Sunday, November 17, 2013

10-Minute Winter Warmer Pumpkin Soup

I am in love with all kind of soups at this time of year, but this one in particular I keep coming back to. This is perfect for a filling lunch or a light dinner and only takes about 10 mins to put together, exactly what you need on chilly days. You can still find great eating pumpkins to buy, just make sure they have a firm dry flesh (carving pumpkins have too high a water content and have no flavour).
I cook or cut up the whole pumpkin in one go as it's much easier. I roast about 1/2 and then puree it and with the rest I cube or slice it and keep it in the freezer until needed. 

My recipe uses pureed pumpkin, but you could also use pureed butternut squash or sweet potatoes. I usually eyeball the amount of pumpkin I put in as it depends on how thin or thick I want it, usually 3 or 4 tablespoons is plenty.  For 2 people I use:

1 clove of garlic, grated
3 or 4 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
Pinch of chilli
1/4 of a vegetable stock cube
600mls of water (or homemade stock)
Grating of nutmeg (optional)
Salt & pepper

All you have to do is gently cook the grated garlic in some olive oil in a pot, then add everything else in, bring it up to a boil and you're done. Get it to whatever consistency you like by adding more or less water/stock and serve it with some homemade garlic croutons or toasted bread and you're good to go!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cinnamon and Raisin Swirl Bread

November has arrived and with it comes chilly mornings and long dark evenings. It's awful getting out of bed 1st thing in the morning, placing your warm toes onto a spine-tinglingly cold floor and leaving your cosy bed behind you. However knowing this gorgeous sweet treat awaits you will make getting out of bed that little bit easier. As this bakes, your whole house will smell amazing and it's very difficult not to go for seconds (and thirds!) of this bread.

I start off by making my favourite regular bread recipe and after it's 1st prove I knock it back and gently knead in about 1/2 a cup of raisins (or currants, or both). Using a rolling pin I flattened it out into a rough rectangular shape, brush it with a little bit of sunflower oil (or you could use melted butter) and scatter over some cinnamon sugar. I combined 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar with 2 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, I love it really cinnamony!! Then roll it up like a swiss roll and place into a greased loaf tin to rise a 2nd time for 30-40 mins until it has risen above the sides of the tin. Because of the raisins it doesn't look like the smoothest or prettiest loaf on the outside but it makes up for that completely on the inside! So pretty!

Bake for about 35-40 mins at 200C until it sounds hollow when tapped and try with all your might to let it cool completely before cutting a slice into it (If you can wait that long, more power to you, I couldn't, about half an hour was fine!). This really doesn't need anything else on it, but if you wanted you could spread some butter or jam or marmalade on it. What a perfect weekend treat!