Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Cauliflower, Pumpkin and Bean soup

A hearty and soothing bowl of goodness. This really is the season for comforting bowl of soup, one which i'm enjoying. This recipe hails from my BBC Good Food: More Low Fat Feasts and I suggest you make a large batch and pop half in the freezer. If you don't have all the ingredients, feel free to swap, amend and change as I did. I liked the texture of the soup and the flavours, well, they tasted earthy and warmth.



Serves 4
Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
500g pumpkin or squash, peeled seeded and chopped 
1 potato, chopped 
several thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
1 litre 1 3/4 pints vegetable stock
500g cauliflower cut into small florets
400g can haricot beans, drained and rinsed
a handful of chopped parsley
crusty bread, to serve

Method
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions then fry for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Stir in the garlic, pumpkin or squash, potato and thyme, then cook for 1 minute.
Pour the stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, simmer for around 20 minutes, then add the cauliflower and beans, and cook for a further 10 minutia until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove about two ladles of soup and pour into a food processor, then add the parsley and process until smooth - taking good care not to splash yourself with the liquid. Return to the pan, then reheat an serve some crusty bread.

xx
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Monday, 2 January 2017

Warming Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Happy New Year. I've been eating a lot more soup recently. Not because I'm on some sort of weird health quick or diet plan, but this time of year, the cold winter months produce some of the best vegetables which are sublimely delicious in a soup. A steaming bowl of soup tends to fill me up much more than if I simply boiled the vegetables.  Also, I get a virtuous feeling as I'm consuming at least 1, possibly 2 out of my 5 (fruit and vegetable recommendations) day in one serving.
The soup I chose to share with you is, in my opinion, the best in root vegetables: butternut squash and sweet potatoes. What enhances a simple butternut squash and sweet potato soup is the addition of aromatic spices which provides a warmth, a depth and spice to a soothing bowl of goodness. This soup is ideal for a light lunch, a starter or dinner.



Recipe for Warming Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4-6
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, skin removed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, skin removed
2 cm ginger, skin removed and grated
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of black pepper
1 small butternut squash, skin removed and roughly diced (around 500g once skin removed)
1 large sweet potato (around 300g), skin removed and diced. 
600ml chicken stock, made using 1 stock cube. 
Juice of 1/2 lime

Optional
4-6 tbsp full fat Greek yogurt for drizzling. I suggest 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt per bowl of soup.

Method
Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the the onion, 2 cloves of garlic and ginger for 2 minutes. Add the remaining spices, followed by the butternut squash and sweet potato and give this a good stir. Pour the chicken stock and lime and cook on a low heat, covered for 20 around minutes or until the butternut squash and sweet potato is cooked through . Pour the contents into a blender and liquidise until smooth. Serve the soups in bowl and drizzle with creme fraiche. 

xxx
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Monday, 9 March 2015

Hotpoint Steam Blender Pt 2, Review.

I've had my Hotpoint Steam Blender for almost two months and I have thoroughly enjoyed testing this kitchen appliance. I have made a variety of dishes in my steam blender, mainly for my breakfast and lunch: I have to credit this applicant for my new love of healthier eating. My first review post I focused on my initial thoughts of using this product, but this post focuses more on my thoughts of the variety of recipes that can be made using this innovative appliance.
Hotpoint Steam Blender
Mixtures
After having this product for almost two months, I love stretching this machine to see what it can do. I've started marking pancake mixtures using the blending facility and found this such a hick way to make the batter for my plantain and coconut pancakes. I found the machines blending facility to be excellent and able to cut through a starchy ingredient such as plantain. I find that blending pancake and batter mixtures far easier now, as all you do is add the mixture in the blender, turn on setting 2 or 3 for around 2 minutes to discover a wonderfully blended mixture. 
Plantain and Coconut Pancakes. 
Steaming
 Many of us enjoy steaming vegetables to ensure that all the nutrients remain contained in the vegetables. This Steam Blender does so much more than steaming vegetables, there is a handy basket which can be used to steam meat and fish separately. This means you can make a delicious a chunky chicken and vegetable soup, for example and place all the ingredients in the steam blender, but separate the chicken from the vegetables. I decided to test the basket facility by making ta chickpea and 2 vegetable soup which surprisingly worked very well and as they say "was a doddle to make". I simply steamed the chickpeas, onions, coconut milk and seasoning and placed the vegetables in the handy basket whilst they steamed separately. Once everything was steamed, I removed the basket, blended the stock and served in a bowl. This method would work when including chicken breasts (thinly sliced and wrapped in foil) and prawns.
Here is my Chickpea and Two Vegetable Soup:
Chickpea and Two Vegetable Soup.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup.

Juices
Another favourite when using this my steam blender is making juices; it's such a healthy way to the start the day. In fact, I'm sure making juices for my weekday breakfast has contributed to my 5 lbs weight loss. I like to in-cooperate a combination of vegetables and fruits, which is always blended thoroughly so you can't taste the vegetables.
Lemon, Ginger and Parsley Juice.

Melon and Grape Juice.

Shakes
For those who love indulgent drinks, the steam blender makes a fabulous milkshake. Although the ingredients for the milkshake is frozen (the ice-cream and ice cubes), blending these ingredients are no problem for this appliance. The results  of a milkshake in my steam blender is a glorious, indulgent and rich shake. 
Coffee and Banana Shake.

Recipe for Coffee Banana Shake, from 1000 Juices by Deborah Gray.
Ingredients
Banana
300ml coffee ice-cream (if you do not have coffee ice-cream, use vanilla and add 2 tbsp instant coffee powder)
2tbsp milk

Method
 Put all the ingredients into the steam blender and process on low for 30 seconds, stir and process on high until smooth and whipped. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Makes 1 glass

Disclaimer: I received a steam blender from Hotpoint, I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own. 

xxx
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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Hotpoint Steam Blender Review Pt 1.

As an avid home cook there are essential small kitchen appliances and gadgets which the majority of cooks can not live without, or would find it difficult to have no longer in their kitchen.  For example, a toaster and a kettle are considered to be essential but for many foodies there are the additional  essentials that are must haves in the kitchen such as: food processors, hand-held mixers, kitchen mixers, healthy grilling appliances, steamers and blenders. I am fortunate to have all of those kitchen items in my compact kitchen, but there is a new kitchen essential that all foodies should consider: Hotpoint's Steam Blender. For the busy cook, or those who are pressed on time, I consider this small kitchen appliance to be essential to make: soups, milkshakes, juices, baby food and crushing ice, in a matter of minutes, in fact, I've made a soup from start to finish in 15 minutes. 

Many thanks to Hotpoint for my Steam Blender which arrived with a thorough instruction pack and some handy recipes such as Soup With Pesto and Gazpacho. I briefly read the instruction manual and decided to start on making a Butternut Squash and Bacon soup. My initial impression when making this soup is that the Steam Blender is quite heavy, durable but yet also looked compact and stylish in my kitchen. The two parts of the Steam Blender were easily assembled and I decided to test whether it works ok before placing food in there. Fortunately, for this appliance, if something is not quite right, than audio will occur with letters  such as E1 and the fault is listed in the instruction manual. 

Hotpoint Steam Blender
There are several positives which I have found using this appliance in the short period of timing which I've been using. The Jug holds up to 1.5 litres of juice, I usually only prepare soup or juices for 1 or 2 people, but the glass jug is large enough it could easily make shakes and smoothies for at least 6 people,  which is perfect for large families. I did find when using the steamer function there was an initial loud noise to begin with but this quietens, after a few minutes. 
Here is a collage of what ice made so far:

Ultimate Green Juice

Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup, Leek Soup.

Cucumber Smoothie.


Carrot Juice
Handy Facts
Unique Steam Cooker/Blender
Keeps nutrients locked in
4 Speed Settings plus plus function
1.5 litre Glass Jug
LD Display With Digital Timer
Ideal for Soups and Milkshakes
1300W Power with Cooking Function
600W Blending Power
Steaming Basket
Ice Crusher
3 Year Warranty

Dimensions - H 480 X W 215 X D 195 (mm).
Colour: Stainless Steel.

The RRP is £189, however, I have seen this item for around £65.

Positives
Easy to use.
Perfect to make smoothies, juices, soups, baby food and milk shakes.
Can blend a large amount of fruit or veg.
4 different settings.
Cooks and blends.
Made by a revered brand.
Looks stylish in the kitchen.
Reasonably priced.

Not so good
Water may need to be drained when steaming vegetables for soup to prevent having too much liquid. 

Overall
I think this appliance has been prefect for me drinking regular green smoothies, so here is the recipe for my ultimate green smoothie as seen in the first collage.

Ingredients
Serves 1, happily
Mug of spinach,
Banana (frozen for 10 minutes), then peeled and chopped.
1 green apple, cored and seeds removed
Handful of Ice cubes
200ml water

Method
Place all the items in the Steam Blender, turn the setting to number 2 and blend for 2 minutes.

Enjoy 

Disclaimer:
I received the Steam Blender from Hotpoint, I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are mine.

Xxx
Yum
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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sherry and butternut squash soup.

I've been on a mission to cook and bake more from my growing cookbook collection before I purchase any more cookbooks (although Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking baking book has arrived this morning but this was purchased using my nectar points so this does not count :-) ) and I decided to make a soup from one of my low fat cook books. Now, the Christmas period is not exactly the right time to be calorie counting, but I fancied a healthier lunch in the hope I could drop a couple of pounds. A recipe that caught my eye was a butternut squash and sherry soup taken from BBC Healthy Eats cook book. I wondered whether the combination of the sherry would enhance one of my favourite soups, and I was right it did. The soup was extremely easy to make, all you do is cut the butternut squash and cook in a frying pan with the vegetable (I used beef) stock and sherry. Once cooked you place the butternut squash in a blender and blend to a soup consistency.
Here is how my sherry and butternut squash turned out:

The recipe is taken from the BBC Healthy Eats cook book but is also available online at the BBC food website soup recipe.
Ingredients for sherry and butternut squash soup
Butternut squash and onions fried for 5 minutes
Butternut squash and sherry soup with stock
Soup blended
xxx
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