It's been a while since my last post. Seasons have come and gone, the year has changed and it's autumn once again. I took a step back from blogging and focused on my work, writing my master's thesis, raising an ever-so-energetic toddler and, on top of everything else, had another baby boy. Almost a year has passed, our family has grown, the days are more full than ever and so are our hearts. Becoming a mother has made me more driven and ambitious than I was before. I want to do more and to give more, to myself and to my family. Ever since our first little troll arrived, I find myself with a steady drive to push through the long days and nights because it gives such gratification and satisfaction on those moments of calm to realize - I did it, whatever "it" might be. A new found strength I didn't know I had, and I actually think I didn't have it, not until my boys. The sense of accomplishment and fullfilment that comes with that is golden.
With days packed with more duties than there are hours for managing them, I don't have as much time to play around in the kitchen any more. Nevertheless, I like to eat well and I want my family to eat well, by which I mean flavour, texture, color, fresh and seasonal ingredients. Of course there are times when spaghetti with pesto is all I have energy and time for but the recipes I'm writing about today are not in any way more complicated than that. So here are some autumnal recipes, easy enough to prepare with sleep deprivation, I can concur on this. Also, not by intention, but these happen to be all meatless dishes. They are, however, packed with flavour, seasonal warmth and are even easier to eat than they are to make. We start off with oven baked brebis with grapes and rosemary. This is as easy as it gets. I love oven baked cheese and I have different versions of this for every season. The saltiness of the brebis contrasts beautifully to the sweetness of the grapes. For some warmth, there is my pumpkin soup with ginger. A bowl of velvet gold, simple and nourishing. And for dessert a plum tarte tatin with brioche crust. It's the lack of pastry that makes this tart so easy to make. I have been using brioche with all my tarte tatins lately and don't see myself going back to pastry any time soon. It's fast to make and deliciously comforting to eat.
Oven baked brebis with grapes and rosemary
1 pack of brebis cheese
Grapes enough to fill the oven dish with brebis in the center
A couple of branches of rosemary
2-3 tablespoons of honey
Pat the bulk of brebis gently dry with a paper towel and put it in the center of an oven dish. The size of the oven dish is really up to you, depending how much fruit you want surrounding the cheese. Add the grapes, as much as the dish fits, springs of rosemary and drizzle everything with honey. Cook in the oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes and enjoy while it's still warm with some bread to pick up all the oozing salty cheese and sweet juices from the bursted grapes.
Roasted pumpkin soup with ginger
1 potimarron (a small pumpkin)
3 gloves of garlic
1.5 L of broth (I used chicken broth, also, I like my soup quite thick but you may want to add some more broth if you prefer)
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons of thyme (I used both dried and fresh but you can use whichever you like)
0.5 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
A couple of short slices of fresh ginger (depends how much heat you want)
Peel and roughly chop the pumpkin and carrots and place them on an oven tray. Peel and halve the shallots and garlic gloves, add them to the tray. Cover everything with olive oil, thyme, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well so everything has an even coating of the seasoning, then spread evenly on the tray. Roast in the oven at 190 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes. Remove everything from the tray and place in a pot, big enough to add the broth in. Turn on medium heat, add the broth, ginger and cayenne pepper. After a couple of minutes of stirring turn off the heat and blend everything into a puree. Serve with croutons and toasted pumpkin seeds for some crunch.
Plum tarte tatin with brioche crust
Plums (enough to fill the bottom of your tart dish)
150g brown sugar
2 star anises
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean
Brioche (enough slices to cover your tart dish)
A splosh of milk
You can bake everything in one ovenproof dish or prepare the plums on the stove separately and then change the dish, as you want. On the stove over medium heat warm up the star anis and cinnamon sticks, add the sugar and let it melt. Add the insides of the vanilla bean and you can toss the bean itself in as well. Let everything mix together and start to caramelise. Halve the plums and remove the stones. Toss the plums in the caramel mixture and let it simmer a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and in case you are using two dishes, pour everything into the oven dish. Arrange the plums evenly on the bottom of your dish. In a bowl mix the egg with milk and one by one soak the brioche slices until they are tender and heavy. Arrange the brioche slices over the plums, making sure everything is covered and the brioche creates an even layer. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 180 degrees.