Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pumpkin, saffron & orange soup

November 7, 2018

We just keep going back to Simple. I was keen for a soup and this pumpkin one was the pick of the small selection in the book. It all takes a bit of time - you've got to do a bunch of chopping and roasting before you even get to the soup making. It's worth it though. This is probably the best pumpkin soup recipe we've made - the creaminess of the crème fraiche is nicely balanced by the twin punches of the orange zest and chilli. The roasted pumpkin seeds were the star of the show though - so simple and so, so delicious. You could just make them as a snack. They work brilliantly with this soup though - we'll definitely make it again.

Pumpkin, saffron & orange soup
(from Yotam Ottolenghi's Simple)

60ml olive oil
2 onions, sliced into 2cm wedges
1.2kg of butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 3cm cubes
1 litre of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons harissa (we just used a chilli paste, because we couldn't track down harissa in the supermarket)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
zest of 1 orange
180g crème fraiche
parsley leaves to garnish
salt and pepper

80g pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Mix the pumpkin seeds, syrup and chilli flakes in a small bowl with a sprinkle of salt. Spread them on a lined baking tray and roast for 15 minutes until they starting to brown. Set aside to cool.

Turn the oven up to 220°C.

Combine the oil, onion and pumpkin in a large bowl with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well and then lay them out on a baking tray. Roast for 25 minutes until everything softens up nicely and then take them out of the oven and set aside.

Put the stock, harissa, saffron, orange zest and some more salt and pepper into a big pot. Bring it all to the boil and then add in the pumpkin, onions and baking oil. Stir, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Take everything off the heat, stir in the crème fraiche and then blend it all up with a hand blender.

Serve, topped with pumpkin seeds and parsley.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Honey, miso & walnut pie

October 31-November 5, 2018

I'm very fond of white miso, and have been wanting to make a dessert with it for a long time. Naturally I bookmarked this recipe the moment I saw it on The Brick Kitchen. Even better, I found an excuse to bake it within days! I prepared this pie to share with friends on a weekend away in Cape Paterson.

I see it as a bit of a riff on the traditional pecan pie. The caramel is based on honey rather than brown sugar, so it's a bit lighter and sweeter; the walnuts are a more bitter counterbalance than pecans. While the caramel has a slightly whipped and not especially chewy texture, the sweetness is intense and a small slice goes a long way. I was a bit disappointed that the miso flavour weakened with baking, but others thought it still hit the right savoury note.

My pastry cooked unevenly (and I've inserted the Brick Kitchen baking tray technique into the methods below that I'll try next time) but otherwise I didn't experience any hitches along the way. A honey, miso and walnut pie sounds fancy, but its construction isn't too fussy and the results are excellent - I was showered with grateful murmurs as everyone helped themselves to two or three slices over the course of four days.

Honey, miso & walnut pie
(a recipe from The Brick Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
115g butter
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup caster sugar
170g honey
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon salt
120g butter
300g walnut pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup cream
3 eggs

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse them to mix together. Slice the butter into cubes, drop them into the food processor, and blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix the water and vinegar together in a cup. Set the blender back on and add the liquid just a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together into a ball (I only used about half the liquid and discarded the rest). Tip the dough onto some plastic wrap, bring it together into a ball, wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I left mine overnight).

Retrieve the dough from the fridge and roll it out to fit a pie dish (I do this between two sheets of plastic wrap). Ease the pastry into the dish, patching up any unevenness and trimming or crimping the edges. Freeze the pastry crust until solid, at least 20 minutes (I gave mine several hours).

Place the sugar and honey in a medium-large saucepan and set them over medium heat. Stir occasionally as they melt together. When they're smooth, whisk in the miso and the salt. When there are a few bubbles around the edges, add the butter and allow it to completely melt in, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Preheat an oven to 180°C. In an ungreased baking tray, gently toast the walnuts until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set them aside to cool. Place a large flat baking tray, big enough to hold the pie dish, in the oven.

Retrieve the caramel in the saucepan. Whisk in the vanilla, then the cream, then the eggs, one at a time. When everything is completely combined and smooth, fold in the walnuts. Pour the filling into the frozen pastry case, place the pie dish on the hot baking tray in the oven, and bake the pie for 45-60 minutes. It's ready when the edges are set but the centre is still a little wobbly; it'll firm up as it cools.

Cool the pie to room temperature before serving, and/or store it in the refrigerator.