An afternoon snack
The main problem with always being so hungry is the endless wait between mealtimes. The hours that drag on to the chorus of my rumbling stomach.
The only things that get me through are copious amounts of tea and regular snacks. This in itself invariably presents a dilemma- whether to go with something calorie-laden and wonderful (pastry please) or something altogether more wholesome and nutritious (and thereby probably not delicious).
The challenge becomes how to keep my mid-afternoon, post-lunch slumps at bay in a way that leaves me feeling sustained and not too guilty. So take as an example, if you will, the rice cake. Virtuous, practically like eating air, these babies are really ideal. Apart from the fact that they taste like cardboard and you’ll be reaching for the digestives ten minutes later.
But take a rice cake dressed in dip or cheese and you have something that might be just the ticket. What follows is hardly a recipe at all, really, but an idea for some leftover butternut squash. Said squash formed part of a recent supper of squash, sausages and sage. So really no extra work required.
Other dip ideas include white bean and dill, carrot and cumin, aubergine and mint and goats cheese, garlic, thyme and honey. And of course you don’t need to use rice cakes, you could use oat cakes or bread or virtuous vitamin-packed crudités. Or crisps.
Spicy Squash and Cumin Dip
You will need:
1/4 squash, cut into wedges and roasted
1 tbsp creme fraiche
generous pinch chili pepper
pinch cumin powder
pinch of salt and pepper
1. Remove the skin from the butternut squash and place in a blender (or bowl and use a stick blender) with the creme fraiche, chili pepper, 1 tsp of the olive oil, cumin powder, salt and pepper.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Serve in a bowl, drizzled with a little olive oil and a scattering of cumin seeds. Load by the tablespoon full onto aforementioned carbohydrate.
Pickles, Pumpkins and Pigs.
- Roughly chop the onion, celery and pumpkin flesh and put in a heavy pan.
- Add chili, garlic, spices salt and pepper and the chicken stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before stirring in the peanutbutter. Blend with a stick blender or in food processor.
- When you want to serve it, dice the chicken into neat cubes and add to the soup. Gently reheat and taste to season when hot. Do not let boil.
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F or Gas mark 4)
- Heat about half the butter in a large casserole dish and fry the sausage pieces until brown and caramelised
- Add the rest of the butter and the chopped onions. Fry until softened before adding the minced garlic and chopped sage.
- Add the pumpkin and stir well until combined. Increase the heat and add the vinegar, let it bubble and evaporate.
- Add the tomatoes, beans and stock before seasoning.
- Bring this to the boil and then transfer to the oven for up to one hour, until the sausages are cooked through and the pumpkin is tender.
- Serve in hearty bowls, scatter with parsley. Enjoy next to a roaring fire.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and celery and cook until softened. Remove from the pan and put in a large casserole dish or large pot. Add the lardoons to the pan and cook until golden. Add to the pot.
- Add a little extra oil (or butter if you prefer), to the pan and brown the chicken pieces all over, seasoning as you go.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and pour in the cider, scraping any crispy bits that have stuck to the pan.
- Arrange the chicken pieces in the pot, so they sit on top of the onions, celery and lardoons. Add the cider juices and the chicken stock and sprinkle with half the chopped sage. Cover with a lid and bake for 50 minutes.
- Add the apple slices, rest of the sage and stir in the crème fraiche. Cook uncovered for another 20 or so minutes, until the juices of the chicken run clear.
- To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with rice or mash and a simple green salad or perhaps some tenderstem broccoli.
- Preheat your oven to 170C or 325F, Gas mark3. Then grease a 20cm (8in) spring-form cake tin (or the closest thing you have) with about 20 g of the softened butter. Also add a dusting of flour (40g)
- First off, make your crumble topping. Sift 70g of the flour with the cinnamon before adding 40g of the cold, diced butter. Use your fingertips to rub the ingredients together until you’ve got a breadcrumb-like mixture. Stir in the light brown sugar and then set to one side.
- Use an electric whisk to cream the remaining 60g of softened butter and the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.
- Sift together140g of flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add about half of this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, followed by half the milk. Mix well with your electric whisk, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles ontop of the batter, then sprinkle with the crumb topping to form an even layer.
- Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 min, until it is golden brown on top and a skewer or knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Set aside to cool before removing from the tin. Can be enjoyed warm or cold, with crème fraiche, whipped cream, ice cream or custard. Or all of the above.
It’s here, I found it.
Got back to the ranch late last night after seeing my friend Nick’s brilliant play, “If there is I haven’t found it yet” at the Bush Theatre and quite fancied a snack. I’d made this super sized quiche the night before and felt rather pleased with myself coming home to it.
It works on my basic quiche principle, which is a plain case filled with whatever you fancy and a 1:100 ratio of eggs to ml of single cream. For this particular one, I mixed things up a bit by using sour cream, one of my favorite ingredients (although not quite as great as creme fraiche). I’d been in the mood for some super strong flavours and this is the result.
Holy Moly Quiche
It’s called Holy Moly because it packs quite a punch- you’ve got anchovies, blue cheese and butternut squash, which I can find sickly sweet unless you pair it with something bitter, sour or punchy.
You will need
A medium sized butternut squash (peeled and chopped up into smallish cubes- bloody pain, but worth it)
Half a packet of baby spinach, washed
A strong blue cheese (I used Danish Blue as it’s what I had but Gorgonzola would be particularly nice here, I think)
anchovies (one tin), drained and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic
a big hand full of flat leaf parsley, chopped
300ml sour cream
1. First off, make your pastry, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. My mum taught me this recipe and although it wouldn’t stand a chance in hell at a pastry pageant, it’s easy and it works. I love the way it turns out- all crumbly and sticks to the roof of your mouth.
All you do is pour some flour into a bowl and add butter, mixing with your hands or in a mixer until you have a pale yellow dough with a large crumb consistency. Sprinkle this into your pie dish (greased if it’s not non-stick) and press with your fingers to form the pastry case. Prick with a fork before blind baking in a 200 C/ Gas mark 6 oven for about 15-20min.
2. In the meantime parboil your butternut cubes for a few minutes. Drain and fry in olive oil and chopped garlic cloves. It’s ok if it becomes a bit mushy.
3. Whisk together your eggs and sour cream, add cheese (adjust amount to your liking), anchovies and parsley. Season with pepper only as the anchovies are quite salty enough (if you don’t like anchovies, omit them and add some salt at this stage).
4. When the squash is cooked through, add the spinach and let this wilt. Pour contents of pan into your prepared pastry.
5. Pour over the eggy cheesy mixture and bake for 30 min. Serve with a a nice spinach and tomato salad with balsamic dressing. Nice.