Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Roasted squash and apple soup

It all started with a delivery. I usually get books and CDs through the post. This time? A huge box of Riverford Organic vegetables, courtesy of Alpro to support the January good resolutions. Impressive – potatoes, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, mushrooms. Yet according to the website, only £20.45. Extraordinarily good value. These are real vegetables, understand: not measured to beauty standards, nor perfect round size, not sprayed with chemicals to look glossy. And therefore so tasty. I had almost forgotten they could taste so good. It’s almost impossible to go back to the supermarket ones afterwards. It makes you feel like cooking when you come back from work –  because you know how delicious it will be no matter what you prepare. You end up looking up recipes around cabbage although you have never considered buying one in the past.

And even though winter is not so cold this year, let me share this soup recipe with you. Dampness is everywhere and this, my friend, is so comforting and so easy to fix. Concentrated in flavours too. Ingredients? A butternut squash, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 apple, 500ml vegetable stock, a dash of Alpro almond milk. Ready? Here we go.

Preheat your oven to 200C. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds out and season. Thyme, laurel, sage, chilli work really well. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, cook for 30min on a baking tray.

Meanwhile, cut apple, carrots, onion thinly and fry gently in a saucepan until tender. Add stock, simmer for 15min.

Pour the mix into a blender, add the roasted butternut squash flesh, the Alpro almond milk. Enjoy still hot with crunchy bacon rashers or parmesan croutons. I like it with a little texture rather than totally smooth. Any left? Try in a risotto the following day. Heart warming.

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Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Some days, you get back home exhausted. You’d love some comfort food, fragrant, gourmet but have not much energy to prepare anything. Owen Potts asked whether I was tempted to give their products a try around a tasty Vietnamese soup and it certainly was very tempted.

You probably have seen their range in your localsupermarket – lovely flavoured stock but also fabulous sauces like the cranberry one with a hint of honey… or the one inspired by Spanish tapas with red pepper and pimenton. So handy to have in your cupboards to sort out a last minute dinner ou just to make your life easy on a daily basis. Bonus points for the very easy opening too -  no need to go hunting for a pair of scissors.Owen Potts actually is one of the most famous creators in that industry -  many great brands have asked him to design chutneys, condimentts, etc for them.

And so, on the menu, a Vietnamese soup you are sure to love. Delicious, of course but even better, prepared in 10mn, cooked in 20mn.

So what do you need? Well, for 2 persons:

* 70g rice pasta

* 500ml Owen Potts chicken stock

* 200g diced breast chicken

* 2 star anise

* 1 cinnamon stick

* 2 bruised lemongrass sticks

* A 2cm piece of fresh ginger, sliced

* A teaspoon of fishsauce

* 150g beansprouts

* To decorate: some salad onion and a half chilli

The rest is easy as ABC.

* Heat the Owen Potts stock with an extra 300ml water, chicken, star anise, ginger and lemongrass. Let it simmer for 15mn or so.

* Scoop the star anise, ginger, lemongrass and cinnamon. Pour the fish sauce in.

* In a separate pan, fry the rice pasta for a couple minutes then add them to the soup.

* Aff the beansprouts and simmer a little longer.

* Serve and sprinkle with sping onions and chilli.

The spices and lemongrass bring a gorgeous fragrance to the whole kitchen -  a real pleasure to prepare, instant change of atmosphere. You can make lots of variants of this too. Add some pak choi. Some single cream. A handful of sesame seeds. Use it as an exotic base for risottos.

Your turn! What would you do with the mustard and tarragon sauce in the same range?

Exotic thoughts


I love the thrill of travels. I wish I could live my life between airports, going from a destination to another, just walking through different cities and countrysides, discovering other cultures and traditions. I have just come back from a few days in India and am still amazed by the colours, the fragrant spices, the skills of their crafters, the hundreds of small jobs glimpsed in the street from mattress maker to snake charmers…

Recently, the luxury holidays specialist Cox & King sent me a little foodie challenge. They do, of course, cover the whole world – Argentina, Arcantica, Egypt, Albania, Syria… you name it, they can plan your dream tailor-made holidays there. Looking at their ideas for India and having recently been on the British Pullman, I was amazed at the equivalent: the Maharaja’s Express. What a dream! They have also introduced art tours all around the world for history fans.

And so, from their exotic travels, they sent me fish spice from Morocco to inspire me. Just opening the packet was wonderful: paprika and cumin just filled the air. Friends were coming over for a glass of wine and a chat so I quickly put together nibbles. Very easy but a guaranteed wow effect. Mix the spices, ginger and lime juice and marinade gambas in this sauce for an hour. Fry lightly in a frying pan – the lemon juice will have started cooking the meat already so a couple minutes are enough. I used the tiniest pastry cutters I could find to make shapes in slices of mango and cucumber. Arrange all those on skewers, serve with sweet chilly sauce et voilà! You could serve this as a main meal as well: the fish spice will go well with fragrant Basmati rice.

Spices, like perfumes, take you elsewhere. They wrap you in an exotic atmosphere, project images of tropical landscapes around you, of colourful markets. The tastes linger on your tastebuds. A concentrate of travels, a kind of get-me-through-winter survival kit.

What would be tour dream destination for a luxury travel?  Mine would be taking the kids back to India on a private tailor made holiday – just look at those! How about you?


This Week End in London

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