Christmas Dinner

Chestnut, roasted butternut squash and Bramley apple soup

Chestnut, roasted butternut squash and Bramley apple soup


1.5kg/3lb 5oz butternut squash, seeds removed, flesh cut into large wedges

5 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 2 potatoes, cut into cubes 1 Bramley apple, peeled, core removed, flesh chopped 2 litres/31⁄2 pints hot chicken or vegetable stock 1 sprig fresh thyme 2 bay leaves 500g/1lb 2oz chestnuts, roasted and peeled, plus extra, sliced, to serve 400g/14oz ready-made chestnut purée salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

truffle oil, for drizzling double cream, for drizzling (optional)

Veg for the Soup
Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. Place the butternut squash pieces into a roasting tin and drizzle over three tablespoons of the olive oil. Transfer to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the squash is tender and golden-brown. Set aside to cool.

3. When the butternut squash has cooled, drain off the oil and peel away the skin, taking care not to burn your fingers.

4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic, potatoes and apple and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened.

5. Add the stock, roasted squash, thyme, bay leaves, chestnuts and the chestnut purée. Stir well and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6. Bring the mixture to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Set aside to cool.

7. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the pan and heat until warmed through.

8. To serve, divide the soup equally between ten serving bowls. Garnish each serving with a few drops of truffle oil and cream (if using) and sprinkle over the sliced roasted chestnuts.

By The Hairy Bikers From The Hairy Bakers

preparation time less than 30 mins

cooking time 30 mins to 1 hour

Parsnip cakes with mushrooms and pine kernels

Hot, crisp cakes with a nutty, savoury filling. Serve on a salad of watercress or rocket, scattered with pomegranate seeds and yoghurt. Serves 2 as a main.
Parsnip Cakes ready to cook
For the filling:

50g lightly toasted pine kernels
a large onion
25g butter
a tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
half a tsp ground coriander
4 green cardamoms
a tsp of ground cumin
150g mushrooms
75g fresh spinach leaves

For the parsnips:

800g parsnips
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
oil and butter for frying

Peel and chop the parsnips into large pieces and boil in salted water till just tender (about 20 mins). Drain and return them to the heat for a couple of minutes to ‘dry out’, then mash them with the cinnamon and a little ground black pepper. When no lumps remain, stir in the flour. Leave to cool.

While the parsnips are cooking, make the filling. Toast the pine kernels in a non-stick pan over a moderate heat till golden. Set aside. Chop the onion fairly finely, then let it soften till pale gold in a pan with the oil and butter over a moderate heat. Crush the garlic and add it to the onion, along with the coriander, the crushed black cardamom seeds and the cumin. Let all sizzle briefly. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan, letting them cook gently to a soft, nutty brown. Stir in the pine kernels.
Parsnip cake stuffing
In a separate pan cook the spinach briefly, drain, squeeze and roughly chop. Stir the spinach into the mushroom stuffing, season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. When both parsnips and stuffing are cool enough to handle, flour your hands and divide the parsnip mix into four. Flatten each one into a thick disc, put a couple of spoonfuls of the filling in the centre, then bring up the sides to enclose the stuffing. Flatten the ball gently with a floured hand and put on to a lightly floured baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the mixture to make four large, stuffed patties. These will keep, wrapped in clingfilm for several hours, or overnight.

To cook the patties, heat a shallow pool of oil and a little butter in a non-stick pan. Cook the cakes on one side till golden, then turn and colour the other side. They are best eaten straight from the pan. Serve with salad leaves, yogurt and pomegranate seeds.

Fennel and gorgonzola souffle tart

Fennel and Dolcelatte souffle tart

Serves 6-8

5 heads of fennel, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size. I used 1 extra large fennel head
extra-virgin olive oil
200ml milk / soya milk
40g unsalted butter
1 heaped tbs plain flour
3 large eggs, separated125ml plain yoghurt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
zest of 1 lemon
salt and black pepper
40g parmesan, grated (I didn’t use this as its hard to find a veggie parmesan)
100g gorgonzola (I used dolcelatte instead as its veggie)
50g toasted walnuts, broken up and toasted for 3-4 minutes, to brown but not burn them

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

For the pastry:

110g unsalted butter
220g seasoned plain flour
1 egg yolk mixed with a little iced water

First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the seasoned flour or pulse in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add just enough of the egg and water to bring the pastry together into a ball. Line a 28cm tart tin with the pastry – leaving extra draped over the sides to avoid problems with the pastry shrinking – and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork, cover with a round of greaseproof paper or foil and weigh this down with some baking beans or rice. Bake the pastry case blind in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes and then neaten up the pastry case, removing the extra draped over the sides. Keep the oven on, ready for baking the filled pastry case.

Blanch the fennel heads in boiling water for 2 minutes and then roast them on a griddle in the preheated oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for about half an hour, until they are beginning to turn brown and caramelise.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour to make a fairly stiff roux. Add the milk – ideally warmed – and whisk.

Mix the egg yolks with the yoghurt and Dijon mustard in a bowl, and add this to the roux, along with the lemon zest. Season with salt and black pepper.

Sprinkle the pastry with the grated parmesan (this acts like flour in the base and absorbs any moisture from the fennel bulbs) and lay the roasted fennel over the tart base. Break the gorgonzola over the top and scatter the walnuts.
Fennel and Dolcelatte souffle tart

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and lightly fold into the roux. Spoon this over the fennel, cheese and walnuts and bake the tart in the oven for about 30 minutes or until it is risen, golden and set to the touch.


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