Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

I made this as a combination of two recipies for a creamy butternut squash soup. It came out truly amazing and I just have to make a note of what I did to recreate it exactly next time.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Total time: 70 minutes  
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 800g-1kg Butternut squash, seeded and peeled
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 4 small Thai chillies choppped
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 6 Garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • 1 Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large piece of ginger (about 10cm) very finelly chopped
  • 400ml Coconut milk (1 can of Waitrose half-fat)
  • 1 Lime, juice (I used half a lemon)
  • Double cream, to serve
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh Thai chillies chopped
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Cut the squash into 5cm chunks, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and toss with the chillies and spices. Roast for 20 minutes than scatter over the garlic and roast for a further 20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan; add the onion and ginger, cover, and allow to soften. Saute for about 10 minutes. Add the roasted butternut squash, stock and coconut milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, add lime juice or lemon juice to taste and season. Liquidise with a handheld blender or a processor.
  3. Serve with a drizzle of double cream, add fresh basil and chilli to garnish the soup.
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Venison steaks with cranberry sauce and celeriac puree

I love venison, especially in winter and this year I decided to try as many ways of preparing it as I can find. I think steaks are the best way, though I am partial to venison sausages with red wine (used to get them at the Kingsland Edwardian butchers in Portobello Road).

This recipe is a combined one. The venison steaks with the cranberry sauce are a Delia recipe, the celeriac puree is from BBC food site.


Venison steaks and cranberry sauce

For the steaks
2 venison steaks (about 14 oz/400 g total weight)
1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
2 level teaspoons crushed peppercorns
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
salt

For the sauce
2 rounded tablespoons cranberry sauce
zest and juice ½ orange
zest and juice ½ small lemon
1 rounded teaspoon freshly grated root ginger (about 1 inch/2.5 cm cube, after peeling)
1 level teaspoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons port

If you want to, you can make the sauce way ahead of time (even several days). Take off the outer zest of half the orange and the lemon using a potato peeler, then with a sharp knife shred it into really fine strips, about ½ inch (1cm) long.

Then place the cranberry sauce, ginger and mustard in a saucepan, add the squeezed orange and lemon juice, and place over a medium heat. Now bring it up to simmering point, whisking well to combine everything together, then as soon as it begins to simmer turn the heat off, stir in the port and then pour it into a jug to keep till needed.

When you’re ready to cook the steaks, heat the oil in a medium-sized, thick-based frying pan. Dry the steaks thoroughly with kitchen paper, then press the crushed peppercorns firmly over both sides of the steaks. When the oil is smoking hot, drop the steaks into the pan and let them cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium (4 minutes for rare and 6 minutes for well done).

Halfway through, add the shallots and move them around the pan to cook and brown at the edges. Then 30 seconds before the end of the cooking time pour the sauce in – not over, but around the steaks. Let it bubble for about 20 seconds, season with salt, and then serve the steaks with the sauce poured over.

Celeriac puree

700g/9oz celeriac
70g/2oz unsalted butter
70ml/2fl oz double cream or 100ml milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the celeriac in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, if you want, add 2 medium sized potatoes. Drain well and blend all of the ingredients either in a food processor or a hand blender (I use the latter). Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and blend to a purée.

Spicy sweet potato & tamarind soup

This is the most wonderful and complex soup I have had for a while and I already have some soup recipes on this blog that are truly wonderful. The soup combines tamarind with sweet potato and many other good ingredients such as cumin, coconut milk, star anise – the result is a mix of flavour competing for attention in a marvellous way. It is a Gordon Ramsay recipe that I found on the Times Online site. This is what he says:

Tamarind is a sharp and sour paste extracted from the seed pods that grow on trees in southeast Asia and India. You’ll find it in most supermarkets. The sweetness from the potato complements the sharpness from the tamarind perfectly in this recipe. You can substitute the potato with butternut squash or really ripe plantain.

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6

50ml sesame oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 star anise
700g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
400ml coconut milk
3 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp light soy sauce
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
Handful of basil and mint leaves, shredded

Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chilli (seeds as well) and dry spices and fry for a minute until the spices smell fragrant.

Add the potatoes and pour in the coconut milk. Stir in the tamarind and soy sauce, then add enough stock to cover the potatoes. Bring the soup to the boil, cover with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Pick out the star anise and discard.

Remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth. Pass the soup through a sieve into a clean pan. Stir in more stock or water until you have the right consistency, then reheat. Season with more soy sauce or salt to taste and add the herbs just before serving.

I also added some jambon pieces recently cut off the bone. Perfect texture and salty flavour to complement the soup.