Monday, 29 November 2010

Spicy pumpkin soup

A medium sized pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Tbsp Sesame oil

A thumb-sized piece of root ginger, finely chopped

1 Red chilli, chopped

1 Lemongrass, chopped

1 Large onion

1 1/2 pints Vegetable stock

1 Tbsp mango chutney

Salt and pepper

Heat the sesame oil in a pan before adding the ginger, lemongrass and

chilli. After a few minutes, stir in the onion, softening slightly

before adding the pumpkin. Pour in the stock and simmer gently for 10

minutes or so; after which the pumpkin should squish easily. Transfer

everything into a blender and blitz to a smooth consistency; pour back

into the pan and season. Spoon in the mango chutney and leave to

bubble on a low heat for a few minutes. Serve with chopped chilli,

ginger matchsticks and fresh coriander.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pink peppercorn pfeffernusse

For the second time in a week I chanced upon the wolf man on the way home. He seems to just appear on the horizon; long silvery hair, lupine scowl and (seriously) a wolf-embroidered fleece hanging off his bony shoulders. If that wasn't enough, he has TWO ACTUAL WOLVES tethered to his hands, albeit by unnervingly flimsy leashes. It's startling to witness; but has little to do with festive baking. I digress.

It’s Sinterklaas eve on 5th December. Traditionally, children in Germany, Holland and Belgium leave shoes by the fireplace before bedtime; come the morning it’s hoped that Saint Nicholas will have filled them with treats – Pfeffernusse being a favourite. It feels a bit keen to be making Christmas biscuits at the end of November, but these really benefit from being left in a tin for a couple of weeks so that the spice flavours develop.

Pink peppercorn pfeffernusse
Makes 20

For the biscuits
2 Eggs
230g Light muscovado sugar
250g Plain flour
Zest and juice of 2 satsumas
1tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2tsp Ground mace
1/2tsp Ground cloves
1/3 Freshly grated tonka bean
1tsp Finely chopped pink peppercorns
1tsp Freshly ground black pepper
30g Ground almonds
A pinch of salt

For the sugar coating
2 Egg whites

250g Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and Satsuma juice together until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in the zest, spices, pepper, salt and almonds before gradually sifting in the flour, mixing well and shaping into a ball of dough. Knead for about five minutes, then roll into 3cm balls and arrange on a greaseproof lined baking sheet (allowing a fair bit of space around each so that they don’t stick together). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turn the oven off and transfer biscuits onto a cooling rack. Whisk the egg whites and icing sugar together, dip each biscuit into the glaze and place back on the greaseproof lined tray. Put the tray back into the cooling oven for about half an hour.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Wild walnut, Stilton and honey foccacia

500g Bread flour
1 ½ tsp Salt
½ tsp dried yeast
2 tbsp Olive oil
325ml Warm water
A handful of chopped walnuts
A chunk of Stilton, crumbled
2 tbsp Honey
Sea salt

Add the yeast to the water, leaving for a few minutes while you mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Stir the water and olive oil into the flour, using your hands to shape into a ball. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, pop back into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave in a warm spot for an hour or so, after which (hopefully) the dough will have doubled in size. Carefully stretch out the dough into an oiled baking tray; get the damp tea towel back on the scene and put back in the warmth for a further 30 minutes.

Use your fingertips to gently make some dents all over the surface of the dough, brush with olive oil and pop into a preheated oven (180C/160C fan/gas 4) for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the crumbled Stilton and walnuts over the foccacia, then give it another 5-10 minutes in the oven. Drizzle with honey and a light sprinkle of sea salt.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Savoy cabbage

When I'm all alone I go batshit mental and start photographing cabbages. It's just the way I roll.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Barney's pigeon & hedgerow salad

One one my favourite recipes, created by the wonderful Barney Desmazery. Recipe here - it's a joy...

Nettle salsa verde

A handful of mint leaves
A handful of basil leaves
A (gloved) handful of young nettle tops, steamed
Half a handful of parsley leaves
2 Pickled gherkins
1 Tablespoon capers
3 Cloves garlic, crushed
4 Anchovies
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Finely chop the herbs, nettles, gherkins, capers and anchovies. Stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste.