Pumpkin and White Bean Stew

I love the tiled mosaic picture option on WordPress, I might be super late to the party on this because I haven’t blogged in months but better late than never right? Right. Also thanks Louis for trying to help me with picture props, you’re a pal! ❤

So yes, I went there. Pumpkin already. Or maybe I’m late to this again? I don’t want to wait until October to get orangey with my alliteration. Plus last weekend we bought about 10 different types of squash so I guess we need to get this baby rolling. I can’t complain though – finally, crisp winds are blowing, I actually wore full length pyjamas to bed this weekend and just got up mid-typing to close the windows. I feel the seasonal change coming and couldn’t be happier. (I can also postpone the leg wax for another week, winning on all fronts).

The ingredients in this stew are only pumpkin and white beans (OK and onions and garlic but that’s a given). I was planning on mixing some bacon bits but I forgot to add them to the shopping list and in the end I didn’t really care. I knew this would taste bombastic without them and guess what, I was right. Concerning the beans, I’m a soak-for-24hrs kind of gal. I have absolutely no problem with using canned beans/lentils etc, it’s just I hate the slimy preserved brine they come in. Even after washing it off, I find the beans have too much of a mushy texture for my liking so I prefer to use the soaking method. Obviously this means planning the meal one day in advance but it’s worth it.

A seperate note on the spices used: I’m a huge fan of the Apples Under my Bed blog by Heidi, and a long time ago I was reading a recipe for a tomato sauce where she swears by adding a star anise. So I tried it and and became hooked. I wouldn’t necessarily use it for pasta sauce, but in this kinda of hearty, wintery recipe I think it is essential. Just one star anise with all the rest adds enormous amounts of flavour, really worth a try!

Ingredients                  Prep. time (excl. soaking time – 30mins)                Cooking time – 2hrs

2 cups of dried white beans, soaked in water for 24hrs.
500g sugar pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
100ml passata
1 star anise*, 1 cinnamon stick* (about 5cm long), 3 bay leaves*,  2 long pepper sticks,* salt, pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp paprika
*to be removed before eating

1. Soak the beans for 24hrs in cold water (leave an inch of water above the beans, they will expand). Once ready to use, dispose of the water, put the beans in a saucepan with fresh water and boil for 15m. This is to evacuate any toxins in the beans!

2. Drain the beans a second time and put in an oven-proof dish, preferably with a lid. If like me, life somehow didn’t equip you with a Dutch oven, cover your dish with tin foil. Again add enough water to cover the beans + 1  inch above, add salt & pepper and leave in the oven for 50mins at 180°C.

3. Meanwhile, peel the pumpkin and chop into inch-sized pieces. Chop the onion and garlic, add to the pumpkin in a bowl. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. When the beans are done, remove from the oven and add the pumpkin mixture to the dish, as well as the passata and the spices. This might make your dish veeery full so be careful putting it back in the oven (tin foil removed this time.) Leave to cook for a further 50mins.

4. Once it’s done, you’ll have a warming thick stew that is absolutely packed with flavour. Eat with crusty bread, a glass of red and enjoy in front of a film. These quantites will leave you with plenty to serve at least 5 people, otherwise you’ll have enough for left-over lunches and dinners. We love making life easier for ourselves right?

Aman x

Double-chocolate brownies, because why wouldn’t you?

The betch is back.

To-do Did
New computer: check
New job: check
No more moaning about the two previously mentioned subjects like I did before: check.

Life has evolved pretty nicely since the last time I posted. As the first line on my to-do list explains, I finally bought a new laptop. This machine feels like a beast compared to my previous 8-year old dinosaur that was literally falling apart at the nails and screws. This was a sweet purchase I was finally able to make, being fortunate enough to now be paid like a real human being at my new job!!

I very unexpectedly upgraded my professional occupation in March – during the space of a month, I had a phone interview, 3 face-to-face interviews, handed in my notice, (took a weekend trip to Bruges!) and started at the new place. In the interest of sharing, I’m now working as a communications assistant in an international economic organisation, (can I get a hell yeeeeeh). So far I’ve learnt masses and I’m loving the rich and diverse responsibilities I get to be involved with.

Not to bore you with too much real-life talk (I mean yeah, some background is nice but we all only really care about the food), lets move on to the real star of this post. Chocolate brownies. A classic. The comforting taste of gorgeous, rich, dense chocolate is loved by everyone – but admittedly, this can go wrong more often than right.

I knew I wanted to make chocolate brownies during the week, mainly to bring to the office because everyone shares something cute and delish every once in a while with the rest. And for me, you either go home-made or go home. In the past, I normally encoutered the struggle of making them too cakey; the interior was fluffy and light instead of dense. Saying that, I’m also not really on the ‘fudgey’ side of brownies, I prefer compact rather than sticky. Oh the ordeal! I had a browse on the net as to what ratios people used to get the right consistency and took to composing a recipe from here and here. Result? I honestly think they’re the best I’ve ever made and will stick to the basics of this recipe from now on, changing only the almonds for example with walnuts or cranberries etc. ALSO, for the crazies out there (jk, sometimes I’m one of them too), this recipe happens to be gluten-free and refined-sugar free. So there!

Double-chocolate brownies, because why wouldn’t you (Yes, this is the official name).

Ingredients

130g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
60g coconut oil*
3 medium eggs*
6 tablespoons of agave syrup*
2 tablespoons of 100% cacao powder**
3 tablespoons of rice flour**
150g sliced almonds
*organic, because we’re fancy like that
** these two can quickly dry out a recipe so don’t go crazy

Method

Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a saucepan with the coconut oil over a low heat. Stir occasionally until all melted and take off the heat to cool down. (Coconut oil gives a luscious gloss to the chocolate, try and stop yourself sneaking spoonfuls straight from the pan.)

Crack the eggs in a bowl, add the agave syrup and whisk until the mixture has doubled in size. When the chocolate has cooled down, add to the egg mixture and slowly incorporate. Next add the flour and cacao powder and fold in gently.

Add a handful of sliced almonds into the mixture. Line a small baking dish with parchment paper, pour the mixture and cover the top with a light scattering of almonds. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10mins at 170 C.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool and cover lightly with powdered sugar. Slice into squares and serve, or stuff your face with them. I leave that choice entirely up to you. Happy Sunday x

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Roasted pumpkin spiced cupcakes with festive frosting

How much orange have you guys been getting in this October? Yknow what I mean – pictures of golden and fiery-hued leaves scattered on the ground, the formidable latte, pumpkin-carving, Halloween costume prep…the list goes on!

The last time we visited Fermes de Gally we picked up about 4 little sugar pumpkins and one huge butternut squash. I’ve slowly been using up the pumpkins for soups mainly but all this week I’ve had my eye on the last one to make pumpkin cupcakes. These turned out so much better than I thought – I wasn’t expecting the flavour of the pumpkin to come out that well but it had a rich, warming taste alongside the spices.

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Too effing irresistible

Ingredients

1 sugar pumpkin – weighed in at just under 500g
Powdered cinnamon or 4 spices – between 4-5 tablespoons
220g plain flour
5g baking powder
100g powdered brown cane sugar (the frosting will be quite sweet to compensate)
2 eggs
120ml olive oil (I put abit too much in, so added 2 tablespoons of honey to mask the taste)

Method

Peel and dice the pumpkin. Place in a roasting dish with a drizzle of oil, and about a tablespoon each of brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Roast in the oven for 20m or until soft on 200C.

Beat the eggs, sugar and oil. Add to the flour, cinnamon/4 spices and baking powder. When the pumpkin is ready, mash well and add to the mixture.

Divide the batter into cupcake cakes and bake for about 15m on 200C. Allow them to cool completely before piping the frosting, otherwise it will just melt into a big mess.

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Winter light is not my friend…

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Frosting

200g of cream cheese
50g of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
300g powdered sugar
Red and yellow food colouring

Method

Beat all the ingredients together using an electric whisk. Divide the mixture in two, adding the food colouring to one half. This will produce a lovely orange tone leaving the other natural. Leave both bowls in the fridge for at least 30m to firm up before piping.

When ready, scoop the mixtures into separate piping bags with a nozzle of your choice, and get to it! I Youtubed a bunch of videos to get an idea of what I wanted and am really pleased with the patterns!

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Asian Inspiration

Hello beautiful people! I don’t know what it’s like in your corner of the world, but here in Paris it’s suddenly gone from two weeks of gorgeous sunny days to grey clouds and imminent rain. It has been so incredibly hot and glorious, I don’t want it to change!!

Louis and I were house-sitting last week and it was amazing to switch from our little apartment to a big, beautiful house, with a huge garden to boot! It really felt like we were on holiday, despite the fact I still had to go to work every day, but lapping up the luxury meant I let my everyday routine slip such as prepping lunches to take in the week. I ended up spending so much money on food at lunchtimes!! I’m tempted to just leave my bank card at home this week so I will have no choice but to either prep my lunches or starve hehe. Being back in our own space is the best feeling though, and our little cat Leon missed us so much as we did him! Dorothy definitely got it right – there’s no place like home 🙂

The food/blog side of life hasn’t been making waves recently and for that I sincerely apologise, again! As much as life and other responsibilities do get in the way, I know that doesn’t justify my absence. I’ve been trying to fit too many things into my evenings when all I really want to do is watch an hour of TV and go to bed! With that in mind, I’m going to try and make weekends my blogging days because I will be more rested and will have much more time to spare!

Last weekend I decided to finally test out a recipe from this amazing cookbook my friend Margot offered us, “Le grand livre de la cuisine du monde”, or ‘The big book of food from around the world’ which is a mammoth of a book containing more than 100 recipes (at least!) from around the globe.

It’s handy having friends that work in publishing eh? In the mood for something spicy and full of flavour, we opted for the galette au chou from the Japan section and pergedel (viande et legumes haches) from the South-East Asia section. In real speak, we made a cabbage frittata, with lots of other veggies, and meatballs!

Because Louis had an awful week of being sick, I didn’t mind him playing video-games while I prepared and cooked dinner. I changed and substituted various items from the recipe according to what we already had at home so in brackets you’ll find what I used instead of what the recipe called for (and I’m a first-hand witness of how amazing it tasted anyway!) Sometimes it really bugs me when people have to meticulously follow a recipe to the T – while I see the logic for this in terms of baking cakes etc, I much prefer trusting your experience and instinct as to what tastes good together and just seeing how it goes!


Galette au chou     Prep time: 35m     Cooking time: 20m

1 medium-sized pak choi
2 onions
2 carrots, grated
200g bean sprouts
Handful of chives and coriander, chopped
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
3 eggs
2 tbsp of rice flour (I only had rye flour to hand so I used that and it was fine)
Seasoning: 2 tsps of Shichimi (a Japanese 7-spice mixture); 1 tbsp of soya sauce and sesame oil; salt & pepper

Method

For the pak choi, onion and carrots, finely slice (julien-style), or grate the veggies and put in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped chives, coriander and ginger.

In another bowl, crack the 3 eggs and add the flour. Beat well, ensuring all the flour is incorporated. Add this to the bowl of grated veggies. Mix well so that the egg covers all the veggies. Season with shichimi, soya sauce, sesame oil and S&P.

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Heat a large frying pan with a tbsp of coconut oil until melted. Carefully pour the batter into the pan, keeping the shape of the galette nicely rounded and thick. Cook for about 10m on each side.

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YUM!

Tip: if you have a pan with a detachable handle and is oven-proof, place in the oven in order to cook the top-side of the galette. If not, use two spatulas to get good leverage when turning it over. It can get messy and if it breaks it’s not the end of the world, sometimes cutting it in half before you flip it is the easiest option.


Pergedel (Viande et legumes haches)     Prep time: 30m     Cooking time: 15m

500g of minced beef (I used 300g and it made 14 small meatballs)
1 onion
Handful of chives and coriander, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 egg
2 small-medium sized potatoes, boiled and mashed
Seasoning: 1 tsp of chili powder; S&P
(The recipe also called for a small piece of galanga and habanero pepper, neither of which I found in the local supermarket but if you’re more prepared than I am I’m sure they would taste fantastic!)

Method

Wash and cut the potatoes, placing them in a pan of water and left to cook until you can easily pierce a fork through.

Finely chop the onion and lightly fry in a pan with some coconut oil for about 5mins. Take off the heat and put in a large mixing bowl. Season with the galanga and habanero (finely chopped) if you choose to incorporate (I used simple chili powder in mine).

Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them up and add to the onions. Next add the minced meat, chopped chives, coriander and garlic and seasoning. Crack an egg in a bowl, whisk and stir through the meat mixture. (I have never heard of using mashed potato in meatballs but I thought this was an amazing idea, it adds a sticky component to the mixture and it tastes lovely when cooked through).

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Heat a large, shallow pan with a knob of coconut oil. Grab a small mound of the mixture in your hands and make little round balls, placing them in a clockwise position in the pan (this way you can easily remember where you started when turning them over, thanks Jamie Oliver for that tip!)

I managed to cook 7 meatballs at a time in my pan, needing a good 10-15m cooking time for each batch.

I let my meatballs cook abit too long but still so delish

I let my meatballs cook abit too long but still so delish

A perfect light dinner for two which is exactly what is needed now that summer is just around the corner. I love that it was packed with veggies and great exotic flavours, I literally want to try all the recipes in this book – don’t worry, I won’t go all Julie & Julia on you guys, this blog is enough for the moment! 🙂

Oat Cakes aux Pomme-Poire

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Morning everyone!

I’m so happy it’s Friday, I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with friends and especially tomorrow night where we’ll be having raclette at home *drool* I’ll be posting about that separately, just know that this dish is the single best thing in the entire world.

Apart from my Apple and Pear Oat Cakes (translation of the title!) of course. This is a very simple recipe consisting of three essential ingredients – oats, 1 egg and a home-made compote of apples and pears – but you can add other ingredients too such as chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped dried fruit etc. Initially I used to mash up a ripe banana and add that to the mix as it is thick enough to bind as well as providing natural sugar; however after using the compote I much prefer the consistency and taste of the apples and pears!

What is compote? >> This is a French name for a mix of blended fruit. It can come in a variety of flavours, such as banana and apple, chestnut and rhubarb, and is a staple in most French homes as an afternoon snack for little kiddies. The classic variety is simply apple, so just think of it as eating apple sauce!

Method

>> Peel and chop your apples and pears, place in a pan with water (not too much, you don’t want more water than fruit), and cook on a medium heat for about 25m until the fruit starts to soften. I used one of each because that’s what I had lying around in the kitchen and the pear especially was very ripe which helped with the sweetness factor.

>> In a bowl, mix one mug of oats with one egg. Add your optional ingredients at this point.

>> Once the fruit has softened, place in a blender and mix until smooth (or lumpy, however you like it!) Add to the oats.

>> The mixture should be quite wet but resist the temptation to add more oats because this could result in making the cakes stodgier than you would want. Heat some coconut oil in a pan and with your hands, make flat round discs and place in the pan. Cook for about 5m on each side until golden in colour. Serve with honey, yoghurt or au naturel.

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Tapatio Twists

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week.  Between seeing friends, going to the gym, finally watching Gone Girl and some great nights out, mine’s been pretty busy! I’ve basically spent the day catching up on my TV shows and made a fab chicken curry for dinner, and managed to fit in a little foodie experiment I’d been thinking about.

If you remember from one of my earlier posts when I made the tomato tart, I mentioned how I wanted to use the left-over pastry(of the shortcrust kind) for something later on rather than throwing it away. I had the idea of making little twisted strips of pastry baked with melted cheese until crispy, which could serve well as an aperitif or, as I’ll be having mine the next time, used as soldiers to dip in a runny boiled egg!

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I also made a mix of olive oil and tapatio sauce (a chilli sauce from the US that I adopted from my friend when she went back to the States), to give the twists a spicy kick. Considering I’ve spent the last 12hrs as a couch potato, this has been the easiest thing I’ve done all day!

Method

– Defrost your pastry and after warming it up for about 10-15mins in your hands, roll out to 2mm thick. Cut the pastry into strips and form twists by turning the ends in opposite directions. (Of course if you’re using fresh pastry no need to freeze/defrost etc.)

– Place on a baking tray and pre-bake on 180C for 5m. Take out from the oven, sprinkle some cheese (I used grated emmental; I think grated cheddar, comté or parmesan would also work well).

– For the tapatio sauce, mix 1/2 tspn of oilive oil with 1 tpsn of the sauce, or any other chilli sauce you prefer and is available to you, and lightly drizzle over each twist. Put back in the oven for another 15m. and ta-da!

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If you try it out let me know how it goes. Try dipping the ends in melted dark chocolate and letting it set with a sprinkle of dessicated coconut for a sweet version!

Bisous!