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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Grilled Aubergine Rolls stuffed with Spinach and Feta

We always have a lot of aubergines in the fridge and so seeing as I still haven’t been food shopping yet this week (eeek, getting withdrawal symptoms, the shopping shakes!!) I had to come up with something that used up the left over chorizo and white bean stew from last night and the aubergines that are just begging to be cooked. And this was it.

Rolly polly lunch

Rolly polly lunch

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Possibly the Best Pudding in the World

Oh, ho, ho you are in for a treat today! This is one of the most amazing puddings, EVER!! It is rich, and decadent and oh so moreish. It is warming in two different ways even, physically AND mentally, perfect for toasting your insides after a chilly winter walk and faintly reminiscent of childhood puds. It is so easy. And tasty. I’m hungry, can you tell? Everyone loves a classic, and this one has a ridiculously tasty twist. Beautiful crispy edges and a squidgey custardy middle, can you guess what it is yet?

 

The best pud EVER

The best pud EVER

White Chocolate and Whisky Croissant Pudding (oh yes my friends, a real treat!)

8 croissants, 125g white chocolate, 4 eggs, 450ml double cream, 250ml milk, 50ml whisky (or dark rum is nice too), vanilla pod, sugar, rhubarb jam (or apricot or marmalade).

Slice the croissants in half and lay them overlapping, cut side down in an oven proof serving dish. Scatter the chopped chocolate over them, making sure some bits get between the layers. In a bowl, mix the eggs, cream, milk and whisky with the vanilla seeds scraped from the pod, then pour the mix over the croissants. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over and a bit of grated chocolate. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 C. After 30 minutes, take it out and spoon the jam over the top, slice the vanilla pod in half and make a cross on the top (for prettiness). Bake in the oven for another 15 minutes or so.

This is a great one for slightly stale croissants, perhaps the multi pack was a bit ambitious for just one person…OR if you’re feeling adventurous, try it with brioche slices.

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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Chicken Tonight

Chicken is a mainstay of many people’s diets but until recently it was not something that I ate very often. On the boat we eat quite a lot of chicken though, we always have lots of it on standby and when it isn’t requested by the guests, I cook it for the crew instead. And so, I have had to find some interesting recipes that make eating chicken once a week delicious and new every time. Here are four recipes that make people excited when I say we’re having chicken tonight.

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken!

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken!

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Tasty soup soup!

A long time ago there was a song about soup by the Mighty Boosh…

“Soup Soup
Tasty Soup Soup
Spicy carrot and corriander
Chilli chowder
Crouton Crouton
Crunch friends in a liquid broth
I am gespatchio Oh!
I am a summer soup Mmmm!
Miso Miso
Fighting in the dojo
Miso Miso
Oriental Prince in the land of soup”

Along with salad, soup is another favourite among the crew and is rapidly becoming a quick and easy go to lunch for me if I’m rushed with other bits and pieces. It is so easy just to prep some veg, stick it in a pot, boil and then blend. Ta da! Soup. However, there are a few tricks which can turn what is really just vegetable pure√© into a tasty soup.

I always put heaps of garlic in everything, this is no different for soup. First I like to fry off some garlic and onion with a little leek too. Add a liter of stock (flavour depending on what vegetables/meat you are using) to the pan, bring to the boil and then add your prepared veg.

And by prepared I don’t just mean chopped. For some recipes I like to pre-cook the veg, for example, Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup gets a wonderful dimension of flavour added by roasting the veg in olive oil, rock salt and a little rosemary before adding them to the stock.

Adding herbs can make a real difference too. Fresh is best though dried is fine if that’s all you’ve got to hand. If you aren’t growing some on the windowsill and are buying cut herbs from the local grocers (please not the supermarkets…), pop them in a glass of water just like you would with cut flowers. Not something I had ever thought of before seeing it in a kitchen in Italy, it might just be me, apologies for perhaps pointing out the obvious. Anyway, a good bunch of parsley in a Broccoli soup does wonders to balance out the sometimes bitter vegetable, especially if you’re going for the iron super-boost and add a bunch of cavolo nero like I did this evening (they grow cabbages in their floral road verges here in Antibes…not sure if that counts as foraging???).

Top with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil

Top with sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil

I am also a fan of cheese in soup, one of my favourite allotment recipes before I moved to Italy was Pea and Potato soup; a great way of using up excesses of both crops when you forget to stagger planting (oops). Lashings of mint and a ton of goat cheese make this soup really luxurious, and probably not as healthy as soup ought to be…

Leftovers, great for soup. Got some roast chicken left over from Sunday lunch, wack it in a soup with potatoes and sweetcorn, one of my favourites from childhood!

Croutons. I love croutons. Well actually I like fried bread but it amounts to the same thing. Putting things on top of your soup is all about adding texture. I also like to sprinkle sesame seeds or toasted nuts over the top and a drizzle of something oily or creamy doesn’t go amiss either.

And finally, seasoning. Salt and pepper are really important. If a dish is a little flat it could be that adjusting the seasoning can make all the difference. Salt is not bad for you as long as you don’t overdo it, in fact you need it in your diet to keep you healthy so don’t worry about adding a good pinch to lift the flavour.

Don’t forget, loads of fresh crusty bread to serve it with. So

anytime you need a quick lunch, or have lots of vegetables or leftovers to use up, wizz up a batch of ‘Soup, soup. Tasty soup soup!’