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  • Posted on November 21, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We don’t know about you but we certainly have that Friday feeling here at RPS towers! And with the weekend stretching before us, we’re looking forward to some Saturday afternoon baking. This cake, taken from Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan, is the perfect autumnal bake: an ideal accompaniment to your midmorning coffee, afternoon tea or as a lovely post-Sunday lunch dessert, if it lasts that long! Although with the flavours here, we suspect possibly not…

    Spiced Pear Cake

    This is a lovely moist cake which you could serve warm or cold with a cup of tea or coffee, or as an after-dinner dessert. Try substituting the pears for plums or rhubarb.

    250 g plain flour

    1½ teaspoons baking powder

    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

    1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

    1½ teaspoons ground ginger

    2 large eggs

    240 ml milk

    200 ml golden syrup

    35 g clear honey

    125 g butter

    125 g light muscovado sugar

    400 g (about 2 large) pears, peeled, cored and sliced

    6 tablespoons fruit preserve (apricot, apple or plum)

    100 g flaked almonds, toasted

    a 23-cm/9-in round or 25-cm/10-in square cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment

    SERVES 6–8

     

    Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF) Gas 3.

    Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger into a large mixing bowl.

    In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and milk together.

    Warm the syrup, honey and butter very gently in a saucepan or pot set over a low heat. Stir in the sugar and keep on the heat until the butter and sugar melt together. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

    Pour the warm syrup mixture into the bowl with the flour in and stir gently using a large, metal spoon. Add the whisked egg mixture and stir to combine.

    Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and drop in the pear slices evenly over the surface – they should sink into the batter.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 45–60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, checking regularly after 40 minutes. If it looks as though the cake is getting too brown on top, cover with foil to stop it burning and return to the oven.

    Meanwhile, melt the preserve in a saucepan or pot set over a medium heat.

    Remove the cake from the oven and liberally brush with the warmed preserve while it is still warm. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and serve.

    Café Kitchenby Shelagh Ryan is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend and happy baking!

     


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  • Posted on November 20, 2014

    At Home with Henry

    We have something a little different for you to read this evening, tucked up on the sofa with a warming cup of tea, so get the kettle on and grab a cushion! Whether you’ve got an interest in the Tudor monarchy or just love the gruesome tales you remember from school history lessons, our lovely new gift book, At Home with Henry, will make for a fascinating read. Best known for his many wives and great weight, we want to know what it was really like to be Henry, or to be married to him!

    In the book, Rose Shepherd reveals the day-to-day life of this famous monarch and his wives. If you’re looking for that something special to wrap up as a Christmas gift then At Home with Henry might just be it! Today we’ve picked a section that looks at Henry’s extravagant costume, a little over-the-top you might think, but it certainly made him look like the king of the castle!

    At his first parliament, in January 1510, Henry had helped to devise “An Act against Wearing of Costly Apparrell.” It drew upon the model of laws passed by the preposterously vain Edward IV in 1463 and 1483, which, among other things, had banned cobblers from making “piked” shoes with pointed toes of more than two inches. Further Acts were to follow in 1514, 1515, and 1533, refining the dress codes even more.

    The four Acts that the king so heartily endorsed were a means of reinforcing not only class but also the male hierarchy. Women, deriving their status from fathers and husbands, were part of the structure and were expected to acquiesce. The emphasis on male finery, however, was surely a reflection of Henry’s own narcissism, a love of costume inherited from his maternal grandfather, Edward IV, and the absolute imperative to set himself above everyone.

    Broad padded shoulders and an exaggeratedly large codpiece played up masculinity. The outline was square. Upper and nether hose showed off the strapping legs in which Henry took such pride. Outer garments were ornamented with gems and embroidery, quilting, and brocade. It pleased Katharine to sew and embroider Henry’s shirts herself. She popularized blackwork, or “Spanish work,” intricate, lacy patterned stitching of black silk on white or pale fabric. Furs Henry had in abundance. Decorative slashing—slits at artful angles—afforded glimpses of more garments beneath, the under-layers sometimes pulled through the slits, or “puffed.” Henry’s soft caps, worn at an angle, were yet more vehicles for fur trim, feathers, and precious stones. A 17th-century commentator wrote of Hans Holbein’s portrait of Henry that the spectator felt “abashed, annihilated in his presence.”

    In this way, Henry VIII contrived to be literally every inch a king. If he was not, as was claimed, “the best-dressed sovereign in Europe,” he was certainly among the most dressed. Compared with the Italian-inspired elegance and more muted palette favored by Francis I, he looked like a gaudy overstuffed sofa.

    At Home with Henry by Rose Shepherd is available here.

     


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, cico, cico books, blog, book, amazon, Blogger, gift, 2014, gift book, henry viii, henry 8th, tudor, monarch, monarchy, king, history, christmas gift, clothing, outfit, Rose Shepherd, At Home with Henry

  • Posted on November 17, 2014

    Annie Sloan's Room Recipes blog tour!

    Last week we celebrated the publication of Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes for Style and Colour by Annie Sloan & Felix Sloan with a fabulous blog tour! We had reviews; features and giveaways, all hosted by some of the most beautiful interiors blogs around! It was most exciting! But don’t worry if you missed it, we’ve gathered all the posts in one handy little round up here so you can read and re-read at your leisure.

    Lobster & Swan very kindly kicked off the blog tour with this post matching some of Annie Sloan’s chalk paint colours to the themes from each chapter, and tips on recreating the looks. They loved ‘the most colourful and happy’ Bohemian section, and featured several images from this study.

    Next we moved onto Décor Art UK who posted this fabulous review on Tuesday, calling the book ‘the perfect first step into the vast world of interior design’, illustrated by more beautiful photographs from the book.

    Following this, there was a beautiful feature on Remodelista, who said ‘The volume presents and dissects nine design styles, each approached with the color clarity and consistency that Sloan espouses’ before focusing on one of their favourite looks from the book: London Retro.

    Finally, we visited Such Pretty Things with another lovely review: ‘And did I mention what a pretty book it is??? It’s just brimming with stunning photographs of gorgeous rooms and interiors’.

    After such a busy week we needed a sit down with a cup of tea and an absorbing interiors book to read…fortunately we knew just the thing!

    Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes for Style and Colour by Annie Sloan and Felix Sloan, with photography by Christopher Drake, is available here.


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, cico, cico books, blog, home, house, book, waterstones, interiors, twitter, annie sloan, annie sloan books, autumn, 2014, annie sloan's room recipes for style and colour, annie sloan chalk paint, blog tour, Lobster and Swan, Such Pretty Things, Decor Art UK, review, Remodelista

  • Posted on November 14, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend: Winter Warming edition!

    As the weather gets cooler, and the days shorter, we are turning to our recipe books for hearty, warming treats to keep us toasty inside and out! With this in mind we’ve got a great Recipe for the Weekend for you from Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard. This book is full of everything you need to know to enjoy a whole range of cured meats, including how to put together the perfect charcuterie board, as well as recipes for all kinds of dishes, from canapés to family feasts. We know this delicious stew will smell AMAZING cooking away whilst you relax with a nice glass of wine and a cosy read.

    Scallop, chorizo, chilli and quinoa stew with herby dumplings

    So many cured meats come from warm Southern European plains where there’s a sea breeze and sunshine on the roofs… However, this is a stew recipe that’s perfect for when it’s chilly outside and you need some central heating for the tummy. The chorizo and the chilli provide the most amazing warmth with their flavour.

    For the stew

    20 g butter

    1 red onion, diced

    1 garlic clove, chopped

    1 red pepper, deseeded and diced

    2 celery stalks, chopped

    100 g chorizo, diced

    1 small fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

    1 teaspoon paprika

    30 g plain flour

    500 ml chicken stock

    100 g quinoa or pearl barley

    200 g shelled scallops

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the herby dumplings (optional)

    50 g shredded suet

    100 g self-raising flour

    a pinch of dried thyme

    a pinch of dried rosemary

    a baking sheet, greased

    Serves 2

    For the stew, melt the butter in a frying pan, then fry the onion and garlic over low heat for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the red pepper and celery, and fry until the vegetables soften. Add the chorizo, red chilli and paprika, and season with salt and pepper, then stir to mix. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir for just a minute before adding the chicken stock. Stir in the quinoa.

    Bring to a simmer and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the scallops. Cook for a further 10 minutes (or 15 minutes if the scallops are frozen), until the scallops are cooked.

    If you would like to make the herby dumplings, start making them as soon as the stew begins simmering.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    Put all the dumpling ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix, then gradually add 50–100 ml cold water, a little at a time, and keep mixing with your hands until the mixture comes together in a solid ball. Don’t make the mixture too wet, otherwise the dumplings will be soggy.

    Divide and roll the mixture into round dumplings and put them onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then add them to the stew for the last 25 minutes of cooking time. Serve hot.

    Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard is available here.

    We hope you all have excellent weekends, and happy cooking!


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, ryland, peters, small, ryland peters small, book, recipe, hearty, amazon, quinoa, Miranda Ballard, Muddy Boots, recipes, chilli, cooking, autumn, recipe for the weekend, weekend, 2014, charcuterie, chorizo, stew, scallops, dumplings

  • Posted on November 13, 2014

    Make your own Pay it Forward Advent Calendar!

    We all love a chocolate Advent calendar, but the girls at Craft it Up were thinking, wouldn't it be good to give something back in the days leading up to Christmas, instead of taking? So they created this lovely Pay it Forward Advent Calendar, where each day you can open a note with a simple act to make someone’s day – including gestures such as tell a Christmas cracker joke or bake something yummy for a friend! You can make up your own actions to put inside these cute parcels, ready to open up each day as you countdown to Christmas.

    As today is World Kindness Day we thought it would be the perfect day to release the video, as this craft project is all about small acts of kindness! The calendar is super easy to make and can be done with your favourite festive paper, just follow the simple steps in the video below – why not do it over the next couple of weeks, ready to hang up on the 1st of December?

    This project is taken from the new book, Craft it Up Christmas Around the World. We have a great competition for you to win a copy of the book, with three copies to giveaway! All you need to do is follow us on Twitter or Instagram and tell us your favourite Christmas craft!

    Craft it Up Christmas Around the World is available here.

    Enjoy all your Christmas crafting and have fun thinking up some kind acts!


    This post was posted in Competitions, Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US, Videos, Videos, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, cico, cico books, christmas, book, craft, crafts, christmas craft, twitter, book giveaway, craft book, craft author, amazon, Blogger, libby abadee, craft it up, twitter competition, crafting for kids, advent calendar, advent, win, 2014, craft it up christmas, craft it up christmas around the world

  • Posted on November 10, 2014

    Super-Cute Macarons!

    With the arrival of November, and some decidedly autumnal weather with it, we’re looking towards Christmas. We don’t know about you, but here at RPS towers we love macarons, and our new book Super-Cute Macarons by Loretta Liu has some fabulous Christmassy treats! How sweet are these snowmen?!

    We can’t wait to give these a go as the big day approaches, but thought we could ease ourselves in by practicing with some adorable panda bears! PLUS we’ve got three copies of Super-Cute Macarons to give away to lucky winners over on twitter. Just head over, make sure you’re following @RylandPeters, RT any #supercute tweet and tell us your idea for an adorably decorated macaron.

    PANDAS

    Here I use a clever stacking effect to create an unmistakable black and white panda. It is very simple but extremely effective, and can be used for other animals too, if you use your imagination!

    FOR THE MACARON SHELLS

    2 batches Basic Macarons (see recipe below)

    5 g/1 teaspoon black food colouring paste

    FOR THE FILLING

    800 g buttercream icing

    3 tablespoons lemon curd

    FOR THE DECORATION

    570g royal icing

    black food colouring paste

    2 disposable piping/pastry bags fitted with 1 cm/ ½inch  round nozzles

    5 cm/ 2 inch round template

    small disposable piping/pastry bag for icing

    Makes 40

     

    Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF) Gas 3.

    Prepare the first batch of Basic Macarons according to the recipe below. No food colouring is added to this batch. Put the mixture into a piping/pastry bag fitted with a 1-cm/½-in. round nozzle/tip.

    Place the 5-cm/2-in. round template on a baking sheet, and place a transparent silicone mat on top. Pipe 40 rounds, using the template as a guide. (You will need more than one baking sheet.) Tap the bottom of the sheets lightly on the work surface to settle the mixture. Carefully slide the template out from under the silicone mat. Leave the macarons to rest for 15–30 minutes.

    Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 8 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the undersides of the macarons are dry. Leave to cool for 30 minutes on the baking sheet. Leave the oven on.

    Meanwhile, prepare the second batch of Basic Macarons according to the recipe, but add the black food colouring paste before folding the egg whites into the dry ingredients. Put the mixture into a piping/pastry bag fitted with a 1-cm/½-in. round nozzle/tip.

    Place the 5-cm/2-in. round template on a baking sheet, and place a transparent silicone mat on top. Pipe 80 rounds, using the template as a guide. (You will need more than one baking sheet.) Tap the bottom of the sheets lightly on the work surface to settle the mixture. Carefully slide the template out from under the silicone mat. Leave the macarons to rest for 15–30 minutes.

    Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 8 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the undersides of the macarons are dry. Leave to cool for 30 minutes on the baking sheet. These will be the pandas’ bodies.

    To make the filling, mix the lemon curd into the Buttercream.

    Spread a teaspoonful of the filling mixture onto the flat-sides of half of the black shells, and top with the remaining black macaron shells, pressing together gently. These are the bodies. Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.

    To decorate

    Make the Royal Icing and use a cocktail stick/toothpick to add enough black colouring paste to make a dark shade. Transfer to a small piping/ pastry bag for icing. Pipe black eyes, noses and ears onto the reserved white macaron shells. Leave to dry for 20 minutes.

    Use the remaining icing to stick a face onto the top of each panda’s body.

    Leave to dry for 1 hour.

     

    BASIC MACARONS

    145 g/5 oz. egg whites

    95 g/½ cup caster/superfine sugar

    170 g/1⅔ cups ground almonds

    260 g/2 cups minus 2 tablespoons icing/confectioners’ sugar

    Makes 45

    Separate the egg whites from the yolks 3–5 days before you plan to use them, and store them, covered, in the refrigerator. Do not use fresh egg whites. After 3–5 days in the refrigerator, the egg whites will be a runnier consistency

    Before baking, you need to bring the egg whites to room temperature.

    Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or in a mixing bowl with a hand-held electric whisk until it has doubled in size.

    Add the caster/superfine sugar and continue to whisk until the meringue mixture looks glossy and starts to come away from the side of the bowl, forming one large blob in the middle. At this stage, if you lift the whisk, the meringue in the bowl should form a stiff peak and stay upright after the whisk has been lifted.

    When you are first learning how to make macarons, it is a good idea to work with a very stiff meringue. This means that the end result can be slightly dry, but it gives you extra time when you reach the folding stage, allowing you time to get your ‘macaronage’ or folding technique right. If your meringue is under-whisked (or if it is perfectly whisked but you have not yet got your folding technique right), the meringue will collapse before you have incorporated all the dry ingredients.

    Sift the ground almonds together with the icing/confectioners’ sugar in a separate bowl. Add the meringue mixture to the dry ingredients. You are now ready to fold the ingredients together.

    Fold the meringue into the dry ingredients using quick circular movements until the mixture is ready for piping. This technique requires you to be gentle but not too gentle – you do not want to just coat the meringue in the dry mixture, you need to combine the two together. As well as being gentle, you also need to work quickly, otherwise the macaron mixture will lose its structure and collapse. Use a spatula to fold the ground almonds into the meringue until there are no more ground almonds around the edge of the bowl. At this stage, use your spatula to scoop up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and work them into the meringue. Fold until there are no dry ingredients visible in the bowl. The mixture should not be runny.

    Super-Cute Macarons by Loretta Liu is available here.

    Have a great week and don't forget to enter the Twitter competition for your chance to win a copy of this fantastic book!


    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, Featured, News, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, christmas, ryland, peters, small, ryland peters small, recipe, twitter, amazon, baking, macaron, cooking, competition, autumn, twitter competition, november, win, 2014, macarons, macaron recipe, Super-Cute Macarons, Loretta Liu

  • Posted on November 7, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Earlier this week saw the launch of a wonderful book, A Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar by Ursula Ferrigno, at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. It was a lovely evening and you can read all about it here. For the launch Ursula had made a truly delicious focaccia, covered with plum tomatoes, gorgonzola and artichokes and we thought it would make for a perfect Recipe for the Weekend to share with you all. The thought of spending Saturday afternoon pottering in the kitchen to make it, and then sharing it with friends and a nice bottle of red is very appealing. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did at Books for Cooks and Happy Friday!

    Potato and gorgonzola focaccia

    Potato in dough is quite remarkable. This is a firm family favourite for sharing at gatherings or picnics.

    FOR THE DOUGH:

    2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

    500–550g/4–4 1/3 cups white strong/bread flour, plus extra for sprinkling and kneading

    2 teaspoons fine sea salt

    15 g/ ½ oz. fresh yeast, crumbled or

    7 g/ ¼ oz. dried/active dry yeast

    250 ml/1 cup water at body temperature

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    FOR THE TOPPING:

    1 x 400-g/14-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

    1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

    2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn

    1 garlic glove, finely chopped

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    375 g/13 oz. quartered artichoke hearts in marinated olive oil

    250 g/9 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

    150 g/5 ½ oz. mozzarella, shredded

    TO SERVE:

    fruity extra virgin olive oil

    Makes 1

    In a covered saucepan, boil the potatoes for 10–15 minutes or until they are tender. Drain and mash them, then leave to cool slightly.

    In a large bowl, mix two thirds of the flour with the salt. Dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of the water and add it to a well in the centre of the flour with the olive oil. Mix for a few minutes, then stir in the potatoes and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

    On a lightly floured work surface, knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is both smooth and elastic. This will take about 8–10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, turning it once to grease the surface. Cover it with a damp, clean dish towel and leave it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.

    Knock back the dough, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.

    Grease a 38 x 25 x 2.5 cm/15 x 10 x 1 in. baking tray. Press the dough into the tray. If it is sticky, sprinkle the surface with about 1 tablespoon of extra flour. Using your fingertips, make small indentations in the dough. Cover and leave it to prove until it has nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

    For the topping, mix the tomatoes, oregano, basil, garlic and pepper and spoon evenly over the dough. Place the artichoke hearts over the tomato sauce mixture. Cover with the Gorgonzola and shredded mozzarella. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot, drizzled with the extra virgin olive oil.

    A Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar by Ursula Ferrigno is available here.

     

    Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy cooking!


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, blog, ryland, peters, small, ryland peters small, book, potato, recipe, london, bread, pinterest, london event, amazon, Blogger, recipes, cooking, recipe for the weekend, weekend, 2014, Vinegar, A Gourmet Guide to Oil and Vinegar, Ursula Ferrigno, oil and vinegar, focaccia, potato dough, gorgonzola, oils, focaccia recipe, dough

  • Posted on November 5, 2014

    The one with the lovely focaccia!

    Yesterday evening saw us back at one of our most treasured shops, Books for Cooks, to celebrate the launch of a very special cookery book by Ursula Ferrigno, A Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar.

    We had a super evening tasting and learning about some delicious olive oils and vinegars, with a great speech from Ursula and lots of lovely chatter about the book.

    With thanks to The Oil Merchant for bringing us such a fantastic selection of oils and vinegars to try. Our personal favourite was this Morgenster Extra Virgin Olive Oil, though we thoroughly enjoyed dipping our bread into the various pots and tasting the exciting range of flavours!

    We had the pleasure of sampling some of Ursula's delicious focaccia - an amazingly soft potato dough base, topped with Italian plum tomatoes, Gorgonzola and artichokes - which we all intend on making this weekend (check back on Friday for the recipe!). We also enjoyed her Italian almond apple cake, made with olive oil and a hint of cinnamon, and wonderfully light and tasty as a result!

    In this fascinating new book, Ursula guides you through a selection of speciality oils and vinegars and offers up a variety of recipes and tips for how to season and cook with them. Jan Baldwin's photography resembles a collection of beautiful still life paintings and the dishes look so delicious that you will want to cook them immediately! It came as no surprise, then, that guests were snapping up the books for Christmas presents (and for themselves!) with special signings by Ursula.

    Everybody had a great evening and we'd like to say a huge thank you to Eric for having us in his lovely shop, Books for Cooks. Eric and Ursula have been friends for a long time - check out this photo from 1998! - and the shop made a super venue to celebrate the book!

    Congratulations Ursula - from all of your friends and family, your guests last night, your publisher, and all of the oil and vinegar fans that are going to love your book - cheers!

    A Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar is available here and pop back to our blog on Friday for Ursula's focaccia recipe!


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  • Posted on November 3, 2014

    Office Pot Luck Lunch!

    To celebrate some beautiful fall weather and break in the kitchen at our new office in New York, we organized a pot luck lunch featuring recipes from The Natural Food Kitchen by Jordan Bourke. If you'd like to have a go at a recipe then try this delicious pumpkin and coconut laksa, full of sour, sweet, salty and spicy notes! Here's a few photos from our lunch to tempt you...

    We enjoyed delicacies like avocado miso dip with root veg crisps and dukkah spice mix (a lovely twist on guacamole), crab cakes with saffron mayonnaise, and pad thai. The dishes were light, healthy and easy to make. We all walked away from the table satisfied but not stuffed with food!

    We had a lovely lunch and would highly recommend the recipes! To learn more about Jordan's book, check out the video and pictures here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, US, Videos, What's new and was tagged with books, blog, ryland, small, ryland peters small, book, healthy, recipe, jordan bourke, Blogger, recipes, cooking, office lunch, 2014, natural ingredients, The Natural Food Kitchen, pumpkin and coconut laksa, pot luck lunch, natural food, avocado miso dip, root veg crisps, crab cakes, pad thai, dukkah

  • Posted on October 31, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    As we’re all in the Halloween spirit today, we thought we’d share a recipe for you to use up any left over pumpkin insides over the weekend, after you’ve carved them into something splendid! Whether you’re celebrating the haunted holiday today or simply making the most of everyone’s favourite orange veggie, this pumpkin and coconut laksa from The Natural Food Kitchen is utterly delicious and full of goodness!

    You might remember author Jordan Bourke from his fantastic first book, The Guilt-free Gourmet, written with his sister Jessica Bourke. Full of international flavours, exciting dishes and natural food, Jordan’s new collection of recipes is just as hard to resist! So hard, in fact, that the US office held a little pot luck lunch with a few of the recipes which you can read more about next week!

    pumpkin & coconut laksa

    We often cook laksa at home – a Malaysian noodle soup of sorts with sour, sweet, salty and spicy notes. You can buy laksa curry paste, but I have given you the recipe here as the flavour is much better and it keeps well in the fridge or freezer. Delica pumpkins, with their emerald green skin and vibrant orange flesh (it’s practically an Irish flag, so you can’t go wrong!), are great in this dish. However, they are not always available in supermarkets, so you can use any kind of squash instead.

    1 delica pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, halved and deseeded

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    sea salt

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    4 shallots, thinly sliced

    4 tablespoons of the curry paste (see below)

    3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or pure maple syrup

    1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

    zest and juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons), plus another lime, cut into wedges, to serve

    2 tablespoons tamarind paste (alternatively use another 2 tablespoons of lime juice)

    2 x 400-ml/14-fl. oz. cans coconut milk

    400 ml/1 2/3 cups vegetable stock

    200 g/6 ½ oz. rice noodles

    ½ a red onion, sliced

    1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced

    small handful of fresh mint leaves

    few leaves spinach, to serve

    For the curry paste:

    3 fresh red chillies/chiles, deseeded

    2 teaspoons chilli/hot red pepper flakes

    4 shallots, roughly chopped

    5 garlic cloves, peeled

    3 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves and woody ends removed, chopped

    3-cm/1 ¼-inch piece fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a teaspoon

    1 tablespoons ground coriander

    1 teaspoons ground cumin

    1 teaspoons ground turmeric

    4 lime leaves (optional)

    Serves 4

    For the curry paste, add everything to a food processor with 6 tablespoons of water and blitz until you have a paste, scraping down the sides when needed. This will take at least 2 minutes of constant blitzing.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (360ºF) Gas 4. Cut the pumpkin/squash halves into 3 cm/1 1/4 inch chunks, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until cooked through.

    Place a large pot with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the shallots and stir-fry for a few minutes until softened.

    Turn down the heat, add in the curry paste and cook gently for 5 minutes until fragrant. Add in the sugar or maple syrup, salt, lime zest and juice and tamarind paste. Cook for another few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and everything is sizzling.

    Add in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer briskly for 10 minutes. Taste the soup and if necessary adjust the seasoning with a little more salt, lime juice or coconut palm sugar. You should be able to taste all the sour, salty, sweet elements quite strongly. Add in the cooked pumpkin/squash and the spinach leaves, stirring into the sauce until slightly wilted.

    Cook the noodles in boiling water, according to the packet instructions. Ladle the soup into bowls and then add in a mound of noodles. Scatter over some of the red onion, chilli/chile and mint leaves and serve immediately with the lime wedges to squeeze over.

    The Natural Food Kitchen by Jordan Bourke is available here.

    We hope you have a fantastic weekend with some delicious food and great company, and if you are celebrating tonight, then Happy Halloween!


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, blog, ryland, peters, small, ryland peters small, book, healthy, recipe, jordan bourke, jessica bourke, amazon, Blogger, recipes, autumn, halloween, healthy food, recipe for the weekend, 2014, the guilt-free gourmet, The Natural Food Kitchen, pumpkin, Jordan and Jessica Bourke, laksa, laksa recipe, pumpkin recipe, pumpkin carving, pumpkin and coconut laksa, Noodle soup, Malaysian recipe, squash

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