Thai Pumpkin Soup Recipe

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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

It’s been a big year for pumpkins. Friends and neighbours have all enjoyed a bumper harvest, and we’ve been gifted many of these versatile vegetables.

This yummy pumpkin soup recipe is my go-to when I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking. It’s quick to make, filling and delicious. The Thai flavours give it a lovely lift, and it freezes and reheats very well too.

Ingredients to serve 4 as a main meal:

8 cups of diced raw pumpkin – seeded and peeled; 1 x large onion – chopped; 2 x tablespoons of ready-made Thai Red Curry Paste; 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, butter or ghee; 1 x 270ml can of coconut cream – I really like the flavour of the Ayam brand, plus it is completely free of sugar, preservatives etc; 1 to 2 cups of good chicken stock or vegetable stock if you’re vegan (or use your favourite stock cubes/powder and water); 1 large kaffir lime leaf (this is optional and there is no substitute, but it imparts a heavenly flavour); 1 x fresh lime; 1 to 2 teaspoons of fish sauce – the fish sauce doesn’t make the soup taste ‘fishy’ at all, and gives a salty complex flavour (if you don’t have fish sauce or are vegan use a grind or two of salt instead ); fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped; fresh red chilli – deseeded and chopped; coconut or natural yoghurt.

Method:

Place the chopped onion, pumpkin, oil and curry paste in a large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant – about 2 minutes. Spoon in the can of coconut cream and enough chicken stock to cover the pumpkin. Pop in your kaffir lime leaf and bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.

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Remove kaffir lime leaf and discard. Cool soup slightly and then puree using a stick blender or food processor. If you don’t own one, then mash the pumpkin well with a potato masher – the soup will just be a little more textured from the pieces of onion.

Return to pot and reheat, adding in your fish sauce (or salt) to taste. If the soup is too thick, thin with a little more stock.

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To serve, ladle into bowls. Spoon a generous dollop of coconut or natural yoghurt on top, and sprinkle with some coriander and chilli. Lastly, give the soup a good squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Serve on its own, or with a good bread. We usually eat this with lashings of hot buttered sourdough toast.

It is a meal very much enjoyed by one-eyed pirates! 😉

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Nana’s Curried Sausages Recipe

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“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” 
~ Thomas More

My Nana grew up in the Depression, and then started married life at the beginning of World War Two. There was always plenty of love – good friends and family – but money was scarce, and Nana was an expert at frugality and making do. Most of the recipes she has passed on to me are simple, economical meals that can be easily made, and easily stretched to feed more people than you might have originally planned.

Curried Sausages was one of Nana’s most asked-for dinners. It’s tasty, versatile and perfect for busy people or people watching their budget. The gravy is hearty and fragrant, and the flavours are simple but satisfying.

I really miss my beautiful Nana, who passed away last year, but every time I cook one of her recipes I feel her with me.  I know she’d be pleased to think that you might find her recipes useful too.

What curry powder you use is entirely up to you, but Nana faithfully used a 50:50 combination of Keen’s Curry and Clive of India.

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Ingredients:

1 x kilogram (2.2 pounds) of fat beef sausages (or sausages of your choice); 2 x onions; 1 x apple; 2 tablespoons of butter, ghee, coconut oil or similar; 1 to 2 tablespoons of dry curry powder – 1 tablespoon if you prefer mild curry, and more if you prefer your curry hot and spicy; 2 tablespoons of brown vinegar (white or apple cider will work fine too); 1 x bayleaf; 2 tablespoons of cornflour; 4 cups of beef or chicken stock.

Method:

In a large pan or frypan place one tablespoon of butter and gently cook your sausages over low to medium heat, turning them occasionally so that they brown all over. Remove from pan and set aside. Slice them into segments – as fat or as thin as you prefer.

Hint: I often cook up extra sausages when I am making breakfast or dinner, and set some aside to make this curry. They can even be cooked and sliced, and then frozen, ready to pop into a curry for a quick meal when you’re tired!

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Don’t bother to wipe the sausage grease out of your frypan unless you’ve got lots of burned bits. Burned bits make things taste bitter.

Cut onions in half and slice thinly. Dice apple into small pieces. Place in the frypan with the curry powder and the remaining butter. Keep the stock beside you.

Cook over low heat, stirring often until apples and onions are softened and golden. Add a dash of stock (use up to a cup) every now and again to keep the onions and apples moist.

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Then add the remainder of the stock, the bay leaf and the vinegar. Slowly bring to the boil. Add in the sliced sausages, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.

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Mix the cornflour in a cup with a little cold water (about 2 tablespoons) so that a smooth slurry is formed. Tip the slurry into your curry, increase heat, stirring well and allow to thicken.  Season to taste with salt and pepper if required.

To Serve:

As a main meal, serve the curried sausages on a bed of rice or mashed potatoes. Serve steamed vegetables or a crisp garden salad as a side.

Variations:

  • Add in a cupful or two of frozen peas or other fresh, frozen or tinned vegetables to help stretch the meat a little further and turn your dinner into a one pot meal. Potato, pumpkin, carrot, corn and zucchini are all good additions.
  • Add a handful of sultanas or sliced dried dates for a sweeter curry.
  • Add a teaspoon of chilli for more bite.
  • Substitute leftover cold roast meat for the sausages.
  • Can be made vegan or vegetarian by using a non-meat alternative.

Serve leftovers on toast as an easy breakfast or a quick dinner.

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Slow Cooker Italian Lamb Shank Recipe

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“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”~ Jane Austen

 

I’m totally in love with my slow cooker right now. Just ten minutes of preparation in the morning and the slow cooker does all the work so that by nightfall I have a luscious, melt-in-the-mouth dinner, brimful of goodness and with next to no effort. It also makes for wonderful left-overs!

This recipe can just as easily made with lamb neck or lamb chops.  The flavour is wonderfully Italian; the orange gives a hint of sweetness and the herbs, garlic, bacon and tomato create a rich sauce to ladle over the meat.

I served my lamb shanks with roasted cauliflower (have you tried this? seriously addictive and good!) and a sweet potato mash for Wednesday’s dinner, and used the leftovers last night for a delectable ragu sauce with rustic pasta.

This recipe also freezes well, and is easily reheated for an easy meal later in the week. If you don’t have all the ingredients, feel free to experiment. Slow cookers make everything taste good!

Ingredients:

6 to 8 frenched lamb shanks (or other lamb cuts with bones in them eg chump chops or neck), 1 large onion, 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of olives with the seeds removed (kalamata olives are good!), 1 large carrot, 2 sticks of celery, 2 tins of diced tomatoes or 4 cups fresh chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 cup of red wine, 1/2 cup of red capsicum (bell pepper), 1 teaspoon of mixed dried Italian herbs,  1 cup of rich chicken or vegetable stock, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, 2 thick slices of orange with the skin on, 2 rashers of bacon or 3 tablespoons (75 grams) of pancetta, salt and pepper to season.

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Chop onion, carrots, celery, capsicum (bell pepper) and bacon or pancetta. Chop parsley finely.

Brown your lamb shanks in a large frypan over medium heat. Place the lamb shanks in layers, alternating with a sprinkle of the vegetables, garlic, herbs, bacon and olives.

Add the stock, orange slices, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine. Give a good grind of pepper and a little salt. Cover and cook.

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Don’t be put off by the long cooking times.  The longer you cook the meat the more tender it will be, and the more nutrition will be imparted to the sauce. Slow cooked meats are very good for you – packed full of fat soluble minerals, amino acids, easily digestible proteins, gelatin and other health-promoting things!

Cook on low in a slow cooker for 6 hours.

Cook on low heat in a saucepan on the stove for 4 to 5 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 150 degrees celsius/ 300 degrees fahrenheit) and cook for 3 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables, and some mash, rice or pasta if it suits you. Perhaps a slice or two of rustic sourdough bread to mop up those juices?

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When cooked low and slow the marrow and gelatin from the meat help thicken the sauce. Don’t waste any of it!  Whatever is not eaten with dinner can be used as a basis for a pasta sauce, or as a gravy over other meats or vegetables.

Leftovers?

Strip the meat from the bones, add back into the sauce, heat and serve with cooked pasta as another meal. This is comfort food at its finest!

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Lemony Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks Recipe

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“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” 
~ W.C. Fields

Slow cooked food – there’s nothing better to nurture the body and comfort the spirit, and this tasty dish fits the bill perfectly. Now that there’s a chill in the air here at the farm, a nourishing warm dinner is always welcome. I’ve adapted this recipe from my Grandmother’s so that it is gluten-free. It’s a firm favourite, no matter what time of year.

This meal is good for you! The lamb shanks create a rich bone broth during the long cooking time, and the nutrients are easily absorbed by even the weakest digestive systems.  The sauce will become full of the amino acid glycine, which is great for liver detoxification and regeneration.  It’s also rich in collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) which are important for artery, bone and joint health.  The gelatin produced from the well-cooked bones and cartilage helps heal leaky gut, and also reduces your need for meat and protein.

In Chinese Medicine, bone broths are considered to support the kidneys and kidney meridians, and as such are also useful for healthy teeth, bones and adrenal gland function. So if you are feeling unwell, suffering low energy or have adrenal fatigue this is a super meal for you!

This recipe uses the tang of lemon to compliment the lamb, and a dash of sweet vermouth gives the whole meal a little extra zip. (I use Cinzano Bianco but any sweet vermouth will do.)  At a pinch you could use white wine, but truly – if you can – use the vermouth.  I keep a bottle in the cupboard just for this recipe!

These lamb shanks are quick to throw together but  the secret to the silky, melt-in-your-mouth meat is to cook the whole dish slowly, over a long time-frame.  If you have a slow cooker with a timer, then chuck it all in so it’s ready when you come home from work.  This recipe is versatile enough to cook in a big saucepan on top of the stove, or in a covered casserole dish or roasting tray in your oven.  It also reheats and freezes like a charm!

Ingredients:

6 to 8 frenched or trimmed lamb shanks (this means that the end of the shank bone will have been cut off, exposing the marrow – the meat may have also been pushed away to reveal a clean bone at one end); 6 cloves of garlic, crushed; 1 carrot roughly diced; 1 stick of celery chopped; 1 large onion chopped finely; 3 dried bay leaves; 1 heaped teaspoon tumeric; 2 tablespoons of almond meal; 1 cup of good chicken stock; 1 cup of sweet vermouth; 1 to 2 tablespoons of ghee, olive  or coconut oil; juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons; 2 tablespoons of quinoa (you could also try red lentils or pearl barley), salt and pepper

Method:

Note:  A few words of wisdom before we begin! Find a saucepan or roasting pan big enough to fit all of your lamb shanks. Of course you can also use your slow cooker – just make sure that you have checked the size of your pot BEFORE you start cooking…

Add a little oil or ghee to the bottom of a heavy-based frypan, season the meat with salt and pepper and fry off your lamb shanks in batches over medium heat so that they are lightly browned. Then arrange your meat in the cooking pot.  Poke the bay leaves in between the shanks.

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Next place your onion, carrot, garlic and celery in the frypan with a little extra oil or ghee if needed and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown slightly.

Stir through your tumeric and then add your quinoa, chicken stock, lemon zest and almond meal.  Mix well and then pour over the lamb.

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Pour your vermouth and lemon juice over the lamb shanks and vegetables – don’t worry about stirring it, it will all mix itself up during the cooking. Ladle some of the liquid over the meat.

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Cover and cook.  Don’t be put off by the long cooking times.  The longer you cook the meat the more tender it will be, and the more goodness will be imparted to the sauce.

Cook on low in a slow cooker for 6 hours.

Cook on low heat in a saucepan on the stove for 4 to 5 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 30 minutes, and then reduce heat to 150 degrees celsius/ 300 degrees fahrenheit) and cook for 3 hours.  Turn your shanks at least once during this time, and re-baste with sauce.

Serve with your favourite seasonal vegetables, and some mash, rice or pasta if it suits you. A good bread to mop up the juices is always welcome too.

When cooked low and slow the marrow and gelatin from the meat help thicken the sauce. Don’t waste any of it!  Whatever is not eaten with dinner can be used as a basis for a pasta sauce, or as a gravy over other meats or vegetables.

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The meat will be so tender you will be able to flake it off the bone with just a fork.

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If you have left-over lamb shanks, you can also flake the meat off the bones, add it to the remaining sauce and then reheat this as another meal, or thin it out to make soup.

Speedy Lamb Ragu Recipe

Lamb Ragu

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” ~ Calvin Trillin

Roast dinners are popular on the farm, especially when I have a crowd to feed. And if I’m lucky, we’ll end up with leftovers.

This is a speedy dinner that makes the most of leftover roast lamb. You could also substitute other roast meats, but the flavour combination with the lamb is well worth trying. The capers and olives give a subtle salty complexity, and the stock helps make the sauce satiny smooth.

It takes fifteen minutes from kitchen to table, twenty if you get fancy and make a salad to go alongside. I usually serve this with pasta, but it tastes great over rice. If you’re following a paleo, grain-free or low-carb diet, shred and lightly cook some cabbage or other greens as a base.

Ingredients (Serves 2 hungry adults)

1 tablespoon of olive oil or ghee, 1 x onion, 4 x garlic cloves, 2 x tablespoons capers – drained, 1/2 cup of olives – drained, 1 x tin of diced tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon x dried Italian herbs, 1 cup of good chicken or vegetable stock, 1 cup of cubed left-over roast lamb, or an equivalent amount of lamb steak, pan-fried and sliced into strips.

*Fresh parsley and parmesan cheese to serve.

This is an easy recipe to pad out – just add in a little extra meat, another can of tomatoes, and a spoonful or two more of the capers and olives.

**Note – Vegetarians and Vegans can happily substitute tempeh or some big fat mushroom slices in place of the lamb.

Method:

Get your water on for the pasta or start your rice cooking…

Dice your onion and finely chop the garlic and place with the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Leave to soften over a medium heat for a minute or two while you chop your left-over roast lamb into small cubes.

When your onion and garlic is fragrant and translucent add your capers into the pan and fry briefly. Then add the olives and stir for another minute.

Fry off onion, garlic and capers

Dump in the tin of tomatoes, stock, herbs and lamb.  Stir well and then leave to simmer over a medium to low heat for ten minutes.

Add in all other ragu ingredients

Serve over pasta, rice or vegetables.  Good with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and some fresh shallots or finely diced parsley on top. (I used shallots because a naughty cow broke into my garden and gobbled up my parsley!) This meal goes well with crusty bread or a simple salad too. Enjoy!

Lamb Ragu with Pasta

Rustic Potato Bake Recipe

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“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.” 
~ Thornton Wilder, Our Town

I love cooking, and not surprisingly most of our visitors seem to end up dropping in around meal times. This creamy potato bake is easy to make (like all my recipes!) and I whipped this one up to feed the extra hungry mouths that ended up sitting at my table last night.

One of my favourite things in the whole world is friends sharing food, laughing and chatting around the dinner table.  The buzz around here right now is who’ll be performing at Bluesfest, and whether it will be rain, mud and gumboots – or sunshine and clear skies.

But enough of music.  Back to the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 x onion, 2 to 4 x large potatoes, 1 x big golden sweet potato, 300ml cream (1 and a 1/4 cups heavy cream for my American friends), 2 x fat cloves of garlic – crushed, 1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon of boiling water, 1 tablespoon of plain flour or gluten-free flour if needed, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of grated cheese, salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg and a little butter.

When you’re working out quantities, use your eyes!  Allow around 1 decent sized potato or sweet potato/sweet potato chunk per person. Aim for about one cup of vegetable for each adult.  This recipe serves 4 to 6 people as a side dish.  However, 2 hungry people have been known to devour this dish on its own on a cold rainy night at the farm…

Method:

Uee the butter to grease an oven-proof dish big enough to fit your raw ingredients!  Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Thinly slice your potato (if clean no need to peel), sweet potato and onion. Layer the potato, sweet potato and onion into the dish, scattering some cheese in the middle.  Keep a little onion over for the top of the bake. Give a grind of pepper as you go.

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Finish by mixing the cream, milk, stock, garlic and flour together.  The easiest way to do this is in a lidded jar or drink shaker.  Pour the mixture over your potatoes and sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top. Now grate on some fresh nutmeg and a little more pepper.

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Bake for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.  The cooking time will vary based on how thick your potato slices are and how deep your dish is – shallow dish or thin slices means it will cook faster.  Deep dish or fat slices will cook slower.

Note: if the top is browning too quickly cover with foil

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This dish goes well with barbecued or roast meats, salads and vegetables.  It can be jazzed up with fresh herbs, different cheeses and bacon.  I also throw in some capsicum (bell pepper) now and again, and swap the nutmeg for smoked paprika.

It reheats well, but is also tasty cold. If you are lucky enough to have left overs…

* To make a delicious vegan version use 1 heaped teaspoon of your favourite curry paste to flavour instead of the cheese, and substitute soy milk or coconut milk for the dairy.

Easy Thai Chicken Soup Recipe

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“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”  ~ Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Soup.  I have such a fondness for it.  Slow cooked wonders like my Heal-All Chicken Soup, or speedy delights such as Quick Prawn and Miso Soup. Today’s offering uses leftovers (hooray!) and will take you around an hour and a half, but only about ten minutes of that is prep time. I like to put my stock on the stove, and then go outside and hose the garden, take the washing off the line and other end-of-day jobs.  By the time I’m finished the soup base is done and there’s not much left to do to turn it into a meal.

This is also a great easy soup to make if you’re not feeling well.  It doesn’t take much effort, and it’s very good for you!  It will keep well in the fridge for a few days, and freezes beautifully.

 

Stock Ingredients: Carcass from a roast chicken chopped into quarters or roughly broken apart (Note: please don’t use any stuffing – if your roast still has some in the cavity pull it out and discard!), a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, two bay leaves, one leek chopped into large rings, 2 inch knob of ginger – sliced, a 2 inch piece of fresh tumeric root – sliced (if you can’t get fresh root use 1 to 2 teaspoons of powered tumeric), 1 lemon quartered, and optionally an inch of fresh galangal – sliced, if you can get some, plus salt and pepper.

Method: Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and barely cover with water. Add a small amount of salt (don’t go too crazy – you can always adjust the seasoning later) and a good grind of pepper.  The apple cider vinegar helps draw the calcium and other good minerals out of the bones, making a fast and healthy bone broth.2013-02-07 11.08.38 Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for one hour. Cool for ten minutes, while you do the preparation for part two.  Then strain out the solids, keeping just the stock itself.  If there’s any salvageable meat left on the bones feel free to pick it off and add it back into the stock. 2013-02-07 13.03.18 Thai Soup Ingredients: 1 x tablespoon of Thai red curry paste, 1 x can of coconut milk, 1 to 2 cups of diced pumpkin, 1 ear of fresh corn with the kernels removed, 1 cup of diced cooked chicken, 1 cup of fresh green beans chopped into one inch lengths, 2 green shallots chopped, 1 long red chilli sliced finely (remove the seeds if you don’t like it hot!), a dash of fish sauce or some sea salt, pinch of palm or raw sugar, 2 fresh double kafir lime leaves shredded finely. 1 extra lemon or lime cut into wedges to serve.2013-02-07 16.57.22I have a kafir lime and a chilli bush in pots outside my kitchen door, the shallots grow like weeds in the vegie patch and the pumpkin is home grown too. Even if you only have a balcony, fresh herbs you can pluck as you need them is a simple but wonderful luxury.   2013-02-07 17.01.31 Method:   Add your  Thai curry paste into the hot stock and stir until it’s aromatic.  Then dump in the coconut milk and pumpkin.  Simmer for eight to ten minutes until pumpkin is soft.  Now add in in the chicken, green beans, corn, kafir lime and half the chilli. Heat for another two minutes and test your beans – they should be cooked but not soggy.  Add a dash of fish sauce or a good grind of salt, and your pinch of sugar.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

Ladle into bowls and add a handful of the green shallots and chilli.  Squeeze some lime over the top and enjoy!2013-02-07 18.18.23

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