Roast Pumpkin Soup

Roast Pumpkin Soup

With pumpkins piled high in the shops, now is just the right time to make this delicious pumpkin soup. Of course, if you have carved a pumpkin for Halloween then this recipe is a great way of not wasting the pumpkin flesh. It’s a hearty earthy soup, ideal for warming those toes after trick or treating or why not serve it on Bonfire night around the roaring bonfire.

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Here’s my recipe for Roast Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (Serves 2 to 3)

600g pumpkin (peeled weight and cut into chunks)
1 medium onion (cut into 8 wedges)
600ml boiling water
1 Kallo organic chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon runny honey
salt and black pepper
handful of pumpkin seeds to serve

Method

1. Pre heat the oven to Fan 200c.

2. Put the pumpkin chunks and onion wedges in a large roasting tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle over the allspice. Toss to ensure the pumpkin and onion are evenly coated. Roast for 30 minutes.

3. Make up the stock with the boiling water and stock cube.

5. Put the cooked pumpkin and onion into a blender, then add half the stock, honey, a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper then blitz.

6. Add the remaining stock and blitz in the blender again until smooth, adding a little extra water from the kettle to get the desired consistency.

7. Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and crusty seeded bread on the side.

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Happy Halloween, until next time.

Julie
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Chorizo Style Sausage and Bean Casserole

Chorizo style sausage and bean casserole

I was recently asked by Sainsbury’s Bank to write about my perfect night in. As a busy mum of three very lively children, I’m quite often exhausted by the end of the school week. So for me the perfect night in now that the dark nights are creeping is enjoying a delicious home cooked meal, drawing the curtains and curling up on the sofa watching TV. OK, please don’t tell me I’m boring, that’s just the way I like it. I’m more than happy to spend the evening watching Downton Abbey, however my husband is not so keen and would much rather watch an action film instead. So to create that perfect night in for both of us once the kids are tucked up in bed, we reach a compromise and settle down to watch usually a good thriller or maybe a romantic comedy with the emphasis on comedy rather than romance!

My warming chorizo style sausage and bean casserole is the kind of food I crave in autumn and it’s ideal for creating that perfect night in for two. It’s brimming with flavour and easy to rustle up as well.

Chorizo style sausage and bean casserole

Here’s my recipe for Chorizo Style Sausage and Bean Casserole.

Ingredients (Serves 2 adults)

6 chorizo style pork sausages (I used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference sausages)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (diced)
1 large carrot (diced)
1 stick of celery (diced)
1 red pepper (cut into 2cm squares)
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
400g tin of haricot beans in water
400g tin chopped tomatoes
salt and black pepper

Method

1. In a large lidded casserole pan heat the olive oil, then brown the sausages all over. Remove the sausages.

2. In the casserole pan sauté the onion, carrots, celery and red pepper with the smoked paprika and cumin until everything begins to soften (about 10 minutes). Add a bit more oil if it starts to catch at the bottom of the pan.

3. Return the sausages to the pan. Add the tinned tomatoes, then fill that same tin with water and pour into the pan. Add the drained haricot beans too. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Bring to the boil, put on the lid and place in a pre heated oven at 180c Fan for 1¼ to 1½ hours.

Serve the casserole with plain rice or creamy mashed potato. Enjoy!

For your chance to win the ultimate perfect night in package including a 40″ HDTV, £250 of Sainsbury’s vouchers and a top 10 DVD selection courtesy of Sainsbury’s Bank simply describe your perfect night in (the ‘enter here’ button will take you to the Sainsbury’s Bank website).

Enter Here

Entries must be submitted by Friday 14th November and the winner will be picked at random on Monday 17th November. Only UK entrants are eligible.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: Sainsbury’s Bank came to me with the opportunity to write about my perfect night in, I received vouchers and DVD’s in return. All opinions are honest and my own, the recipe is my own. To enter the giveaway click on the entry button, which will take you to the Sainsbury’s Bank website whereby you can complete your entry. Sainsbury’s Bank are responsible for the giveaway and the accompanying terms and conditions.

BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show

Mary Berry

Yesterday I attended the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show in London with my eldest daughter but we very nearly never made it. The journey into London was fraught with disaster and I was unsure that we would get there at all. Thankfully, luck must have been on our side and we arrived just in time to watch Mary Berry in the bakes & cakes theatre. Best of all we were in the front row which I didn’t realise until we got there. Mary was a real pro and demonstrated how to make raspberry & apples muffins and fig & nut bars.

Our next stop was the book signing queue, we waited patiently to get Mary Berry to sign my well used copy of her Baking Bible and the new book Mary Cooks the Perfect. It made my daughter’s day when Mary said ‘Keep up the baking, young lady’.

A little while later we queued again for book signing with Paul Hollywood, we were well positioned and could see and hear Paul being interviewed by Jo Wheatley winner of GBBO series 2. After the interview Paul came across and began the book signing, we were close to the front of the queue so we didn’t wait for long before we met Paul and he signed his latest book, British Baking for me.

Paul Hollywood

The show is not just about seeing your baking heroes but is also a chance to stock up on much needed baking goodies and also to buy bakes from artisan producers. I loved the shabby chic vintage plates from the Simply Vintage Designs stall. I recommend you try the brownies from The Brownie Bar they were so delicious, the pistachio and white chocolate brownie was gorgeous.

At lunchtime with aching feet it was lovely to sit down to an afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and dainty cakes. With nothing planned afterwards we had an opportunity to take a look at the stunning cakes on the cake parade from the professional cake decorators. Here’s a few pictures of my favourites.

The show cake decorating competition had a Halloween theme, judged by John Whaite the prize was afternoon tea with Mary Berry. These cakes were truly exceptional, especially those from the junior category.

Later in the day we saw chocolatier Paul A Young being interviewed on the stage, feeling chocolate inspired we then popped across to the Lakeland shop and bought chocolate making moulds. The very kind ladies at Lakeland arranged for Paul A Young to sign a copy of his book with a photo opportunity too, thanks Lakeland.

Our final stop was to watch Mary Berry being interviewed, which was a real pleasure. Mary talked passionately about her hopes for all children being about to cook for themselves by the time they leave school. I couldn’t agree more.

Mary Berry

During the day we caught glimpses of this years Great British Bake Off contestants, including Richard, Chetna, Kate, Martha, Luis and the winner herself Nancy. Making the show a must for Bake Off fans.

Today is the final day of the show, if you are unable to go but want to win a signed copy of Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect why not enter my giveaway.

Until next time, happy baking.

Julie
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How to make: The Perfect Vanilla Buttercream

Vanilla buttercream is the ideal filling for a Victoria sandwich cake and makes a cupcake something special. The perfect vanilla buttercream relies on good quality ingredients, unsalted butter, icing sugar, the best quality vanilla extract and a splash of milk. It’s incredibly easy to make but takes a fair few minutes to achieve a creamy texture. If you have a stand mixer that can do all the hard work for you, then it really is no bother to make at all.

Here’s my recipe for the Perfect Vanilla Buttercream.

Ingredients (enough to top and fill a 20cm sandwich cake or 12 cupcakes)

200g unsalted butter (softened)
400g icing sugar (sifted)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I use Nielsen Massey)
1 tablespoon of milk
Gel food colouring (optional)

Method

1. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until the mixture is light and airy, start off on a slow speed then increase the speed as the buttercream comes together. If your stand mixer has a bowl lid, then use it to prevent icing sugar flying everywhere. Mix for several minutes.

2. Next, mix in the vanilla extract and milk. If you want to colour the buttercream add a drop or two of the gel food colouring now, then mix well. Add only a small amount of the gel colour at a time because the colour will develop as the buttercream is being mixed.

3. The buttercream is ready when it tastes creamy and smooth (with no grittiness from the icing sugar). You are looking for a consistency that is not too stiff but firm enough to pipe.

Your vanilla buttercream is now ready to use. If you wish to use it later, place a layer of cling film directly on top of the buttercream and store at room temperature (not in the fridge). This will prevent a crust developing on top.

I’m off to the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes show tomorrow, I simply can’t wait. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Until next time.

Julie
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Richard Corrigan Demonstrates How to Cook Game

Richard Corrigan

I was recently very privileged to be invited to a feast event at Sainsbury’s head office in London with none other two Michelin star chef Richard Corrigan. Richard was there to help promote and inspire home cooks about the new range of game products Sainsbury’s will be launching in November.

Drawing on influences from South America and Spain we were in for a treat. As you can see from the photos the food looked fantastic and tasted out of this world.

The first recipe Richard prepared was Venison Ceviche with Crab Apples. This was a stunning dish using a loin of venison and I think would make an amazing starter if hosting a dinner party at home.

Venison Ceviche with Crab Apples

Venison Ceviche with Crab Apples

The next recipe Richard rustled up was a Venison, Red Cabbage Slaw and Walnuts. Using a haunch of venison steak this time roasted in the oven until medium rare. This dish had a real zing to it from the orange zest, which I loved.

Venison, Red Cabbage Slaw and Walnuts

Venison, Red Cabbage Slaw and Walnuts

My favourite dish of the evening was this incredible Grilled Partridge with Sweetcorn, Preserved Lemon and Chorizo. For me anything served with chorizo is going to be good. I’ve never eaten partridge before and I’m definitely going to eat it again.

Grilled Partridge with Sweetcorn, Preserved Lemon and Chorizo

Grilled Partridge with Sweetcorn, Preserved Lemon and Chorizo

The final dish of Poached Pheasant with Apple, Chestnut and Pickled Pumpkin had an autumnal feel. Richard used a technique of poaching the pheasant in a freezer bag with orange zest, Calvados, chocolate, cinnamon and chilli resulting in a succulent piece of game.

Poached Pheasant with Apple, Chestnuts and Pickled Pumpkin

Poached Pheasant with Apple, Chestnuts and Pickled Pumpkin

Having never eaten any game before I was unsure what to expect but I was open to trying new taste experiences and have been won over. I will definitely try game when I see it on the menu in a restaurant and I plan to try venison sausages soon.

Thank you Richard Corrigan and Sainsbury’s for a very enjoyable and enlightening evening.

Until next time.

Julie
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Giveaway: Win a signed copy of Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect

Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect

I’m absolutely thrilled to bring you this truly amazing giveaway, a signed copy of Mary Berry’s latest book Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect courtesy of DK. One very lucky reader will win a copy of this brilliant book featuring all new recipes.

Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect is a cookbook packed full of enticing recipes you’ll just want to try. With clear instructions and beautiful photography for each recipe, this cookbook is a must for home cooks. Do take a look at my recent review to find out more.

To be in with a chance of winning you will need to complete the Rafflecopter entry form and provide an answer to the giveaway question as a blog comment. Once, you have done that there are further chances to win.

Click here to enter the giveaway

Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect

The giveaway is open until 00:00 on 10 November 2014 and is open to UK entrants only.

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Julie
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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 10 November 2014. This prize is offered by Dorling Kindersley Ltd and I am hosting it on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. DK or their representative will send out the prize within 14 days of the winner providing me with their name and address. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The prize is as stated, a signed copy of Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure:
I have not been sponsored or paid to host this giveaway. Dorling Kindersley Ltd (DK) are kindly offering the prize to one lucky reader.

Apple and Sultana Sweet Soda Bread

Apple and Sultana Sweet Soda Bread

A few weeks ago, I experimented with a sweet soda bread recipe. I wasn’t quite right but I knew that it had the potential to be really tasty. So after a bit of tinkering I came up with this delightful apple and sultana sweet soda bread recipe. Packed full of flavour from the fruit and a subtle hint of mixed spice making this sweet soda bread a delicious breakfast or afternoon snack. I recommend you serve it sliced spread with a little butter, although it is moist enough to eat without.

This recipe is so incredibly easy and super quick, as it contains no yeast. In fact you don’t knead the dough at all, it couldn’t be simpler. I think you’ll enjoy it too.

Apple and Sultana Sweet Soda Bread

Here’s my recipe for Apple and Sultana Sweet Soda Bread.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

400g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 Royal Gala apple
125g sultanas
40g golden caster sugar
300ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon demerara sugar

Method

1. Pre heat your oven to Fan 200c and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Peel and chop the apple into 5mm dice.

3. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, diced apple, sultanas and caster sugar in a mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Then, make a well in the centre.

4. Pour in the buttermilk and stir the mixture, finally bring the dough together with your hands.

5. On a floured surface shape the dough into a ball and then flatten. Place on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

6. Using a sharp knife cut across the dough vertically and horizontally, forming a cross in the dough.

7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

8. Once baked the loaf will be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Apple and Sultana Sweet Soda Bread

I’m currently reading Dan Lepard’s book Short and Sweet, which I’m finding really inspiring. Have you read it? Please let me know if you recommend a particular recipe, as I can’t decided which to try first.

Until next time, happy baking.

Julie
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I’ve added this recipe to #CookBlogShare at Supergolden Bakes.

#CookBlogShare
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Trio of Chocolate Recipes

Did you know it is Chocolate Week? Well, it certainly is and to celebrate there is a Chocolate Show being held at London’s Olypmia this coming weekend (17th to 19th October). Sadly, I can’t go but to get into the spirit of all things chocolate (like I need much encouragement), I’ve compiled a trio of my favourite chocolate recipes for you.

Double Chocolate Banana Cake

Double chocolate banana cake

This is an utterly delicious and moist chocolate cake, that your family and friends will love. So, if you have any bananas that have seen better days I recommend you make it.

Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits

Milk Chocolate and Walnut Biscuits 22012014

These biscuits are totally scrummy and worth making a pot of tea or coffee for. If you take a batch into the office I promise you’ll be the most popular member of staff.

Rocky Road Bars

Rocky road bars

I’m sure Rocky Roads are every child’s favourite. I’ve made these a little special with a couple of magic ingredients, Turkish Delight and dried mango.

I hope you enjoy this trio of chocolate recipes.

Until next time.

Julie
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Garam Masala Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Garam Masala Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Oh I do like a bit of spice in a bowl of soup, not too much but enough just to waken those taste buds. This is my first soup for autumn and I wanted to experiment with my fail safe carrot soup recipe, which is utterly delicious too I must add. Anyway, I think you’ll agree this tasty carrot and lentil soup, spiced with garam masala, fresh coriander and chilli is a real winner. Healthy and full of tantalising flavours, this is no boring lentil soup. It’s worth making just for the beautiful smell of the garam masala wafting from the kitchen. Enjoy!

Garam Masala Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

Here’s my recipe for Garam Masala Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup.

Ingredients (Serves 3 to 4)

400g carrots (chopped in rounds)
100g red lentils
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
600ml hot chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 red chilli (sliced in rounds)

Method

1. Heat the olive oil in a large lidded casserole pan and sauté onion until soft.

2. Add the carrots, chilli flakes and ground coriander. Sauté until the carrots just start to soften.

3. Add the hot chicken stock, lentils and a grinding of black pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.

4. Stir through the garam masala and continue simmering for a further 10 minutes.

5. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender with an additional 100ml of water. Blitz until smooth. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary.

6. Just before serving, stir through the fresh coriander and top with fresh chilli rounds, if you like. The fresh chilli will make the soup fiery hot, just omit if you don’t want the soup too hot.

Garam Masala Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

This carrot and lentil soup would be great served at Bonfire night celebrations and will certainly keep you warm. I hope you like it.

Until next time.

Julie
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Link up your recipe of the week

I’ve entered this recipe into #CreditCrunchMunch organised by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours. This month it is hosted by Hannah at A New Addition.

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Giveaway: Culture Vulture Gourmet Cheese Plates and French Salts

Gourmet Cheese Label Plates

Gourmet Cheese Label Plates

French Salts

French Salts

I’m delighted to bring you this fab giveaway from the lovely people at Culture Vulture Direct, an online shop selling artisan products for you and your home from around the world. The giveaway includes a set of 4 fine bone china plates decorated with classic cheese label designs, a jar of truffle and black pepper salt plus a jar of fig, onion and 5 peppers salt.  I think you’ll agree the prizes are lovely and would make ideal gifts.

To be in with a chance of winning this giveaway you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form and leave a comment on my blog. Plus, there are further chances to win, once you have left your blog comment.

Click here to enter the giveaway

The giveaway is open until 00:00 on 30 October 2014 and is open to UK entrants only.

I wish you all the very best of luck.

Julie
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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway will close at 00:00 on 30 October 2014. This prize is offered by Culture Vulture Direct and I am hosting it on behalf of them. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. Culture Vulture Direct or their representative will send out the prize within 7 days of the winner providing me with their name and address. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 7 days of the closing date. The prize is as stated, a set of 4 fine bone china plates decorated with classic cheese label designs, a jar of truffle and black pepper salt plus a jar of fig, onion and 5 peppers salts, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open to UK entrants only.

Disclosure:
I have not been sponsored or paid to host this giveaway. Culture Vulture Direct are kindly offering the prize to one lucky reader.