Pumpkin-Paprika Soup

P1010961

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

The ingredients: for 6 persons

  • 1 butternut pumpkin
  • 2 red paprika
  • 2 onions
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cubes low fat chicken bouillon
  • 1 bouquet garni (garnished bouquet)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika powder (soft taste)
  • 1 tsp. sharp paprika (spicy)
  • olive oil or other light fat
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Peal the butternut, take out the seeds, and cut the meat in pieces. Clean the 2 paprika’s, take out the seeds and cut them into pieces. Peal the onions and cut them in cubes. Peal the garlic and cut into small pieces.

Put some olive oil or other low fat oil into a cooking pot and simmer the onions, the paprika and the  garlic for a couple of minutes until the onions start to turn glazy. Add the butternut pieces and immediately cover all vegetables with water. You’ll need 1 to 1,5 liter. Add two cubes of chicken stock and the bouquet garni. To strengthen the taste of the soup, add a table spoon of soft paprika and a pinch of sharp paprika (spicy paprika).

Once the soup boils, lower the heat so that the soup boils softly for the rest of the cooking time. The paprika’s will need about 45 minutes until they are tender.

At the end of the cooking time, take out the bouquet garni and mix the soup using a mixer or blender. Add some extra water if necessary, to give the soup the right consistency. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

The Tip:
My neighbour brought me some smoked garlic the other day. I used this instead of normal garlic, and although i can’t prove nor measure it, but I believe the smoked garlic lifted the paprika taste much more than normal garlic. I’m sure if I would roast the paprika’s and peal them before using them, this would also be very beneficial for the taste of this soup. I really need to try that sometime.

I hate battling against pumpkins, so I in the beginning of winter I buy a bag of frozen butternut cubes. No work, as good!

The Secret:

Yet again the herbs are the secret to this taste. With the bouquet garni and the soft and spicy paprika herbs to the soup it gets a herby flavour and a great paprika ‘bite’.

If you don’t have sharp paprika, you can replace it by chilli. For the bouquet garni I used a dry bouquet which I bought in the shop. It contained: thyme, laurel and rosemary.

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Thai style mussels

P1010789

Preperation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

The ingredients: 4-6 people

  • 1 kg mussels
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger (2 cm)
  • 2-3 fresh small red chili peppers (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 4 stalks of lemon grass
  • 4 dried lemon leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 large glass of white wine
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Fresh green herbs: coriander, basil, mint
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. trassie
  • 2 cubes fish stock
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

The work:

Clean and rinse the mussels extensively. Grate the ginger, the garlic, the lemon grass & the red chili’s. Cut the celery and the shallots.

Heat the olive oil in the wok and braise the onions and the garlic. After a few minutes, add the rest of the grated ingredients. When this mix has baked shortly, add the mussels, the white wine, the fish stock, the fish sauce, the trassie, the lemon leaves and season with salt & pepper.

Close the lid and cook until the mussels open (typically 10 minutes). Now add the juice of 1 lemon and the coconut milk and stir to disperse the taste. Add the coarsely chopped leaves of the green herbs, stir and serve immediately.

The secret:

The secret is the trassie (shrimp paste), this Eastern ingredient really lifts the taste of the mussels.

The tip:

We serve these mussels as a starter with some bread to dip in the juice. But us Belgians like mussels in many styles as a main course and then we typically prepare 1 kg mussels per person. Although the standard in Belgium is mussels with frites, these Thai style mussels come out much better with good bread like Turkish pide.

If you don’t like grating ginger, use a small blender to cut ginger, chili, etc.

Anchovy puff cookies

anchovy2

I know it has been a while since the last post. The last months before summer holiday are typically extremely busy, just as the last month before Christmas. But from the evening terrace here in the South of France, we’re back.

If you want to impress your guests on summer eve, this will make a great tapas, appetizer, cookie, whatever…

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

The Ingredients:

  • 1 rol puff pastry
  • anchovy in olive oil
  • herbs de Provence

The work:

Open the roll of puff pastry half an hour in advance. Roll it open on the paper it sits on.

Preheat the oven at 200°C.

When the pastry has rested, lay the anchovy on the pastry in parallel stripes, about 3 cm apart (1,5 inch). Don’t worry about the olive oil, you can spill it on the pastry while dressing the anchovy on it.

When you’ve laid out the anchovy, sprinkle the herbs all over the pastry.

Now cut the pastry horizontally in between the rows of anchovy – the carving doesn’t have to go all the way through the pastry. Also make vertical cuts to form rectangular shaped ‘cookies’. It is important to make cuts beforehand to easily crack the pastry when done. You can also use a pizza wheel to make the carvings.

anchovy1Bake the pastry for 45 minutes in the oven.

When gold brown, take it out, let it cool down for a couple of minutes and crack into finger-food sized cookies. Serve in a basket.

It’s salty yes, exactly what you need on a sultry eve like tonight…

The Secret:

No secret, no tip… plain, simple, tasty, salty, simple, summer.