Lazy Sunday Lunch – Spiced Pumpkin and Kumara Soup with coconut cream and homemade garlic bread

Pumpkin and Kumara Soup

Hi there, how’re you this week?
Oh that’s great! That does sound like fun.

I myself and everyone else in New Zealand have been experiencing a rather nasty bout of wintry weather. It’s only just eased off now but it is still quite cold in Auckland. So cold in fact that last night I had to turn on my electric blanket! That gave me a shock. Any way, on to this weeks recipe.

This week I’m continuing my soup theme with a gorgeous pumpkin and kumara soup adapted from the Alison Holst Family Favourites cook book. It originally just had pumpkin in it but my Granddad decided it would be interesting to remove a third of the pumpkin and replace it with kumara. I enjoyed it so very much that I knew I had to put the recipe up on my blog. He and I have also upped the quantity of garlic and added the odd extra spice as well. Anyway it’s an absolute delight to eat. Make it your Sunday lunch this weekend. I had it for mine and I wasn’t disappointed.

Notes about the recipe – On the odd chance you don’t know what kumara is, it’s just a New Zealand version of a sweet potato, also commonly known as the potatoes Maori cousin.

For those who don’t like pumpkin/kumara – If you like me don’t enjoy the taste of pumpkin and/or kumara then let me tell you that you should not at all be put off from making this recipe. When you cook them in a soup they turn into a creamy, rich and sweet delight and they have none of the taste you don’t like that you normally find when they are roasted or mashed. On the other hand though, if you do enjoy pumpkin or kumara then you should also enjoy this recipe.

Recipe – Spiced Pumpkin and Kumara Soup with coconut cream

Serves 6-8

“Pumpkins are good vegetables which we often take for granted . Inexpensive, and available for all the cold months, they make a wonderful base for soups. Pumpkin soup does not need to be thickened by any starchy ingredients – in fact the pumpkin puree usually needs to be thinned. This gives the cook great scope, since there are many suitable ‘thinning’ liquids available. Coconut cream is one.” – Alison Holst, a fantastic New Zealand cook book writer.

Ingredients –
2tbsp of butter
10 cloves of garlic, diced
4 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp of ground coriander
1 kg of pumpkin, unpeeled
500g of kumara (sweet potato), unpeeled
2 cups of water
1 tin of coconut cream or coconut milk
1 tsp of salt, or to taste
2 tsp of tobasco sauce, or to taste
6 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

Method –
Chop the pumpkin and kumara into chunks. Set aside. Gently cook the garlic with the butter in a very large pot, lid on for 1 or 2 mins. Add the spices and cook for another minute or so before adding the pumpkin, kumara, lime leaves and water to the pot. Cover and cook gently for 10 mins or until the pumpkin and kumara is tender, adding more water if it evaporates during the cooking time. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel out seeds and peel off the skin. Put the remaining flesh in a food processor, puree, then add the coconut cream/milk , salt and tobasco sauce. Taste and balance the flavours, adding more water or coconut if you think it is necessary. Sieve the soup to remove any debris and reheat when required. Serve with an assortment of cheeses, I reccomend blue vein and brie and the below recipe for garlic bread. Grapes, wine, cider or simple, warm bread would also go nicely.
Above recipe from the about sean’s food blog

Recipe – Homemade Garlic Bread
Serves 6-8 people well.

So many people make garlic bread wrong. Or badly. They always put theirs in tin foil before cooking it in the oven and I cannot understand what this is meant to achieve. Whenever I’ve tried it this way the bread has been soggy and the garlic less pronounced than I would have liked leaving something to be desired. My Granddad and I make ours by getting a nice baguette from a French bakery (If you’re living in Auckland I’d recommend La Tropiezienne in Browns Bay or Cafe Bonjour in Queen Street) and smear it with a combination of soft butter squished up with plenty of diced garlic. It works and tastes a treat. Far better than with your everyday tinfoil method.

Note – If you find that you run out of butter before all the slices of bread are covered then keep making more and continue to smear it onto the bread until done.

Ingredients –
2 baguettes from a reputable French bakery. Avoid ones made in your supermarket.
About 1/4 of a pack of butter, softened
6 cloves of garlic, diced, or to taste.

Method –
Get a bread knife and diagonally slice the baguettes into thin rounds, about three quarters of an inch thick. Dice your garlic and put it into a bowl with the softened butter. Thoroughly squish up with a fork until well combined. Generously smear the onto the slices of bread and then layer them on an oven tray lined with parchment paper. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit on bake, using the middle shelf. Cook till the bread is golden brown and the butter melted. Serve warm and enjoy.

Above recipe from the about sean’s food blog

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French Onion Quiche with Simple Spinach Salad and dressing

Hi there everyone! Hope you’re well and are enjoying the season, whichever one that applies to you (that’s summer in the northern hemisphere). This weeks post continues the French theme from last week with a lovely French Onion Quiche adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly French Classics cookbook. It’s a lovely recipe. Rich, quick to prepare and easily made with a crunchy pastry bottom and golden brown top. And the smell that it makes!…

The quiche creates a glorious and delicious smell while it cooks in the oven. As it turns its golden brown in the most languid, near-imperceptible manner its rich aroma curls around the door of your oven and thoroughly permeates your kitchen and house.  Its smell is one that wafts through the air (like most smells) and curls up your nostrils. It sneaks round the vibrissae of your nose and moves to the olfactory region where those tiny varicose fibres reside, terminating into elongated epithelial cells that project into the free surface of the nose.

Its odoriferousness activates your taste buds. It makes you practically salivate with anticipation. When it does come out of the oven, you will really have to stop yourself from cutting off a piece and burning your tongue.

Truly a gastronomic delight! If this is enough incentive for you to want to try it then why don’t you give it a go this weekend? A highly palatable treat.

NB – I would just like to point out that this is not how I normally write and I am not pompous or pretentious in any way whatsoever. I was merely joking. 🙂

Thought it would be better than one short paragraph on the recipe. However the quiches smell really is “intoxicating” and is anything from “lacklustre”.

Also out of interest – there is this very keen restaurant reviewer on dineout.co.nz (a restaurant review site where members of the community comment on nights out at restaurants) who writes a lot like how I wrote this article, but ten times worse, or ten times better if you enjoyed it.

You can take a look at his reviews at –

http://www.dineout.co.nz/reviewers.php?user=11167&view=reviews

I would love to hear feedback.

French Onion Quiche

French Onion Quiche

Serves 6, or 4 greedy people

This would work well for a lunch or dinner and would be very nice eaten cold at a picnic or day out. Take it to the beach or park next time to go with bacon and egg pie and sandwiches.

Ingredients

2 sheets of savoury short crust pastry

1 onion, finely sliced

5 rashers of bacon

3 large free-range eggs, pref. at room temp.

300 ml of cream

Milk

Large handful of grated cheddar cheese

4 field mushrooms or 6 button (feel free to have a mix of different mushrooms as well)

Oil and butter

Cracked black pepper

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a quiche tin or oven dish with the pastry and then top with a sheet of baking parchment. Fill the tin with uncooked rice or something similar to weigh the pastry down (you could also use cooking balls or something similar) and set aside.

Put your frying pan on the heat and get out a chopping board, a knife and all your ingredients. Chop the onion and put it into the pan, ease down the heat and pour in a large glug of extra-virgin or normal olive oil. Fry gently while you prepare your other ingredients.

Slice the bacon up and roughly chop your mushrooms. Stir the onions.

The oven should be hot by now so put the pastry in and leave for about 10 mins on the bottom rack, or till brown but not fully cooked. This is called blind baking.

Stir the onions again and when they are softly cooked and tender, remove from the pan and reserve. Turn the heat in the pan up to high, add a bit more olive oil if necessary and quickly crisp the bacon. Don’t overdo this though. It should look crispy but it needs to remain a little flexible and soft. Remove from the pan and add the mushrooms. Turn the heat down to medium.

Check the pastry. If cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.

Stir the mushrooms and keep cooking till soft. Remove and tumble into a sieve, leave over the sink and allow the juices to drip.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat till frothy, pour in the cream and season with a little cracked pepper.

Remove the baking parchment and rice from the pastry, place the mushrooms, onion and bacon on top and then pour on the cream mixture. Sprinkle over the cheese, put into the oven on a middle shelf and carefully pour milk over it till the tin and pastry ridge is filled nearly to the top. If already filled to your liking then don’t bother to do this.

Close the oven door and cook for 35 mins, or until the quiche is set and golden brown on top. Allow to rest for a few mins and serve.

Simple Spinach Salad

Serves 4

This salad would go along nicely with most dinners and meals. I suggest serving it at your next Sunday lunch accompanied with brie and blue vein cheeses, same day bread and a warm pumpkin soup. Maybe the same one I posted a while ago?

Ingredients

Large bunch of fresh spinach, lightly washed

2 roma or plum tomatoes, chopped into chunks

2 hardboiled eggs

1/3 of a cucumber

Fresh chives, chopped

Small handful of shaved parmesan

Dressing

1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp of plain olive oil

2 tsp of wholegrain mustard

Cracked pepper

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Method

Boil the eggs (12 mins ought to do) and cool in ice water. Shred or tear the spinach and put into a nice salad bowl. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber (skin on or off), snip in chives.

Combine all ingredients for the dressing and pur over the salad. Thoroughly mix. Arrange salad in an attractive display, slice the egg and put on top and add the shaved parmesan. Done.

Poulet Suissesse avec un Salade Tunissienne Grillée (Mechouia)

Right Mesdames et Messieurs, this weeks post has got a French theme. Well, almost.

baby chick

The night before last I made a lovely Poulet Suissesse, or Swiss Chicken from Diana Henry’s great recipe book Roast Figs, Sugar Snow. It’s a book dedicated to the food and time-honoured traditions of countries in the colder parts of the world. Sweden, Austria, Russia, Sweden, and then dipping into northern Italy and France. You’ll probably see a review of this book appear in my “book reviews” section by the way; and it’s a really good read. Something which I really appreciate in recipe books. Sometimes I just like to get into bed fifteen minutes early and pore over all my cook books, and I’ve got heaps of them! Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Julia Child and Delia Smith are all firm favourites, oh, and Diana Henry of course. And those full page colour photographs are a gastronomic delight. Anyway, about this recipe.

I think it comes from somewhere around the Swiss and French alps but it is also enjoyed throughout Europe, France especially. Just by looking at the ingredients in the sauce you can tell this recipe hasn’t strayed too far from a French kitchen. It’s also characteristically rich, creamy and heavenly, an especially suitable recipe for chilly nights where electric blankets and sleeping bags on the couch are mandatory, and it feels very rewarding after especially lengthy bouts of exercise.                                                

La Salade Tunissienne Grillée is also influenced by the French, but mainly consists of Tunisian and Northern African flavours.  Ground caraway and coriander seed, blackened capsicums, juicy plump tomatoes. You get the drift. A very nice aside to the chicken, enjoyable hot, warm or cool. It would also pair well with other rich meat dishes and couscous at a Tunisian themed lunch or feast (I have yet to try a nice couscous dish).

¡Enjoy et bon apetit!

Poulet Suissesse

Serves 6 people, or 4 greedy ones

Ingredients  

6 chicken thighs with bone and skin

30g butter

2 tbsp of olive or vegetable oil

275ml of white wine, any variety of grape will do (I prefer sav. blanc)

salt + pepper

15g breadcrumbs

For the sauce

50g of butter

50g of flour

Full-fat milk

75ml of cream or créme fraîche

1 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard

Freshly grated, or recently opened packet of ground nutmeg to taste

40g parmesan cheese, grated

125g of gruyère cheese or beaufort cheese, grated0

Method

1. Heat the butter and oil together in a large frying pan with lid, or your widest pot. Pref. Oven-proof. Quickly brown the chicken pieces all over. You want to get a good colour, not to cook the chicken through. Drain off the excess fat from the pan/pot/cooking vessel and pour in the white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all the crusty cooking juices. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the wine to just under the boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook the chicken over a gentle simmer for about fifteen minutes.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 180° Celsius /350° Fahrenheit/ gas mark 4. Remove the chicken and set aside in a large roasting dish. Pour the juices from the pan into a jug. Now make a roux by melting the butter in the pan you used earlier and add in the flour. Stir over a medium heat until the butter and flour come together and turn a pale biscuit colour. Remove from the heat. Measure the reserved chicken juices and add enough milk to bring it up to 550ml. Start slowly adding this to the roux, stirring well after each addition, and when fully brought together put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce thickens. Add the cream or créme fraîche and simmer for 5 mins to cook out the flour, then put in the mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper as well as the two cheeses. Cook for a few mins more until the cheese is nicely melted, but make sure not to cook. Over-melted cheese can become horribly oily. Check the sauce for seasoning.

3. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the roasting dish , sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 20 mins. Flash under the grill for a further 5 mins or so, or until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Serve.

Salade Tunissienne Grillée (Mechouia)

Serves 4 well

Ingredients

4 large plum tomatoes

2 capsicums of any colour

1 or 2 poblano chillies or other hot chillies on hand

1 brown or red onion, or half and half if you’d like

1 large garlic clove, unpeeled and crushed

1/4 tsp of ground caraway seeds, you may need to buy caraway seeds and grind them yourself in a pestle and mortar, or a good coffee grinder used only for spices

1 tsp of sea salt

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 – 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

12 black and/or green olives, halved, or 12 small black ones

1/2 tbsp of capers

Method

Grill the tomatoes, the capsicums, chillies, onion and garlic straight under the grill of your oven, or near a gas flame, or feel free to build a large open fire in the garden and roast them over it traditionally until blackened and charred, remembering to turn often. Remove as they are done. Put the capsicums and chillies into a paper bag straight after removing from the oven and allow to steam for about 10 mins (This loosens the capsicums/chillies skins. A common alternative, peeling under running cold water dilutes their flavour). Meanwhile, peel the tomatoes and chop into rough, uneven pieces. Put into desired salad bowl. Peel the peppers, stem and deseed them. Cut the capsicums into 1/2 in pieces and finely chop the chillies, then add both to the tomatoes in the bowl. Peel and squish the garlic clove and combine with the caraway, coriander and salt. Mix well with all the veg and stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Garnish with olives and serve with the Poulet Suissesse.

Magic Mushroom Soup

Toadstools

Right, this week’s post is about soup; once again. But this particular soup is a mushroom soup though and it is the absolute best mushroom soup in the world! It’s quick and simple to make and has great results every time. Perfect for beginner cooks and is easy for making with small children. I especially like to make it in those blisteringly cold winter months we’re warm and comforting food is prevalent, but I can see no reason for not making it in Summer as it would work wonderfully for a dinner party, weekday family meal or a relaxed Sunday lunch. Also, I myself have made it several times and my Granddad hundreds so I can assure you that it’s a tried and tested recipe.

Oh, I would also like to point out that the two packets of instant mushroom soup in the ingredients list below should not put you off making this recipe whatsoever. They surprisingly add a lovely depth of flavour and character to the dish and you will find that they enhance the rich mushroominess of the soup throughout.

Anyway, this is definitely worth a try and I absolutely reccomend for you to make it as I am sure that once you’ve had it once and have sniffed its warm, rich, delicious smell which permeates the air in your kitchen and which warms you from the first spoonful raised to the mouth, you’ll never want to go back.

Note – This would be suitable as a side dish to accompany a main or as a meal in itself. If serving as a main then make sure to accompany with garlic bread, cheese and salad as recommended below.

Magic Mushroom Soup –

Serves six comfortably

DISCLAIMER – I would just like to point out that this soup does not contain any magic mushrooms.

Ingredients –

1 brown onion, sliced

3 rashers of bacon

100 g mushrooms (try to get two or more varieties if you can)

1 tbsp of butter

2 packets of Maggi mushroom soup, or your supermarkets equivalent

1 tbsp of soy sauce (Just cheap soy should do, Indonesian is too sweet and Japanese too marmitey, so just get a supermarket one. Highmark soy sauce is a good one)

600ml of milk

600ml of water

Salt, about 1 tsp, or to taste

Cheese and parsley to serve

Method –

Sauté finely chopped bacon and onion with butter in a medium-large pot. When almost cooked, add the finely chopped mushrooms and cook lightly. When the mushrooms are soft and the bacon and onion cooked, empty both soup sachets into the pot with the water and stir until boiling the continue to simmer for about 10 mins. Add the milk and soy sauce. Reheat the soup, but do not boil. If necessary, add salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls with a generous handful of cheese for each, and parsley to garnish. Also accompany with some warm, crusty garlic bread (with plenty of garlic), a few generous slices of camembert or brie cheese and a nice winter salad, complete with dressing.