Apple Square with Toffee Sauce

Gosh its been a long old summer! Its still 24 degrees here in the South of France but soon I will be returning to the UK where it is damp, chilly and a little foggy apparently! (Hahaha 😉 )

On my return I will be starting a new venture, a little company called Free Range Kitchen. Through this, you lovely people can actually have me come to your house (!) and cook you dinner. Or help you cook something you’ve been wanting to learn, or even just fill up your fridge or freezer with yummy delightful dinners!

Autumn in a cake

Autumn in a cake

On that note, I have been testing out lots of new recipes for my sample menus and this is just one of the many puddings that will be on offer during the Autumn.

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Veggie Enchiladas

Recently there was a boat show in Antibes. There was free wine. Enough said.

Too hot? Too spicey?!

Too hot? Too spicey?!

Needless to say, I was good and made dinner for the crew before going out and sampling a little of all the free wine (for research purposes obviously). I made these enchiladas and boy were the crew, the staff from the wine stand, and the various friends tagging along pleased that dinner was ready and waiting before we hit the town. Mexican comfort food at its best; spicey, cheesy and oh so incredibly moreish.

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Melanzane Parmigiana

Melanzane. Ah, I love this word. Say it with me: Melanzane.

Mel - ant - zaané

Mel – ant – zarnĂ©

It means aubergine in Italian and hearing them say melts my insides. As does this recipe. It is so warming, and comforting and packed full of cheese. Amazing winter warmer. And one of the vegetarian options on my Delicious Dinners list. Its super filling and has no carbs except the breadcrumbs on top which are kind-of optional. The sauce needs long slow cooking so this one takes a little time but it is soooo worth it. Even the Italians loved this when I cooked it for them last summer, they couldn’t believe an English cook had made it…

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Large aubergine, 2 balls mozzarella, 2 tins whole, peeled plum tomatoes, olive oil (loads), garlic, onion, glass of red wine, oregano (fresh if possible), handful fresh basil leaves, breadcrumbs, Parmesan

First off we’ll start the sauce. In a large pan heat a large glug of olive oil then add the finely chopped garlic and onion, sweat until soft and sweet with a pinch of salt. Add the wine and simmer gently until reduced by about half. Open the cans of tomatoes and, with your fingers, squish the whole tomatoes into the pan. Retain the sauce in the cans. Chuck in a handful of fresh oregano or a heaped tablespoon of the dried stuff. Add another big glug of excellent olive oil and simmer gently for as long as you can – over an hour is good, adding a little of the tomato sauce from the tins if things get a bit dry but you’re going for a nice thick sauce.

Slice the aubergines thinly into rounds. For a slightly healthier option, you could griddle all the slices, for a totally unhealthy option fry them all in oil. Or do a bit of both for a middling option as frying them makes them so soft a scrummy that to not have any in there would be a shame (this is packed with cheese so its never going to be a healthy dinner anyway…).

Super Supper

Super Supper

In a deep, square/rectangular oven dish layer the sauce, cheese and aubergine slices in the following order: sauce, aubergine, sauce, mozzarella slices (seasoning), grated parmesan, aubergine, sauce, mozzarella slices, grated parmesan mixed with breadcrumbs to top.

Put into the oven at 180 C for 30 minutes, then turn the oven up to 200 C for 10 minutes if the top hasn’t browned nicely. Top with torn basil leaves before serving. Eat with lots of crusty bread and a large glass of Italian red wine. Possibly a leafy green salad too, depending on how bad you feel about consuming that much cheese…

 

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

…with brown sugar glaze.

How good does that last bit sound?!

I still haven’t found a muffin pan. I have the most amazing little pirate cupcake cases and paper pirates on sticks to put in them…

Thank you Father Christmas!

Thank you Father Christmas!

…and I can’t bake with them because apparently no one in Malta bakes cupcakes! Gah! This means I still haven’t tried these. Which makes me a little bit sad.

So until then I shall make tray bakes instead. Which makes me happy, yay!

I may have mentioned before how much I like pumpkin? And that even if the Maltese don’t do cupcakes, they sure do pumpkin – there is tons of it and its super cheap. AND you can buy it in segments!

A little small for Cinderella's carriage...lets eat it instead

A little small for Cinderella’s carriage…lets eat it instead

I usually make coffee cake as a go to sponge as Victoria sponge can just be a little too tame for me. And the OH has a serious thing for coffee too.

A tasty pear

A tasty pear

The following is a combination of the two above, kind of a sponge cake but also kind of a fruit loaf. But square, and with brown sugar glaze on top.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

250g pumpkin puree, 200g self raising flour, 150g light brown sugar, 100g butter, 2 eggs, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp instant coffee

Brown Sugar Crumb: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup plain flour, 4 tbsp melted butter (I know I normally hate cups but this is a ratio thing and not weight so is not sooo important)

Brown Sugar Glaze: 100g brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 1 tsp ground ginger, 75ml extra thick double cream

First make the pumpkin puree. This is best done in large batches and can be frozen or used in other things such as pasta sauces, or gnocchi. Roast the pumpkin in large slices until the flesh is soft enough to mash with a fork. Using a food processor, blend the pumpkin until very smooth, adding a little water if necessary to keep it moist. Weigh out 300g for this recipe, then pop the rest in the fridge for later, or label and freeze.

Line a brownie pan with greaseproof and lightly grease with butter. Heat the oven to 180 C. Cream 100g butter with 150g of light brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Don’t worry if it splits, it’ll come together again when the flour is added. Fold in the flour and baking powder, incorporating plenty of air. Mix the instant coffee into the pumpkin puree then fold into the cake batter until just combined. Pour mix into the brownie pan.

To make the brown sugar crumb mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and melted butter. Use fingers to sprinkle over the top of the batter in the pan.

Try to wait until its cooked before you eat it huh?!

Try to wait until its cooked before you eat it huh?!

Bake at 180 C for approximately 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the other 100g brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 1 tsp all spice, and the double cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a skewer. Pour the glaze over the cake, making sure to cover it all. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream and remember to thank me for your sugar coma when you can’t get to the gym 🙂

Gnocchi Dokey

I have been thinking about gnocchi a lot lately. And pumpkin. And the result is, unsurprisingly, pumpkin gnocchi.

I love pumpkin and squashes, they are so wonderfully autumnull with their orangey, yellow skins and rooty sweet flavours, OMG I love them! They are versatile; useful in sweet and savoury dishes, mains and sides and puddings, even as festive lanterns or as a substitute for crockery to save on washing up (I loathe washing up).

Super Bowl

Super Bowl

And damn they can be cute!

It is SMALLER than my HAND!!!

It is SMALLER than my HAND!!!

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Super Stuffed Squash

Super, scrummy, seasonal, sensational squash. There are a huge variety of this wonderful vegetable around at the moment, and they look so damn weird! They come in all shapes and sizes and can be multi-coloured too. Many make the perfect bowl in which to serve stews, soups and other autumn warmers. The first time I came across the squash bowl was at an autumn party, the weather was still clear enough to sit outside but it was definitely getting chilly. So with hats and coats and gloves, and a hot bowl of soup, we sat outside in the garden being gently warmed from the inside out!

Weird and wonderful

Weird and wonderful

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