Spicy pumpkin soup and romanesco broccoli

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The perfect antidote for this wintery weather is staying indoors cooking – soup was on the menu today (spicy pumpkin and a ham hock and vegetable soup). I had a lovely time singing along to some rather loud music (Ben Harper) cooking to my hearts content. If you decide to try my spicy pumpkin soup recipe I strongly recommend you put on some of your favourite sing along music too.

Spicy pumpkin soup
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Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Australian
Author:
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Serves: 10
A spicy vegetable soup to warm you up on a cold winter's day
Ingredients
  • 3 sticks of celery sliced
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 40g lemon grass stalks
  • 100g red bull pepper or capsicum (optional) chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 25g ginger chopped
  • 4 red hot chillies chopped (optional)
  • 4 carrots chopped into slices
  • 50g peanut butter or peanuts chopped
  • 600g pumpkin cut up into chunks
  • ½ swede chopped
  • 300g potatoes or sweet potatoes chopped
  • 2 dessertspoons curry powder
  • 2 tsp massel vegetable stock powder or cubes
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • salt/pepper
  • ¼ cream
  • 1 tablespoon of saharan spice mix (from Wildings in St Leonards)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan place all the ingredients except the cream and spice mix
  2. Saute gently for at least 10 minutes before adding enough water to cover the vegetables and a bit more (I like thin soup rather thick)
  3. Cook on moderate heat until the vegetables are soft
  4. Remove the kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and curry leaves
  5. Cool for a while and then puree with a stick blender, in a food processor or in a blender
  6. Place back on the stove and add the cream, spice mix and season to taste
  7. Cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer

We dug up the horseradish patch today and replanted some in a new sunny position, I now have some lovely horseradish roots to freeze, use fresh and maybe put some in oil. Pasta man cooked a beef rib roast in the Webber and I experienced freshly grated horseradish on my steak for the first time ever (it was a lovely accompaniment).

I picked the first of our romanesco broccoli plants today and Pasta man thinned out some baby carrots and golden beets- what a lovely combination to have with the beef  for dinner.

horseradish root

horseradish root

 

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmagiana

layering vegetables, tomato sauce & cheese/basil

layering vegetables, tomato sauce & cheese/basil

Today we picked a lot of lovely young zucchinis and I had to decide what to do with them, they are so good when fresh like this, a real treat. I decided to make an eggplant and zucchini parmigiana from the cooking class I did in Positano but with a few changes, instead of deep frying the eggplant I grilled it instead (zucchini too), oh and I added chillies too!

The dish (two different dishes in one really) worked really well, the eggplant was soft and fluffy which contrasted the firm zucchini, the refreshing tomato sauce contrasting well with the cheeses.

Zucchini & Eggplant Parmagiana

Zucchini & Eggplant Parmagiana

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmagiana
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Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Italian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
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Serves: 4
This dish delivers lots of textures and flavours- the sweet melty fresh mozzarella, basil, soft smokey eggplant & crunchy zucchini combine well with the tomato sauce.
Ingredients
  • 3 firm eggplants or 6 small zucchini
  • 240g mozzarella sliced & cubed (fresh if possible & dried out a bit)
  • 10 - 20 basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic (clove crushed slightly)
  • 6 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated (more if desired)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 400g ripe tomatoes
  • salt & pepper
  • chillies to taste
Instructions
  1. Peel & cut the eggplants into thick slices. Place the eggplants into a colander and sprinkle with salt, let stand for at least 30 min to 1 hour. Wash salt off and dry eggplants with paper towel (get as dry as possible). Using a pastry brush lightly coat eggplants with oil and season. Slice zucchinis into thick slices (lengthways), dress with olive oil and season. Grill the vegetables on a barbeque or grill plate until the eggplant is cooked and the zucchini still crisp.
  2. Add the garlic clove to the oil on low heat and cook until browned slightly. Add tomatoes and chili (if using) and simmer for at least 30 minutes stirring frequently. Pass cooked sauce through a sieve to remove seeds and skins and add a pinch of salt.
  3. Cut the mozzarella into small blocks and leave to dry out a bit (stops the dish becoming watery). Grate the parmesan cheese.
  4. Oil a baking dish and place a layer of eggplant or zucchini (I did half of each) then a layer of tomato sauce, then torn basil leaves followed by the layer of cheeses. Repeat layers finishing with the tomato sauce and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180*C and bake for about 30 to 40 min, or until bubbling and golden.
  6. The dish is good served hot or at room temperature (antipasto).
Notes
This dish is adapted from a recipe I learned in a cooking class at the Ristorante Buca di Bacco in Positano, Italy.