My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
My mum arrived home from an overseas trip on Monday night but I was out pub crawling in the Balmain Rozelle precinct that evening so I didn't get any quality time til Tuesday. When Tuesday rolled around I wandered home like a school boy from his books. After a series of cuddles and a good run down on her trip to Tasmania I of course popped the big question, "Muuum what's for dinner?". An awesome answer excited my ears and satisfied my stomach, "Minestrone soup". Oh boy!
As a general rule I hate winter. We're like polar opposites. I'm fire, it means ice. Except in Australia we barely even get any ice, so it's not even a proper winter! I'd like winter if it mean snow so we could all build snowmen, igloos, have snowball fights and have a kickass ski season. But instead this nation is mostly reliant on a few snowmakers down south and the rest of the time hangs with bated breath for that elusively timed extremely cold temperature and a bit of precipitation to create some sleet we might hope to make some dodgy snow cones out of.
I love summer. The exfoiliating sand in between my toes, in my scalp, in just about everywhere. I love the smell of salt on my skin, on my hands, on the chips, everything wet, then crusty, golden sky, scenery, skin. Making a mess of the cold creamy ice cream dripping everywhere and removing the mess when shelling juicy fresh prawns. The endless days and unforgettable nights of love and laughter with friends and family.
But when it comes to Winter, what saves it for me is food. And a lot of credit for that goes to my mum. Winter means comfort. Lazing in bed til well after 11, late breakfasts that become brunch, early dinners and plenty of movies before sleeping like a log in that ever loving doona. Lazing in front of the heater reading a book for hours until it's finished. Then moving onto the next one.
Winter means comfort food. Stews, ragus, pastabakes, slow roasted meat and vegetables. Beautiful red wine to warm the heart and soul. But nothing epitomizes comfort and love more than soup and pudding. So mum's menu tonight did wonders for a harsh critic of the coldest season.
Mmm minestrone. Possibly my favourite winter soup. Chock a block with goodness in the form of veggies and garlic this is one soup that is great for chasing away those winter blues.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1.3kg smoked ham hock, chopped
- 2x400g chicken or beef stock
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup small pasta such as risoni
- 300g broccoli, chopped
- 400g cannelini beans, drained
- Cracked black pepper and sea salt
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsely
- Parmesan cheese
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic and carrots, cook for 5 minutes
- Remove the skin and visible fat from the ham hock and add to the pan with the tomatoes, stock and water, then cover and simmer for 35 minutes
- Remove the ham bone and dice meat off the bone
- Add the ham, pasta, broccoli, beans, pepper and salt to the pan and cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir through the parsley and serve with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese, some pesto and crusty bread.
This is a Jamie Oliver recipe from the July 2010 edition of the ABC’s Delicious Magazine. Jamie’s style of taking lovely fresh ingredients and using simple processes to create something special is just a delightful way of fuss free cooking. The result was a yummy moist, sweet pudding with loads of pecan chunks to munch on. Plus an added bonus of a ramekin perfect for scraping up the tasty buttery nut residue.
- 100g pecan nuts (can use other nuts if desired)
- 175g plain flour
- 50g dark brown sugar
- 75g vegetable suet
- 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 1 large free-range or organic egg
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 150ml milk
- 2/3 cup (165ml maple syrup), plus extra warmed syrup to serve
- Cream or custard to serve
- Preheat oven to 190C
- Grease six small heatproof teacups (or ramekins) well with butter.
- Place the pecans in a plastic bag, tie the bag closed and bash the nuts with a rolling pin. You want to end up with a mixture of chunky and fine bits of pecan. Dust the inside of cups/ramekins with the bashed up nuts tipping excess into a large bowl.
- Empty the leftover nuts from the bags into the bowl too, then add flour, sugar, suet, soda, egg, vanilla seeds, milk and ½ cup (80ml) syrup. Mix well.
- Pour some of the remaining syrup into the bottom of each teacup/ramekin and pour some mixture on top. You want your ramekins to be about three quarters full.
- Place cups/ramekins in a large, deep roasting tray. Fill tray with boiling water, making sure the water comes halfway up the side of the cups/ramekins.
- Carefully place the tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until cakes are golden and cooked through.
- Stand for a couple of minutes before turning them out. Serve with custard or cream and a drizzle of warm maple syrup.