well (if you’re using a beef stock pot rather than a stock cube, mix everything else in first and then mix in the stock pot last) before stirring in the cold water (it has to be cold or else the mustard powder has a hissy fit!).
Bring it all to the boil, stirring continuously, then add the Worcestershire sauce and the lemon juice into the onion and spice mixture, then check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce into the baking dish and over the pork chops.
Pop in the preheated oven and cook for about 30-35 minutes, or until the meat is tender.
Remove the chops from the sauce and leave to rest for 8-10 minutes, while you pop the sauce back into the oven to keep warm.
After the chops have rested, slice thinly and pop back into the sauce to coat before serving over rice.
It’s almost time to put the comfort food aside and enjoy the slide into summer. However, the rain is chucking it down tonight so I’ve gone with an in-between recipe, courtesy of Jamie Oliver, that is just perfect for this time of year as its hearty but without being heavy. What I really love though is how fresh it tastes! The insane amount of cherry tomatoes and the fresh herbs it uses makes this dish taste like summer 🙂 And the minimal amount of prep and of washing up afterwards is just a bonus (other than washing the blood of a million cherry tomatoes off your hands, that is! )
Hubby and I tend to devour this with a good-quality loaf of bread, something soft that you can tear into chunks to mop up the tomato sauce with. Or, if your bread is particularly crusty, pile everything on top of it instead like I did above and let the tomato sauce soak in and soften that crust. Alternatively, Jamie suggests mash, rice or polenta and a green salad. And if there are any leftovers, “if” being the operative word, Jamie says to chop them up and make into a chunky pasta dish, using penne or rigatoni, the next day. I haven’t actually been able to test this yet, but I’m fairly certain Jamie isn’t lying…
Jamie's Sweet Cherry Tomato & Sausage Bake
The insane amount of cherry tomatoes and the fresh herbs this dish uses makes it taste like summer in a bowl.
2kg lovely ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colours if you can find them
2 sprigs each of fresh thyme, rosemary and bay
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped (or minced)
12 good-quality Cumberland or coarse Italian pork sausages
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by preheating the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
In the roasting tray that's large enough to take all the tomatoes in one snug fitting layer, put in all of your tomatoes, the herb sprigs, oregano, garlic and sausages. Make sure there are enough tomatoes to pack down without gaps because the sausages want to sit on top of them, not sink into them where they will broil and look kind of peely wally. Or, you can quickly brown the sausages all over in a frying pan first, which definitely makes them look more appetising.
Drizzle well with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together, then make sure the tomatoes are packed tight on the bottom and the sausages are on top.
Pop the tray into the oven for 30 minutes.
After this time, give the tray a good shake and turn the sausages over. Put back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
Once it’s cooked, you want to have an intense, tomatoey sauce. If the tomato sauce is a little too thin, lift out the sausages and place the tray on the hob to cook it down to the consistency you like – I like mine thick and exceedingly mop-uppable! This is also a good time to pick out all the bits of herbs.