Here’s a wonderfully comforting soup, brightened with fresh ginger and chilli, to lift your spirits and warm the cockles of your heart.
It’s also fabulously easy and takes no more than 20 minutes ‘active’ time.
Winter soups can sometimes lean a little close towards cloying, but this strikes a very delicious balance between thick and comforting and bright and spicy. It’s also vegetarian and vegan, gluten and dairy-free.
To a large extent it is a “That’ll Do” soup, in that precise measurements don’t really matter, so let me bestow upon you the freedom to chuck in what you have to hand: keep the chilli seeds in for fiery spice, add more ginger/garlic to taste, etc.
Spiced Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
2tbs vegetable oil
3 red chillies
3 cloves of garlic
8cm bulb of fresh ginger – 3-4 thumb-sized pieces.
2 tbs vegetable bouillon
- Cut the butternut squash and sweet potatoes in half lengthways and place on a lined baking sheet, cut side up.
- Put the baking sheet in the oven and turn the heat to 200C, 180C Fan. BONUS: while they bake, the oven will smell like cake.
- Bake for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- When cooled, scoop the seeds from the squash and discard. Scoop the flesh of both into a bowl. Discard the skins.
- Peel and chop the onions and garlic. De-seed (or don’t) the chillies and chop. Chop the ginger (peel if you like, but I don’t).
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables. Cook gently over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked squash/sweet potato and the bouillon.
- Add water to cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Use a stick blender to blend the soup smooth.
- For best results, puree the soup in batches in a liquidiser. Blitz each batch for two minutes. Add more water if the soup is too thick.
- To store: ladle into suitable containers and freeze.
- To serve: Heat through gently. Taste & adjust seasoning.
Here’s a life-altering post *she claims, modestly* in that it is for crispy, oven-baked chips. Chips, not fries (which are too thin to enjoy, in my opinion), although the term ‘wedges’ would also be permissible.
The main difference between these and other oven-baked chips is that they’re fat-free.
Not, as many another oven-baked recipe turns out, oven-baked in oil – but completely fat free.
The secret is egg-white. Add your favourite spices and flavourings to some egg-whites and whisk until frothy – although frothiness isn’t compulsory, a light whisking that just loosens the egg-white is perfectly sufficient. Toss parboiled potatoes in the mixture, lay on parchment and bake in the oven and Tadaah!
It’s that simple. No need to sigh at the prospect of having to make yet more meringues/macaroons when faced with leftover egg-whites, THIS is the new way to use them up.
Infinitely customisable, I’ve made several batches, trying different flavourings, and each one has turned out dry and crisp and fluffy inside and deliciously fat-free.
- The suggestions below are just that – suggestions only. Feel free to mix up your own combinations. If you like things spicy, add some chilli flakes, if cheese is your passion, some grated parmesan could be just the thing, caraway seeds, fennel, tarragon, cajun spices, tandoori spices, onion or garlic powder, etc.
- Now I’m also well aware that sometimes your taste-bids crave the oil/fat associated with chips, so if you have a go at the recipe below and it’s not quite doing it for you, try mixing in just 1 tablespoon of oil with the egg-white and spices, just before coating the chips. This small addition can, of course, be any oil you like – as well as all of the plain oils, infused oils would add an extra flavour dimension: garlic, herb, even truffle-oil – the possibilities are endless. Do let me know your own combinations!
Enough chat, on with the recipe!
Crisp Oven-Baked Chips
The following quantities are sufficient for 2 generous adult helpings. Scale up for larger quantities.
60ml egg-whites (2 large)
- Suggestion 1 – Herby: 2tsp mixed, dried herbs (I used ½tsp each of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram), ¼tsp salt, ½tsp coarse-ground black pepper
- Suggestion 2 – Spicy: 2tsp mixed ground spices (½tsp each of coriander, cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika) ¼tsp salt, ½tsp coarse-ground black pepper,
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunky chips or wedges. They should be at least as thick as your finger, to ensure a nice contrast between crispy outsides and fluffy insides.
- Rinse the raw chips in cold water, to get rid of some of the starch and then keep them immersed in water until ready to parboil.
- Heat a pan of water. When the water is boiling, drain the raw chips from the cold water and tip them into the pan. This will cool the water down and take it off the boil.
- Bring the water back to a rolling boil and let the chips cook for a further 2 minutes. This will take about 7-8 minutes from the time you tip in the potatoes.
- Remove the chips from the water and drain in a sieve. Set aside to cool. They don’t have to be completely cold before you coat them, just not hot enough to cook the egg-white before you’ve got them coated.
- Heat the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan.
- Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment. This is important. Foil will not do, nor will greaseproof paper, as the chips will stick.
- Whisk together the egg-white and flavourings.
- Gently toss the par-boiled chips in the flavourings. Work in 2 or 3 batches, to ensure they get evenly coated and don’t break apart.
- Lay the chips onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. If there’s any egg-white left over, use a pastry brush to dab it over the chips if liked – a thicker layer makes for more crunch.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and turn the chips over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve with your favourite dips, sauces and relishes.
Today is a bit of a two-for-one deal – there’s a lovely recipe for pulled pork and also an awesome serving suggestion.
Another pulled pork recipe I hear you cry? Yes, I know it’s barely a couple of weeks since the last one, but whilst the other recipe was almost elegant in its simplicity, this recipe shows how, with the addition of a few ordinary ingredients, you can create a dish of an altogether different character. Lets call the previous dish a Level 1 recipe. This one moves it on a bit to Level 2, with a dark, rich and spicy cooking liquid. Level 3 would bring even more intensity of flavour with the addition of a dry spice rub – we’ll get to that sometime later.
I grew up in the orchards of Herefordshire (not literally you understand – gimme a break here, I’m trying to be lyrical), and so to me, the link between apples and pork is a natural one. In the old days, pigs would be allowed into the orchards to eat up all the windfalls, and this would add flavour to the meat. The British custom of eating apple sauce with pork isn’t just an idle tradition – the acidity of the apples helps counteract the fattiness of the meat (see also vinegar with fish & chips, mint sauce with lamb, gooseberries with mackerel). Throw in some cider, cider vinegar and Bramley apples and this is a veritable pork-apple-festival on your tastebuds!
This is also another of my favourite types of recipe – set it and forget it in the slow cooker. The only downside of this low-maintenance style of cooking is having to endure for hours all the wonderful smells wafting through the house. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could always use the oven on very low – for example 80-100°C – but it would require a little more effort (sealing the roasting tin with foil and basting every hour or so) to ensure the joint didn’t dry out.
Apple-Baked Pulled Pork – serves 10-12
2-3kg of pork shoulder joint(s) – boned and rolled if preferred, but bone-in is also fine. Whatever can fit in your slow cooker. I use 3 x 1kg joints.
2 medium onions
2 Bramley cooking apples
300g dark muscovado sugar
150ml apple juice
60ml Worcestershire sauce
60ml Dijon mustard
120ml cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Peel and roughly chop the onions.
- Peel, core and chop the apples.
- Put half of the apples and half of the onions into the slow cooker.
- Arrange pork joint(s) on top and scatter the rest of the apples and onions over.
- Mix all of the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and warm over gentle heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour liquid into slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 12 hours.
- Remove the meat and allow to drain in a sieve.
- When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and fat (the meat will just fall apart) and discard.
- Cover the meat with foil and keep warm.
- Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl and reserve the apple and onion pieces.
- Place the liquid in the fridge/freezer for 30 minutes to cool. As it cools, any fat will rise to the surface and solidify. It can then be easily removed.
- Lift the solidified fat from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and discard.
- Pour the cooking liquid into a pan and add the apple and onion pieces. Use an immersion blender (or alternatively a liquidiser) and puree to a smooth consistency. Bring to the boil and simmer until it has thickened to your liking.
- Pour over the prepared meat and serve.
Alternately, make some delicious Tiger Rolls and some Apple & Fennel Coleslaw and serve up the awesome sandwich in the picture above. Not only are the flavours amazing, they compliment each other perfectly. Make the sandwich with the undressed meat and then drizzle with gravy to your liking. The contrast in texture between the cool crunch of the coleslaw, the hot, piquant, melt-in-the-mouth pork and the ‘crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside’ Tiger Bread make these sandwiches a cut above the rest.
Cost £1.20 per person (August 2011, Pork £4 a kilo)