Soup is the ultimate winter soul food. Nourishing and sustaining, with endless varieties, I never get bored with it.
This soup was borne out of pretty much the entire contents of my fridge – a squash, a couple of shallots, a carton of chicken stock and a little double cream. It was frankly a pretty bare fridge, but I had no desire to head out to the shops and this was the first thing that came to mind. I guess thats the joy of soups, there are no rules, you make make a soup from practically anything.
What is it that makes food a treat? It needs to be out of the ordinary, something you don’t eat everyday. Where the anticipation of eating is part of the allure. With a definite element of indulgence. It needs to be right food for the right time and the right place. So here is my little Thursday night treat. A simple potato, patiently baked in the oven for a good hour. Slathered in butter, the faintest smear of mushroom pesto, finished with cheddar. The perfect supper for a crisp November night.
I do like to have a cake on hand when I have weekend guests. The moment invariably arrives where a cup of tea and a slice of something sweet will go down nicely. Given the time of year, I thought I’d make a Parkin. I grew up having Parkin as a Bonfire night treat and only latterly did I learn that this type of cake is indigenous to Lancashire and Yorkshire and rarely eaten in other parts of England. Even my Cheshire-bred husband never had Parkin. Now I’m not going to get started on the differences between Yorkshire and Lancashire versions, all I will say is that there is something appealing about celebrating and preserving my regional heritage, even if I am now mostly feeding suspicious southerners!
The best way I can describe a Parkin is a cross between a ginger cake and a flapjack. It’s imperative to make it about a week before you want to eat it, which gives the flavour time to mature and, most importantly, allows its texture to develop. It becomes denser and stickier the longer you leave it, evolving from an oaty ginger cake into something really special. I nearly always forget to bake it in time, but this year I had it in the oven a week in advance and then it sat, patiently wrapped in foil, ready for its weekend unveiling. Read more
Sometimes more is most definitely more. There is something about American food that seems to encourage outrageously over the top combinations and brownie is no exception. Just when you think you’ve done enough, added enough extras, pimped it up to the max, then you should just sling in one more thing. That’s what gives it the edge. Hence this possibly excessive but amazing combination of peanut butter cheesecake, peanut butter chips and butterscotch chips, swirled into a squidgy dark chocolate brownie. The alternative brownie is pretty much my default brownie – a fudgy dark brownie base studded with chunks of milk and white chocolate. Read more