by Simone Conti
Pumpkin, Coconut and Lemongrass soup with Cod
Serves 6 – Suggested Wine: Riesling (Austria)
Dear Readers, I hope you’re all doing well and keeping warm in these cold winter months. This month I want to challenge you a bit more than usual. I usually like to keep my recipes simple and easy but this month I’d like you to go out of your comfort zone. This amazing soup is worth the extra work and is packed with healthy ingredients that will help your body to keep healthy. Such as tamarind and turmeric which are great for your immune system. Cod and coconut milk are also both delicious and extremely healthy. Take the challenge and I’m sure you will enjoy the reward.
50ml cooking oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlic
600g peeled pumpkin, diced
2 lemongrass stems
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoon tamarind
400ml coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
300g cod fillet, skinned and cut into thick slices
2 tbsp cornflour
Salt and Black Pepper
1. Heat oil in a deep saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and cook until wilted but not coloured.
2. Add pumpkin, lemongrass (use only the bottom 3 inches, cut off the base, remove the outer two layers and discard, then finely slice the inside), turmeric, tamarind paste, coconut milk, water and Thai fish sauce and bring to the boil.
3. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender, return it to the pot and bring it back to a simmer and check the seasoning.
4. Place cod, cornflour and salt in a small bag and shake to coat the cod. Heat the butter in a frying pan. When it turns brown, add the fish pieces and fry for 30 seconds each side or until cooked through.
5. To serve, ladle soup into shallow bowls and place the cod on top. add some black pepper and enjoy your amazing soup!
Beef Spare Ribs with black beans, red onions and soy
Serves 4 – Suggested Wine: Primitivo (Italy)
Spare ribs are so yummy and are great in the summer, but this is more of a winter version. In this oriental version we combine some great flavours. I’m sure it’ll be a great hit when you serve it at the table, just make sure you have some big napkins to wear as you will need them!
200ml maple syrup or golden syrup or honey
4 tbsp salted chinese black beans, rinsed briefly
30g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1.2 kg beef spare ribs
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
125ml of soya sauce
250ml boiling water
1. Combine maple syrup, black beans and ginger in a bowl and mix it well, rub it all over the ribs. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours up to 12 hours, tossing once or twice to make sure they marinade evenly.
2. Preheat oven to 200c/mark 5. Place the ribs and the marinade into a roosting dish just large enough to hold them.
3. Add the onion, garlic, soy and the boiling water and cover tightly. Bake for 50 minutes, then remove the cover and turn the ribs over.
4. Cook for a further 45 minutes, basting with cooking juices, until ribs are dark brown and caramelised. You will know when the ribs are ready when the meat is beginning to come off the bones.
5. Serve it hot and Don’t forget those extra napkins!
Creamy Poached Caramel Pears
Serves 4 – Suggested Wine: Sammur (France)
8 medium- large pears, remove the core if you wish
250g caster sugar
60ml of water
1 orange, skin peeled off with a peeler, juiced
150ml double cream
1. Use a potato peeler to peel the pears in strips to give a stripped effect
2. Place sugar water into a large deep saucepan and bring to the boil, string until sugar is dissolved
3. Once it comes to the boil, remove the spoon and don’t stir it again. When the sugar has cooked to a pale caramel, place the pears in, then the orange juice and peel and 150ml of hot water. Put the lid on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Add the cream and continue to cook until pears are tender (use a skewer to check if they are ready. It should go through easily)
5. Take the lid off and continue to cook until the cream has reduced to a caramel sauce. This will take about 20 minutes, so watch carefully to make sure the toffee does not catch or burn.
6. Your caramelised pears are now ready to serve. Enjoy it!