Monday, 12 January 2015

Chestnut & Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

 
#No Meat Monday or Meat Free Monday are initiatives part of a movement going back to early 2000 which aims at gently limiting our meat consumption on a regular basis. It's also a way of introducing vegetarian recipes in our diet or for vegetarian an opportunity to be exposed and explore different ingredients.
 
This recipe makes use of chestnuts, quinoa and pomegranate seeds. Three delicious ingredients which are often overlooked as they "don't fit".
 
Personally, I love chestnuts. It makes me sad that they make an appearance  at Christmas time only. I'd like to see more of them on menus. Of course, there is a "little" inconvenient, they are difficult to prepare. But where there is a will... there is a call for vacuum-packed chestnuts.
 
Quinoa which I associate with Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, only because there was a lot of nauseating  hype at the time of her book promotion around the tiny nutty tasting grain. For that reason and for a while, I refused to try out quinoa which was a bit silly as it's really full of flavour. Just cut the actress out of the equation.
 
Pomegranate a favourite in Middle-Eastern cuisine always peps up recipes. Once the fruit is opened the seeds can be used in salads or as snacks. Which leads me to the recipe. It originally uses 2 butternut squashes which is quite a lot so I reduced the only the one but kept all the other ingredients the same as in the Morrison's original recipe. You might be left with extra stuffing, note that it's delicious on its own, warm it up the next day, that's lunch taken care of. 
 
Chestnuts & Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved (see last paragraph of the post)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g ready-prepared vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • 125g quinoa
  • 2 tbsp shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 75g pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh coriander leaves

  •  
    Method
    1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6. Scoop the seeds out of the squash and score the flesh. Place cut side up on a baking tray, drizzle with half the oil and season. Cook for 40-45 minutes.
    2. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until softened. Stir in the garlic and chestnuts, cook for a minute then add the sage, cumin, cinnamon and cranberry sauce and cook for another 30 seconds.
    3. Put the quinoa into a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and stir into the onion mix with the nuts and all but 1 tbsp of the seeds.
    4. Once the squash are done, scoop out the flesh leaving just the shell. Chop the flesh and add to the quinoa mixture, then spoon back into the shells and bake for 10 minutes. To serve, scatter with the remaining seeds and coriander.
    As this recipe is really popular with Pebble Soup's readers, I am sharing it with my favourite bloggers' challenge
    This month the theme is challenge is Temple Food… as in my body is a temple. I think this recipe will fit right in.

    Thursday, 8 January 2015

    7/1/15

    It felt like a page of my book of beliefs was being  violently torn out. A book which advocates tolerance, freedom of thoughts and speech in our democratic societies. There are no words to describe the murders at Charlie Hebdo yesterday.

    But this morning there was this


     
    and I knew that the words will appear and that millions of people will  rewriting the page.

    Wednesday, 31 December 2014

    2014 : What a Year That Was

    Once more you have made a year very special. Readership increased by 70% which resulted in Pebble Soup ranking 28 in December. I've been working with some wonderful people and shared some great recipes with you. In 2014, I pluck up the courage to make my writing more personal.
     
    Because of its popularity, Pebble Soup attracted more and bigger brands in turn  allowing  for better give-aways,  I was delighted to share with you, some of the products which I was sent for review and I intend to continue doing so in 2015.
     
    Consolidating on the previous year, I wrote food articles for Great British Chefs and travel pieces for Trip Reporter on a regular basis.  The cherry on the cake came with my very own food column in The Greenwich Visitor. There were some great commissions from national newspapers and each time I shared with you, what happened "behind the scene" .
     
    All in all 2014 was a great vintage at Pebble Soup and I have high hopes for 2015. Thank you so much for dropping by regularly.
     
    I wish you a wonderful 2015, may your dreams come true.
     
    Solange with love x
     
    Here a few 2014 highlights


    In January, I had to face up to my Gingerbread Men addiction. February's Kiwi Muffins recipe was extremely popular. March was cold but didn't stop a  inspiring visit to Vienna for Trip Reporter. In April, I worked with Mustard Maille to create a Salmon and Dill Verrine.


    During spring and summer, I attended a class at the Ateliers des Chefs where to my amazement, I baked macarons, a triumph on the other end entering #Tuscanycookoff was a disappointment, rules changed at the last minute, I since heard that could be reported and I think bloggers should be more forceful with these matters.

    Volunteering in Greenwich park Queen's orchard and Bringing vegetables back home boosted creativity, you particularly liked another muffin recipe, this time: chocolate and beetroot. Last but not least a few chefs cooked us breakfast and lunch.
     
     
    The rest of the year went slightly crazy with developing recipes for magazines and travelling for articles and if it's anything to go by, 2015 will bring you recipes from Canada, Greece, Turkey among other things.
     

    Wednesday, 24 December 2014

    Chicken/Turkey with Vanilla & Maple Syrup Wrap


    When this post will be published, Christmas won't have happened yet but at Pebble Soup we'll have already eaten the left-overs. Did we get a Tardis for Christmas? sadly no.


    I accepted a mission.
    Mission Deli, as in the Wraps were looking for new recipes for their web-site blog. The perfect opportunity to try a Vanilla 'n Maple Syrup Glaze. Of course it has a hint of sweetness but the vinegar cuts right through it and the end product is like nothing else. You've got to try it. 

    It's tasty and healthy perfect for Boxing Day and hopefully you'll make it again in the new year.
    Vanilla & Maple Glazed Chicken/Turkey
     
    PREPARATION: 10 MINS
    SERVES: 2
    COOKING: 20 min
     
    INGREDIENTS:
    300g free range chicken goujons or left over turkey
    Freshly ground salt and pepper
    ½ fresh Orange or 50ml of juice
    75ml Maple Syrup
    1 ½ teaspoons Taylor and Colledge Vanilla Bean Paste
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
    ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
    1 wrap per person + salad or spring onions, mashed avocado any green which takes your fancy.
     
    METHOD:
     
    Season the chicken/turkey with salt and pepper and fry it in a little hot olive oil so that it browns. If you are using the chicken you need to cook it through which should take about 8 mins. If you are using the turkey you just need the colour.
     
    Meanwhile, combine maple syrup, vanilla bean paste, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, thyme and chilli in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

    Pour the mixture over the chicken and let it reduce for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, when it glaze the meat, it's ready
     
    LAST STEP
    Serve on a plate immediately  drizzling it generously with the pan juices so that dinners can make their own wrap. I've used mashed avocado and lamb lettuce to add to the wrap but anything which takes you fancy or is in the fridge will do nicely.

     

    Sunday, 21 December 2014

    Christmas in Avignon

    Going to Avignon earlier this month, made me realised how much unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves in the Anglo-Saxon world. When there,  on several occasions, I mentioned, "Black Friday" just to be met with a look a complete incomprehension.
     
    It was the start of the second week in December and shops had just started displaying their Xmas goods. Les Halles - the largest intra-muros food market- wasn't showing any sign of Christmas yet. 


    One peculiarity of Les Halles in Avignon is its wall, 30m x 11,50m, set up by botanist Patrick Blanc. It has a sophisticated irrigation system, as you can imagine, being in the south of France. Growing vertically is an interesting concept. A Pebble Soup's guest blog post which is still very popular was written about this subject matter, Urban Eden in the Sky
    Traders mentioned the Christmas tradition of the 13 desserts, symbol of Christ and the 12 apostles. The 13 desserts traditionally end the "big supper" on Christmas eve before midnight mass. 

    Though there are variations, it's often green melon kept safe in straw since harvest, apples, pears, grapes, nuts , figs , oranges, mandarins and nougat. There is jam, "focaccia" and mulled wine too.
     
    Of what I have seen tradition has evolved a little and the fruits are often "confits".

    Another outlet which should not be missed when strolling in the papal city is Aline Géhant's, a chocolatiere with a real talent for soft but strong flavours. Her chocolates infused with star-anise (badiane) or lavender are unique.

    This was a bit of behind the scenes of my press trip to read more about Avignon head to Trip Reporter where the article was published

    Thursday, 11 December 2014

    Gardiane de Boeuf AKA Beef Gardiane

    On a recent visit to Avignon, flavours associated to my early childhood tickled my nose, once more. First meal, I ordered a Gardiane de Boeuf, a speciality of the area, now made with beef, yesterdays with bull meat.

    Growing up in Nimes with a bullfighting aficionado for a dad, I had my fair share of bull meat. Gardiane was always on restaurant menus and always a family favourite.

    Bull is now replaced by beef, as sourcing bull is complicated. Guardiane is a dish typical of Camargue, the Rhone delta, a wonderful swamp where flamingos, local horses and bulls live roam.
     
    The dish called Gardiane as it was gardians' pack lunch. Gardians are horsemen who tended to bull herds, in another words a cow-boys and gardiane is a sophisticated boeuf bourguignon.
     
    The meat needs to marinate over night. This is a dish with strong flavours which requires rice and/or wild rice to soak up the lovely juices.
     
    Have a peep at the ingredients:
     
    1 kg stewing beef -diced- serves 4 to 6 people
    2  onions -peeled and chopped-
    2 carrots- peeled and sliced
    3 or 4 cloves garlic, left whole
    3  anchovy fillets
    green olives as many as you like
    1/2 bottle of red wine
    500ml beef stock
    1 sprig rosemary
    1 sprig thyme
    1 bay leaf
    olive oil
    Salt and pepper
     
    Method
    Peel and slice the onions. Peel the garlic cloves and leave them whole. Place in a bowl with herbs and a little olive oil. Marinate overnight.
     
    The next day, Heat a pan with a little olive oil. Add beef pieces, mix and allow to color slightly, retrieve the meat and replace with  the onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
     
    Meanwhile, rinse, peel and cut the carrots into thick slices. Add them to the pan, stir.
     
    Add the anchovies, bouillon. Salt and pepper, add the olives and cover with red wine.
     
    Simmer with a lead on for 2 hours.
     
    When cooked, taste to check the seasoning. Increase heat to reduce the juices
    Serve Camarguaise rice, a delicious French rice, firm and rather plain in flavour often mixed with black wild rice.

    Inside the Palais des Papes in Avignon - Article soon on Trip Reporter
     
     

    Tuesday, 2 December 2014

    Meatless Stuffed Peppers - Quick Dinner


    Miele Secret Supper Club

    The black car rolled silently down our little street, I jumped in and off we went toward a secret destination for a steam dinner prepared by Nordic Chef Martyn Mied.

    First impression: Miele London Gallery with its exciting kitchen appliances had been tastefully transformed into a "food theatre"

    Here I was going to have my first taste of hay hash. At this stage, I got a little confused. Not helped by my neighbour who was looking at me with a knowing smirk.
     
    Obviously, I had missed a trend and here it is explained as Nordic food is on the rise.  Ashes from burnt hay are sprinkled on food in upscale restaurants, something which has been done from way-way back but has been revived by René Redzepi of Denmark's Noma.
     
    It's said to add bitter and smoky flavours to the dishes. Ashes worked well with Mackerel & Beet. The colours were drastic and the smoky flavour noticeable.

    Usually burning your food is not quite acceptable unless you are chef Mied and then it becomes an art. Vegetables are burnt too to add extra crisp, as in the Seabass and Burnt Chicory

     
    After 6 courses we parted with a delicate plate of Luxury Chocolate
     
    
     
    disclaimer: I was a guest at the Miele Secret supper club, no money was exchange and I was not requested to write a review. I would like to thank FrankPR for inviting me

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