We bought a big tub of mascarpone the other day which means we have had to find enough ways to use it before it starts to go off.
The first use was nice and straightforward: We dolloped a bit on a toasted hot cross bun.
Today I made a chicken and butternut squash risotto following the standard risotto method: I fried some diced squash, finely chopped leeks, garlic, and a pinch of dried chilli. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but when we have a glut of chillies, I make my own dried chilli. I slice the chillies in half lengthways then put them on a sheet of kitchen roll in a small metal tray, which I then put on the radiator for a week or so. I then smash the chillies up using a small food processor.
Back to the risotto. After adding the chilli I added risotto rice and home made chicken stock. When the rice was roughly half cooked, I added some diced cooked chicken and a generous pinch of salt. When it was all fully cooked I added a generous heaped tablespoon of the mascarpone and stirred it in. The risotto was very rich and creamy and the mascarpone seemed to help keep it fairly firm, instead of going sloppy which can sometimes happen when I use ordinary cream cheese.
Tomorrow I will make a pasta bake. The mascarpone and a beaten egg should hold the pasta together well so it doesn't collapse too much when I serve. I will find out tomorrow.
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The plan was to make a curry with cubes of chicken, sweet potato and butternut squash in a spicy sauce. I started off by making the sauce:
Dice one sweet potato and a similar weight of butternut squash and simmer in a little water for about 5 minutes. Drain and reserve the water.
Chop and fry 1 yellow pepper, half a courgette, 2 cloves of garlic and a chilli pepper until the vegetables have softened. Add 1 teaspoon of curry powder and ½ teaspoon each of powdered ginger and turmeric. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved water from before and a cup of passata then simmer for a few minutes before liquidizing.
Dice and fry 2 chicken breasts then add the squash and sweet potato. Add the vegetable sauce, stir to coat, then simmer for a few minutes. Serve with rice.
The sweet potato had broken down almost to mash, which thickened the sauce much more than I expected. The end result was very nice though. The vegetable sauce was originally a bit too fierce but the thickened sauce had actually absorbed a lot of the spiciness and improved the flavour.
Last week Nigel gave us a bag of fresh kale. We used half of it in a Kale and Rocket Pesto, which was based on our Kale Pesto recipe. Today I used the rest of the kale to make gnocchi. I took inspiration from a Pumpkin and Rocket Gnocchi recipe in the Covent Garden Soup and Beyond book.
Start by dicing 200g of squash then boil for about 5 minutes until it softens. Take a good sized handful of Kale and cut the stalks from leaves. Drop the kale in the boiling water for a few seconds until it wilts.
Mash the squash and stir in about 70g of plain flour. Chop the kale and stir it in. Some parsley and watercress can also be chopped and added as well. Grate about 60g of cheddar and mix that in too, along with a pinch of salt and a beaten egg.
If the mixture is a bit sloppy, you might need to add a bit more flour. Put dollops of the mixture on a well floured surface and roll into a sausage. Break off bits and roll into balls.
Add the gnocchi to a large pan of simmering water and wait until they float. Serve with a sauce of your choice.
The final picture above has the gnocchi with a tomato and vegetable sauce made by finely chopping some red pepper, a chilli pepper, courgette, leek and garlic and simmering in passata with some added herbs and seasoning for about 15 minutes or so.
A couple of years ago I tried to grow Butternut Squash and one of the plants did quite well and we got 2 squash off it. This year I haven't had a single squash but the plant has grown huge and taken over half of the garden. It has covered the leeks, carrots and shallots so our crop of those has been very poor too.
The recent warm weather seems to have confused some of the other plants in the garden. I recently cut down one of the pepper plants and the wild strawberry plants but some small green shoots have appeared. I expect the strawberries to do ok over the winter but I will probably have to put the pepper somewhere sheltered to see if it survives the winter to give it a good head start in the spring.
I am still getting tomatoes and chilli peppers from the garden although things are ripening quite slowly now. At least those two crops have been successful this year and I have made roast tomato soup several times, often adding some other veg, such as peppers and courgettes, to the roasting pan.
The soup was made using some spare roast butternut squash from the freezer. The rest of the ingredients were:
- 2 small onions, 1 leek, 2 cloves of garlic. Chopped and fried until softened.
- 1 tub of chicken stock.
- 1 tbs chopped parsley
- 1 medium sized cooked potato
- A pinch of salt.
- 1 diced carrot.
Everything was simmered for about an hour then left to cool before being liquidized. There was enough for 2 days. Day 1 was a mug of the soup with diced chicken added. For day 2 I cooked some 'soup mix' which contained pasta, pulses and grains. This made the soup very thick, almost like drinking a stew.
Orzo is a small pasta, roughly the same size and shape as a large grain of rice, which we first bought a few months ago when a local shop had some on special offer. It seems to be quite a fashionable pasta shape these days and has turned up in a few recipes, such as this one from the You Magazine.
The original recipe called for a round squash but we had a butternut so instead of slicing the top off, I cut in half but made sure there was a 'small' half to use as the lid and the larger half to fill with the cheese mixture.
The cheese mixture was equal weights of creme fraiche and grated cheddar, with some nutmeg and white pepper mixed in. I put a few sage leaves on the filling, put the 'lid' on top, and baked at gas mark 5 for about 1½ hours.
10 minutes before the end, I cooked the orzo. I scooped out the squash and filling (which wasn't easy because it was very hot) and served it with the orzo. The squash hadn't gone fully soft so I slightly mashed some of it with the spoon to give it a smoother texture. I chopped the sage leaves and stirred them in with the cheesy mixture when I served.
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This week we tried two different butternut squash and quinoa recipes. The first was a variant on a standard butternut squash risotto:
Ingredients (per person):
50g Quinoa, rinsed.
1 clove of garlic
100g butternut squash.
1 tbs cream cheese.
Chop and fry the vegetables. Add the quinoa and boiling water or stock. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. When the quinoa is soft, stir in the cream cheese.
The second recipe came from the BBC Good Food website.
I followed their recipe fairly closely - the only changes were: I fried the squash for a few minutes before adding the spices, and I used passata instead of tinned tomatoes. Oh and I threw in some cooked mince which I had in the fridge. I left out the coriander - I'm not a big fan because I find it sometimes leaves a bit of a strong aftertaste.