Pumpkin soup

I’m currently experimenting with soups, trying to make one pretty much every week, whilst keeping it interesting at the same time. It’s probably no surprise that being a Halloween week, I’ve made pumpkin soup today. I don’t normally use pumpkin in cooking much at all, so it’s actually nice that I have as the soup is lovely!  The consistency of my soup is quite like that of  velouté, velvety and smooth. If you would like yours thicker, I would just reduce the amount of the liquids in my recipe.

2 onions, finely chopped
splash of olive oil
1 pumpkin (mine was 1,8kg)
1 litre of vegetable stock (I mix Bouillon powder with water)
2dl double cream
salt
pepper
pumpkin seeds
pea shoots

1. Peel, deseed and chop the pumpkin.

2. Heat the oil, then cook onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the stock, and after bringing it to boil simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper.

4. After cooling the soup down a little bit, puree it in a blender.

5. Re-heat if needed, drizzle some olive oil on top and serve with some pumpkin seeds and pea shoots.

Fish Florentine

Mondays in our household normally mean fish or seafood for dinner. I have to confess I’m much more comfortable cooking a carnivore’s feast rather than a fish dish. I’ve been lately getting more experimental with fish however, and here’s today’s recipe for Fish Florentine. I was a little bit nervous with this recipe, as I would never have put fish and cheese together, but it actually worked really well!

serves 2

2 fillets of white fish (I think cod is best for this kind of dish)
150g spinach
3 large chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
splash of olive oil
25g butter
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2dl milk
1 tsp ground paprika
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
2tsp potato flour or cornflour
1dl grated gruyere cheese
1tbsp grated parmesan cheese
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250ml dry white wine (I usually use Sauvignon Blanc in cooking)
2tbsp chopped parsley
1tsp dried tarragon

1. Heat oil and butter, cook onion until soft. Add thinly sliced mushrooms and garlic. Fry, stirring occasionally, for few minutes and add spinach. mix together until spinach is wilted.

2. Heat milk in a pan, and add all ground spices. when the milk is starting to simmer mix the potato flour / cornflour with a splash of water, and pour into the milk. Stir until the mixture thickens. Add both cheeses.

3. Poach the fish in a frying pan with the white wine and herbs for 4-6 minutes.

4. Put the onion, mushroom and spinach mixture at the bottom of an oven proof dish. Lay the fish on top, and pour the sauce over everything. sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, and grill under preheated grill until starting to brown and bubble over.

Pan seared, oven roasted duck breast with garlic potato mash and roasted beetroot

I was so late with my food shopping order last night, that I wasn’t able to get it for delivery today. I’ve therefore had to rummage through my fridge and freezer for any left over ingredients I can use for dinner tonight. Luckily, I’ve found a duck crown (I’ll be cooking it on the bone), potatoes and beetroot. With these ingredients, I somehow don’t think I’ll be starving tonight.

serves 2-3 portions

250g beetroot
olive oil
salt
black pepper
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1 duck crown
salt
black pepper
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5-6 medium white potatoes
1-2 garlic cloves
50g butter
milk
dash of cream
salt

1. Heat the oven to 180°C (fan) / 355°F.

2. Peel the beetroot, and cut to wedges. put in an ovenproof dish, splash with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for about an hour.

3. Peel the potatoes, wash, cut in half (or quarters if bigger in size), and boil in salted water for about 40 minutes or until soft. Pour the water away, and mash the potatoes. Add butter, milk and salt to taste and texture desired, finish with some cream. Squeeze in the garlic.

4. Rub some salt and pepper on the skin of the duck breasts. Cook in a frying pan, skin side down, until browned. If you’re cooking breasts off the bone I would also sear them briefly on the meat side too.

5. Put in the oven, skin side up, and roast for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes (this will allow the juices to stay in the meat better). On high setting, grill for 10 minutes.

Tip I find it easier to get a crispy skin on duck breasts that are cooked off the bone. When cooking this way, I slit the skin with a sharp knife, then rub salt and pepper in. Then fry in a pan in a little olive oil until browned and slightly crispy, and finish off in the oven for 10-15  minutes.

Grilled mackerel with wasabi potato mash, cooked beetroot and pickled cucumber and radish

As I was driving home this evening I was contemplating what to serve with the star of today’s show, mackerel. Beetroot is always a good friend with this oily fish, as well as pickled cucumber. As I hadn’t planned for the pickle in advance, mine didn’t have enough time to work it’s magic, however I still wanted to go for it. You would normally give the pickling process several hours, or even a day.

Pickle
250ml apple cider vinegar
250ml water
150g sugar
1 tsp salt
4 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
fresh dill

1. Add all ingredients into a pan, and heat, stirring, until all sugar and salt have dissolved. Take off the heat.

2. Thinly slice the radishes, and cut cucumber into small cubes. Pour over the cooled liquid, and put in a fridge.

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Beetroot
1 medium beetroot

This versatile vegetable can be cooked in many ways. Today I used boiling as the cooking  method of my choice. Boil in water for about an hour, with the skin on. Once cooked, pour hot water away, and cover with cold water. Whilst in the water, you can rub the beetroot with your hands, and the skin will fall off very easily.

Wasabi potato mash
5 medium potatoes
wasabi powder
50g butter
milk
salt

1. Peel and half the potatoes.

2. Boil until soft.

3. Prepare the wasabi, by mixing the wasabi powder with a small amount of water.

4. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash. Add butter, salt and milk, as well as the wasabi mixture.

Mackerel
4 mackerel fillets
salt
black pepper

I used frozen mackerel fillets today. Cook under high temperature grill, first flesh side up, seasoning with salt and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes each side. Cook skin side up last, to end up with a nice crispy skin.

Roast loin of pork and Dauphinoise potatoes

The beauty of this kind of food is that the prep is quick, and while the food is cooking you can get on with other things, hence why I would cook something like this even mid week. If you’re not a garlic lover, you can always just leave the garlic out and make normal creamed potatoes without it. Also, today I’ve had to improvise with my pork dish a little bit, as something that’s completely unheard of in my kitchen happened: I had run out of not even one, but two ingredients without replacing them! The recipe below is for how I normally make it. This should be enough for 3-4 portions. I served mine with fried black trumpet mushrooms and fresh tomato and cucumber salad, covered with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Dauphinoise potatoes
5-6 medium potatoes, sliced (I have a beautiful, brand new blender so this was done within 30 seconds)
2 -3 cloves of garlic
2-3dl double cream
salt
black pepper

1. Layer sliced potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, then pour over the cream.

2. Cook in preheated oven 180°C for 1,5 hours, until potato is soft.

Roast loin of pork
500g loin fillet of pork
mustard
salt
black pepper
ground ginger
dried rosemary

1. Massage the mustard all over the pork fillet.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, ginger and rosemary.

3. Roast in the oven 180°C /355°F for about 40 minutes. Juices coming out of the pork should be clear.

4. Take out of the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

5. I also use the cooking juices as the jus for the dish.

 

Beetroot risotto

This dish is one of my husband’s all time favourite dishes. I actually never used to like risotto, until I started making my own.

500g fresh, raw beetroots, peeled, trimmed and cut into wedges
splash of olive oil
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
250g risotto rice (I use Arborio)
150ml dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
700ml hot vegetable stock (for this I mix Bouillon powder with water)
handful of grated parmesan cheese
dill
crème fraiche

1. Heat oven to 160°C (fan).

2. Put chopped beetroot in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle with olive oil, season and cook for about an hour, until soft.

3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, and cook the onion and garlic for about 3-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the rice and white wine, and let bubble on medium heat until the wine has disappeared (about 3 minutes).

4. Little by little, add the vegetable stock, stirring in between, letting most of it be absorbed before adding more liquid. This whole stage should take around 20 minutes. Once the rice is desired texture, move on to the next stage.

5. Remove the cooked beetroot from the oven and take about a 1/4 aside, to blend into a puree. Chop the remaining 3/4 into small cubes. Then add the pureed and chopped pieces to the risotto.

6. Stir in some parmesan cheese and chopped dill. To serve, add a dollop of crème fraiche on top, and sprinkle some more parmesan cheese and dill.

 

Rack of lamb with roasted baby potatoes and pumpkin

For Sunday dinner this week I made perfectly pink rack of lamb, and as it’s Halloween I accompanied it with roasted baby potatoes and pumpkin. One rack of 8 bones should be enough for two people.

Lamb marinade
2 cloves of garlic
leaves from 3 rosemary sprigs
leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
6 black peppercorns
couple of pinches of sea salt
splash of olive oil, until desired consistency is achieved

Clean the bones with a sharp knife. Blend all ingredients together, and rub all over the rack of lamb. Ideal marinade time is at least four hours, or overnight.

Roast baby potatoes and pumpkin
500g baby potatoes
small pumpkin
leaves from couple of rosemary sprigs
leaves from few thyme sprigs
olive oil
pinch of sea salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
black olives, quantity to taste

Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan). Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes. Strain, and mix all ingredients together. Roast for 40 minutes.

Pan seared, oven roasted rack of lamb

Heat oil in an oven proof frying pan. Brown the rack on all sides, including the ends. Cover the bones with foil, and roast in preheated oven 200°C(fan) / 430°F  fat side up for 10 minutes. Rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting.