Thursday 31 October 2013

Halloween pumpkin and coconut soup with ginger and lime

Halloween of course always means copious amounts of left-over pumpkin/squash and I'm sure you all have your own favourite soup recipe - but I can tell you with THE UTMOST CONFIDENCE that this is the BEST EVER: easy, quick - and so DELICIOUS:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
750g pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
A bunch of spring onions, chopped
A fat thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lemon grass stalks, crushed/cut up

1.2 l vegetable or chicken stock
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
2-3tbsp Thai fish sauce
the juice of ½ -1 lime
A large bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves separated, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and, over a low heat, sweat the pumpkin, spring onions, ginger, garlic, lemon grass and coriander stalks for a few minutes. Add the stock and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Liquidise and then add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice and reheat for a few minutes. Serve garnished with some of the coriander leaves.

Serves 6

I always freeze any left-over lemon grass stalks - they just go a tiny bit soft when defrosted, but that makes them so much easier to chop! And if you don' like "bits" of lemon grass in the soup, just bash the stems with a meat cleaver/rolling pin before and fish them out once the soup is done.

If you can't find/don't have any lemon grass, you can use the zest of the lime instead.

This soup works equally well with carrots instead of pumpkin or squash.

For Halloween this year my almost 11 year old daughter (who is the most talented photographer ever) and I whole-heartedly support World Vision's ""Night of Hope" - trying to show girls all over the globe who are living in abject horror and fear that we care:

Photo by Mila

Please do the same. Thank you.

Friday 11 October 2013

My blog is one year old!

So to celebrate this happy occasion, I thought it's high time I gave you my "signature dish" (as in: my blog profile photo) - as I'm sure you've all mused about this for the last 12 months: "What is she "telling" us with this intriguing concoction? Does she like meat? And vegetables? And all in one pan?" Well, of course I do - and tray bakes are one of my favourite ways of cooking: everything is done at the same time so it's easy and quick - and it saves on the washing-up! And this recipe by Bill Granger is by far my favourite of all - I could eat it every day:

Tray-baked veal chops with tomatoes, red onion & capers

3 ripe tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
1 large red onion, cut into fine wedges
1 tbsp fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
1 heaped tbsp capers
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 veal chops

Serves 2.

Preheat the oven to 220°/fan oven 200°. Put the tomatoes, onion, oregano, capers, garlic & olive oil in a small roasting pan and toss together. Lightly smush the veal chops into the vegetables to coat them with the oil and herb mixture, then turn them over, place on top and season. Cook in the oven for ca 30-45 mins depending on the size of the chops.

Serve with crustry bread/baguette – or, as in the photo, put some peeled, sliced potatoes in the bottom of the dish! 

Oh and I forgot to mention that the choice of "cover photo" was between the one above - and this screengrab of an "adorable baby elephant cruelly slaughtered for 'Masterchef' dish" (I still chuckle everytime I see it): 

You can, of course, use pork chops for this recipe - I just happen to prefer the texture of veal here. 
Mash, boiled potaotes or polenta are also nice "to go with".
I've made this with dried oregano or marjoram - it still tastes great.
Buy the best capers you can afford: a small jar is still only a few Euros/pounds but will last for ages in the fridge.