Sunday Soup – Curried Mango, Broccoli & Ginger

Sometimes when I see a recipe I must make it – this was one of those times.  Such an odd combination, for me, that I couldn’t resist finding out what it tasted like!

Adapted from this recipe at BBC GoodFood.

Curried Mango, Broccoli & Ginger Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • thumb of ginger
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 250g broccoli
  • 150g spinach
  • 1 medium mango
  • 1 red chilli
  • vegetable stock
  • 142ml single cream

Directions

  • Chop the onion, garlic, ginger, broccoli, mango and chilli.
  • Heat the oil, adding the curry paste, and the above chopped items once heated.
  • Cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the stock and spinach.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Blend with a hand blender.
  • Add the cream, reheat and serve.

Extra Notes

  • I used spinach and broccoli mainly because I didn’t entirely pay attention when writing down quantities for this recipe and didn’t buy enough broccoli – thus the spinach can be replaced with an equal weight of broccoli.
  • The soup is lovely when first made but matures really well – it was super on the second day.

I had to take a picture of the pot of ingredients – it was such a lovely mish-mash of bright colours compared to the slightly white-green colour of the final soup.

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Saturday Soup – Celeriac, Leek & Goat’s Cheese Soup with Young Leaves

What in the world are ‘young leaves’ you ask? Well, given the title was mouthy enough as it is, I decided not to add ‘and watercress and rocket and spinach’. I think ‘young leaves’ covers them well as all of them are picked when young and fresh – perfect for imparting a delicate, bitter or spicy flavour depending on leaf and cooking with the most minimal application of steam. This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food’s ‘Watercress and Celeriac Soup‘.  As you might notice, if you peruse their recipe – they also use a lot of leek but sortof leave it out of the title.  I felt this was a bit unfair on the poor leeks as they’re as much a part of the flavour as the celeriac!

Celeriac, Leek & Goat’s Cheese Soup with Young Leaves

Ingredients

  • 4 leeks
  • large knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celeriac peeled and diced (I used ~700g of celeriac)
  • 1½ l  stock
  • 200g bag of ‘spinach, watercress and rocket leaves’
  • 100g goat’s cheese

Directions

  • Heat the butter and olive oil until melted.
  • Chop the leeks and put them in the pan with the oil and gently cook for around 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  • Chop and add the celeriac and the stock (I used 1/3 ham to 2/3 veg stock).
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down and cook at a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Once cooked, turn off the heat and put the bags of leaves into the soup.
  • Mix the leaves in, giving them a minute or two to wilt.
  • Add the goat’s cheese, season well then blend the soup with a hand blender.

Extra Notes

I mainly changed from using just watercress as was suggested by the recipe this is based on to using mixed bags simply because Tesco didn’t have any undiscounted bags of watercress.  Discounted bags, whilst super if you’re going to use them that day, aren’t going to last a whole week, even for soup.  However, if you can get bags of just watercress then go for it – the strength of flavour would probably make the dish a little less bland than it turned out.

I served it as the original recipe suggested – with a ‘crouton’ made from a slice of baguette and goats cheese – this was really nice, but the reason the rest of the cheese ended up in  the soup was because I can’t be bothered fiddling with that sorta thing every time I dish out soup ;)

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Sunday Soup – Curried Carrot

I bought carrots last week for… something and I cannot remember what so I decided to make soup from them.  I didn’t want to just make carrot and coriander and a quick search brought up this curried carrot soup recipe from Food Network.  I upped the amount of curry in it by accident (misreading teaspoon as tablespoon) but this actually gave a really nice soup, so I’ve modified my version accordingly =)

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 5-600g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 500ml veg stock
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  • Chop the carrots, celery and onion.
  • Add the oil and curry to a pan – I used mild/medium powder – and heat for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the chopped veg to the pan and mix well, letting it soften for ten minutes.
  • Add in the stock and tomato paste then boil for ten minutes.
  • Leave to cool and skim the oil from the surface, then blend.
  • Add the lemon juice, stir and serve.

Extra Notes

I often mix stock flavours unless it’s a particular flavour soup (chicken, for example).  This is a habit I learned from my mother and I’ve found that it really helps boost the flavours in some soups – lentil made with half chicken, half ham stock tastes much better to me than made with just one or other but, of course, using just one type would work and it’s all dependant on what you like!

This soup is warm.  I don’t really like ‘hot’ spicy food, but this has the kind of heat which leaves your mouth heated but not burning – perfect for me.  If you really don’t like a lot of spicyness you’ll want to tone it down a little, adding a little less powder and, conversely, if you like a little heat add hot curry powder rather than mild/medium.  A really nice soup to eat on a cool, misty autumn day.

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Halloween Treats – Toffee Apple Cookies

Gone are the days when I would don silly costumes and went around taking sweeties from strangers – now I have to make my own if I want any.  I decided to make something Halloweeny for the weekend but, despite being on a pumpkin kick, didn’t want to take the ‘easy’ way out.  I wanted something which really screamed Halloween to me and I definitely found it in this BBC GoodFood recipe.  Toffee apples are Halloween for me – every year, I await the glistening, sugary and unnaturally red apples, ignoring all the ‘chocolate’ imposters.  I must have one.

Toffee Apple Cookies

Ingredients

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 140g  caster sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 85g chewy toffees
  • 85g ready-to-eat dried apple chunks
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp milk

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C
  • Chop the apples and toffee roughly – I cut my toffee pieces into 6 or so smaller squares.
  • Blend the sugar and butter together until creamed.
  • Add in all other ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Roll a small palmful between your hands and squish lightly before placing on a greaseproof lined / non-stick baking tray – making sure to leave plenty of room as the cookies spread.
  • Cook for ~10-12 minutes in the middle of the oven and allow to cool thoroughly before trying to pry them off any paper if you used it.  A spatula helps!

Extra Notes

Have an ice cube tray to hand and pour the egg whites into it to freeze.  Large eggs make about two ‘standard’ rectangular cubes.  Once frozen, put them in an airtight bag for later use – they don’t take too long to defrost when you need to use them =)

These are a little crumbly – maybe could have done with a little something more to hold them together – but they are also super tasty.  Who cares if your cookie is half crumbs when it tastes like toffee apple crumble? In fact, if you left out the eggs and milk it really would make a nice sticky toffee crumble top.  Probably a great base for other taste combinations – a few are suggested in the linked article’s comments.  I’d like to try something, perhaps, with the dried apricots I have leftover from another cooking experiment.

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Smonday Soup – Celery, Herb and Almond

Whoops, got caught out this weekend and didn’t get my soup done in time, so for this week only (hopefully)  we have a Smonday Soup ;) Inspired by this recipe, here.

Celery is the marmite of the vegetable world – most people either love or hate it.  I’ve gone from hate to love – especially when it comes to adding it to soups – so it was a natural progression to try a soup with it as the main ingredient.  Despite that, though, this soup is only mildly celery flavoured with the odd burst of it when you crunch through an unblended stalk.

Celery, Herb & Almond Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 sticks of celery
  • 2 tbsps fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsps fresh marjoram
  • 2 tbsps fresh sage
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 50g almonds
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 300ml skimmed milk
  • 3 heaped tbsp low-fat natural yoghurt

Directions

  • Chop the onion and celery whilst the oil is heating in a saucepan.
  • Add the onions and celery to the oil and heat until softened.
  • Add in all other ingredients except the yoghurt.
  • Boil for around 15 to 20 minutes – the celery should be fairly soft.
  • Allow to cool slightly then blend with a hand blender.
  • Add in the yoghurt, and heat back up, stirring well.

A relatively simple, quick and tasty soup which was made quickly and used products that the garden happily provided.  I don’t often get to use marjoram, but its flavour comes through very well – you could probably leave the dill out, though, as the other herbs overshadow it.

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‘Scottish’ Macaroons

Based on this recipe by Kristen Oliveri.

I wasn’t aware until I went to University that there was more than one type of macaroon.  When offered one and being handed a soft cakey thing sprinkled lightly with coconut I was a bit perplexed.  A macaroon should be death-by-sugar with a coconut aftertaste, smothered in chocolate, surely?  Apparently not!  I actually learned to like the ‘other’ type of macaroon and hadn’t had the kind I remembered Granny getting in wee paper pokes for years and so decided that whilst I was having a go at making various sweeties I’d have a go at this childhood favourite.

Scottish Macaroons

Ingredients

  • 1 small potato (~100-150g)
  • 300g cups dessicated coconut
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 180g of milk chocolate

Directions

  • Cut the potato into small pieces and cook until soft, then cool and mash up.
  • Add the potato to the icing sugar and mix until blended – far more easily done in a mixer than by hand.
  • Put the coconut on a tray in the oven at a medium-high heat until it browns.
  • Add two-thirds of the coconut to the potato-sugar mix and blend until well mixed.
  • Shape in a tray to a thickness of about 2-3 cm.
  • Melt the chocolate, pour over the shaped base and smooth.
  • Sprinkle the remaining coconut over the chocolate before it’s dry.
  • Leave until the chocolate has set, then cut into small bars or pieces.
  • Eat a piece and enjoy your sugar coma.

This wasn’t quite as horrendously sweet as the type I’d had as a child, the amount of potato probably accounts for that, but any more sweetness isn’t really needed – I had to portion them into tiny pieces or risk diabetes by the bite – I’m glad I didn’t try making some with white chocolate as tempted.  I think next time I might try making little bite-size pieces and coating them in chocolate rather than doing them as a tray bake.  In fact, the coconut mix is malleable enough to be shaped into little balls which might be nice for gifts =)

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Saturday Soup – Chicken, Asparagus and Soy Bean

This week’s recipe brought to you by a last-minute kitchen search.  Last Sunday we were in a rush for our weekly shop and I forgot to grab anything for a soup – something I only realised mid-day today.  Oops.  Luckily Andy had been out one night this week unexpectedly and I had spare asparagus and some soy beans from that day’s aborted dinner.  A quick google and I was inspired by this recipe here to make the title soup.  I figured I could jazz it up a little with some other fresh ingredients – any excuse to use up more of the overgrowing parsley ;)

Chicken, Asparagus and Soy Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • Knob of butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 potato
  • 200g frozen soy beans
  • 1l stock – half chicken, half vegetable
  • 2 medium-small chicken breasts
  • ~12 spears of asparagus
  • ~8g fresh parsley (small handful)
  • Juice of one lemon

Directions

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and flour and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the potatoes, soy beans, chicken, lemon juice and stock.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add the parsley and asparagus, simmer for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove two to three ladelfuls, blend the remaining soup and add the chunky pieces back.

For something I put together at the last moment I’m really rather happy with how this turned out.  It was full of veg and, whilst creamy, didn’t have any excess fat in it.  For those super conscious about fat levels you could easily substitute the butter for olive oil or even just omit it if you have a good non-stick pan. It was super-easy to make, makes plenty and is a nice touch of bright flavour in the midst of what is becoming a rather dreary autumn.

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Basic Baklava

Baklava is something I’ve loved since I tasted it… even though I’ve only had it once!  Mum brought some back from holiday, I think, and I got to taste a little bit of sticky, nutty heaven.  I didn’t expect to like it so much – at the time I hated nuts – but the sugary, syrupy goodness overwhelmed any nut flavour and the divine texture won me over.  Whilst the baklava I made didn’t taste entirely the same, it’s still gooey, nutty, tasty pastry goodness.  All the more enjoyable because I actually like nuts now =)

One of the main reasons I wanted to make this is that all of the commercial baklavas I’ve been able to find here have pistachios – which Andy is allergic to.  Making it at home means using nuts he can eat.  I’ve used almonds, pecans and walnuts but you could exchange that for any nut you like – I’ve even heard of people using pine nuts, though they’re technically seeds ;)

This recipe was adapted from one here at about.com by Diana Rattray.

Basic Baklava

Ingredients

  • 250g (~12 sheets) filo pastry
  • 200g melted butter
  • 300g nuts
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 85g honey
  • 240ml water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp orange flavouring

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200°C
  • If using whole nuts, chop them in a food processor separately until they’re relatively small chunks but not powdery.
  • Add 100g of the sugar to the nuts, as well as the cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Melt the butter
  • Grease a baking tray which is about the size of your filo sheets and around an inch or more deep.
  • Place half your filo pastry inside a piece of baking paper with a damp towel – this will stop it from drying out and crumbling  whilst you work with the first half.
  • Take one sheet of pastry, lay it into the tray and fold any edges in.  Brush butter over the sheet quickly.
  • Do this for two more sheets.
  • Add about one thirds of your nuts, sprinkled over the whole sheet.
  • Repeat until you’ve used up your pastry and nuts.
  • Take a sharp knife and cut the baklava into small pieces.
  • Put the tray into the oven and bake for around 20-30 minutes until it’s golden brown on top.
  • Whilst the pastry is cooking, make the syrup.
  • Add the rest of the sugar, honey, water, lemon juice and orange flavouring to a saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and keep on the heat until it has thickened a little then set aside to cool.
  • Once the pastry is done, bring it out and let it cool; similarly leave the syrup to cool for around ten minutes or so.
  • Once both have cooled, pour the syrup into the baklava making sure to cover the top relatively evenly.
  • Leave to sit overnight, loosely covered, before eating.

Extra Notes

  • Many nuts have varying thickness and densities.  If you chop the whole lot at the same time you’ll end up with huge chunks of one whilst the other is almost dust.
  • I used orange flavouring as I have no access to orange water – if you can get that, you could use it instead.


As an additional note:  going on a diet when you’re on a confectionery-making kick is really a terrible idea.  I guess I’ll just have to find some willing volunteers to save me from myself and eat it before I end up snarfing the whole lot!

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Saturday Soup – Lightly Spiced Pumpkin

Ok, I know, I know – we’re barely into October and here I am eagerly grappling with pumpkins but, the truth is, I’ve never cooked much with pumpkin before and as soon as I saw the culinary ones arrive in Tesco I knew I had to do something with them.  The first something is this soup!

The recipe is adapted from one by Barney Desmazery over at BBC GoodFood.

Lightly Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 500g pumpkin flesh (~1 kg pumpkin, if you wish to make the base a bowl)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 600ml stock
  • 100ml water
  • 150ml carton of double cream
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Optional

  • 2 rashers streaky bacon
  • A few fresh coriander leaves
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (made from those in the pumpkin, if you want!)

Directions

  • Heat the oil and add the onions to it to soften.
  • After the onions have softened, add the pumpkin flesh, cumin, coriander, ginger and a little black pepper mixing well and heat through for about ten minutes.
  • Add the stock and top up with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for ten to 15 minutes – until the squash is tender.
  • At this point add the cream, mix well, and bring back to the boil.
  • Take off the heat and leave to cool for a little while, then use a hand blender to purée.
  • Whilst the soup is cooling, cook the bacon and chop up the fresh coriander if you’re going to use it.
  • Reheat the soup, slice the bacon into small strips and sprinkle it, the seeds and the coriander onto the soup.

Extra Notes

  • You can bump up the amount of spice to your own taste – the amounts given are relatively mild so as not to overwhelm the pumpkin flavour.
  • To make your own roasted seeds simply wash, shake dry, put salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil on them and stick in the oven for 30 minutes or so at a medium-high heat.
  • If you make a bowl out of the base of the pumpkin, try and get as much flesh out as you can to minimise wastage without making holes in your bowl =)

Tasty, not too thick, and filling.  I’d definitely make this soup again but I suspect that I’ll only be able to make it once or twice a year since Tesco doesn’t stock pumpkins outside of October =(

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Microwave Tablet (Fudge)

The recipe is based on Helli S in a thread full of wonderful Christmas gift foodie ideas – a great starting point for those wanting to make home-made gifts for friends and family. It’s down as ‘fudge’ in the thread and it wasn’t until it was cooling and hardening that I realised that was actually what I’d always called tablet – denser, harder and tooth-decayingly sweet.  Only the night before making this had I found out that outside of Scotland tablet was often called fudge but, sadly, didn’t even think to check on this before making it.  In the end it worked out well as I love the fact I now know how to make tablet, but it just goes to show how regional variances can really hinder online recipe usage.

Microwave Tablet

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 397g condensed milk (one standard tin of Carnation brand)
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavouring

Directions

  • Prepare a glass / ceramic tray by greasing it well with butter.
  • Sift the icing sugar into the largest pyrex bowl which will fit into your microwave (a see-through non-glass dish which is microwave-safe might do – you want to be able to monitor the sugar’s level without taking it out of the microwave).
  • Melt the butter until soft and add it, with the condensed milk, to the icing sugar and mix well.
  • Set the microwave to 18 minutes on high heat.
  • After around 4-5 minutes you’ll notice the mixture beginning to boil and rise – take it out with care and stir it with a wooden spoon.
  • Place back in the microwave and continue to take it out and stir when you see it begin to rise.
  • Until around 8-10 minutes remaining you’ll probably need to take it out only every 2 minutes or so, until 5 maybe every minute and thereafter it might be as much as every 30 seconds.
  • When you get to 5 minutes remaining on the timer add the vanilla flavouring and stir in well.
  • When ready, the mixture should be thicker and darker than when it started.

Safety Tips

  • I recommend having your oven mitts handy and something to set your spoon on between stirrings.
  • Use a wooden spoon – many plastic ones will melt!
  • Do not be tempted to lick the spoon after you’ve poured the mix into the bowl – it’ll remain hot for quite some time.

My microwave is 750w rating so you may have to adjust the times a little for a higher powered one and expect the times between stirring to come more frequently.  I thought it was fudge, so I used quite a small tray (10 1/2 x 7 x 2 inches) and my pieces ended up around 4cm cubed.  This is waaay too much sugar in one bite and it’d be best if you can find a largeish tray or two medium ones to set the tablet in.

I’d tried making tablet before, over a stove, and it was terrible – too hard, gritty, ick.  Doing it that way requires the knack of it, an even heat, infinite patience for stirring and it was acknowledged by those I asked at the time that it usually took two or three tries before someone even began to produce ‘decent’ tablet.  This, though, was smooth, buttery, and melt-in-the-mouth first time.  Isn’t technology wonderful? ;)  A very excellent recipe and something I wouldn’t be ashamed to send to even the members of my family who’ve been able to make it on a hob for years!

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