Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kitchen Diary #5

If you carved a pumpkin lantern this last weekend you may also have made a huge batch of pumpkin soup. Now pumpkin soup can be a bit bland so a lovely way to brighten up the flavour is to add a nugget of spiced butter and some toasted pumpkin seeds. Normally I would make this type of soup with one of the winter squash that are more rich in flavour than pumpkin, and also quite plentiful now, but pumpkin can be good too. The spiced butter is flavoured with chilli and smoked paprika which gives a great earthy kick to the soup.

I have taken this recipe from a lovely blog called  Eggs on the Roof where you will also find a good recipe for butternut squash soup. So to make enough butter for 4 bowls of soup you need:

20g of softened butter
half a teaspoon of chilli powder*
half teaspoon of smoked paprika
a pinch of sea salt if using unsalted butter

Pumpkin seeds to garnish

  • Knead the spices and salt into the butter and then place on a square of nonstick paper. Roll the butter into a sausage shape and chill. When firm cut into rounds, 1 for each bowl of soup. 
  • The pumpkin seeds are just dry toasted in a frying pan until they start to pop.
  • To serve, pour your hot soup into the bowls, drop a nugget of spiced butter into the centre of each bowl and sprinkle around the toasted pumpkin seeds. 

*I use the mild new mexico chilli powder but just be sure you have checked the heat level of whatever you use.

As the butter melts it forms a gorgeous little puddle and the toasted seeds add colour, flavour and texture.

Bread & Cakes
Last Wednesday was our cake club meeting and I made a ginger and marmalade cake for our breakfast cakes theme. I had been intending to take a Dutch breakfast cake but after two attempts both of which sank badly I gave up. I am wondering if my baking powder has 'gone off'. Anyway the marmalade cake was tasty so all ended well. The marmalade cake recipe came from Sugar & Spice by Kate Weatherell which has a wonderful eclectic mix of sweet recipes from around that world that showcase different spices. I'm looking forward to trying the sticky medjool date pudding with middle eastern spices next.
My Bread Bake of the week was a cardamom spiced fruit loaf from Warm Bread Honey & Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
The dried fruits in this loaf are a mix of dried cranberries, sultanas, candied orange and currants. It makes wonderful toast the day after baking.
Simple Meals
I was hunting around for another recipe altogether when I came across this Omelette Molière with croutons. A plain omelette is filled with a few freshly made croutons, small cubes of gruyère cheese, grated parmesan and a little double cream.
This makes a perfect quick meal for one but home made croutons make all the difference. When I was at school we had quite an ambitious cookery teacher who insisted we made croutons to serve with our vegetable soup. In those days frying bread cubes in loads of butter and oil was not seen as gratuitous other than the cost of the butter. Now I prefer a lower fat version so make mine in the oven as in this recipe from the Kitchn website: how to make croutons

So make a basic 3 egg omelette in a good sized frying pan so the omelette is  not too thick.
When the eggs have just set scatter on a handful of freshly made croutons, about 1 tbs diced gruyère cheese, 1 tbs grated parmesan cheese and 1 tbs of double cream.
Using a palette knife to start flipping over one edge of the omelette gently roll the omelette out of the pan onto your warm serving plate. Garnish with some salad greens and enjoy.
These leaves are the rather bitter endive and are some of the last salad leaves I will pick this year. The dry summer helped them escape damage by slugs which is a first in my garden.
I'm going to London for a day later this week so hoping to try a new restaurant and buy lots of food treats for Christmas and check out lots of cookery books at the huge Waterstones in Picadilly. Looking forward to it, hope you are having a good week too.

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