Soups

Cauliflower & sweet potato soup

 

This makes a hearty and healthy soup. I’ve spiced it with Indian flavours as I think they work so well with cauliflower and potatoes. You can use regular potatoes but I’ve used orange sweet potatoes for their sweetness, colour and healthy benefits.
I started by frying an onion in some coconut oil as this began to go translucent I added 3 tsp. of curry powder, 1 tsp. of turmeric, and half a tsp. chilli powder (optional) and fried this for a while. I then added 500g of sweet potato peeled and chopped into small pieces I also added 200g of chopped daikon radish (I like it in soups as it adds a peppery sweetness) you could leave this out if you can’t find it easily. I then added about 1.2 litres of vegetable stock, a tsp. of marmite (yeast extract), a tsp of sea salt and some ground pepper. I put the lid on and brought the soup to a boil and then simmered it for about 20 -30 mins until the potato and radish was softening. Then I added a cauliflower (about 600g) broken into florets. I then covered the soup and simmered for 10 minutes (you don’t want to overcook the cauliflower). Then I added a good handful of chopped coriander leaves and blended the soup with a hand blender. If the soup is too thick add a little more stock and check the seasonings and add more salt / pepper / spices if necessary.

To serve I drizzled some spiced oil on top, which really lifts the flavour. This was made from a about 4 tbsp. of coconut oil that I heated up and added 1 tsp. of cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp of chilli powder and 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic which I gently heated until, the garlic became golden.

 

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Edible gifts, Something sweet

Rum raisin chocolate treats


I made these to take to a Thanksgiving meal and they went down very well as an after dinner treat. They make a perfect edible gift. This will make 30 (not so) sweet treats. They reminded me of making chocolate cornflake crispies as a kid.
I began by soaking about 75g of raisins in 50ml of spiced rum. I left them for a few hours until most of the rum had been absorbed. Then I put the oven on 150 degrees C / 300 F and spread 75g of flaked almonds on a baking sheet and lightly toasted them until they began to turn golden.

Meanwhile I melted 200g of good quality plain chocolate in  a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Once the chocolate was melted I added the raisins and rum and the almonds and mixed them together. I spooned a teaspoon of the mixture into small Thai dessert moulds and then dusted them with some cocoa powder. If you don’t have any moulds you could probably just spoon them onto baking parchment and allow to set free form.

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Drinks, Edible gifts, Something sweet

Mars bar vodka

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We first had shots of this at Eat Me restaurant in Bangkok after dinner and loved it, after moving to Chiang Mai I’ve made it myself a few times, it’s very moreish! It’s similar to the chocolate orange vodka I made at Easter.

In a glass bowl above a pan of boling water I melted about 250g of Mars bars, stirring occasionally after they sated to melt. Once they had melted I poured some vodka, about 100ml out of a liter bottle, into the bowl and continued to heat it until it became smooth and  runny. Then I poured about 100 ml of vodka into an empty litre bottle, this will help to stop the chocolate mixture sticking to the bottom, then I poured in the chocolate mix through a funnel and put the cap on and shook the bottle to mix the vodka with the chocolate mixture. Then I topped up the bottle again with vodka until almost full and gave it a good shake. Once the mixture is combined you can fill the bottle. Leave it for a  couple of days, giving it a shake occasionally. Then put it in the freezer until you want to serve it.

mars vodka

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Edible gifts, Preserves, Something fruity

Festive pineapple chutney

  

 
I make his chutney every year it’s great at Christmas with it’s lovely festive flavours. It makes a perfect gift too! This will make about 8 -10 standard jam jars, depending on their size.

So what do you need?

  • 2kgs of pineapple flesh (from about 4 kgs of pineapple)
  • 4 onions
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 500 g brown sugar
  • 500 ml vinegar (I used pineapple vinegar)
  • 400g sultanas / raisins
  • 2 tsp. pepper corns
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp. cloves
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 sticks cinnamon (broken into 2-3cm pieces)
  • 4 start anise
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 6 dried chillies (or 2 tsp. of chilli powder)

So what do you so?

Start by peeling the pineapples and cutting the flesh into small chunks I also add the core cut very finely. Then cop the onions and gently fry them in some oil. While they are frying in a mortar put the salt, pepper corns, garlic, coriander seeds, cardamom pods and cloves. Crush these then add to the onions. then add the turmeric, cinnamon, star anise, chillies and sugar and give everything a stir. When the sugar starts to dissolve add the pineapple, sultanas and vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil for about 15 mins then simmer for a further hour stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has become darker. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then bottle in warm sterilized jars. You can put a disk of baking parchment on top of the chutney before you seal them with the lids if you want to keep it longer. Leave for 3 -4 weeks for the flavours to develop.

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Baking, Veggie mains

Mushroom & chestnut pie


This is based on a recipe from Mary McCartney’s book ‘At my Table’ it’s a great book and she cooks in a way that’s very similar to me, in fact this is similar to the cashew nut and mushroom pie that is a favourite in my family. This pie makes a great centerpiece for a roast dinner or festive feast.

I started by frying a large red onion in olive oil and after a couple of minutes added 500g of chopped mushrooms (I used eryngii & shimeji, the original recipe suggests chestnut mushrooms ) and 4 cloves of crushed garlic. Next I added 200g cooked chestnuts, 1 tbsp of mushroom (light) soy sauce, 1tsp of dark soy sauce, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of herbs de Provence and a couple of crushed bay leaves. I covered the sauce pan and cooked them for a few minutes. Then I added a small handful of crushed porcini mushrooms, a heaped tsp of whole grain mustard and then stirred in a tbsp of cornflour. Then I added 200ml of water and simmered the for about 5 mins it should thicken into a rich gravy. Then I allowed the mixture to cool.

Then I heated my oven to 200 degrees  C / 400 F. I rolled out about 350g of puff pastry dusting it with whole meal flour. I rolled it into a square of about 30cms and pricked it with a fork and used it to line a 20cm pie dish. I then put the mushroom filling in the middle and folded the corners in, painting each with a beaten egg. I then baked it for about 35 mins until golden brown.

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Edible gifts, Snacks

Mushroom & cashew nut pâté


This is a great snack or starter, it has a good texture and yummy earthy mushroom flavours.

Start by frying a chopped medium-sized (red) onion in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. While this was frying in a food processor I finely chopped 400g mushrooms and 3 cloves of garlic (I used a mix of shiitake, eryngii & shimeji mushrooms) try to include some with more earthy flavours. I added these to the frying pan and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper, a tsp of herbs de Provence and 1/2 a tbsp of balsamic vinegar (or a tbsp or two of sherry or port). I fried them together for a couple of minutes then added a cup (100g) of raw cashew nuts and 1/2 cup of hot water. I covered the pan and allowed the cashews to soak for about 30 mins. Then I put the mixture back in the food processor and blended it into a pâté consistency, tasted it and adjusted the seasoning, then put it in a container and allowed it to cool. You can then put it in the fridge. To serve I garnished the pâté with some crispy fried shallots and served it with some sesame crackers.

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Baking, Snacks, The Basics

Sesame crackers

It’s nice to make your own crackers as fancy shop bought ones are over-priced and many commercial brands include palm oil. They’re not difficult to make especially if you are doing some other baking and have the oven on. I like the way they are irregular shapes, unlike mass produced ones.You can vary what you put in them, herbs or some hard cheese, but I like them best with sesame seeds. They go well with cheeses and pâtés.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F. To make about 20 crackers I use about 200g of flour, about 2/3 plain white and 1/3 whole meal, or a cup of white flour and half a cup of whole meal. To this I add a couple of pinches of salt, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tbsp of sesame oil, 2 tbsp of sesame seeds (I like a mix of black & white) mix together then add about 8 tbsp of cold water. Keep adding it bit by bit,  mixing it until it comes together, it should be a dryish dough. Then roll this out as thinly as you can on a floured surface. Then put it on a baking tray, I use a pizza stone that I heat up in the oven first. Cut the crackers as desired, you can have fun with irregular shapes and sizes, next prick them with a fork. Then bake them for about  12-15 mins until they start to brown. Allow them to to cool on a wire rack, then enjoy them or store them in an airtight container.

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