Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Halve a butternut squash and deeply score it.

Sprinkle some salt and butter over it, and generously drizzle with olive oil.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees for at least 2 hours until it is soft to touch.

In a pan, melt some butter and add 1 and a half finely sliced onions.

When the onions have softened and browned slightly, add 4 rashes of chunkily chopped bacon.

When the bacon has cooked, pour in a little grapefruit juice. You want some acidity to contrast the sweetness of the butternut squash.

Keep the pan on the heat until you have barely any liquid left.

When the butternut squash has cooked, scoop out the flesh and add to the onion mixture.

Reheat the mixture and blitz. If you want you can add cream to give a richer flavour, or serve with a little dollop of creme fraiche or youghurt.

I personally think thyme would work well in this recipe.

Courgette and Lime Cake

4 large eggs
200ml rapeseed oil - oil provides moistness and replaces butter
4 courgettes
280g caster sugar
450g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sodium bicarbonate
zest and juice of 2 limes

500g icing sugar
zest and juice of 2 limes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease 3 tins.

Grate the courgettes and add the lime juice and zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients, and then add the courgette-lime mixture. Even if the oil looks like too much, just keep stirring!

Cook for 30 minutes and then take out of the oven and leave to cool.

When the cake has cooled down, make the icing.

Zest and juice the limes, and then add the sugar. Beat until you have a strong consistency. If it looks like glacée icing, add more sugar... if it looks like fondant icing, add some more lime juice or water.

Spread the icing over the cakes, and leave to set.

Chocolate and beetroot cake

This is the truffle of all cakes. Dark, rich and indulgent it is everything your doctor wouldn't want you to have. Sorry doctors.
When I began thinking about possible vegetable combinations in cakes aside from carrots, I didn't immediately think to pair betroot with chocolate. However the sweetness of the beetroot works perfectly with the bitterness of the chocolate, bringing out a gothic and dark contrast, perfect for petit fours.
300g cooked betroot
200g dark chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
200g unsalted butter
140g plain flour*
8 tbsp strong coffee
2 tsps baking powder
5 tsps cocoa powder
5 eggs
135g caster sugar
50g dark brown sugar
200g dark chocolate
200ml double cream
25g salted butter
*For extra texture you could add 50g ground almonds.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease 2 tins. I personally find rapeseed oil greases best because it doesn't have much flavour, it doesn't make the cake oily, and the cake doesn't break up when tipped out.

In a bain marie, melt the chocolate and butter. When they have melted, add the espresso.
Blend the betroot until it is mostly liquified. Small lumps are good because they give the cake texture.
Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the betroot purée. Vigorously stir, then beat in the eggs.
Add the chocolate-butter-espresso mixture to the other mixture and combine completely.
Pour the mixture into the tins and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
When the cake is completely cooked, take out of the oven, and after 5 minutes, turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cakes are at room temperature, you can begin the ganache.

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it begins to bubble.
As soon as it begins to bubble, take off the heat and stir in the chocolate. When they have combined, add a small knob of salted butter to the ganache and mix in. The butter gives the ganache a glossy appearance as well as strenghtening the richness, and the salt compliments the chocolate.
When  the ganache has cooled down a bit, pour over the cakes and leave them in the fridge to set.