Boxing Day Soup

Waitrose do ready-trimmed veg and fruit at exorbitant prices, and one of the packs is a mix of butternut squash and sweet potato cubes. Just not having to cut and peel the squash is worth the extravagance. I'd made the gravy for the goose yesterday with goose fat, plain flour, the juice from the roasting tin, giblet stock, seasoning including allspice, some cooking port and a big dollop of redcurrant jelly.

Today I got a big pan, tipped in the gravy, topped it up with boiling water, and added 2 packs of orange veg. Simmered for a few hours, pureed it, leaving some lumps for interest's sake, tasted and added more allspice and some pepper. No extra salt, as when I served it I stirred tiny lumps of fresh creamy stilton into the bowl, so it went soft but not too melty. 

Just what we needed this evening, rich but subtle, almost bland but very moreish, gentle on the tummy and nicely filling without being fatty or sweet.

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Stilton and Pecan biscuits

From the ASDA freebie Christmas magazine, December 2006. Says 66 cals per biscuit, this amount makes 44 biscuits, should cost 6p each.

  • 225 gms plain flour
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 0.25 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 125 gms butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 50 gms stilton, crumbled
  • 75 gms mature cheddar, grated
  • 75 gms pecans (or 44 whole or pieces of broken nuts)
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten – ed: – separately, you need them at different stages
  • coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4. Line 2 baking trays with paper.
  2. Sift flour, cayenne and mustard together.
  3. Add butter and rub in until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add cheeses, and 1 egg. Mix until it forms a dough. Knead lightly. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out between 2 sheets of clingfilm to a thickness of 5 mm. Cut into rounds. Put on baking trays.
  5. Brush with egg and put a pecan on each. Sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire tray.

What a pants recipe. It probably works, but they could have told you to keep the eggs separate, if I see "2 medium eggs, lightly beaten", I beat together 2 eggs. Idiots. And I'm thinking that rolling out a cheese dough between 2 sheets of clingfilm, as thin as 5 mm, would not be as straightforward as they make it sound. It tells you 44 biscuits @ 5 mm thick, but not how big the rounds should be. They'd have to be pretty small to get 44 on to 2 baking trays, but then, do they tell you what size baking trays? No. If you're supposed to put a whole pecan on each of 44 biscuits, I think you might need more than 75 gms.

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Blue Cheese and Parsnip Puffs (Souffles)

I have to admit I still have never cooked a souffle. It always seemed too much faff, there's that whole "last moment" thing, and nowadays they're not on the approved list. But these looked very yummy, and, dammit, it's about time. From Good Housekeeping December 1999, serves 8 at 189 cals per serving.

 

  • 225 gms parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 50 gms butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 50 gms flour
  • 284 ml carton milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 50 gms Gruyere, grated
  • 75 gms blue cheese, crumbled – suggests Stilton or Dolcelatte

Boil parsnips til tender. Drain, dry well over low heat, and mash.

Lightly butter 8 150 ml ramekins and put on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter, stir in flour and mix til smooth. Take off heat and blend in milk, reheat to boil, stirring continuously. Cool a little, beat in the egg yolks, Gruyere and parsnip puree, season.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peak, fold into parsnip mixture with the blue cheese. Don't overdo it.

Fill the ramekins almost to the top, cook at Gas Mark 6 for 15 – 20 minutes until puffed up and brown. Serve immediately.

I'd pop them on a bigger plate with some bitter salad – chicory, rocket, watercress, or they'd be a bit rich by themselves. While they'd make a great starter, you couldn't have a cheeseboard really after, and they might be better as a main course for a smaller meal – lunch or supper, maybe with some crusty bread. Be careful with the salt because of the cheese.

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Special Sausage Rolls

If you're home-making sausage rolls for Christmas, why not use good quality sausagemeat, mixed up with lots of fresh parsley, toasted chopped walnuts and crumbled Stilton? 

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