In season: October

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‘ve been putting this post off in hopes that I’d have a recipe to put up, but the broken oven in our flat has thwarted me. I managed to make a birthday cake in a kitchen fairly foreign to me – a towering chocolate affair, with whisky buttercream and caramel ganache – but the recipe needs tweaks before it can appear here. Instead, a yawning content chasm has opened.

The fan and element have both blown, and by the time the new parts are fitted, it will have been three weeks since the bad news was delivered via WhatsApp. Three weeks of mentally planning meals and then remembering they’re an impossibility. Three weeks of being desperate to bake something to use up the 40 eggs I bought last weekend. A slight surplus, but worth it – they taste different in a way that’s hard to pinpoint. Richer, perhaps? Either way, they’re part of the dearth of creative cooking, lately. It’s all eggs on this, eggs on that. (Really, it’s a pretty good problem to have.)
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Squash, sage, and Stilton mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon

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hen I was at sixth form, I also worked three jobs (ish), and dreamed about all the free time I’d have as a grown up. Monday to Friday was sixth form – although around half of that time was sitting in the common room, or taking trips to Tesco in free periods – and Friday afternoon was cleaning for a family friend. Weekends in retail. Half-terms split between retail and a part-time feature writing job at a local magazine. Monday to Friday, nine to five, sounded glorious.

How adorable, right?

Now, it’s all busybusybusy, hours flying by before we can even stop to think how we’re spending them (the tube. The tube is where we’re spending them). And it’s for this reason that I’ve become a cheat in the kitchen, relying on recipes that can be made in a big batch and easily tweaked and recycled across multiple nights. For months, this was big bubbling pans of chili, made often enough that it became a flat joke. The holy grail of lazy home cooking? Big batches that can be frozen, and reheated fairly quickly. Continue reading

In Season: October

In season

So, it’s not really a matter of “in season” but it’s the season for pumpkin, right? This year, the hoopla around pumpkin seems to have come to a peak – my local supermarket was overrun with them from the first of October and, well, the telltale sign is the bizarre backlash in the media. I’ve seen for-and-against. I’ve seen pumpkin spice hate. This, on the cultural significance of it all, was a really interesting read. But more importantly, the food! One of my favourite pumpkin finds was pumpkin spice chocolate muffins with maple cream cheese frosting (Flourishing Foodie).

Aaaand onwards, to the rest of what’s in in October. Continue reading

Pear & honey mini galettes

This time last week, I was waking up from a nap, with a pounding headache and a strange sense of home that contradicts everything I wrote about in my past post.

Pear & honey mini galettes // The Littlest BakehouseIf you’re expecting this to be a romantic story about friendship and discussing deep issues under the stars…you’re going to be disappointed. At a friend’s place, we were far enough out of London to actually see the stars, but bank holiday Friday was a night of tequila shots and pizza, cookies baked at 1am and so many ridiculous stories that will become part of the lore of our group. The weekend has been the subject of a number of flashbacks throughout the week that have left me burying my face in my hands, half in laughter and half in disbelief. In short, it was excellent. Continue reading

Squash, Stilton & sage soup

What I’ve done there is create possibly the worst food for me. Not in terms of nutrition or  expenditure, but just because I have a bit of a lisp. And every time I take this into work, I’m forced to reply to queries as to what it is with a whole load of “th”s.

In every other way though, this soup is very, very good.

Squash, Stilton & sage soup | The Littlest BakehouseIt’s no surprise to anyone that I get a bit giddy with food, and that the gourd family is the prime object of my affections. So when I spotted that New Covent Garden’s soup of the month was pumpkin, Stilton, and sage, I snapped it up and greedily snaffled it before they’d even announced it on social media.

And then I wanted more. Due to being A) inquisitive, and B) not made of money, I worked out the ratios from the packet and went on to make the best soup ever. The first time I used part butternut and part harlequin, but the second time was pure butternut and it was every bit as tasty. In fact, I’ve gone on to buy 3 more butternut squashes so I need never run out of them. Yep, I got weird looks at the checkout. Squash panic-buying is totally a thing.

The sweetness of butternut, the savoury touch of sage, and pure cheesiness from the Stilton combine to make a soup that’s truly comforting. A hug from the inside. It also doubles up perfectly as a sauce for pasta.

Additionally, it’s pretty cheap. One batch will cost less than £4* and provides six servings, which really puts the price of supermarket tubs of soup into perspective. If you chop the vegetables smaller, it’ll require less cooking time and therefore less fuel, too. It’s happy to be frozen, so can be made in advance and defrosted when you get out of the rain and need something quick, comforting and delicious. (I recommend these soup and sauce bags from Lakeland, which can stack in the freezer and be washed and reused.)

*Probably far, far less than this – I’m going by estimations and Waitrose prices. Continue reading

Chicken crumble with leek and mushroom

This September marks the beginning of the fourth year of living with my flatmate. We were thrown together in our first year of uni, with four other girls, and carried on living together, with three of the others, in our second year as we all dealt with the drama of being 19 and having a landlord who’d renovate your manky bathroom but dispose of the old toilet by putting it in your wheelie bin.

Chicken crumble with leek and mushroom // The Dinner BellWe parted ways after that year living at the top of a very steep hill, only to be brought together again by the universe when we both moved to London. The universe is nice like that.

But in those three years and sharing kitchen space  and secrets, I’d never once made her this old family classic. Until now, of course.

Back home, this is “chickeny crumbly stuff” because, well, it’s chickeny and it’s crumbly and the name stuck and became part of family legend. It’s soul food – the sort of dish that hugs you as you eat it. It’s nourishment that’ll have you going back for seconds and fighting with your siblings for the crunchiest bit of topping. It’s exactly what you need to help you embrace grey skies as we hurtle towards months of 4pm sunsets and cocoa.

Serves 4.
Ingredients

150g stale/dry bread
110g cheddar cheese
500g chicken breast, chopped into chunks
200g mushrooms, chopped
1 medium leek, chopped
1 tin cream of chicken soup
1tbsp mayonnaise
Lemon juice

Chicken crumble with leek and mushroom // The Dinner BellMethod

1) In a food processor, blitz the bread until roughly crumbed. Add the cheese, and blitz again until the whole mixture is of breadcrumb texture – some lumps are fine. You can do this the night before and refrigerate if you like to be one step ahead.

2) Preheat the oven to 170C. Fry the chicken breast chunks in a large frying pan over medium heat until just browning. Add the mushrooms and leek, and continue to fry until the leeks are soft.

3) Add the soup, mayo, and a squeeze of lemon juice and simmer for about 5 minutes.

4) Transfer to an overproof dish, cover with breadcrumb topping, and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve with more vegetables, if you’re that way inclined.

Can also be split into small pots or ramekins for individual portions.