BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH CHILLI AND CREME FRAICHE – Serves 4
1 butternut squash, about 1kg., peeled and deseeded
2 tbsps. olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
850mls. hot vegetable stock
4 tbsps. creme fraiche, plus extra to serve
Heat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 6. Cut the squash into large chunks, deseed, then toss in a roasting tin with 1 tbsp.of the oil.
Roast for 30 minutes, until golden and soft.
Melt the butter with the remaining 1 tbsp. oil, add the onion, garlic and 3/4’s of the diced chilli. Cook until the onions are soft. Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and 4 tbsps. creme fraiche and whizz with a stick blender, or in a liquidiser, until smooth. Return to the pan and gently reheat, then season to taste.
Serve in bowls with swirls of creme fraiche and a scattering of the remaining chilli.
Squash is much easier to peel after it has been roasted. You can easily scrape it off the skin. Jamie Oliver is a great one for eating the skin as well as it softens when cooked. Give it a good scrub if you are planning to do that.
PEAR AND FRANGIPANE TART – Serves 6
250g. plain flour
125g. cold, unsalted butter
50g. caster sugar
pinch of salt and cinnamon – optional
4 barely ripe pears
2 tbsps. soft brown sugar
50g. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. demerara sugar
1 tbsp. flaked almonds
75g. soft, unsalted butter
75g. caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
20g. plain flour
75g. ground almonds
dash of vanilla extract
First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. This can be done easily in a food processor. Then add the sugar, cinnamon and salt if using. Mix together with cold water (about 50mls.) until you have a dough. Pat into a round, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.
Peel, quarter and core the pears and cut the quarters into 2. Heat the butter and sugar and cook gently for a few minutes, until the pears soften, Drain in a sieve, retaining all the sauce. Cool the sauce in the fridge for later.
To make the frangipane cream the butter and sugar and add the egg, flour, almonds and vanilla. Beat well until fluffy.
Roll out the pastry to a large circle, no bigger than 4 mm. and put on a greased baking sheet. Set the oven at 200C / gas mark 6. Spread the frangipane on the pastry leaving a 2cm. border. Arrange the pears on top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar and almonds. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Serve trickled with some of the sauce and with cream or ice cream..
You can buy your pastry if you do not wish to make it but make sure you get all butter shortcrust, it is so much better. If you make your own pastry make sure the butter is really cold. I would turn the edge of the pastry circle over slightly to form a rim and stop any juice making the bottom of the pastry soggy. Drain the pears well. You could always cook the pears the day before and make the pastry, but let it come to room temperature before cooking if you have done so.