Rob is out tonight so it’s just me for dinner. I had a butternut squash in the fridge so made a thick, creamy soup with it.

I would usually roast the butternut squash but tonight I’d been to the gym, time was getting on and I was hungry so I thought I’d try it another way.

I sautéed two chopped shallots with a crushed clove of garlic for a minute or so then added the peeled, deseeded and cubed butternut squash. I cooked this for about 5 more minutes then added half a litre of vegetable stock. I brought this to the boil and let it bubble away until the squash was tender. Then I liquidised it with my trusty hand blender, seasoned well – it needs it – and finally poured a little double cream in.

I ate it with thick crusty bread. It’s a little like a vegetarian version of cream of chicken soup. Mmm…

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Heat a tin of chopped tomatoes with some vegetable stock, as little or as much as you like but enough to be able to cook some pasta in. Once simmering add some pasta shapes and cook until al dente. Season to taste. Add a large dollop of sour cream before serving.

You can vary this base recipe in lots of ways. Add herbs, dried or fresh, chilli flakes for a kick. Sauté chopped onion, bacon or garlic before adding the tomatoes and stock. Add vegetables for a more substantial meal.

Thanks to my friend Viv for the idea.

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Books

I bought ‘Apples for Jam: Recipes for Life‘ by Tessa Kiros today, a signed copy no less! Just like her previous book, ‘Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes‘, this is beautiful to look through and I can’t wait to lose myself in it’s pages.

My bookshelves are filled with various food books. I fear it’s becoming an addiction, I even felt a pang of guilt as I walked to the till to pay for the latest addition – a sure sign of a habit in need of curbing. I’ll be hiding them from my husband next! I just can’t help it – I love books. I love the smell of the paper, the feel of the pages as I run my hand over them, the solitary pleasure of opening a new book for the first time. And with food books combining my favourite two interests they are simply irresistible to me.

My favourite food writer is Nigella Lawson. I love the sheer unadulterated pleasure of food she conveys and I find a lot of comfort in her recipes. My favourite of her books are ‘How to Eat: Pleasures and Principles of Good Food (Cookery)‘ and ‘Nigella Bites‘.

In terms of usage, Jamie Oliver’s books would have to be high up on my list. I have almost all of his books and his earlier ones, ‘The Naked Chef‘ and ‘The Return of the Naked Chef‘, introduced me to fresh herbs and a whole new way of cooking. His were the books I used when I first lived on my own and started cooking for myself on a daily basis.

Just a few of the other food books you’ll find on my shelves are:

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Hot Chocolate

I’ve tried a lot of hot chocolate drinks. Cadburys, Green & Black’s, Galaxy, Charbonnel & Walker. They have their place but for the ultimate in luxury you can’t beat the real thing.

Simply melt squares of your favourite chocolate in a pan of warm milk. Add a dash of brandy or your favourite liquor for a grown-up version. Try whipped cream and grated chocolate for decadence, cinnamon for spice, honey or vanilla sugar for nursery sweetness, or even a dash of orange flower water for scent.

Sit back and enjoy.

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Autumn In A Bowl 2

Sausages, sweet potato mash and onion gravy, a perfect dish to welcome Autumn.

Fry sausages slowly in butter until sticky and lightly browned, then add a large sliced onion to the pan and saute until soft and golden. Turn up the heat, add a tablespoon of flour, stir and and cook for a minute or so, then add some marsala to sizzle away. Add a dried herb like oregano and a little beef stock. Leave to simmer and thicken whilst you mash some peeled, cubed and boiled sweet potato with butter.

Serve in a bowl and curl up on the sofa while the Autumn leaves dance in the wind outside.

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