Monday, 11 January 2010

Fully loaded butternut squash skins

With the current weather conditions it's all about hibernation and hearty fare for me at the moment. These butternut squash 'skins' are a variation on the traditional potato version, but make nice a change from the trusty spud and are still incredibly simple.
Halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out any seeds from the centre, and score the centre a bit to help it cook faster (be careful not to slice all the way through to the skin though). Place on a baking sheet and cook for around 40mins in a medium hot oven (gas mark 6). Once the halves of squash are soft and full cooked through, carefully scoop out the flesh making sure to keep the skin in tact. You may want to leave the squash to cool for a bit before starting this. Once you have all the flesh in a bowl stir in a couple finely chopped spring onions, a tablespoon of butter, a good handful of cheddar cheese, and some finely chopped chives. You could also add some fried mushrooms or regular onions, or a different cheese like mozarella. Carefully place your chosen mix back into the squash skins and top with a bit more cheese. Return to the oven for around 20mins or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Shovel into face while wondering if it would be wrong for one person to eat an entire butternut squash. Or show more reserve and allocate a halve per person and serve with some steamed brocolli and a couple of spicy tuna fishcakes (a.k.a. fish chop).

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Eating and greeting 2010

I seem to become less and less excited about new year as I get older, and for the last few years I have generally stayed in and cooked enough food for about ten people (number of people actually consuming food=2). And the transition into 2010 was no different.
On the menu this new year were smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis, sea bass and salmon goujons with a green salad and guacamole, whole prawns baked with garlic and thyme, potted crab with toast, and mini jacket potatoes with sour cream and chives. And a large platter of profiteroles for pudding. I may possibly have cooked too much food.
Most of the above are quite self-explanantory, but this was the first time I'd made either potted crab or choux pastry for the profiteroles. Both turned out to be very simple to prepare and delicious. The potted crab was based on this recipe by Thane Prince although I used a pinch of ground chilli and some paprika instead of tabasco, and only a little bit of lemon zest. The resulting dish was very rich but packed full of flavour.

The choux pastry recipe was from Delia Smith with an additional tip from The Ample Cook about letting the butter, water and flour mix cool a bit before adding the eggs (I fear scramblage would have occurred if I hadn't done this). Some whipped cream and a chocolate sauce made of melted chocolate and single cream finished things off.

And so 2010 started with feeling rather full up and in need of a lie down.