What’s for Dinner? Thanksgiving leftovers

26 November 2011 § 2 Comments

If you still have any Thanksgiving leftovers and you are reluctant to throw them out but lacking inspiration – have a look at my column What’s for Dinner? on Barista Kids.

There are ideas there for turkey, pumpkin purée (ah yes pumpkin – I don’t think I want to see another one for at least a year), cranberries, brussels sprouts and Brie. Don’t fret it’s not all one monstrous recipe.

Time is of the essence – you need to do something fast before they go off in the fridge – you have about 4 days from when you first cooked them – so go on and read my article.

Halloween Squash Souffle

13 October 2011 § 10 Comments

Earlier this summer I randomly met the talented Kimberli Mackay. She is a milliner, cook, gardener and has a really informative blog called The Mackay Way, quite the renaissance gal. I love that there are so many interesting people in our town.

Last week we managed to get together for an Ottolenghi-inspired cookathon that involved making three dishes. These included a spooktacular soufflé, from the book, Plenty, accompanied by plenty of chopping, cooking, talking and, of course, eating in my kitchen.

Kimberli chopping herbs

I’ve had Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book Plenty for a while but have not got around to trying much from it. The book is beautifully shot and is full of tempting vegetable dishes. The recipes are predominantly middle Eastern combined with Mediterranean flavors – spicy, bold and fresh – guaranteed to whip your taste buds into a frenzy. He likes “noisy” flavors, such as lemon and chilli, which are right up my alley. So we meddled, muddled and adapted Yotam’s recipes to suit what we had available in the fridge and the garden.

As it is mid-October we just had to try the Halloween soufflé (read on for the recipe). I felt braver trying a soufflé with company as they can be daunting. I will have to make sure Kimberli is over next time I cook soufflés.

Not so scary Halloween souffles

We also made farro and roasted pepper salad. Farro is the Italian name for an old wheat variety similar to spelt or emmer. It has a delicious nutty flavor that supports the strong flavors of the oregano, paprika, oregano, feta, spring onions and garlic in this robust salad. « Read the rest of this entry »

Halloween Happenings – Slow Cooked Pumpkin Soup

5 November 2010 § 3 Comments

An army of marshmallow ghosts

A few of the 4 dozen cupcakes

Winter is  definitely getting closer, after the tease of the balmy weather of last week the mercury is now dropping with chilly mornings and evenings, and inevitably  this cold weather brings with it a dwindling number of Farmers’ Markets, as I found out this week.  With all the Halloween hullabaloo of Monsterclair over I planned to take The Ladies™ to the Maplewood Farmers’ Market this week.  Before heading out I checked directions and was disappointed to find it is finished for the year…argh! So off to Montclair and Union Square Market next week.

Despite this lack of fresh produce I will make it through the winter using as much local and seasonal food as I can but it will be more a case of This Little Piggy Goes to the Grocery Store than the Farmers Market. So making good use of canned produce  I made a ginormous cauldron of pumpkin soup for our Halloween bash. Having baked about 4 dozen cupcakes, made a bucket of hummus and dozens of super hot devilishly good deviled eggs, I took the easy way out and used canned pumpkin – no chopping of awkward shaped pumpkins.

I adapted a recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Art of the Slow Cooker book. I tried the recipe a few weeks ago and found it quite bland and a bit sweet. This time I seasoned it more aggressively (or should I say assertively)  and used the last of my fresh herbs from the garden. It was so smooth , creamy but with a bite…perfect for a cool Halloween evening. The color is beautiful –  a vibrant burnt orange. The addition of the toasted spicy pumpkin seeds  added a good crunch and a bit of spice.

Slow Cooked Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (about 6 to 8 servings):

A few glugs of olive oil

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1 can (28oz) 100% pure pumpkin (do NOT buy pie filling as it s very sweet and contains lots of things you don’t want in a soup)

2 qts vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

fresh rosemary & oregano

salt & pepper

2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

1 cup cream

Toasted pumpkin seeds (toast with cumin seeds, paprika, salt and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper)

Heat the oil over a medium heat saute the onion until tender (about 2 minutes). Add the garlic cook for a minute, then add the pumpkin, broth, nutmeg, herbs, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low for about 6 hours.

Stir in the cream about 5 minutes before serving and heat through. Add parsley and garnish with the pumpkin seeds.

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