Posts by Jenny:
This soup was one of those magically recipes, where you google a mismatch of ingredients lurking in the bottom of your fridge and come up with something incredible. It has been labeled in our house ‘the best soup’, the kind of soup you serve at family lunches with chunks of freshly cooked bread. As it cooks the squash turns sweet which balances against the rich herbs and spices. This soup goes exceptionally well with granary bread, as it pairs well with nutty flavours.
Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
from Woman and Home
2 tbsp oil
2 white onions, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
500g carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into inch chunks
1.5l vegetable stock
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
6 heaped tsp greek yoghurt.
On a medium heat fry the oil, onion, garlic and ginger in a large saucepan until translucent (about 5 minutes).
Add the cumin and continue to heat for a further minute.
Add the squash, carrot and stock to the pan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add the coriander and puree until smooth.
When served add a spoon of yoghurt to each bowl.
When I was first asked to come up with a dinner party for less than £3 a head by the lovely people over at Most Wanted I was a little intimidated by the task. That was until it occurred to me that coming from a family of 6 children it was something my parents did on a nearly nightly basis as I was growing up.
My contribution to the Feeding the Masses challenge at just under the threshold at £2.91 a head is:
Beef and Ale Stew with Salt and Pepper Dumplings
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Garlic and Chilli Cabbage
This recipe is inspired by my boyfriend’s Aunt, who is well known for her fantastic buffet lunches for huge crowds, and always includes a delicious boeuf bourguignon, found bubbling away in a slowcooker. Beef and ale stew is a fantastic thrifty alternative to beef in red wine, as it is just as tasty but the alcohol is a third of the cost. The recommended quantity of beef per guest is 175g, but I’ve scaled it back to 160g each and added pearl barley which is a fantastic filler and will help create an incredibly thick gravy. It’s a great way to cheaply make your stew go that bit further.
I have used Chantenay carrots and shallots as they are currently cheaply available at my local supermarket but they can be easily substituted for regular carrots and onions cut into chunks. They make no difference to the flavour they just look pretty.
I love stews as they are a great way to make a cheaper cut of meat luxurious. They are particularly good when it comes to feeding guests as you can do the majority of the work long before you need to get ready for your guests and they fill your house with the most delicious smells.
I found it easier to allow an extra hour in my cooking time for the stew, that way you can remove it from the oven and keep it warm either on a hot plate or a stove top on low whilst you cook the rest of the dishes. I only have a regular sized oven so I couldn’t fit the stew with all the sides in there at the same time. I have included a mixture of textures and cooking styles for the sides as it creates a nice variation.
I’m always frustrated when you read budget meals that presuppose that you have cupboards full of exotic ingredients. Whilst maintaining a well stocked arsenal of herbs and spices is an excellent way to liven up simple dishes, it is something more easily built up over time. For the sake of these recipes you will only need salt, pepper and oil (I prefer olive oil, but a relatively flavourless oil will do just as well) in your kitchen before you go out shopping.
Beef and Ale Stew
1.6kg stewing beef
500g Chantenay carrots
300g shallots peeled
1 tsp dried thyme
3 dried bay leaves
3 beef stock cubes
200g pearl barley
a generous pinch of salt and pepper
Using kitchen towel dry off any excess liquid from the meat, this helps it to brown.
With a frying pan on a high heat brown each side of the beef in oil. I found this was best done in batches of about ⅓ of a pack at a time.
Add all the ingredients to a stewing pot or slow cooker and top up with boiling water until all the ingredients are covered.
You will need to leave enough room in the top of the dish for the dumplings, so you don’t want the ingredients to come up further than an inch below the top of the dish. If your dish isn’t big enough you can split it between two, it’s worth asking among your friends to find if they have one they can lend you to save having to invest in a new one.
Cover the stew with a lid.
If cooking in the oven place in an oven preheated to 160C for 3 hours.
If using a slow cooker (which I did) cook for 1hr on high and then at least 5 on low.
Check the liquid level periodically, topping up with boiling water if the level gets too low.
Salt and Pepper Dumplings
150g beef suet
300g self raising flour
a large pinch of salt a very generous amount of black pepper
a small jug of cold tap water
In a bowl mix together the suet, flour, salt and pepper
Slow start adding the water, one glug at a time, mixing well with your fingers in between each addition until it forms a dough. It should be wet enough that it isn’t flake, but it shouldn’t be so wet that it’s sticky. If you do add too much water just add a little flour so it comes back to a firm dough.
Divide the dough into 20 and roll into balls.
About an hour before the stew is ready add the dumplings to the top of the stew, and return to the oven.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2.5kg sweet potatoes
These take about a 40 minutes to an hour to roast at 200C depending on their size (that’s for medium sized ones scale the time up or down if they are larger or smaller).
Place in a tray in the oven until the skins are brown and loose against the shrunken flesh.
Peel away the skin and discard.
In a bowl mash the flesh until smooth, it’s so soft I did mine with a silicone spatula, but a fork works just as well.
Peel and chop into large sticks.
Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with oil, shaking the tray a couple of times to make sure they are all covered in it.
Bake at 200C for about 40 minutes until slightly browned.
Garlic and Chilli Cabbage
4 large cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper
1 head of Savoy cabbage
Roast the garlic, still in it’s papery skin for about 20 minutes, and the chillies for 10 minutes in the oven with parsnips (at 200C).
Pop the roasted garlic out of it’s skin into a mortar and pestle (a bowl and fork will do just fine too).
Add a glug of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Finely chop the roasted chillies up, it’s worth trying a bit now to judge their spiciness. Depending on how hot they are or the spice tolerance of your guests add some or all of the chilli to the rest of the ingredients.
Mash until they form a paste.
Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, wash well, cut away the stalks and slice into 1cm thick strips.
Quarter the rest of the cabbage, remove the core, slice into strips and then rinse clean under a tap.
Place in a large saucepan with boiling water and cook for 5-8 minutes until just tender. Err on the side of under rather than overcooked.
Spoon off about 2 tbsp of the cooking water into the bowl of chilli and garlic and mix well to loosen the paste.
Drain the cabbage and return to the pan adding the chilli and garlic paste to it.
Either stir in, or preferably, cover with a lid and carefully shake to toss all the ingredients together.
Last week I had the amazing experience of assisting the fantastic food stylist Uyen Luu in the background of an episode of a James Martin TV show coming out next year. I have to add (up front) that he wasn’t there at all during the day. It was absolutely incredible watching how the style of program I love to watch was created. What struck me as amusing was how completely unnatural it was! Recipe steps were filmed out of place, actions redone from better angles and filler shots (like lifting bottles or picking up ingredients) were repeatedly asked for.
I think for the most part I managed to stay off camera, favouring working out of shot to making my cooking show debut, wide eyed and over excited. The final shots were of a dinner party, which meant that I not only got to partake in an amazing 4 course Vietnamese feast, I even got to make the dessert!
Playing with the exotic menu, I decided to make a tropical cake. I started with a lime drizzle sponge, topped with a cream cheese frosting and mango and passionfruit curd.
When I made this cake I used a cream cheese frosting as I imagined the savoury cheese flavour balancing well next to the bright tropical fruits. Personally I found it was far too sweet with a frosting and think that just a whipped cream work better. I also completely forgot not to spread the filling to the edge of each layer as you need to allow space for it to move to under the weight of additional layers.
Thank you again Uyen for including me in such an amazing experience!
Lime Drizzle Sponge
180g unsalted butter at room temperature
180g caster sugar
180g self raising flour
Zest of a lime and a half
3 tbsp caster sugar
Juice of a lime and a half
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line 3 cake tins.
Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the lime zest.
In a jug whisk together the eggs and milk.
Alternating between the wet mixture and the flour (beginning and ending with flour) and beating until well combined between additions, gradually add the rest on the ingredients.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes.
Just before the cakes are done put the lime juice in a saucepan with 3 tbsp of sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves
Remove the cakes from the oven when they are light and brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Whilst still hot repeatedly skewer the cakes to create little holes then brush with the lime syrup.
Leave to cool in the tins for 20 minutes and then let cool to room temperature on cooling racks.
Mango and Passionfruit Curd
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
175g ripe mango peeled, pitted and cubed
50g caster sugar
1 ½ tbsp lime juice
pinch of salt
2 eggs yolks
60g butter cut into cubes
¾ of the seeds/pulp from a passion fruit (reserve the rest for decoration)
Puree the mango, sugar, lime juice and salt until all lumps are gone, add the egg yolks and blend for a further 15 seconds.
Push through a sieve into a metal bowl to remove any remaining pulp.
Place the metal bowl over a pan of boiling water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and whisk until thickened and the temperature reaches 170F, this takes about 10 minutes.
Remove from the water and whisk the butter in one cube at a time waiting until it has fully melted before adding the next.
Leave to cool to room temperature then stir in the passion fruit pulp.
Cream Cheese Frosting
300g Icing Sugar
50g unsalted butter at room temperature
120g cream cheese
Whisk the sugar and butter together until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth and fluffy, being careful not to overmix as it will start to melt and go runny.
To assemble the cake split the frosting into thirds and the curd in half.
Spread the frosting over the middle of the cake allowing at least an inch around the sides for it to spread out under the weight of the higher layers, then drizzle with the curd.
Place the next layer of sponge on top and repeat.
Add the final layer and spread the frosting thickly across the top, right to the edges.
Using the back of a spoon, create little peaks and troughs to make an interesting pattern and then sprinkle with with the remaining passion fruit seeds.
I hope all my American readers had a fantastic Thanksgiving yesterday! I love the idea of sitting and making time to take stock of what you appreciate, it’s a really beautiful sentiment. With that in mind and from the other side of the Atlantic, here is my addition to the plethora of lists circling the internet today of a couple of things I am thankful for:
Being able to visit friends across the country to celebrate their joint 30th birthday last weekend.
Finally getting to grab lunch at KERB a couple of weeks ago as I always managed to visit London on days it wasn’t on.
Getting the opportunity to assist behind the scenes of part of an episode of the new James Martin cooking show.
New Moleskine notebooks, because writing on the first page of a new book is one of the simple joys of life.
The London skyline, because I still get butterflies whenever I see it.
When I was asked to write a Thanksgiving themed recipe for the Daily Quirk, I had leftovers in mind. One of my favourite things about big family meals is the leftovers the next day. My Mom covers the entire dining room table with cold slices of roasted meat, both hot and cold vegetables and multiple types of potato. The whole family gorges themselves on multiple servings before spending the rest of the afternoon picking at chocolates. These macaroni cups are perfect as an extra dish at a buffet table as they are already divided into single serving portions.
To find the recipe head over to the Daily Quirk
The first steaming cup of spiced cider firmly in my grasp signals the beginning of Autumn for me. Irrelevant of the outside temperature, which overcoat I am wearing or the colour of the leaves, it is the sharp smell of fermented apples softened with spices that rings home the season.
This year like many before, my first taste of the season came at the local food festival. Nestled under the trees, among brightly coloured stalls and crowds of unfamiliar neighbours. The whole park echoing with the sound of gleeful children and musical performers situated at either ends of the festivities.
This cup was enjoyed quickly, perched on the end of a crowded bench whilst deciding which of the multitudes of traders we would visit next, with little thought or care as to when I would find another seller. Two days later and the fair was gone.
Like many recipes, this one had been lost in an overwhelming sea of potential dishes in my Pinterest account. The recent cold snap in the UK (some may call it Winter!) had me reaching for something warm and comforting this past weekend when I found this again. This was the first time I had made it from scratch and it was surprisingly easy, and used ingredients I already had in my kitchen.
serves 2 (can be easily multiplied)
3 tbsp brown sugar
5 cloves (plus extra for decoration)
3 cardamom pods crushed open
1 stick of cinnamon (plus extra for decoration)
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
Using a sharp knife slice the peel off the clementine, and then quarter the remaining fruit. Reserving a slice of peel per glass for decoration place the rest of the orange in a saucepan.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and warm over a low heat for 20 minutes to let the flavours infuse.
Poke little holes along each strip of decorative peel and poke cloves through each on, rest the peel over the side of the glass.
Place a cinnamon stick in each glass and then strain the liquid over it.