Recipe #39: ‘Spicy’ pumpkin soup
What you really need is a bazooka!
This recipe has its origins in my short lived career as a cafe chef. Like many young culinary enthusiasts before me, I quickly discovered that a modest talent for whipping up inebriated suppers at 2 am, didn’t mean I had the temperament for short order cookery. I actually started off brilliantly but then a second table ordered. Unfortunately I lacked the Swedish chef’s ability to carry on with homicidal good cheer in the face of adversity, and my first day ended with a rejected breakfast flying across the room and the declaration that pig eaters were morally bankrupt and deserved to starve. Miraculously, instant dismissal was avoided, but I was swiftly embarked on a new career as the barista. The outcome? Coffee ninja skills and this awesome pumpkin soup recipe.
1. Finely dice an onion and saute it in 3 Tbsp olive oil until golden and soft. You can add 2-3 cloves of garlic toward the end but this is optional.
2. Add 1 Tbsp of mixed curry powder. In Australia I use Keens but any store cupboard classic will do. Saute a bit, then add a 400g can of chopped tomatoes.
3. Add about 800 grams of diced pumpkin flesh and then cover with 1.5 litres of vege stock. Season. (The curry powder and tomatoes give the soup a good flavour, so in a pinch I have just used water and plenty of seasoning.)
4. Cook until the pumpkin is very soft (you can add more stock/water if required). Then blend the soup with a stick blender until smooth and velvety. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as required.
Makes enough for 2-4, but the recipe can easily be doubled/even trebled.
Recipe #38: Sweet Tomato Chutney
'What a load of blasted chutney Jeeves!'
Chutney, like Aunts, can be rather a bother. It takes one an awfully long time, for one. There’s all the bits and bobs that go into it that take endless peeling and chopping and so forth before anything happens at all. Then you need to do all the bizzo with jars and seals and whatnot, never mind where you are going to put them all when you finish. And quite frankly, some chaps have a perfectly reasonable loathing of raisins.
'Right!' you say, 'I'm never going to make chutney', and quite right too, I applaud you. But it's jolly handy stuff all the same, quite nice on a cheese sandwich if one was going on a drive to the country with one's butler or got home a bit late from the club one night and thought they needed to sauce up their rarebit.
So what’s a chap to do? Never fear, I have just the ticket. This rather sporting concoction features none of the bosh and tosh above. It’s almost all out of cans, takes hardly any time to prepare and makes just enough to be stored in a big jar in the refrigerator for ages. Best of all, we’ve taken the raisins out of the recipe for you. What ho!
1. Ask your butler to peel a whole head of garlic and a 5 cm piece of fresh ginger and chop it roughly.
2. Put it in a blender with 100 ml wine vinegar and blend.
3. Put 2 x 400g cans of tomatoes into a large non reactive pot with 250 ml vinegar, 340g sugar, 1.5 tsp salt and a big pinch or two of cayenne. Bring to the boil.
4. Add the puree from the blender, lower heat and simmer very gently uncovered for between 1.5 - 2 hrs until the chutney becomes very thick.
5. Stir it often and make sure it doesn’t burn, it should leave a film like honey on a spoon dipped into it.
6. Fill your jar (s) with boiling water to sterilise them (or boil them in a big pot) and bottle the chutney.
Original recipe (with raisins and almonds) from Madhur Jaffrey
Recipe #37: Tasty Falafel Balls
Balls out rock’n roll !
Another guest inspired post, this time inspired by my friend Dave. Dave likes vegetarian cooking, skinny jeans and classic Australian rock, all of which go together like… well, anyway, the main point is that Dave’s delicious spicy balls were the highlight of a recent holiday - sampled and enjoyed by all and I thought they deserved an homage.
Not having the (secret) recipe to hand I’ve decided to go with this classic version that’s always worked out well for me in the past.
1. Soak 1 cup dried chickpeas and 1 cup dried split broad beans in water separately for 24 hours. If you can’t get broad bean use 2 cups of chickpeas. You can also try fresh broadbeans (don’t need soaking) but you’ll have to play around with amounts to get the texture right so the mix is not too wet.
2. Drain and blitz in a processor with 1 chopped onion and 6 cloves of garlic.
3. Add 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1/4 tsp chilli powder (or more if you want ‘extra spicy’, 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda and 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander. Season well and blitz until you get a fine crumb that holds together when pressed.
4. Roll into balls, slightly flatten each until it’s about 4 cm in diameter and chill on a baking tray for half an hour.
5. Heat a light vegetable oil for deep frying until about 180 degrees C (I don’t have a thermometer so i just test a bit) Fry until they look all golden and crispy - takes 1-2 minutes each. I’ve also shallow fried these in about 1cm oil, flipping them like burgers - works okay when you find yourself a bit short of cooking oil.
6. Drain on paper and serve with a garlicky yogurt dip that has parsley and mint chopped into it.
Recipe # 36: Bean Soup
It’s actually Bab Leves which is Hungarian for bean soup, but the friend who gave me this particular recipe was at the time also expounding on his deep and abiding appreciation for the work of Mr Russ A. Meyer, so we re-christened it as above. A full bodied (ahem), earthy and very satisfying vegetarian version of the pork-filled original.
1. Soak 250grams borlotti beans in water for at least a couple of hours if you can.
2. Cover with 2 litres water and add one chopped onion together with a large bunch of continental parsley and bring up to the boil. Simmer over a medium heat until the beans soften, at least an hour.
3. Add 5 bay leaves, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 tbsp vegeta and season, then cook another hour. (Add more water if you need it). 20 minutes before the end add 2 chopped carrots.
4. Meanwhile make a stiff dough with 2 eggs, 3/4 cup of flour and a pinch of salt. With your fingers make little pinches of these into a bowl, the size of your little finger tip.
5. When the soup is cooked, heat a couple of tbsp of oil in a frypan then add a tbsp of paprika and swirl for a second, don’t let it darken or it will go bitter. Pour into the soup and add 1 tbsp wine vinegar. Finally add the little pinch dumplings before serving.
6. Serve with Sour cream.
Recipe # 35: New Star Ratatouille
A sizzling new personality
Ratatouille is the classic French summer dish with its rich tomato-ness and heady waft of basil. I myself think, however, that the traditional version of the dish lacks a little lustre in the looks department - quite often resembling that Monday night share-house special “bottom of the vege bin surprise”. Imagine my delight to discover this sun drenched beauty of a dish from the fantastic Mr Yotam Ottolenghi . It may be a temptress but there is no devil in this one - it’s got all your five plus on a plate. So whack on some Brazilian bongoes, split your skirt to the waist (don’t be shy gents) and whip up this saucy dish.
1. Pour 2/3 of 110 mls of olive oil into a big heavy saucepan and heat to medium high. Add 2 small diced red onions (3cm - not too small). Cook for 5 mins (don’t let them brown) then add 4 sliced garlic cloves, 1/2 a thinly sliced green chilli and 2 smallish red peppers cut into 3c dice too. Fry for 5 minutes.
2. Add 1/2 a small butternut pumpkin and 1 small parsnip cut into - you guessed it, 3cm dice. (*I have to note, i have never actually had a parsnip in this but it’s in the recipe so I’m putting it in here). Cook 5 minutes. Now remove the veges with a slotted spoon
3. Add the remaining oil and then fry 200g french beans (trimmed), 1 medium courgette and 1/2 eggplant cut into (3 cm !!!) dice. Fry 5 mins until the veges brown. Now add the other stuff back in.
4. Add 1 small peeled potato (3 cm dice), 2 medium tomatoes peeled and chopped, 1/2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 tbsp tomato puree and season well. Add 200 ml water, cover and simmer for 30mins. Taste for seasoning.
5. Okay, now take all the veges out with a slotted spoon and put them in a roasting dish. Pour the liquid over them and roast in a 200ºC oven for 30 mins. I’ve actually skipped this step and it was still delicious but the roasting makes it kind of gooey and awesome. Sprinkle over some chopped fresh coriander, serve with couscous/rice and a bit of whatever else you fancy.
Recipe #34: Sandwiches
"You cannot be Serious?"
I am serious. There is an art to making a good sandwich that can last a five set slanging match. A friend suggested that a post on the humble sarnie might be a good idea and since for some reason I associate the Earl’s big discovery with championship tennis, who better than the ‘Champ’ to be my poster boy? Can’t go past that fro.
My theory on sandwiches for transportation to sporting events - it’s all about the bread. Choose the right combination of chewy bread to squishy ingredients and you’ll be okay. Soft bread only works if the distance between construction to consumption is less than 5 minutes - or you’re into those curly edge triangle sandwiches in which case you should find a post about sandwiches for horse racing occasions.
So here is my Grand Slam
1. The Samborg requires thinly sliced iceberg lettuce, avocado and semi dried tomatoes topped with grated black pepper. Much depends on the bread here, I like a light rye sourdough. You must keep this northerner well chilled so the lettuce stays icy cold in the most heated rally.
2. The Swiss Miss. Petite and no better for you than they should be these little rolls are my all time favourite. Buy some good sourdough dinner rolls (those are the little ones) and spread with some mayo (free range egg mayo please!). Take a tomato the same size as the roll and slice it, add one slice to each roll. Top with a slice of hard goats cheese (these are usually Danish or Dutch and have a delicious nutty flavour) and a slice of avocado. I find if you cut avos in half through the middle sideways you get round circles that work well here. Wrap well in foil and keep cool so the avo doesn’t brown.
3. Cupboard Love Ciabatta. Just like Boris there is a bit of spicy heat in the red stuff here. Panfry 1/2 cm thick slices of haloumi and sprinkle with lemon juice. Spread a good ciabatta roll with ‘just a quick spread’ of chilli jam then top with the cheese, some thinly sliced lebanese cucumber and a hint of finely sliced mint.
4. The Venus. Rich and terrifically good. Cut some pumpkin into 2 cm cubes, toss in olive oil and roast in a hot oven. Slice some good sourdough - use a wide loaf so you get long lean slices - then spread the bottom slice with some good basil pesto. Top with the pumpkin and some crumbled soft feta.
It’s love all.
Recipe # 33: Humble Pie
Would you like some pie?
A pie in the face is both poignant and funny but a Russian tragedy involving the torment of thwarted food service is more poignant and much funnier.
This recipe is a fully vegetarian version of one containing chicken and although I’m not in a position to compare the two, I’ve trotted this out to many meat loving family members and am always asked for the how to.
So break out your tiny pie knife.
1. Make some tomato sauce by sweating an onion in olive oil over a gentle heat until soft but not browned, add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and a sliced chilli or two.
2. Add an 800 g tin of tomatoes, a tsp of sugar and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce and season. Cook the sauce over a gentle heat for at least 30 mins to make a rich sauce. Add 2 tbsp chopped tarragon at the end and cook a couple of minutes longer.
3. While the sauce is cooking, heat 30g butter with 2 tbsp olive oil and add about 6 diced courgettes. Cook until slightly soft, then add 2 cloves garlic, pinch ground cloves, pinch ground cumin, pinch ground cinnamon and cook 5 mins. Add the sauce, and some chopped parsley if you like.
4. Make a topping by putting 500g cooked corn kernels in a food processor with 55 g butter and 1 tbsp flour (or polenta) Blend to a course paste and season.
5. Grease a baking dish and put half the corn on the bottom. Add the courgettes. Scatter over 100g feta, then top with the remaining corn.
6. Bake at 180 C for 45 mins.
Recipe # 32: Egg and Potato Curry
Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!
Okay the picture and the film are in fantastically bad taste but not this curry. Edie was right about the eggs, they are wonderfoods and combined with the ‘divine’ potato make a delectable dish. Perfect with rice and a cucumber (the rudest of vegetables) pickle.
1. Hard boil 5 eggs and 2 potatoes cut into 2 cm dice.
2. Slice finely 2 small onions and cook them over a low heat in 3 tbsp vegetable oil until very soft.
3. Add a finely sliced green chilli (optional), 2 cloves garlic and 2 cm grated ginger, cook a little longer then add 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp tumeric and 2 tsp garam masala and keep cooking until they are fragrant.
4. Add 1 x 400 ml can of coconut milk (or make your own - see recipe #22) and the juice of half a lemon and simmer until you get a good sauce before adding the egg and potato. Season well with salt before serving.
Recipe #31: Coffee Velvet Pudding
That’s damn fine coffee. Hot too!
Special Agent Dale Cooper knew that the darkest depths of the human psyche could be pondered in a bottomless cup of joe, and that the continuous application of caffeine unlocks many of life’s secret mysteries. This little number is as velvety and dangerous as any Lynchian tableau and a single sampling of it’s brunette lusciousness will ensure that you’re drawn into the depths of decadence from which there is no going back until you hit the bottom of the bowl. Hence my recommendation is to serve it in little coffee cups to avoid overdose
1.Tie 50 g dark roasted ground coffee in a piece of cheesecloth or bag and run under water to moisten
2.Bring 250 ml cream to the boil with the coffee bag and a cinnamon stick. Simmer for 5 minutes to infuse, then turn off the heat. Squeeze the bag to get all the coffee extract out.
3. Stir in 50g grated dark good quality chocolate until melted (no cadbury’s please)
4. Separately whisk 4 egg yolks with 50 g caster sugar then pour into the cream. Stir well over a low heat until it’s super thick (like a custard).
5. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl and then cool it down over some iced water stirring gently.
6.Pour into little coffee cups and chill. Serve with a teaspoon and some kind of dainty little biscuit. Or put a cherry on top and forgo the pie.
Original recipe from Arabesque
Recipe # 30: eggs in hell
Paint the town red redemption
My friend Señor Negro makes a breakfast bloody mary so mean that just one can set you on the path to righteousness after all kinds of outlaw activity. The best thing to accompany one of these hired guns is of course a breakfast burrito and one of the best things to put inside them is a variation of the mexican classic eggs in hell. I like to cook the sauce then fry the eggs separately rather than bake them inside the sauce but it’s up to you how you would like to do it. A couple of these plus the doctor’s hairy dog and you’ll forget the night before ever happened (if you haven’t already).
1. Make the Sauce by frying an onion in olive oil over a gentle heat until soft but not browned, add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and a sliced chillie or two depending how hot you like it.
2. Add an 800 g tin of tomatoes, a tsp of sugar and a good splash of Worcestershire sauce and season. Cook the sauce over a gentle heat for at least 30 mins to make a rich sauce. Add2 tbsp chopped tarragon at the end and cook a couple of minutes longer.
3. Slice and fry some haloumi in a little olive oil until crispy (this is optional) and wash some greens. Baby spinach, rocket or lettuce. Fry eggs in the olive oil until crispy at the edges. Alternatively you can crack them into the sauce and put in a hot oven for 10 minutes to set (traditional method).
4. Make your burrito with spinach, eggs, sauce and haloumi, top with a little sour cream or yoghurt and tuck in. You’ll probably need two.