Happy December!

It doesn’t matter how much of a bah humbugging, grinchy, festiveness resistor you are, you can’t deny it any longer.

Christmas is coming, and Christmastime is here.

As I sit here, tree up and decorated, Christmas cookbooks littering my countertops and a glass of Bucks Fizz in hand, I know I’m a Christmas lover. I often joke with friends that I’m a quarter German, a quarter Polish and a quarter Christmas Elf. I think a lot of my life’s problems would be solved by baking cookies in a magic tree for a living.

photo-12

In my spare time I’m an artist among other things, and in the past I have created artwork Advent Calendars to celebrate my love of the season, and challenge myself. Since this year I’m enjoying food writing so much, and I haven’t got an easy and convenient way to put my artwork on the internet (my scanner died), I thought to myself; why not do a recipe Advent Calendar here on she-who-bakes.com

Ok, so it’s the third, so I’m already behind, but worry not, I shall catch up swiftly I’m sure. My recipe book is heaving with festive goodies, plus I have dozens of treats I want to try.

To start off with, I want to share a recipe that might actually be most useful from Boxing Day onwards: Christmas Dinner Soup. This recipe is useful year round for using up roast dinner leftovers and stretching a meal further. It might not be the healthiest soup out there, but it’s delicious, adaptable and kind to your pocket. And if you are anything like me when it comes to spending around Christmas, any way to save a few pennies is a godsend.

This recipe is more a method, and as mentioned above it is adaptable to whichever meat you’ve roasted, and whatever you’ve got left over. I will of course be writing out a recipe based on Christmas Dinner, or turkey roast leftovers.

Christmas Dinner Soup

Serves 3-4, depending on how much of a glutton you are.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 portions roasted/accompanying vegetables (e.g. 2 medium carrots, half a sweet potato, a cob of corn and 4 tablespoons of peas)
  • 6-8 roast potatoes
  • 3-4 portions bread-based stuffing
  • Some cooked turkey, at least 4 slices
  • 2 tbsp gravy granules
  • 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
  • extra water to loosen mix as required
  • Salt and pepper.

If you want a chunky soup, make sure to chop everything before hand in to bite size pieces, and finely chop up your stuffing. If you want a smoother soup, you needn’t chop, but you’ll need an immersion or jug blender.

In a large sauce pan, cook off the onion. Next, add your vegetables and potatoes to warm through and begin to break down as required.

Unless you have your own homemade stock, make up one cube of stock with a generous litre of water and add the gravy granules. If you have leftover gravy, just add this to the pot instead and omit the granules. Add the stock mix to the pot and stir through.

Chop up your stuffing and add to the soup. Break it down as the all the ingredients reheat. Season to taste.

If you want a smooth, thick soup, then blend to your desired consistency. If you are using a jug style blender, leave the lid off and cover with a tea towel, as the mixture is hot and it is dangerous to blend a hot mix with the lid on. Add back to the pan and loosen with hot water if required. Add chopped turkey and heat through for at least five minutes.

If you like a chunky soup, then when you are happy with the thickness and texture, chop up and add your turkey and heat through in the soup for at least 5 minutes.

Just before serving, add your cranberry sauce and stir vigorously to combine. Serve with fresh bread.

This is a great ‘monday night meal’ after a sunday roast to use up your leftovers. You can tweak the measurements to how much stuff you have left, and you can bulk out the soup with fresh veg if required. I think the real crucial ingredient is the stuffing, as this thickens the soup and adds so much good flavour. If you are light on stuffing leftovers, however, you can use extra potatoes instead.

In terms of adaptability, you just use up whatever vegetables you had to accompany the meat. If you’ve had beef, why not use mustard or horseradish in the place of cranberry sauce. For lamb, why not mint or redcurrant? And of course, pork’s best friend is apple. This mix also freezes, so if like me you live alone, but cook too much, you can store the odd portion to crack out when you can’t face the stove.

The soup is super tasty and filling, and essentially free as you’re just using up the leftovers from another meal. This recipe is super for boxing day or the 27th, when you really want some fridge space back and can’t stomach another turkey sandwich.

I hope you’ll try it, and more importantly enjoy it!

sigdraft

Advertisements

Noodle Soup

I pulled together this recipe because I had various things I wanted to use up- mainly a packet of egg noodles and some roast turkey. The result was a scrumptious, satisfying and delightfully colourful meal.

Noodle Soup

  • 3-4 sticks of celery
  • 1-2 red chillies
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2-3 heads pak choi
  • Noodles
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • Cooked turkey
  • optional: turkey cooking juices
  • Five spice, Ground Coriander, Salt and Pepper

Chop up your veg- finely chop the chillies and celery, thinly slice your carrots and trim your pak choi. You want everything to cook fairly quickly.

In a good sized sauce pan, fry off the celery and chillies for a few minutes then quickly fry off the spices.

Add your stock and carrots and bring to the boil. Cook for 5-8 minutes until carrots are beginning to soften.

IMG_2287

Add your noodles and spices and season the broth to taste. Give them a couple of minutes cooking time before adding your cooked turkey and, if you are using them, the turkey cooking juices.

Allow another couple of minutes for the broth to heat the turkey and the noodles to finish cooking, check your seasoning is right, then add your pak choi to wilt down. This will take about a minute or two.

Serve as is, or with a sprinkle of freshly chopped spring onions.

IMG_2294

This meal is quick to pull together, so perfect for the busy season we are entering. It’s warming enough to brighten up a winters day, spicy enough to chase away a cold, yet fresh and light enough to make a lovely springtime meal. However, since we are racing towards ‘the holiday season’, this is a perfect way to use up any leftovers. This also works wonders with chicken or other poultry, and you can always make your own stock from the carcass to substitute in for the veg for a more meaty tasting soup.

This is a very filling meal, and light on the liquid when it is cooked. If you like a lot of broth, or are serving this is the summer time, I would use one and half times, or twice the recommended stock.

Enjoy!

sigdraft

Summer Colds suck

Speaking as someone who has had two colds in less than two months, and has been ill between both of them with a persistent sore throat and tonsils that are big enough to enter the World’s Strongest Man contest (I call them Gaston and Hulk), I believe the titular sentiment to be completely true. You can’t even cool down properly when your fever goes up, short of sitting in the shower, and just when the weather finally gets good enough for a couple of hours to go outside and enjoy it, you’re penned up inside, clinging onto the kitchen counter for balance as your head swims in snot, hacking up your internal organs and wondering if you can make Lemsip any less heinous by turning it into an iced tea blend.

I’m trying to eat better (illness + lethargy + lack of time= junk), and right now trying to eat myself well. So I made a broth: simple to make, simple to eat, tasty and nutritious. The following uses Turkey, as I don’t eat Chicken, but the recipe would work just as well with Chicken, or with extra veg or a meat substitute to make a hearty soup.

IMG_2266

 

Turkey Broth

  • 1 large onion
  • 500g new potatoes
  • 200g carrots
  • 1/2 swede (approximately 200g)
  • 80g pearl barley
  • 2 vegatable stock cubes, made up with 900ml water
  • Diced turkey
  • Salt, Pepper and Herb de Provence

In a large saucepan, gently fry off the onions (roughly chopped- you’re ill, remember) in a smidge of light olive oil.

Cube your potatoes 1-2cm cubes and dice your carrots and swede into 0.5cm cubes. You want them to cook within 20 minutes at a simmer.

Once the onions are fried, add the remaining vegetables and turkey to the pan. Stir to thoroughly mix.

Boil the water and dissolve your stock cubes in it. Pour into the pan.

Thoroughly rinse the barley in a sieve, and then add to the pan.

Season with salt, pepper and a pinch or two of herb de provence, thyme or your preferred green herbs. Give the pot a good stir, raise it to a vivacious simmer and go and collapse for 15-20 minutes while it cooks.

Serve with bread. Best eaten under a blanket to chase the sick away.

IMG_2265

Breast meat can become a little dry in this recipe, but it still tastes good. You can always brown it in the pan with the onions, then remove before adding all the vegetables, and return to the pan for the last 5 minutes. In this case, make sure it is cooked through before serving. If in doubt, use leg meat, which is often cheaper than breast anyway.

This recipe is suitable for people with wheat intolerance (without the bread of course, or with a gluten free substitute) if you chose a gluten free vegetable stock cube (such as Knorr). It’s also dairy free, and if made with just vegetables or a meat substitute, is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. It tastes amazing; warm, savoury, hearty but not heavy- like a hug in a bowl. Whilst I’ve made this in summer (and it isn’t *too* heavy to eat in the warm weather we’re finally having in England), this simple dish is suitable for a winter warmer, and is definitely a mid-week meal: it takes less that 40 minutes to prepare from scratch, including chopping veg.

If you’re interested, I took lots of pictures of prep etc, so I’ll pop them on Tumblr.

I’m going to go back to nursing my chest infection. Blech. If you’re poorly too, fell better!

sigdraft