Monthly Archives: September 2010

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup

I promised you Autumnal recipes, and here’s the first.

It’s soup season, everyone! There’s nothing better than the sound of slurping and crispy bread tearing, I adore soup. Not only is it ridiculously easy to make a soup from scratch but it helps counter balance the amount of carbs you inhale in the winter months. One of my favourite soups has to be butternut squash, blended to a creamy dense consistency and finished off with a sprinkle of nutmeg and sometimes a dollop of sour cream… soupgasm!

Ingredients

1 butternut squash
1 Onion
2 Carrots
2 cloves of garlic
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
Salt, pepper
1ltr vegetable stock

Chop up your onion and peel your garlic. No need to dice your garlic, just crush it with the back of your knife. Fry these in a large pan for a few minutes until they take on a little colour.

Top and tail your squash and deseed. No need to peel but do remove any bumps or blemishes, simply cut into chunks and add to the pan. Top, tail and peel your carrots (or scrub them, whatevs), chop these up and add to the pan. Stir it all together and then pour over your stock*.

Add your cinnamon stick and simmer gently until all the vegetables are tender. If you’d prefer a lighter cinnamon hit add the stick towards the end of simmering so you just get a little hint of the flavour.

Transfer it all to a blender and blitz on the highest speed until smooth. Add a little more water if it needs loosening. Return it to the pan and season to taste.

Enjoy!

*Lets be realistic here, not many of us have real stock available, it’s a bit of a ball ache and if you buy a supermarket’s stock it can be pricey. Just use a god damned oxo cube. Save the stresses of a real stock for banquets and dinner parties, not a comfort soup.

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Chili Plantation

I started growing some cayene chilis from seed in spring, they’ve now turned into almost meter high plants with really huge fruits. I’ll  allowing them to ripen a little before harvesting and freezing them for future use.

Have you ever frozen chilis? It’s a neat trick, and you can chop them up when frozen too. I’m expecting around 20-30 good sized chilis from my two cayene plants which, considering the lack of summer we’ve had, will be quite an achievement!

I also attempted to grow habeneros from seed. This was a super challenge, those fuckers NEVER seemed to shoot. I tried about 5 times with different propagators and in the end the method that worked for me was clingfilm on the kitchen windowsill..! Sadly, I don’t think there’s enough time left for fruit on those ones so I’ve kinda given up. Next year I’ll start them earlier, and probably invest in a heater propagator to speed up the process.

I bought two small plants from a garden centre, too, one of which is a scotch bonnet & the other is a sweet pepper. The sweet pepper unfortunately haven’t fruited even though it’s grown to a good size. Next year I’ll be growing those from seed and starting out earlier in an effort to get good fruit.

The scotch bonnet has had some results, there were lots of flowers leading to small potential fruits, but again, the lack of summer has resulted in slow growth. I’m hoping to harvest maybe 10 small unripened but mature scotch bonnets from this plant, they should still be usable. However, I might bring them inside and elongate their season?

Next year I think I’ll be buying a myriad of seeds from http://www.southdevonchillifarm.co.uk/, and my greenhouse really will be a chili factory!

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Honey Baked Figs with Hazelnuts & Cinnamon

I saw some fresh figs at the supermarket the other day, and I wouldn’t usually buy them but they were just 19p each so I couldn’t resist.

I don’t actually think I’ve ever tried a fresh fig before, only the dried ones, so I was interested to see what I could make with them. I decided to do a simple dessert that used the entire fig rather than a cake or tart or something.

Firstly, I found the only covered baking vessel that I have (and reminded myself that I could probably do with a larger one..). I sliced the fig in a cross down the centre, but not all the way to the bottom, and opened them up (like a flower). I then crushed up some hazelnuts and sprinkled them on top of the figs. A good squirt of honey on each fig, alongside a few drops of natural vanilla essence and the prep was almost done. I then just threw in a cinnamon stick, put the lid on the dish and bunged it in the oven at 170ºC for about 30 minutes.

The figs turned super squishy and took on a slight taste of the cinnamon, the juices from the figs had mixed with the vanilla & honey and started to make a syrup in the bottom of the dish. I poured this syrup into a pan and reduced it futher until it was nice and sticky.

The figs were then served on their own with this syrup poured on top, if I’d had any I’d have put a dollop of greek yogurt on the top too!

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Pulling Onions

Check out these badboys that came out of our garden this weekend. I think we might have pulled them out a bit too early, so we’ve left the rest until their green leaves go brown and start to wither.

I think we have about 10 of these in total, not a great deal, but it’s the first time we’ve tried growing onions so it’s kinda cool to see them finally.

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