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Spiced Butternut Squash and Crème Fraîche Soup

This deliciously comforting soup is perfect for cold January days – the combination of seasonal butternut squash, immune-boosting ginger, a scattering of crunchy pumpkin seeds and a generous swirl of crème fraîche makes it flavoursome, warming and healthy. Eat on its own as a starter, or serve with hot, buttered sourdough toast for a heartier meal.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, about 1kg,
peeled and deseeded
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp butter
2 red onions, diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
850ml hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp crème fraîche (plus more to serve)
Small handful of pumpkin seeds
Small handful of coriander leaves (stalks chopped off)

Method

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the squash into large cubes,
about 4cm across, then toss in a large roasting tin with half the olive oil
and spices. Roast for 30 mins, turning once during cooking, until soft.
2. While the squash cooks, melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan,
then add the onions, garlic and 3⁄4 of the chilli and ginger and coriander stalks.
Cover and cook on a very low heat for 15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
3. Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and the crème fraîche, then whizz with
a stick blender until smooth. For a really silky soup, put the soup into a liquidiser
and blitz it in batches. Return to the pan, gently reheat, then season to taste.
4. In a frying pan, toast the pumpkin seeds with a little oil and salt until they pop.
5. Serve the soup in bowls and top with crème fraîche and a scattering of the remaining
chopped chilli and pumpkin seeds.

 

Chocolate, peanut and salted caramel tart

Christmas is upon us and there is no better time to indulge in fine food. This chocolate, peanut and salted caramel tart is the perfect elegant addition to any Christmas occasion.

And remember it is your last chance to book our services for your Christmas party!

Ingredients

Base
100g salted peanuts
250g digestives biscuits
150g unsalted butter

Caramel
200g caster sugar
200g butter
200g double cream

Chocolate mix
5 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
65g caster sugar
300g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
250g unsalted butter

Method

Base
1. Roughly crush the peanuts, crush the digestive biscuits.
2. Melt the butter then combine with the biscuits and peanuts and press into a tart case.

Caramel
1. In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt the sugar over a medium heat being careful not to burn! Swirl the pan to catch all the sugar, do not stir or touch with anything.
2. When it turns a deep brown colour add the cream and butter – it may splutter.
3. Whisk until combined and smooth.
4. When it has cooled slightly pour a layer of caramel over the biscuit base and leave to cool completely.

Chocolate mix
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth over a pan of boiling water.
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until really thick – about 5 mins in a free standing mixer.
4. Gently mix the two together being careful not to knock out the air in the eggs.
5. Pour the mixture over the caramel and bake in the oven for 10 mins.
6. There should still be a wobble to the tart but leave to cool completely and let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours.
7. Dust with cocoa and maybe some edible gold leaf to make it really special and decadent!!

Chicken, Green Olive and Preserved Lemon Tagine

This recipe is inspired by my recent trip to Morocco – a healthy, quick dish with a hint of spice and a fresh lemony zing. I have used chicken, but it would also work well with tofu or chickpeas as a vegetarian alternative.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1 chicken – skinned and jointed, breasts halved
2 onions – peeled and finely sliced
4 garlic cloves – peeled and chopped
Thumbsized knob of ginger – peeled and matchsticked
2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp chili flakes
Stock – chicken or vegetable
Juice of 1 lemon
3 small preserved lemons, rind chopped
50g green olives – halved
Handful of chopped parsley and coriander
Salt and pepper

METHOD:

1. Brown the seasoned chicken pieces in a casserole dish in olive oil. Remove to a plate.
2. Sweat the onions, garlic and fresh ginger until soft. Then add the ground ginger, saffron and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the chicken back to the pan. Add stock to cover, then bring to the boil.
4. Simmer gently for 20 mins or until the breast is cooked.
5. Remove and keep covered to allow it to continue simmering until the rest of the chicken is cooked.
6. Add the preserved lemon and olives. Simmer for 10 mins.
7. Season with lemon juice and more salt if necessary.
8. Place in your dish, sprinkle the fresh herbs over the top and serve with couscous.

Ricotta Torte with strawberries, honey and mint

The long, light nights of summer lend themselves wonderfully to experimenting in the kitchen. Try out my recipe for Ricotta Torte with strawberries, honey and mint and let me know what you think.

Ricotta Torte with strawberries, honey and mint

For the torte:
• 150g caster sugar
• 150g unsalted butter
• 500g ricotta
• zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1
• 1tsp vanilla bean paste
• 3 free range eggs
• 200g ground almonds
• 1 tsp baking powder

For the topping
• 300g strawberries, sliced
• 200ml clear honey
• juice of 1 lemon
• small bunch of mint, finely shopped

Method:
1. Preheat oven 160 C and line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin
2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined
3. In a separate bowl beat the ricotta with the lemon zest and vanilla until smooth
4. Add the ricotta mixture to the butter and egg bowl and mix together
5. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix gently until all well combined
6. Spoon all the mixture into the cake tin and place in the centre of the oven for 60-70 mins, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
7. While it is cooking, put the honey, 100ml water and the lemon juice into a pan and heat through, gently bubble for a few minutes until thickened slightly, then add the strawberries and the mint, stir and take off the heat.
8. When the cake is done, cool on a wire rack. When it is completely cool, spoon the strawberries with their juices on top of the cake and let the juices run down and serve!