Tag Archives: autumn

Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Chilli Bread

Bread time again! We thought we’d try something a bit different to warm us up during the recent cold snap. This sweet potato-based bread is our first foray into vegetable breads, and although it didn’t turn out quite perfect it still tasted totally delicious and we had to share it with you.

Here’s what you’ll need for a standard (about 800 g) loaf/boule:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • A few sprigs rosemary
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • About 350 g strong white flour (enough to make it up to 500 g with the sweet potato) plus a bit more for kneading and making a crust
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 heaped tsp fast-acting yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 ml tepid water
  • 1- 2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Start by taking the skin of the sweet potato, chopping it up into fairly small chunks and roasting it, along with the rosemary, seasoning (good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper) and olive oil for about 45 minutes at around 180 °C. You want the sweet potato to be soft, not crispy – otherwise the next bit will be pretty much impossible!

Sweet potato for bread

Once the sweet potato has cooled down, roll your sleeves up, take a deep breath and force the roasted sweet potato through a metal sieve. Pushing it through with the back of a spoon seems to work pretty well, but it’s hard work! Take out any rosemary leaves and add them to the sieved potato, but discard the stalks. If anyone has any better ideas for how to smooth out the sweet potato, leave us a message in the comments.

That ordeal over and done with, add the sieved sweet potato to a measuring scales and add enough strong white flour to make up the total weight of the potato and the flour up to 500 g. Add to a mixing bowl with 1 heaped tsp yeast, the table salt, the honey and the extra virgin olive oil. You may want to use a food mixer with a dough hook to bring the mixture together, as it gets pretty sticky – we did, but it’ll work just fine with your hands. While you’re bringing it together, slowly add the tepid water, about 50 ml at a time.

Flour it up!
Flour it up!

Once the dough has all come together, by machine or hand, tip it onto a well floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes. You’ll have to flour the surface again and again as it will stay pretty sticky! Once it springs back place in a well-oiled bowl, cover with cling-film and leave to rise in a warm place. Once it has doubled in size (about 2 hours), knock back, shape (whatever you like – we did a boule but would like to try a loaf next time!) and leave to prove for another hour or so.

About 20 minutes before the bread is ready to go in the oven, preheat it to about 200 °C. Now for the chilli crust – this step is kind of optional, but we urge you to give it a go as the results are delicious! Mix together a couple of tablespoons of strong white flour, 1 tsp yeast, the dried chilli flakes, and just enough water to turn it into a spreadable paste.

SP bread with chilli

Just before the bread goes into the oven, put a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife and smear over the chilli and flour paste so that it forms a thin layer. Now put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the top is dark and golden.

We ate our bread with some roasted red pepper and butter bean soup with some flaked pecorino, but it’s delicious all on its own!

Sweet potato bread done

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Mini Squash stuffed with Sausage and Fennel

Sticking firmly to our autumnal theme here, we picked up 4 mini squash at the absolutely brilliant farmers market held at St Nick’s on a Wednesday. We’re not 100% that we have the varieties right but we think we have an onion squash (the orange/red one), a harlequin (the green and yellow patterned one), a mini tiger striped pumpkin (the striped pale yellow one) and a gem (the very dark green smooth one). We bought them not having a plan for what to do, we knew we wanted to keep it fairly simple so that the lovely qualities of each squash came through, and we veered away from soup because they’re so small it would have been very fiddly! The stuffing for this is inspired by a Jamie Oliver pasta recipe called “Pregnant Jools’ Pasta” which uses sausages to create a fast ragu to go with spaghetti. We love this dish, especially the combination of sausagemeat with aromatic fennel. This makes far too much stuffing mixture (about double) but it will freeze brilliantly and you can use it to whip up some quick stuffed vegetables another time.

Clockwise from bottom: Mini Tiger Striped Pumpkin, Harlequin, Onion (Red Kuri) and Gem squash (we think!)
Clockwise from bottom: Mini Tiger Striped Pumpkin, Harlequin, Onion (Red Kuri) and Gem squash (we think…)

We stuffed the two flat squash and cut the rounder ones into wedges, roasted them and had them along with nutmeg-spiced cabbage as a side. This is an extremely comforting, autumnal dish and because of the size of the squash it could easily be made after work too.

Ingredients

  • 4 mini squash of any variety
  • Butter
  • 50ml chicken stock
  • Cabbage, sliced
  • Nutmeg
  • A small handful of sultanas

For the stuffing

  • 2 pork sausages (we used Cumberland to remind Fats of home)
  • About 100g rice, cooked and cooled (we didn’t measure so this might be a bit out!)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 shallot/small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Pepper to season

Carefully take the lids off the two flatter squash and scoop out the seeds. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a knob of butter inside each of the flat squash, put the lids back on and place in a roasting dish in the oven for 20 minutes to soften. Meanwhile slice the other squash into wedges and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

After the flat squash have had about 15 minutes add the wedges to the roasting dish. Roughly chop the carrot, celery and onion, peel the garlic and

We had to decapitate the Harlequin from the bottom... Just have to remove the seeds now!
We had to decapitate the Harlequin from the bottom… Just have to remove the seeds now

add all of these to a food processor/mini blender and pulse to finely chop. Add the fennel seeds and pulse a couple of times more to combine. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the chopped vegetables. Fry these for about 5 minutes until softened. Squeeze two sausages out of their skins straight into the pan, then use tongs/a wooden spatula to break them up – this will become easier as they cook, you want them to break up so they resemble minced meat. Once all of the meat is browned and mixed with the vegetables add the balsamic vinegar, the tomato puree and a splash of water to create a rough sauce. Mix in the rice and turn off the heat.

By this time the squash should have had 20-30 minutes and be starting to soften. Carefully stuff them with the stuffing (they’re hot!) and turn the wedges of squash so they colour evenly. Return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes. When they’ve got about 5 minutes to go heat 1 tsp of butter in a large pan/wok and grate in about a quarter of a nutmeg with a fine grater. Add 50 ml of chicken stock and allow them to bubble together for a few seconds and then throw in the sliced cabbage. Toss to coat in the butter/stock mixture, add the sultanas and then cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat stirring occasionally.

Don't worry about the burn (in fact it's delicious!)
Don’t worry about the burn (in fact it’s delicious!)
The cabbage makes a perfect, spicy accompaniment!
The cabbage makes a perfect, spicy accompaniment

Dish everything up and tuck in, snuggled up in a cosy jumper!

On a completely unrelated note, as we’re writing this we heard about the sad passing away of Lou Reed. He was one of our absolute favourite musicians, singing and dancing along to Transformer is one of Bird’s earliest memories. He had a pretty good innings and produced some incredible music both with The Velvet Underground and solo for decades and BBC 6 Music’s thoughtful honouring of him could not be more inspiring to write to.

Rabbit Stew with Sage Dumplings

Rabbit is a really underused meat in the UK – it’s not widely available in supermarkets, even though it’s one of the most sustainable meats you can buy. We bought some from our local butchers (one of them – there are about 5 independent butchers within walking distance from us!) and the meat is really delicious. It’s a very rich, gamy meat – perfect for a comforting autumn stew! This recipe includes some amazing suet dumplings with copious amounts of sage, another autumn treat.

For about 4 portions, you’ll need:

  • Knob of butter
  • Olive oil
  • 80g smoked bacon lardons
  • 6 small shallots
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 150-200g new potatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 rabbit, jointed (ask your butcher to do this for you – you’ll end up with 6 pieces)
  • 250 ml red wine
  • Enough chicken stock to cover (about 1 litre)

For the dumplings:

  • 50g suet
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 5 finely chopped sage leaves
  • Cold water

Start by peeling the shallots and chopping up your carrots, celery and new potatoes. We like our veg nice and chunky, they’ll soften and soak up loads of flavour as they cook. Heat up a knob of butter and some olive oil over a fairly high heat and throw in your bacon lardons and shallots. After about 5 minutes (the shallots should have started to go a little brown), add the rest of the veg along with the fresh herbs. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and stir through the veg – this will ensure you get a thick stew. Now add the whole rabbit pieces, along with the wine and the stock.

Make sure you brown the shallots well - the caremelisation is really tasty!
Make sure you brown the shallots well – the caremelisation is really tasty!

Once your pot has come to the boil, put a lid on it and place it in the oven on a low temperature – 150°C to 170°C, depending on how long you want it to cook for. The lower the heat and slower the cooking time, the more tender the rabbit meat will be. We cooked ours at 150°C for about 4 hours, but the rabbit will probably be cooked after about 2 hours. Take it out and stir it every half hour or so.

When the stew is about half an hour from being done, it’s time to make the dumplings. Mix together the suet, the flour, and the sage leaves, and start adding the water, about a tablespoon at a time. This should be done fairly quickly, otherwise they won’t rise properly. When it has all come together, roll it into small balls (about the size of golf balls – or ping pong, if that’s your game!). Put them straight onto the top of the stew – they’ll swell up loads, so be sure to leave some space between them.

Those dumplings are monsters!
Those dumplings are monsters!

Put the stew back in the oven and leave to cook for about 20 minutes. When the dumplings have roughly tripled in size, your stew is ready to eat! Watch out for rabbit bones, as they can be quite small and fiddly. If you’ve never tried rabbit before, please give it a go! It’s super sustainable, lean & healthy, and totally delicious.

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

We’re back with one of our favourite autumn ingredients again – butternut squash. Bird stopped by the market again after ballet and couldn’t resist a huge squash (and this absolutely giant cabbage which we used in about 6 meals!).

What a beast!
What a beast!

We decided to stuff the squash with quinoa as we enjoyed the quinoa stuffed vegetables we made a month or two ago so much. We chose to spice up the stuffing with some chorizo and dried chilli flakes, adding courgette and spinach for some fresh greenery. We then topped them with a little smoked Applewood cheese which matched the smoky paprika flavour of the chorizo perfectly. This is one of those meals that can tick away nicely on a weekend afternoon and will make 4 portions – we had it for dinner and then lunch later in the week, but if you’re just cooking for yourself you would have a couple of dinners and lunches for about an hours work!

Ingredients (for 1 very large butternut squash):

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 50-100g chorizo, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 small courgette, finely diced
  • 5-10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 50g quinoa
  • 200ml chicken stock or boiling water
  • Spinach (fresh or frozen, we used 3 blocks of frozen)
  • Cheese (any good melter will do)

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Preheat the oven to 180°C. Using a large, sharp knife slice the butternut squash lengthways and then scoop out the seeds. Stab the squash a few times in the middle with the knife, not going all the way through, to help it cook quicker and then brush with a little olive oil. Pop them in a large roasting dish and whack them in the oven to cook. They should take about 30-45 minutes to cook depending on size, they’ll be ready when the flesh is soft all the way through. Meanwhile heat 1tsp of olive oil in a small saucepan and add the chorizo.

Chorizo sizzle

Let it sizzle away until slightly crisp, then add the chilli flakes, the sun-dried tomatoes and the courgette. Stir these to coat in the oil, add the quinoa and do the same until it starts to pop. Pour in the chicken stock and add the spinach if you’re using frozen – if you’re using fresh then wait until just before it’s cooked so you don’t lose all of the goodness. This will need to cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to start with and more frequently towards the end as the liquid is absorbed so that it doesn’t stick. Have a little taste at this stage and season it with salt and pepper to your taste.

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Once the squash is cooked and the quinoa mixture is ready take the squash out of the oven and (carefully because it’s hot!) scoop out most of the flesh, just leaving around 1 cm around the edge to keep the shape. Mix this flesh with the quinoa mixture and stuff back into the squash. Top with a small amount of grated cheese and then put it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes to let it all cook together and for the cheese to melt.

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Serve with salad and enjoy! This makes a brilliant lunch when cold, if anything you can taste all of the flavours even more.

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Coming Soon! Autumn and More…

It’s been a while! A week by my reckoning. Sorry we haven’t been posting, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking – we’ve got some real treats lined up for our next few posts. Autumn is well and truly here in Bristol, so that means comfort food – stews, soups and squash are most definitely on the menu! Here’s a sneak peek…

Autumn Preview

Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and Sage Risotto

Carrying on with our autumnal meals, this really does taste like autumn on a plate to us! Squash obviously is an autumn treat, and paired with the nutty brown butter and the earthy bittersweet sage leaves it is exactly what you want after digging out your scarves and hats and kicking some autumn leaves around (or the less romantic but more accurate long-day-at-the-office that we were recovering from!). Risotto does take time and love but it’s so worth it for a plate of that oozy, sticky, delicious rice.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 butternut squash, mostly diced into roughly 1cm cubes, but with some of the round end reserved and cut into slices
  • 200g arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • About 1.5l of chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take half the butter and add it to a wide pan over a medium heat. Let this cook until it turns a brown colour and smells nutty, then add half of the oil to stop it burning any more and the finely chopped onion. Turn the heat down to low and gently sweat the onion for around 5 minutes until it is softened and turning translucent. Shred all except 2 of the sage leaves, add to the onions and cook for another minute.

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Then tip in the chopped butternut squash and let it cook for around 10 minutes stirring regularly. Once the butternut squash has had around 10 minutes in the pan, throw in the arborio rice and stir around to coat in the oil, cook for 1 minute.

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Then chuck in the wine, let it all bubble up and absorb into the rice and then you can start adding the chicken stock. This has got to be done slowly, don’t add more than a glug/ladleful at a time and make sure that it has all absorbed before adding more. Keep stirring it as much as possible, beating up the rice encourages all of the gluten to come out which is what makes it gorgeous and oozy. Keep adding and stirring, and also sipping at your glass of white wine (you only used a glass in the dinner… it would be rude to waste it!).

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Meanwhile take the remaining sliced butternut squash, coat in the remaining oil and then place in a roasting tin in the hot oven. After the slices of butternut squash have had 10-15 minutes in the oven flip them over so they get golden on both sides, if they’re done long before the risotto they’ll keep warm in the oven, just turn it off and leave them in there. Our risotto normally takes at least 45 minutes of slowly adding stock and stirring, most recipes seem to suggest more like 20 minutes but we’re evidently very chilled out (it could be the wine). Anyway, keep testing it once it’s looking puffed up and close to cooked, you want the rice to still have a bit of texture and bite but no crunch! At this point take the remaining butter and brown it in a little saucepan and then add to the risotto – this may seem unnecessary seeing as you started off with brown butter but it’s such a great flavour which can get lost otherwise. Throw in as much or as little parmesan as you fancy and stir it over a low heat to melt in.

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The final step is to heat the remaining oil in the same pan you used for browning the butter, and once it’s shimmering throw in the 2 sage leaves you kept, letting them cook for about 10 seconds per side. Take them out and drain on a piece of kitchen paper – once they’ve drained and cooled slightly they will be very fragile sage “crisps”! So whack the risotto on a plate, top with the golden, roasted slices of butternut squash and delicately plonk the fried sage on top, and enjoy!  This dinner is like a big fluffy-jumper-cuddle on a plate, and can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock and the parmesan with a veggie-friendly cheese!

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Honey and Mustard Pork with Garlic Mash

This one is a little bit special (if we do say so ourselves…). It’s meaty and indulgent, and we think you’re going to love it. Pork is something that we really don’t eat enough of – it often loses out to beef, lamb or chicken, and is usually eaten in sausage format. Here, we absolutely drown a bunch of pork medallions in honey and mustard, char it on a griddle pan and serve it with some delicious roasted veg and creamy garlic mash. Perfect for the onset of autumn!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2-4 cloves garlic (depending on size and taste)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 aubergine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 pork loin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp each of wholegrain and dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp milk (or cream, if you’re really feeling indulgent!)
  • 1 tbsp butter

The first thing to do is to chop up the onion, pepper, and aubergine and put it in an oven (preheated to 180°C) in a nice big roasting dish, along with the garlic cloves (these can stay whole, but remove the papery bits), 2 tbsp of the oil and a bit of seasoning. We like to do fairly large chunks, especially with the pepper, and big wedges of onion – this will ensure it gets charred around the edges while the middle stays nice and sweet. It should take about 45 minutes to roast. Take out the garlic after 20-30 minutes otherwise it will burn, just pop it to one side until you come to mash the potatoes.

The Dream Team...
The Dream Team…
The veg will drink up oil, be generous!
The veg will drink up oil, be generous!

To cook the potatoes, put a large pan of water on to a high heat, and dice the potatoes and add to the water while it is still cold – you want the potatoes to heat up along with the water so that they cook evenly all the way through. They’ll take about 30 minutes to cook (about 20 minutes after they’ve come up to the boil).

Once the potatoes are on to cook, make the sauce for the pork by mixing together the honey, mustards and olive oil. Slice the pork loin into medallions about 2cm (a bit less than an inch) thick, and slather over the sauce, making sure that all of the medallions are coated.  About 10 minutes before the potatoes are due to be cooked, whack them into a griddle pan or a frying pan. They should take about 4 minutes each side.

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When the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and leave to steam for a minute or so – you don’t want the mash to be too watery. Add the milk, butter, and the roasted garlic (squeeze the soft white garlic out of its skin) and mash it up proper. Good mash is made with patience – not a blender!

If you want some great char grilling, don't move them around in the pan - trust the griddle!
If you want some great char grilling, don’t move them around in the pan – trust the griddle!

By now your veg should all be looking (and smelling) fit, so plate it up with the mash and the pork medallions and enjoy this autumnal dish!

Honey Mustard Pork Done