28 Apr 2013

autumnal transition

The pumpkin section in most recipe book glossaries is usually somewhere after the potatoes or non-existent. Sometimes, they're classified under 'squash' or like in Jamie's Great Britain, 'butternut squash' (which was incidentally what I used yesterday). Most recipes I've seen mostly revolve around soups, risotto and gratins, with an occasional pumpkin cake or pie. 

Surely there must be more? 

Bill Granger's pumpkin cannelloni from his book, feed me now! seemed innovative enough. Coincidentally, most of the ingredients I use to make pumpkin soup was roasted and mashed to make the cannelloni filling. The filling was good, but when baked with cheese sauce, I felt it was a bit too heavy for my liking. 

You can watch Bill make the cannelloni here, but the recipe slightly differs to the one in the book. Next time, I think I'll just stir the roasted bits in some seasoned pasta, add some ricotta and maybe a lemon wedge for some acidity.

● ● ●

My (boring) pumpkin soup     serves 4

1kg pumpkin, peeled and diced into 3cm cubes
1-2 small potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes, optional (helps thickens soup)
1 brown onion, cut into thin wedges
some sprigs of thyme
vegetable oil or a knob of unsalted butter, diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, as required
at least 500ml hot chicken/vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place all vegetables and thyme in a baking tray and drizzle with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake* for 40-50 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Stir during half time if you feel it is necessary. Pick the leaves off the thyme and discard the stems. Place into a food processor with hot stock and puree until smooth. Season again if necessary. Add some more stock if the soup is too thick. 

If you're feeling a bit fancy, serve it with some salted pepitas. Toast them at 150 degrees for about 5-10 minutes or until they start popping. Add a dash of soy sauce and mix. Bake until seeds are dried. 

Add a drizzle of cream and a crack of black pepper to the soup before tucking in!

*If there's no time to roast the vegetables, cook vegetables in the stock until they are softened. Season and puree. Flavour wise, I would say they taste the same.

20 Apr 2013

oodles of noodles

When I first met one of my colleagues, he was eating an instant kitsune udon and it's kind of like an in-joke when he eats them in the office. I tried making it a few months ago, but didn't manage to get a proper picture so I decided to make it again with some soba the other day. For lunch today, just a simple wakame soba with an umeboshi (okay, so apparently the umeboshi thing is wierd, but I saw it on google!). 

Ichiban dashi is a simple and flavoursome stock and I like how the stock ingredients can be used again a second time to make niban dashi. Hopefully I can make sōki or buta no kakuni in the near future and serve it atop my favourite noodles.

7 Apr 2013

all aboard the choux choux train!

I was trawling through my archives and noticed I blogged about these guyss f o u r times in the span of one year! Four times. Heh. These guys aren't so bad once you get to know them! I make these quite regularly at home and I think I've near perfected them. These shells are crisp when filled on the day but remain firm when stored in the fridge overnight. The best thing is that there are no more issues with the choux deflating! Hoorah!

I've written the recipe out just like the way I make them. Good luck in the kitchen!

▲ ▲ ▲

Choux pastry  
makes around 17-19 x 4-5cm (base) round diameter choux puffs

65g unsalted butter, cubed
60ml milk
60ml water
70g plain flour
pinch of sea salt
2 large eggs (or 1 large egg & 2 large egg whites)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees fan forced. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Weigh the flour and add a pinch of salt.

Melt the butter over low heat with milk and water in a small saucepan. When the butter is completely melted, bring to the boil. When the liquids are boiling and thoroughly combined, add the flour and salt and stir until it forms a smooth paste. Lower heat when dough comes together and stir until paste doesn't stick to the sides. Remove from heat and allow the paste to cool for 3-5 minutes before adding eggs.

Add a beaten egg and beat hard to incorporate. The paste will break up but mix hard to bring it together. Add the remaining egg and mix until it reaches the desired consistency*. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 15mm plain piping tip and pipe out 4-5cm diameter rounds with a 5cm space between each choux. If there are peaks on top of the paste, moisten your finger and press down on them gently.

Bake at 200 degrees celcius fan forced for 20 minutes and lower heat to 150 degrees celcius fan forced and continue to bake another 20 minutes. Choux should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn off heat and let puffs sit for 20-30 minutes in the hot oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*I've made these various times and found that both paste consistencies I end up will puff up in the oven. I prefer it when the paste just hangs off the wooden spoon. The dough is still kind of firm, but can still be easily piped with a "peak" and holds its shape. However it is fine when the paste is soft enough to fall off the spoon. In this case the paste will spread out a little bit when piped.   

And a final tip, before filling the choux with crème légère (mixture of crème pâtissière and whipped cream), crème pâtissière or sweetened whipped cream, pierce a small hole at the bottom / side of the choux with a 3mm piping tip and use that later to pipe the filling in. It will make it less messy. Otherwise, cut the choux in half and scoop in some of your favourite ice cream!