Fresh - July Edition

Great Fruit Crumbles

Winter has arrived with full force, and although recent days have often been clear and crisp with brilliant blue skies and plenty of sunshine, there's no pretending that it is anything other than cold. It's been freezing! My daughter who claims winter is her favourite season, until it hits, has changed her tone promptly this past week and now tells me she really means it's autumn she loves. Well...there's a difference between the seasons, for sure, and I smugly let her get away with it. I'd have to say that I love autumn, too, especially the fruits, and I miss the end of feijoas and passionfruit and the excitement of new season apples...

But winter is more about staying warm and eating foods that keep you warm, or at least make you feel contented. And I've got some great recipes here that'll do that.

Soup is just the ticket - it warms you up, fills you up, is relatively inexpensive and is not much effort to prepare. And, if you make lots of it, a container or two in the freezer can be a godsend for those nights when you are just too tired to cook. I'm including a recipe for a good minestrone because it is one of those soups which is often poorly made. In typical Italian style, minestrone improves with a little siesta, so make that work to your advantage. The vegetable flavours seep into the broth and the whole is much tastier. So, if you can, make it the day before you intend serving it, or at least make it several hours before serving. And here's a good Italian trick - save the rind from parmesan cheese (of course it must be authentic Parmigiano Reggiano), then add it to the pot of minestrone along with the beans. The hard rind softens into melting cheesy globs. They're divine!

And here's another great idea – swirl a good dollop of pesto (preferably freshly-made) into the soup just before serving. The warmth of the soup draws out the heady basil perfume and pungent garlic aromas, permeating the whole kitchen. And it gives it a depth of savoury flavour to the soup.

You'll also find recipes for Pea & Ham Soup, Garbure Basque, Pumpkin Soup with Thyme and Chunky Leek & Potato Soup.

If you are in the northern hemisphere all this talk of hot soups is probably not what you want to hear – unless the weather is playing tricks on you. If it's hot where you are, something smooth and cooling like my gazpacho shooters, may be the answer. A swig of this serves the same purpose as a blast from a fan up your shirt or skirt on a hot sticky night! It's not meant to be a meal, just a chill thrill to cool you down. Serve whatever you want after, but it does lead rather nicely on to a full-monty Spanish repast, or a feast of tapas. So here you have a bunch of hot and cool ideas for the month. Hope you try one of the recipes...and don't forget to tell your friends about Happy cooking!



Pea and Ham Soup
Apart from being quick to cook, and easy to cook – most soups just require chopping, then slow-cooking – soups often taste better the day after making, meaning you can get them done ahead, or make a double batch and freeze one lot for a quick meal some time later.

Garbure Basque
This soup has a Basque accent, but instead of the typical cabbage and white beans, it features green beans and is finished off with a handful of chopped chervil leaves, which introduce a pleasant aniseed flavor. If preparing the soup ahead of time, don't add the chervil and parsley until just prior to serving the soup because chervil, in particular, loses its flavor when heated.

Pumpkin Soup with Thyme
Adding fresh thyme to pumpkin soup gives it a new dimension. When fresh tarragon is available, try it in place of thyme.

Chunky Leek & Potato Soup
Here's a good chunky winter soup that's perfect for filling hollow legs. Don't stir the potatoes through the soup, leave them on top of the leeks when you add them. If they fall to the bottom of the pan, they can catch and dry out. Serve with crusty bread.

Gazpacho de Fuego
Icy-cold slugs of gazpacho taken on a sultry evening send a welcome shiver down the spine. When I say icy shards, that's what I mean... gazpacho should be arrestingly cold! You can feel good about drinking it too, as this is goodness in a glass. Not only does it invigorate, but it's a real tonic for the body, loaded with phytochemicals, antioxidants, sulphides, flavonoids and natural antibiotics.

Chicken Stock
There are few rules with stock making, but those there are should be respected. A good stock is the sum of its parts – use good ingredients and you'll easily produce a tasty, nutritious stock.

To serve with soup
Parmesan toasts, Croutons

Q & A
Q Julie, I have about a kilo of cold topside roast meat left from a dinner party and was wanting to do a shepherds pie type meal to utilise it. Can you help?
Thanks, Bruce

A Hi, Bruce.
This is tricky...I only have a recipe for cottage pie using mince…but you could adapt it. I would soften the vegetables as described then stir in the flour, and add stock, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, thyme and tomato paste. Stir until bubbling then cook gently for 10 minutes. Then add your diced topside and cook it through just for 5 minutes. Transfer it to a cooking dish and top with potato as described. I hope that helps!