Monday, July 26, 2010

Smashing Pumpkin soup

My first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth memory of Pumpkin soup all happened in the same week. When I was about 13 my Mum and I took a bus trip to Melbourne to see "The Phantom of the Opera" and each night on our way there and back we stayed at a different motel where the evening meal was provided. The first night was a lovely pumpkin soup followed by beef wellington followed by apple pie and icecream. The second night was pumpkin soup, beef wellington and lemon cheesecake. A co-incidence we all thought. The third night was Pumpkin soup, beef wellington and Apple pie and icecream again. This was too funny. By the fourth night we started comparing recipes. "Well, I think Albury's pumpkin soup was much better than Wangaratta'a!", they'd say. "What? How about that beautiful sour cream art work in Goulburn!" Seriously.
Each soup was different but there were definate similarities. The taste of delicious sweet leeks,creamy pumpkin and of course what would pumpkin soup be without sour cream and snipped chives. Perfect. I hope you enjoy my version of this traditional soup. It is so simple.


1 tablespoon each of oil and butter
1 brown onion finely diced
1 leek (approx 100g) finely sliced white part only
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 kg butternut pumpkin chopped into 2cm cubes
1 litre chicken stock

Black pepper, chives and sour cream to serve

How to make your pumpkin soup

Warm up the butter and oil in a large pot. Add the onion and leek and sweat over a low heat until very soft and sweet smelling. Make sure they don't colour. Next add the garlic and nutmeg and stir over medium heat until fragrant. About 30 secs. Add the pumpkin and give it a stir. Then add your stock. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling reduce to a moderate temp and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Take off the heat and using a hand blender blend until smooth. Ladle into bowls and dollop a blob of sour cream in the middle, scatter some snipped chives and crack some freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4 - 5 people


Friday, July 23, 2010

Dreams are funny - Tangello and Clove Marmalade

Since making the Quince jam I've thought a lot about what jam I would like to create. Many combinations have bounced around my brain, knowing some of them will have to wait until Summer when the ingredients are at their peak. A while ago I attempted a Rhubarb jam based on a Donna Hay recipe, except, that I completely burnt the bottom of the pan and it took me a week of scrubbing and soaking to get it back to normal. So maybe the universe was trying to tell me something - get over the rhubarb fixation and move on, Freak! I put jam making on the....back burner as it were.


Apparently Stephenie Meyer had a dream about a vampire named Edward and a human called Bella, thus 'Twilight' was created and I remember reading somewhere that the melody to the song, 'Yesterday' came to Paul McCartney in a dream. Well, a little while ago I had a dream that I had another baby. As my Husband held her in the Hospital and I watched with that after-birth exhaustion he asked me, "What shall we call her?" I responded with, "Tessa". After teling my Husband that morning and laughing it off and thinking about if for the day it finally came to me that the Quince jam that I made belonged to a recipe by Tessa Kiros. Ok,Ok, so maybe the dream didn't mean anything but it made me start thinking about my next jam adventure and this is what I came up with.


3 Tangellos (790g approx)
200g dried apricots (The best you can afford)
1.25 litres water
4 whole cloves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 cups white sugar

How to make your Tangello and clove marmalade

You will need to start this the night before. Wash your tangellos under hot water (leave the skin on)then cut in half and then cut thin slices from each half. Place in a very large plastic bowl. Chop up 200g apricots roughly and throw them in the bowl too along with 1.25 litres of water. Throw in 4 cloves, cover bowl with plastic and leave in a cool spot overnight.

The next day pull out the cloves and discard then pour the remaining mix into a large heavy based saucepan with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil. Once boilng, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 45minutes. Stir every now and then to make sure everything is ok. Once your 45minutes are up add your 6 cups sugar, stir and bring to the boil.Once boiling boil for approx 40 mins. Now, I can't stress enough you are going to have to watch over this delicious goo like a hawk otherwise you will be scrubbing and soaking that pot for a week! I ain't kidding. Once you've brought it back to the boil keep it boiling or at least a high simmer but you will definately need to lower the heat over the 40 mins otherwise it will cook too fast, thus making a lovely black mess in your pot. An easy guide is if the mix is bubbling up the saucepan the temperature is too high. Keep it so that you can see the fruit bubbling in the mix. By the end of the 40mins the heat should be on your lowest setting but the marmalade will still be simmering away and when you pop it on a plate - it should start to look like a gell or wrinkle when you push your finger through it. Turn off the heat and now you are ready to ladle into jars.

When you are up to the last 40 mins make sure you get your jars ready. Give them a good wash in the sink with hot and soapy water just before the 40 mins are up. Pop the lids to the jars in a saucepan filled with water that is on a rolling boil. Boil until ready to use. When the jam is ready, rinse your jars in hot water, place in the microwave, 1 at a time for 1 minute each. Take out of the microwave with gloves or a heavy t-towel and place next to the jam. Using a very clean spoon ladle contents into the jar, all the way to the top. Using tongs grab your lid and then carefully, without burning yourself, screw the lid tightly. When you have filled all your jars with your yummy contents grab your other big saucepan (or wash the one you just used) fill it with cold water, place your filled jars in the water making sure they are well covered and bring to the boil. Once boiling, boil for 20 mins. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the water. Check the lids on each bottle to ensure that a vaccuum has been created. Label jars and keep in a cool place for up to 6 months.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Melt in the mouth - Lamb and risoni casserole

I love how the seasons influence our garden. Like in Summer our garden is filled with enough lettuce to feed about 100 hungry guinea pigs! and now in Winter, there is one lettuce left wondering where the hell the sun got too.... Turnips are in abundance at the moment. I've added them to my minestrone soup and my roast sausages with veg and they have tasted out of this world! I thought it was about time to create a casserole with a few of my favourite things: lamb, risoni, beans and of course hopefully get through some of the turnips that could quite possibly feed oooh, 1000 hungry guinea pigs.


350g carrots, chopped into chunks
3 brown onions, peeled but left whole. (You could use eshallots if you like)
8 small turnips, left whole or 3 large turnips cut in half
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bayleaf
a few peppercorns
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
1 can of borlotti beans (or you could use cannelini beans or kidney beans)
1kg half roast lamb leg (no bone, fat intact)
200g - 400g piece of middle bacon (or you could use a sweet smoked ham portion or a ham hock cut into 3 pieces or you could omit and use a bacon stock instead of water)
1 cup risoni
250g green beans
salt and pepper

how to make your casserole

Pre heat oven to 170C. Pop some olive oil into a large pot over a lowish heat and throw in the first 7 ingredients, just to soften and to get the flavours going. Pop in the lamb and the bacon (if using)and cover with water. Not too much,as the end result will be too watery. Raise the heat and bring the water to the boil. Once boiling transfer to a large roasting dish. Mix through the beans, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 90 minutes. Take out and mix through risoni and green beans.Check seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. Cover with foil again and pop back in the oven for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, you can either discard the bacon or slice just a couple of pieces (1 per plate) as the hero of the dish is the lamb. The lamb will be absolutely delicious.It's up to you how you would like to serve it. Either plate it up or pop it all in a big dish and everyone helps themselves. You can strain the juices into a jug too so that people can drizzle a little over their meat if they wish. Serves 4

Enjoy on a cold night with a great glass of red.