Sprout Stuffed Squash

sprout squashChristmas is the spiritual home of Brussels sprouts. People have very strong feelings about them one way or the other. Except in our childhood home. I don’t really ever remember eating them on the festive plate when I was wee, possibly because we don’t do turkey either (and don’t even mention bread sauce.)

The first time I really remember them appearing was a few years ago when both our mum and I spotted the same recipe for sprout gratin in the Guardian and were keen to make it. I can’t remember whose recipe it was and I’ve long since lost the cutting, but basically the sprouts are lightly boiled and then blended up with cream and parmesan and baked with more parmesan and breadcrumbs on top. Very simple and utterly amazing. I’ve seen people get territorial over the last spoonful of it.

So when I was coming up with something for £3 Christmas Challenge for the Trussell Trust, this dish was at the back of my mind but I wasn’t quite sure where to go with it. But as you all know, if I’m stuck for an idea, my mind turns to stuffing. And what better to do with the spare Crown Prince squash I’d had sitting getting its gourd on since Hallowe’en on the window sill?

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Peanut Speculoos Cookies

peanut cookiesI know it’s a really food blogger thing to say you love speculoos spread, but then again, I am a food blogger, so allow me.

I absolutely love speculoos spread, especially the crunchy version. If you can’t picture what this is, imagine a Lotus biscuit which you can spread on toast. Like as if Nutella was made from caramel, butter and spices. I particularly love it late at night on hot buttered toast, but I’m not above just sticking a spoon into the jar if I’m honest. Read more

Autumn Sesame Slaw

beetroot_group

For some reason the word ‘slaw‘ seems to enrage people who demand to know when we stopped just saying ‘coleslaw’ and muttering about hipsters. I, for one, welcome the arrival of slaw. It tends to mean freshly prepared vegetables filled with colour and flavour instead of that limp mayonnaise-sodden white and orange woodchip style salad of the 80s and 90s. If hipsters have made that occurrence less likely, then I’m all for it.

This recipe is definitely a slaw. There’s no cabbage in it so it can’t be coleslaw by that token. It’s a bright mix of kohlrabi, beetroot, carrot and apple, packed with flavour and a colour reminiscent of soon to be falling leaves. Lightly tossed in tahini and yoghurt and scattered with sesame seeds, we ate a batch of it in a friend’s garden on the last summer night of the season and then I tucked into more on the first cool wet day we’ve had. It worked perfectly for both.

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One Mangetout at a Time

25 mussels

I think we all know how I felt about Jamie’s comments about poor people in Britain, but just before I fell asleep, I panicked and jolted awake in horror. What if he was right and me writing off Sicilian peasant cuisine in south west London was short sighted? After all, my mantra about food poverty is that there is no one size fits all answer to such a complex problem and there was me, who does have a market just up the road ignoring the advice.

Luckily it was Wednesday ,when any batch cooking from the weekend tends to have run out, since I have a rule to only eat 2 portions of anything and freeze the rest so I don’t put myself off my staples and keep food enjoyable. I was also feeling well enough to get out of the house before half day closing in Brixton market to buy mussels, cherry tomatoes, pasta and those mangetout that attracted so much attention.

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Mango Lassi Frozen Yoghurt

mango lassi

London has been hot and humid recently. The kind of weather where I stop daydreaming about dinner for once and imagine cold showers and ice lollies instead. I’ve been drinking ice coffees to cool down and rather than cooking in the evenings, standing over the kitchen sink trying to keep the juice of a chilled watermelon or a sun ripened mango from running down my front.

Mangoes are one of the finest flavours in warm weather. Sunshine turns them into something really special, and it’s a joy to suck the flesh from the stone inside while holding it in sticky hands sitting outside. But few things are more refreshing than the subcontinent classic of a mango lassi.

Sweet velvety mango puree with creamy chilled yoghurt and the tiniest dash of salt cools any day or any curry down beautifully and I can’t get enough of them in Indian restaurants. I can never get them quite right at home though usually. The yoghurt isn’t thin enough for drinking consistency and if I water it down, I lose the flavour of the mango. But this heat had me determined to crack the code.

And that answer came with the recent discovery of buttermilk in the local Polish shop. I think we all know I’m totally and utterly obsessed with this ingredient and it’s a total fridge staple for me. The Polish stuff is a lovely loose consistency and I knew it would get the texture just right if I mixed it with the yoghurt. It did and I’ve been starting the morning with a glass of this amber nectar.

It put me in mind of how I’ve always meat to try making frozen yoghurt again after an ill fated attempt a few years ago where it frozen so densely, it took about an hour to defrost enough to chip a spoonful out by which time we’d eaten the dessert it went with and moved onto ice cold beers instead. Perhaps the buttermilk would sort the texture here too?

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