Tag Archives: winter

Blind Pumpkin: Whole roasted pumpkin soup

Today I decided to break my blogging dry-spell by posting a recipe totally unique to me. Invented by me.

For me this is a milestone as I used to think it would never be possible for me to make food I loved without following a recipe step-by-step, 1/2 cup by 1/2 cup. Now I finally feel confident enough to try new things and know that even if they fail, I can use the lessons learned from that failure to make it go right the next time (don’t worry, I’m still talking about food here).

Today’s recipe is borne from me thinking something would be a great idea, doing a lot of research online and finding very few recipes, none of which I felt were quite right. Well, that and my wish to squeeze every moment of enjoyment out of Saturday’s not-really-that cold snap in Christchurch. You see, I’m a winter person. I am pale-skinned, have type O blood and overheat easily. This makes summer a nightmare of sunburn, mosquito bites and constant sweating. On the weekend I embraced the sort-of cold the best way I know how – doing my weekly groceries at the farmer’s market in the rain wearing a hooded knee length swanndri, lighting the fire, watching a movie in front of said fire with a cup of tea, cooking pumpkin soup for tea and chilli hot chocolate, strawberries and cream for dessert.

Whole roasted pumpkin soup
 
1 large pumpkin
1 onion, diced
1 granny smith apple, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf (from my own garden boo…yah)
enough vege (or chicken) stock to 3/4 fill the pumpkin
dash of cream
1 Tbsp goats cheese
4 sprigs thyme (also from my garden, just try to stop me!)

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius
Chop the top off your pumpkin (enough that you can get your hand in but not enough for anything to spill out once it is full)
Scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside
Fill with the onion, apple, butter, salt, garlic, bay leaf, stock and cream and rub the outside with vegetable oil
Bake for 1 hour, remove top (carefully!) and add goats cheese and thyme
Replace top and bake for another half hour or until the pumpkin is soft and roasted on the inside
Scoop out contents (again, carefully, we don’t want any steam burns here) into a pot and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. The one recipe I found said to blend it while still in the pumpkin and avoid the sides, go ahead with this if you are brave enough
Serve with whatever extras float your boat (I went with cheese, chilli, fresh basil and pepper)
 
If you feel like recreating my night head to toe, serve strawberries for dessert sprinkled with vanilla sugar and chopped mint, with cream poured over.

I always apologise for the lack of photos, but today I want to complain about the lack of photos. I had intentions of breaking my blogging-silence with beautiful, well thought out shots of pumpkin soup cooked inside the skin, bright red strawberries covered in vanilla sugar and cream and a copper kettle sitting on top of the fire boiling the water for my tea (best present ever). But my camera ran out of battery and I couldn’t find the charger. I am cranky about it and apologise (as usual). I urge you to use your imagination, it might even be better than the real thing. Doubt it though!

For full disclosure but at the risk of sounding like a total food snob and someone you want to immediately drag to the doctor for an artery check up, I included Fresh As freeze dried pineapple chunks in my dessert and had cream instead of milk in my hot chocolate. Judge me all you want!

 
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Far out Brussels sprout

Guys! I did it again! I made toasted muesli and this time it’s pink (replacing the banana with strawberry is definitely recommended if you’re feeling like a bit of a money-bags).

But that’s not even the most exciting news of my week. The reason I’m feeling like a bit of a money bags is because I’ve taken budget eating to a whole new level. The cost of each meal I make is down to about $3, and I’m no economist but I think that’s pretty good. The best part about it is that there has been no noticeable negative impact on the quality of the meals. I’m sure there’s an economics term for that.

It doesn’t get much cheaper than the good old Brussels sprout (I always thought it was ‘Brussel sprouts’! I like ‘Brussels sprout’ much more). I know for some reason there’s a rule that everyone must dislike Brussels sprout. I think it might be because the most common way of cooking them (boiling) doesn’t do them much justice. Try the below method, I challenge even the most die-hard sprout hater to hate on these.

Roasted Brussels sprout (recipe from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Brussels-Sprouts-240260)

1 kg Brussels sprouts (2 handfuls)
3 Tbsp cooking oil (I used Canola, don’t be stingy or they’ll dry out)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small fresh red Thai chili, finely chopped

Trim the sprouts and cut in half, toss in the oil and roast at 230 degrees celcius for 45 minutes, until dark brown. Add butter before serving
Make dressing by mixing all ingredients from the fish sauce down together until sugar dissolves
Serve the sprouts with the dressing

You’ll have heaps of dressing left over, you could do what I did and use this as an excuse to make the sprouts again, or it would go well on a noodle salad
The original recipe calls for some fancy puffed rice addition, I didn’t add this but I did sprinkle shichimi togarashi on the sprouts before roasting and it was a great addition!
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Warm it up, ’cause that’s what I was born to do: Mulled Wine

My last post was a month ago, to the day. At that time it was warm enough that you could still (just) get away with wearing a tshirt and shorts. Now winter has set upon Melbourne with a vengeance, and so a few days ago I decided it was time to fulfill a long-held winter resolution.

For years I’ve been saying I would make mulled wine, last year I added mulled cider to the ‘must make this some day in the future’ list. Now I feel like a fool because when I finally got around to making it, mulled wine was SO easy. And not only easy but super tasty, great to share with friends and a guaranteed way to impress people (even when they find out all you did was mix a few ingredients together).

Mulled wine
1 orange, peeled and juiced
1 lemon, peeled and juiced
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half
3 whole star anise
pinch of nutmeg
110g brown sugar
3 cardamom pods
1/2 inch fresh ginger, sliced
1 litre red wine (I used cask wine)

Add all ingredients apart from the wine to a large pot and heat on medium-high until it boils and becomes syrupy, stirring occasionally (if there is not enough liquid to cover the other ingredients, add a splash of wine)

Add the rest of the wine and heat until warm

Don’t add all the wine at the start, you won’t get as strong a flavour from the spices and you’ll burn off all the alcohol, and nobody wants that.

Best served warm alongside a high-quality board game or movie.

And AGAIN I forgot to take photo of the mulled wine, so here is one of the view I enjoyed while drinking it

Image

 

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