Thursday, June 10, 2010

All in the Family

Myself like to cook all potatoes in their skins, but prefer to cook small potatoes whole rather than cut them in half or quarters (although do this sometimes), so here is a recipe that makes use of the larger small potatoes, cooking them in their 'jackets', and serving them as 24 individual canapes (or 3 each as a starter).
Baby Bakers with Smoked Fish: makes 24
12 even sized small potatoes (about the size of a golf ball)
4 fl oz creme fraiche
1 large egg, separated
1 - 2 tblsp chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper
135g pack smoked fish (salmon, trout or mackerel)
paprika pepper
Wash the potatoes and lightly prick each all over. Place on a baking tray and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing in half.
Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop the flesh from the potato skins into a bowl, leaving a thin layer attached to the skin.
To the potato flesh add the cream fraiche, egg yolk, and chives, and beat together. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and then gently fold this into the potato mixture. Pile this back into the potato skins and return to the oven to bake for a further 20 minutes.
Serve hot topped with a few flakes of chosen smoked fish and a sprinkling of paprika.
Variation: If you prefer, instead of creme fraiche and chives, use a herb flavoured cream cheese, or a crumbled blue cheese, or even Brie, then continue with the recipe but topping the filled skins with grated cheese before the final cooking. Serve as-is omitting the fish.

As the butternut squash was half used a couple of days ago, will probably use this to make a Thai vegetarian curry - to which I will probably add some large cooked (thawed) prawns from the freezer. Here below is my vegetarian version - the easiest way to estimate the water needed is to use the coconut milk can as a measure and half fill. Add more water towards the end of the cooking if you feel it is necessary.
Thai Squash and Coconut Curry: serves 2 (V)
1 tblsp Thai red or green curry paste (or more to taste)
half a large butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
200ml water
salt and pepper
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Heat a large dry frying pan, and then add the curry paste and fry for 1 minute, then add the squash and peppers and stir into the paste. Pour in the coconut milk and water, bring to a simmer and cook for 16 to 20 minutes or until the squash is very tender, and the sauce thickened. Add seasoning to taste and serve with the coriander sprinkled on top. Good eaten with rice, naan bread, couscous etc.

If using half a butternut, then this next recipe could use the remainder. Although not a million miles away from the recipe above when it comes to ingredients, the flavour is entirely different.
Roasted Butternut Pasta: serves 2
half a large butter nut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
2 red onions. cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, skins left on
2 tblsp olive oil
6 oz (175g) pasta penne
3 tblsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan (opt)
Put the prepared squash and onion in a roasting pan, with the garlic, then drizzle over the olive oil. Toss everything together until all coated with the oil, then roast for 35 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6 until everything is beginning to be browned at the edges.
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to pack instructions. When cooked, drain but reserve a tablespoon of the cooking water putting this back into the saucepan. Stir in the creme fraiche, adding seasoning to taste, and the flesh squeezed from the roasted garlic cloves - making a garlic flavoured cheese sauce. then pour the lot over the cooked roasted vegetables and stir/toss lightly together.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

One thing leads to another, so yet a further recipe to make use of butternut squash. This time a salad dish that can be eaten warm or cold - and ideal for a packed lunch. Similar ingredients to some of those in the above two recipes - but again ending up as a completely different dish.
The butternut is one of a large family of squashes - we are perhaps more familiar with the pumpkin - but almost all can be substituted one for the other in various savoury dishes, although the butternut is perhaps the sweetest.
Roasted Butternut and Beetroot Salad: serves 4
1 lb (450g) approx cooked beetroot. cut into chunks
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 tblsp olive oil
3 tblsp pumpkin seeds
5 fl oz (150ml) natural or Greek yogurt
1 tblsp mayonnaise
half tsp caster or icing sugar
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) feta cheese, cubed
watercress or mixed salad leaves
Place the chunks of squash and onion wedges into a small roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss until coated with the oil, then roast at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 35 - 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, turning a couple of times so they do not brown unevenly. Scatter over the pumpkin seeds and roast for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly whilst preparing the yogurt sauce.
Blend the yogurt with the mayonnaise, sugar and seasoning to taste.
To serve: place a handful of watercress/salad leaves on a plate, and arrange the roasted vegetables, beetroot chunks and feta cheese on top ( a variety of colours that needs arranging carefully to show them off to advantage), then offer the yogurt sauce to be spooned over.