Friday, November 30, 2007

How to peel a pomegranate


Pomegranates can be tricky blighters, but not when you have the knack!

1. Score the skin of the pomegranate from top to bottom, with a sharp knife.
2. Submerge the fruit in a bowl of cold water.
3. Peel it underwater, then pull apart the seeds.
4. The skin and pith will float to the top so they're easily discarded, and the seeds will all sink.
5. Drain and enjoy!

And once you've done that, why not try some delicious Pork Tenderloin with Black Pepper and Pomegranate Molasses?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cranberry sauce sorbet (sauce-bet!)


I must admit this was a bit of an experiment, but luckily for me (and the BF) it was a successful one second time around! Inspired by my latest book purchase, McGee on Food & Cooking, and being prematurely in the Christmas spirit but not quite ready for cranberry sauce, I decided to try and make some cranberry sorbet instead.

McGee's is a fabulous book, especially for geeky science types like me. It doesn't contain a single recipe but it does tell you absolutely everything you could ever want to know about every ingredient and cooking technique you could think of. Heston Blumenthal is apparently a huge fan.

Sorbet, according to McGee, is simply a frozen mixture of fruit juice or puree, 25-35% sugar and 0.5% acid. I ended up plumping for a fairly heavy sugar content as cranberries can sometimes be on the sour side. They also need diluting with water - my first attempt was more like cranberry sauce-bet and the BF couldn’t eat it! However, his pain is your gain and here is the successful end product:


300g fresh cranberries
300g sugar
2 tblsps orange juice
600ml water

1. Put the cranberries and water into a heavy based pan and cook until the cranberries have broken down. Sieve out the skins to leave a diluted puree.

2. Return the puree to the pan with the sugar and orange juice. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Be careful, it can (and did in my case) burn!

3. Pour into a container and freeze for four hours or so. Simple!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Butternut squash curry with squash seed couscous

I know, I know - more butternut squash! But bear with me, this really is a delicious, seasonal and healthy vegetarian after-work supper.

Serves 4


1 butternut squash
6 tomatoes, quartered
1 bag of baby spinach
1 onion, diced
3tsps curry paste (I like madras, but choose any tomato based paste to your taste)
Olive oil
Sea salt
200g couscous
A handful of coriander

1. Peel and cut the butternut squash into chunks. Reserve the seeds, wash them and dry in some kitchen towel.

2. Sweat the onion in some oil for a few minutes until translucent, then add three teaspoonfuls of curry paste and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, squash chunks and 200ml of water. Simmer covered for 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the tomatoes have broken down.

4. Meanwhile, toss the butternut squash seeds with the salt and olive oil and then grill until they are crispy and golden (watching to make sure they don't burn!).

5. Mix the seeds with the couscous, cover with 250ml boiling water and leave covered for 5 minutes.

6. Mix the spinach into the curry for the last couple of minutes of cooking so that it wilts into the sauce.

7. Break up the couscous with a fork, mix through the coriander and serve with the curry.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

December food magazine roundup

As you would expect, the new batch of December editions are all about Christmas food. Here's the roundup:

*Best for loads of content is Delicious with their biggest issue ever and input from Gordon (fave cookbooks) and Nigella (tasty nibbles).

*Best for a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings is Good Food with either goose or turkey and a full time-plan

*Best for young, free and singles is Olive with a fab Christmas meal for two

*Best for vegetarians - a tie between Olive with its stunning filo centrepiece and Delicious with Simon Rimmer's gorgeous recipes

But if you really can't decide, do what I do and get all three!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Butternut squash & sage tartlets

Makes 36 mini-tartlets or one 12" tart

- Pastry

250g plain flour
125g butter, pre-frozen
1 egg
2 tbsp iced water
A pinch of salt

- Filling

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthways. Reserve the seeds - they are a delicious snack if you clean them off, toss in sea salt and olive oil and roast in the oven for a few minutes.
1 tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
3 egg yolks (don't forget to freeze the egg whites to use in meringues!)
250ml double cream
200g Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped fresh sage leaves (about a handful)


Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 350 F / Gas 4

1. Season the squash halves, place on a baking tray and then bake for 40-50 minutes until the flesh is soft and tender.

2. Scoop out the squash flesh and with a fork or potato masher, mash it until smooth. Set it aside to cool off.

3. Now for the pastry. Of course you could cheat and use ready made shortcrust, but it is good fun and not as hard as you would think to make your own. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and grate in the frozen butter. I find this to be a particularly effective method as I have rather hot hands which are great for bread but not so effective for pastry!

4. Rub the butter and flour together very gently so that the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. It is fine for it to look quite lumpy.

5. Mix the egg and iced water and then mix with the flour with a knife.

6. Form the pastry mixture into a ball and wrap tightly with clingfilm before putting it into the fridge to rest for fifteen minutes.

7. Whilst the pastry is resting, you can finish the filling. Beat together the cream, eggs, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, mashed squash and sage. Season to taste.

8. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out on a floured work surface, cut into small rounds and fit into mini tart tins. Return to the fridge for a few minutes before taking out and trimming any overhang at the top of the tins. Put a circle of baking parchment into each tart case and fill with a couple of baking beans.

9. Bake the tart cases for ten minutes, then remove the beans and papers and bake for a further three minutes.

10. Once the cases have cooled slightly, add the filling and bake the tarts for twenty minutes at 160c / 310 F. The tartlets should be just set - watch out because they will be hot but very tasty!