I am certainly never one to turn down a chance to relax around the table with friends or family eating delicious food and drinking fantastic wine. But, the idea of cooking a feast leading up to Christmas doesn’t gel for me. Keeping it easy and comforting is the only way.
Delicious soups will always bring cheer to a wintry evening. So, I thought it would be good to share a couple of ideas for winter warming soups.
Soups are big, flavoursome and hearty and full meals in their own right.
ROAST CAPSICUM, TOMATO & HARISSA SOUP
Harissa is a fiery, Middle Eastern spice paste that can be added to soups, sauces and dips. You can make your own, but Belazu do a fabulous Rose Harissa available in Waitrose or Ocado.
6 red capsicums
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 x tins 400g chopped cherry tomatoes and juice
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of harissa paste
Chopped chestnuts (optional for Christmas time)
Salt and pepper
• Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
• Place capsicums (halved) on a roasting tray for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and set aside for 30 minutes. When cooled, peel the capsicum skins, keeping all the flesh.
• Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, ground coriander and fry, stirring for 1 minute.
• Increase the heat to medium and add chopped tomatoes and the capsicum flesh. Cook for 5 minutes.
• Add the vegetable stock, harissa paste, salt/pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
• Place the soup in a food processor and process until smooth. Return to the saucepan, season and keep warm.
• Serve the soup topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, fresh coriander leaves and chopped chestnuts.
• Serve with some chunky fresh bread (heated from oven is best).
MEXICAN TOMATO SOUP
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Chipotle chilli paste (Mexican Discovery brand readily available)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Bunch of coriander leaves and stems
2 carrots peeled, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
50g chorizo chopped (recommend using the Unearthed brand in Waitrose or Ocado)
1-2 fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes and their juice
250ml vegetable stock
1 pot G’NOSH Sweet Black Bean dip
4 tablespoons sour cream
• Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
• Add onion and olive oil, cook for 5 minutes to soften the onion. Add the chipotle paste and cumin, keep stirring for 5 minutes.
• Add finely chopped coriander stems (reserve leaves) to the saucepan, along with the carrot, celery, chorizo, fresh chilli, garlic and oregano.
• Fry gently for a further 10 minutes then add the tomatoes. Rinse the tomato cans with a little water then add this liquid to the saucepan, along with the stock.
• Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
• Add the G’NOSH Sweet Black Bean dip and cook for 5 minutes until warmed through.
• Divide the soup among four bowls, top with the sour cream and coriander leaves.
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We had a fun time in the G’NOSH office when we shared our @gnoshers Twitter account with award-winning Chef, Pâtissier, Chocolatier and Waitrose Consultant: the wonderful Will Torrent.
Our followers tweeted away to Will with their Christmas cooking conundrums during the two hour live session – and they were in safe hands, as Will works with top celebrity chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith.
If you missed out on the live session on Twitter, fear not…check out Will’s answers below – you’ll see that our foodie friends Gizzi Erskine and Eric Lanlard also joined in on the fun.
1) @eric_lanlard “@lisafaulkner1 @eric_lanlard @itvlorraine @reallorraine if you need any Christmas cooking help come along to @gnoshers 3-5 and use #AskWill”
2) @MindyBhachu “I’m in need of inspiration for an innovative turkey stuffing recipe – what do you recommend?”
Will: “Turkey stuffing: loads of bacon, sausage meat, cranberries, orange and vodka – why not!”
3) @leiladukes “Braised red cabbage is my favourite part of the Christmas feast. How do you make yours?”
Will: “Always use Mulled Wine, makes it really Christmassy and tastes lovely… I grate fresh nutmeg on when I serve it too…”
4) @HannahSollosi “What spices would you recommend me to use to make a pukka Christmas Pudding?”
Will: “Go for cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mixed spice and orange for your pud – classic but awesome”
5) @elliottwvr “Any tips on how to use leftover Turkey?”
Will: “ Leftover Turkey: Breadcrumb it, fry it like chicken melanzane.”
6) @Pirate_Cheryl “Any ideas on things to serve with pork pies (a family tradition) on Boxing day morning other than the usual leftovers?”
Will: “With your pork pies – Christmas spiced coleslaw, piccalilli and the G’NOSH Beetroot dip”
7) @FISG “What’s the best alternative to a festive turkey for Christmas that can feed 11?”
Will: “A beautiful mulled cider glazed ham will be a perfect alternative to your turkey this year”
8 ) @Charkette “Hello Will, do you have a good recipe for homemade Cranberry sauce? Thanks”
Will: “Cranberry sauce – frozen cranberries, grated orange zest, orange segments and grand mariner, sugar to taste”
9) @mrskatware “Aussie friend’s first Xmas in the UK – what’s the ultimate Xmas comfort food I could make for her?”
Will: “Can’t beat traditional turkey with all the trimmings…and plenty of booze”
10) @SarahPickers “what are you best tips for making sure the turkey doesn’t end up dry but cooks all the way through?”
Will: “Definitely go for a brined turkey, will always keep your turkey moist…”
11) @DanDDandy “I’d like to cure my own salmon for Christmas morning so it’s not just the ordinary, any easy way/tips? Please :-)”
Will: “Use a standard salt cure, but add the G’NOSH Beetroot dip for a great colour and flavour”
12) @ChloecGreen “I love crispy roast potatoes what do you suggest I add to ensure that their crunchy and golden throughout?”
Will: “Crispy roasts… par boil them to the max and give them a good fluff the night before Put in the fridge and then hot goose fat!”
13) @deborahgould88 @gnoshers I don’t like Christmas pudding, what alternative dessert do you suggest? #askwill
Will: “try my@UKPamperedChef Pannetone Bread and Butter Pudding: https://new.pamperedchef.com/iceberg-uk/original/P4439-112012uk-wills-xmas-recipe.pdf as an alternative to Xmas Pud!”
14) @LiamKeogh1987 “If you want to make a wheat free Christmas pudding, what can you replace the flour with?”
Will: “Go for a mix of ground almonds and hazelnuts with some gluten free flour…”
15) @EmilyLKeogh “Any ideas for edible Christmas gifts that I can make in advance?”
Will: “I’m going 2 make mulled fruit jam this year in little kilner jars & also some Mulled Wine truffles that really simple”
16) @HanBaker “A q for the experts at @gnoshers… Any tips for a good cranberry sauce this Christmas? Also how far can I make it in advance?”
Will: “Go for loads of orange zest & some segments in with the cranberries and add some Grand Mariner or Vodka for a nice twist”
17) @unearthedSimon “any quick to make but exciting homemade chocolates that could be served after a Christmas meal?”
Will: “100ml Mulled Wine, 100ml Whipping Cream into pan and bring to boil. Pour over 400g of dark chocolate – mix, set, spoon and roll”
18) @budget “I love sprouts and parsnips, but my family hate ’em… what can I do with them to help win the oldies over?”
Will: “peel the sprouts like cabbage and fry in butter with some spices and loads of pancetta. Parsnips roasted with maple syrup!”
19) @SophieMuir2 “Got any tips to avoid a dry Turkey? I’ve never attempted mum’s #ChristmasDinner before!”
Will: “place it into a brine the night before (recipes online) which will guarantee moistness! Lots of butter too! ”
20) @david21cummins “So.. @willtorrent – I’m in charge of the starter every Christmas. What’s a quick, easy, but impressive dish to serve?”
Will: “Beetroot cured salmon, chive blinis and G’NOSH beetroot, mint and chilli dip on top. Delicious”
21) @mysterydesign “We’re having mulled wine in the office. What’s an easy to make Christmas canapé to go with this festive drink?”
Will: “just go for good quality chocolate truffles – always a winner and perfect with mulled wine!”
22) @MichaelLeCouill “what’s your nicest gravy recipe?”
Will: “roast chicken wings with root veg, bottle of good red wine and some beef & chicken stock – bring to the boil and then reduce.”
23) @Iman_db “how do make stuffing? Not from a packet!!!”
Will: “Sausage meat, chopped bacon, Christmas spices, dried fruit – mix together and there you go!!”
24) @JaneTomlinson “G’NOSH dips have really fresh/light flavours – what’s the best way to use them to cut-through ‘heavier’ Christmas food?”
Will: “In my Spiced Pork Wellington, I use the G’NOSH Babaghanoush instead of mushrooms – light but rich at the same time”
Whether you’re an accomplished cook with no time or a total kitchen-phobe, opening your home to guests and throwing a dinner party can be stressful.
With the start of party season underway, here are some tips to make entertaining hassle-free and enjoyable…because we know you want to be out there having fun, not chained to the stove all evening!
1. A welcome drink.
Serving your guests a cocktail on arrival looks imp ressive, but is actually easy to make. A classic Kir Royale is simply a splash of crème de cassis topped with champagne (or sparkling wine if you prefer, called Kir Petillant).
2. Presentation is key.
With a little effort, your dinner party dishes can look restaurant quality. An easy to make starter is a Pate of Smoked Mackerel with Lemon & Herbs. Made by simply blending together flaked smoked mackerel, cream cheese, lemon, horseradish, chopped parsley and chives, it takes a maximum of 15 minutes to prepare before chilling.
Serve it on each person’s plate in a gorgeous mini Kilner jar or glass ramekin, accompanied with some toasted bread – we guarantee your guests will be impressed.
3. Always buy great quality ingredients: they sing out for themselves.
For example, accompany your pate with a really good sourdough baguette cut into thin diagonal slices, toasted and served with an artisan olive oil.
4. Stick to what you know.
If you’re time-pressed to plan the dinner party, stick to a fail-safe dish for your main course that you know everyone will love. If you don’t feel your ‘signature’ dish has the dinner party wow-factor, think about substituting some of the ingredients. For example, a classic Lasagne, can easily be updated to a Spinach & Gruyere or Wild Mushroom & Truffle variety.
5. Don’t worry about making everything from scratch.
With the great range of ingredients available widely, don’t feel guilty about not making every element of your meal from scratch.
A fuss free dessert that is always popular is Eton Mess. To create a winter twist on this summer classic, buy some meringue nests and crumble into chunks, add a dash of Cointreau to whipping cream and top with clementine and passionfruit, layered in a sundae glass.
6. Finishing touches.
Round off the meal with an espresso cup of rich hot chocolate. Just make up a batch of hot chocolate in your usual way, but add half milk and half pouring cream for a more decadent finish. Top with good quality dark chocolate shavings or mini marshmallows.
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As the days get colder and darker, we naturally desire heartier, comfort foods, such as steaming mugs of hot chocolate, bowls of pasta with melted cheese and piles of hot buttered toast.
With the drop in temperature, it can be really hard to think about eating fruit!
But if you look carefully, there are some wonderful fruits that are in season at this time of year, and can be incorporated in to your winter warming recipes.
Here are some of our favourites:
Quince: Although there are only a few quince orchards left in the UK, it once was a very popular fruit in this country. A relative to the apple or pear, quince provides the perfect accompaniment to cheese in the form of a quince jelly, or spread on toast as a jam or marmalade in the morning. Halved and roasted with maple syrup, cloves and star anise, they release a lovely aroma, and taste wonderful served with smoky gammon.
Pomegranate: The rich, shiny jewel tones of the pomegranate seeds look beautiful in any dish, and are full of vitamins and nutrients. Originally a gift to the West from Persia, the pomegranate has been cultivated for several millennia. Delicious spooned out of the flesh and eaten alone, sprinkled over Smoky Aubergine Babaghanoush, mixed into a couscous salad, or stirred into yoghurt with honey – the pomegranate’s versatility is endless!
Persimmon: A small orange-gold fruit with a shiny skin like a tomato, the persimmon is also known as the ‘Sharon Fruit’. They are great winter fruits with high levels of Vitamin A and C and beta carotene.
The persimmon when ripe can be sliced and eaten on its own, poached and served with sweet mascarpone, or baked into a pudding or crumble. Despite its sweetness, persimmons also taste wonderful in salads, with prosciutto and mozzarella, or with Asian fusion cooking, such as in rice paper rolls with prawns and dipping sauce.
So keep warm this winter, but don’t forget to experiment with some of the season’s wonderful fruits in your kitchen – not only do they taste incredible but they will hopefully keep some of the coughs and sneezes at bay too!
Christmas is a time for celebration, sharing quality time with loved ones and should be enjoyable for everyone. But it can be an overwhelming time filled with stress and anxiety for those who are hosting the day.
The key to any good party or event is the food. Here at G’NOSH, we aim to inspire ideas for fuss-free but innovative ways to entertain guests and enjoy some really good quality food. So, to help you on your way to hosting a stress-free Christmas party, we’ve prepared the following suggestions for simple, yet delicious canapé recipes that are worthy of any sharing table and are delicious, easy to prepare and will also look great.
• Make simple but stunning crostini or bruschetta with G’NOSH Muhumarra Spicy Red Pepper dip topped with a range of delicious vegetables, and a little grated mozzarella. Place under the grill for a couple of moments until the cheese is melted
• Why not use the festive poultry favourite of turkey to create a basic white risotto dish but complete by stirring through some G’NOSH Sweet Black Bean Dip to give a smoky flavour that will look fantastic too, ceps or wild mushrooms would work with this too if you’re catering for vegetarians
• Serve an elegant and minimalistic Scandinavian style ‘smorgasbord’ comprising of Scottish smoked salmon, pickled herring, G’NOSH Beetroot & Mint Dip and some good quality rye bread. This can be served on a wooden chopping board for an authentic take
• Serve a mezze platter dish of green and red coloured couscous (add in chopped chilli, bell peppers, coriander and a little paprika to bring out the festive colours), some home-made falafel, some G’NOSH Babaghanoush – Smoky Aubergine Dip and a little feta salad with good quality Kalamata olives
• Desserts are important to complete your feast and as it’s the season of over-indulging why not offer a lighter, refreshing sweet such as a granita or sorbet – your guests will thank you for it and you can even experiment by incorporating alcoholic flavours into these such as a ‘mulled wine sorbet’
Here’s to a stress-free Christmas 2012 filled with good quality food (and drink) from G’NOSH.
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AWARD WINNING CHEF WILL TORRENT SHARES @GNOSHERS TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR FESTIVE FOODIE TIPS TAKEOVER – 6th December 2012
It’s an exciting day for us at G’NOSH HQ. We’re pleased to officially announce our partnership with award winning Chef, Pâtissier and Chocolatier, Waitrose Consultant, TV chef and media personality – phew! – Will Torrent (www.willtorrent.com / @willtorrent).
Will works with celebrity chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith, so he’s the perfect person to answer your own Christmas cooking conundrums, recipe ideas and festive entertaining tips.
We will be sharing our @gnoshers Twitter account with Will on Thursday 6th December (3pm-5pm GMT), who will host a live Q&A session, replying live and direct from G’NOSH HQ, to those who submit their Christmas questions ahead of or during the event.
All you have to do is tweet your question to @gnoshers with the hash tag #AskWill.
So, if you’re in need of a helping hand to create your first ever festive feast, or some innovative tips on how to create an alternative to your traditional prawn cocktail starter, you can have all your Christmas conundrums answered by an expert.
Tune into Twitter now and post that question, or tweet Will live on 6th December: we look forward to hearing from you all!
The G’NOSH Team
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The weekend is the perfect time to catch up with family and friends over a lazy brunch. A late morning, casual meal means that the host can relax – and even have a lie-in before guests start to arrive!
Here are three of our favourite, easy-to-make brunch dishes:
1.Caramelised Bananas with Pecan Nuts
Pre heat the grill on high. Slice ripe bananas lengthways and drizzle with honey and a handful of pecan nuts. Place under the grill until the honey starts to bubble and the bananas soften.
Place on top of a bowl of thick Greek yoghurt, or a slice of lightly toasted brioche, and serve immediately.
2.Spicy Scrambled Eggs with Toasted Sourdough
This couldn’t be simpler – just stir in some of our Spicy Red Pepper Muhumarra dip to your scrambled eggs and garnish with some cracked black pepper, crumbled feta and chopped parsley.
Best served with some thickly sliced, toasted sourdough drizzled in good quality olive oil.
3.Very Berry Porridge
Porridge is the ultimate warming breakfast dish – and its well documented health benefits mean that it’s a great start to the day. But, it needn’t be boring!
Make your porridge as normal in the pan. Turn off the heat and stir through a mixture of fresh berries: we recommend blueberries and raspberries. Add cinnamon to taste and a swirl of maple syrup if you want to sweeten.
Give them a try, and do post your brunch recipes with us in the ‘Share with Us’ section of the site – we’d love to hear from you!
My kids and I are already looking forward to the 5th November – we love the excitement of fireworks night and the tradition that surrounds Guy Fawkes.
It’s the perfect excuse to get family and friends together for a cosy evening of sparklers, and lots of hearty and delicious food and drink – here are some of my ideas to make your Bonfire Night go off with a BANG!
For something substantial, easy to eat and appealing to both adults and kids, you can’t beat a decent hot-dog! I buy great quality Cumberland sausages from the local butcher, served in a seeded sub roll and offer a range of toppings that guests can choose to customise their ‘dog. Our favourites are:
– G’NOSH Muhumarra Spicy Red Pepper with Grilled Halloumi
-Soft Caramelised Red Onions & Pimento Peppers with Sour Cream
Served with a good selection of salads, dips and crudités, it’s a perfect and simple meal to enjoy while watching the fireworks display.
Bonfire Night would not be complete without some traditional toffee apples. I always use robust Granny Smith apples, and only dip them halfway in the toffee. Before they cool, I recommend rolling them in some chopped pecan nuts, or even a sprinkling of popping candy to fit the fireworks night theme.
I like to make mugs of steaming hot chocolate for all my guests to enjoy in the garden as the evening ends. Use good quality hot chocolate and boil it with milk, some fresh vanilla pods and a stick of cinnamon for some added flavour.
I was recently asked to speak at a food strategy forum and it was exciting to be able to tell people my journey as a busy city professional and mum, to launching my G’NOSH dips range – and becoming a foodie entrepreneur.
It was easy for me to decide what I would talk to people about: the Power of Sharing.
My passion for food started through sharing my own recipes and dishes with family and friends. I love entertaining, and there’s really nothing as satisfying as eating really good food with people you love.
When I decided to take the plunge and leave my comfortable city job to launch my own fresh dips brand, the first thing I did was to pluck up the courage and ask my food heroes at big brands like Innocent, Gu and The Collective Dairy how they started out.
By sharing their stories, I was motivated to begin my own journey – and I started making fresh, natural dips in my own kitchen at home. G’NOSH was born.
Of course, dips themselves are perfect to share, whether it’s snacking and gossiping with friends, topping them on crostini as mini canapés when entertaining, or including them in a recipe for all the family.
G’NOSH is still really new but I am already sharing my experiences with other foodie entrepreneurs and hopefully helping them start their own journeys too.
Pumpkins are associated with the traditionally carved spooky faces of Halloween, but actually they are a fantastically versatile ingredient that can be used in a number of sweet and savoury ways.
As you know G’NOSH is all about the sociable element of eating and enjoying great food and so I wanted to share an inspiring idea of how to use pumpkin in a warming Halloween dish that is guaranteed to be a flavour sensation.
As the cold nights are drawing in, a warming Pumpkin soup is a comforting dish to serve to the family. Roast the pumpkin until the flesh is soft. Meanwhile sauté some white onion in a little olive oil, and once the pumpkin is ready add the flesh to the pan and keep on a low heat. Add a chopped chilli to contrast with the sweet flavour of the squash, and finally add a pint of good quality chicken or vegetable stock and heat through. Either use a handheld liquidiser or a blender to get a nice smooth consistency. Bring back to the pan and add a spoonful of G’NOSH Sweet Black Bean Dip a few moments before serving and stir through – this will add a new smoky flavour dimension. This is a hearty bowl of soup and is delicious served with home-baked bread.
If you’re finding it difficult to source pumpkin, we recommend using butter squash as a suitable alternative.
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