This week is all about comfort food, great for those days that are damp and dark, or just those busy days when you want to get something ready without too much fuss, but feel sustained. I know that both my grandmothers cooked these dishes, perhaps without my tweaks. I was looking at my pile of winter squashes – pumpkins here in NZ and I realised that I had better start using them before they started to spoil. So I chose the biggest pumpkin, an Italian heirloom variety I obtained from Kings Seeds. Its flesh is sweet as and nice and dense.
As it is raining and miserable outside so I decided to make soup. To make the meal more special I am going to share a pudding that my Grandmother Phylis always made. Very yummy and slightly decadent, just the job for a dark day, well any day!
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
This is a variation of the classic Kiwi soup that all New Zealanders are weaned on! I suppose every family has their variation. In our family there was always bacon or ham and it was left chunky rather than purreed. Our family always had a dash of cream or milk added at serving, but that is purely a personal preference. The spices are my generation’s addition, our grandparents would never have added spices, maybe parsley that’s about it.
800 gm small pumpkin, squash or butternut approx peeled. (TIP put pieces of pumpkin in the microwave for a minute or two and it is so much easier to peel).
200 gm potato peeled.
1 onion sliced.
Half leek sliced.
2 rashers of smoky middle bacon cut into pieces.
Clove garlic crushed.
Vegetable stock cube crumbled, or your favourite stock.
Half teaspoon cumin and 2 teaspoons coriander both ground.
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of milk or cream (optional)
Chilly flakes or grated cheese for garnish
Fry onion and leek in tablespoon of oil, add garlic, then add spices and fry for a minute or so. Add diced bacon. Chop pumpkin and potato into small chunks add to pan, stir and then add stock cube and cover with water.
Cook at a slow simmer for twenty minutes, do not overcook as you want the pieces of pumpkin to stay whole.
Thats it. You can add cream, or a sprinkling of chilly flakes or some grated cheese.
Have with chunky home made bread.
Chocolate and Banana Bread Pudding
This is the deluxe version! I loved it whenever Grannie (Phylis) would start gathering all the stale bread and reached into her stash of chocolate. It meant yummy Posh Bread and Butter Pudding as we called it. Sometimes, it had banana in it sometimes not.
These days whenever I want a chocolate fix and and need good ole comfort food, this recipe is what I turn to, Hardly any work and ready in no time!
It is great as it can be translated into a massive dish for lots of people or a dish for one greedy person or two more restrained diners. I have given amounts for 2 people (for every two people increase accordingly).
Ingredients – 2 servings
1 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
as many choc bits (buttons)
you can handle
1 small banana (optional)
marg or butter to spread on bread
3 slices stale bread, approx I sometimes use a stale large burger roll, whatever needs using up. The amount of bread determines how custardy it is.
Beat egg and sugar together and add milk.
Butter bread with choice of spread, (Butter makes the top crunchier)
Put a layer in a greased dish, sprinkle some chocolate bits and slices of banana if using on the bread. Add the eggy mixture to the level of the layer and then add another layer of bread chocolate etc. Then some more of the egg mix. Try and do no more than three layers, it would be better to use a shallower dish if you need more layers. Finally, sprinkle some extra sugar over the top and a few more chocolate bits. At this stage I usually start heating the oven up as the pudding is better if the bread can absorb some of the egg mix before baking, but if you are in a hurry it can go into an already heated oven without any serious damage to the finished dish!
Bake in at 160 C for 30 minutes or till well risen and gold and set.