It seems that the whole world and his wife have been struck down by the sniffles. Everyone I talk to sounds a bit bunged up, slightly red around the eyes and just a little bit blue. After working our way through some pretty vile cold powders, mugs of hot honey, lemon and ginger and inhaling endless bowls of steaming Vicks; it was this comforting soup, that finally put paid to monsieur lurgy. Sweet, spicy and ambrosial on the throat, this makes an immense tureen. Perfect for squirreling away freezer-friendly stashes ready for the next onslaught.
850g pumpkin, hacked into chunks
270g parsnip, peeled and chopped into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
75g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
150g brown basmati rice
145g/2 medium carrots, diced
110g celery sticks, diced
250g eating apples
4 green cardamom pods
1 tsp. turmeric
500ml chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
400g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp. mango chutney
2 tbsp. fresh coriander
A big squeeze of lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180C. In a shallow roasting tray toss the pumpkin and parsnip chunks with the garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt and half the olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender and charred in places.
- In a large saucepan heat the butter and remaining oil. Fry the onion and ginger for about 10 minutes over a low heat. Add the rice, carrots, celery, apple, cardamom and turmeric and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until everything is well cooked.
- Mash in the roasted pumpkin and parsnip along with the tempered oil from the roasting pan.
- Pour in the stock, coconut milk, tinned tomatoes and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer until the rice is tender.
- Stir in the chutney and lemon juice. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the fresh coriander and lots of black pepper.
The other day I overheard a posh lady explaining to her crestfallen toddler why she wasn’t allowed a cupcake. Not because they’re sugary or calorific, but because they’re “just so very unfashionable now darling” as she towered over her in her Ugg boots. Of course, I immediately bought four and bloody gorgeous they were too.
Gran luchito is one of the finest chilli tapenades I’ve been lucky enough to receive a free jar of and this recipe for cupcakes is well worth a shot. I love the way they’ve gone completely left field with their recipe suggestions and the combination of caramelised pineapples and smoky chilli-laced cream topping is pretty sensational.
I got slightly sidetracked and didn’t manage to make the chilli buttercream pate a bombe topping in their recipe. Instead I combined 300g icing sugar, 50g butter and 125g cream cheese with a generous spoonful of the smoky joy. These were fallen upon and instantaneously devoured by the mums at my local under one’s club. Thank god for fellow sleep deprived sugar-addicts who have more important things to worry about than the format of their cakey fix.
makes 16 cupcakes
155g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
110g oil (vegetable or extra light olive oil)
for the caramelised pineapple
6 tbsp. butter, cubed
200g light brown sugar
15-16 pineapple slices
maraschino cherries to garnish
for the chilli buttercream
400g granulated sugar
700g butter, room temperature
6 egg yolks
Gran Luchito chilli tapenade to taste
- preheat oven to 180C. Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 15 seconds. Add the sugar and continue beating on a medium speed for about half a minute. Add the vanilla and the oil.
- Reduce the speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour. Add half the buttermilk and the rest of the flour. Dribble in the remaining buttermilk and beat until just combined.
- Scrap down the side of the bowl. The batter will be thin.
- To make the caramel, melt the butter over a low heat in a small saucepan and stir in the brown sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Spoon the caramel equally into 16 cupcake cases, top with a pineapple slice and a cherry.
- Pour in the batter until 2/3 full and bake in a pre heated oven for 12-14 minutes.
- Cool for 3-5 mins and then remove cupcakes from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
- To make the chilli buttercream, mix the sugar and water to the consistency of wet sand in a small saucepan.
- With a wet pastry brush, clean all the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan to prevent the syrup from crystalising, and cook to the soft ball stage without stirring.
- Prepare a pate a bombe by whisking the egg yolks in the mixer. When the sugar reaches the soft ball stage, pour the hot syrup carefully into the bowl of eggs as they whisk. Continue to whisk until the mixing bowl is completely cold.
- Change the whisk attachment from a whisk to a paddle and add the butter. Once this is fully incorporated add the chilli tapenade to taste. Pipe over the cooled cupcakes with a star tip nozzle and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
I can think of few things nicer to slowly crisp in the oven than char siu duck. Goose perhaps, but that’s trickier to get hold of.
By giving the tender, fatty poultry the same treatment as you would a more traditional bit of pork and smothering in garlicky, umami-rich condiments the flesh is rendered heady with aromatics. Char siu literally means “fork roast” in Cantonese and is typically a mixture of honey, five spice powder, red fermented bean curd, soy, hoisin and a drop of rice wine (I sourced a tin of the curd from my Taiwanese corner shop). After a quick blanch in boiling water, the duck was rubbed in a mixture of five spice and salt before being liberally anointed with the rest of the marinade ingredients. This doesn’t have the same maltose laquered gloss as those burnished specimens you see dangling from hooks in the windows of China town, but it’s still pretty special nonetheless. After a tantalisingly languid roast we devoured this with some stir fried greens and steamed jasmine rice. The dish that keeps on giving, the leftover carcass went on to form the stock base of a truly stunning ramen.
2-3 tsp. five spice powder
1 tsp. salt
½ bulb garlic, crushed
3 tbsp. honey
120ml hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
1 tbsp. mashed red fermented bean curd
2 tbsp. rice wine
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 lemon, halved
- at least 4 hours in advance or preferably the night before, prick the duck all over and blanch in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Dry completely and thoroughly before rubbing all over with the five spice powder and salt.
- Combine everything else and smear over the duck, cover and leave to work it’s magic.
- Heat oven to 140C/gas mark 1 and stuff the duck cavity with the lemon halves and then roast on a rack for 2 and a half hours, basting every 20 minutes. Crank the heat up to 220C for the final 15 minutes.