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The Review - FOOD & DRINK- Cooking with CLARE
Published: 3 January 2008
Butternut squash grows on a vine and has a sweet nutty taste
Butternut squash grows on a vine and has a sweet nutty taste
Butternut squash – perfect for a quick and warming soup

Clare Latimer starts the new year in healthy style

THIS is a strange time of year. Many of us will have had a happy, family time and many will have been quite alone and be very glad to get back to a regular life pattern, with local shops opening again at normal times and routine safely back in our lives.
Some will have over-indulged and some not eaten enough, and therefore this week I am going to do some quick and easy recipes that steer well away from the party feel.
Still, our spirits should be up as it is a new year and a new start and we all hope that good health and happiness will come our way.

Chilli roasted ­butternut squash soup with prawns

This is a lovely warming soup and very easy to make. Serve with a salad and chunks of a good granary bread that has been warmed in the oven and you have a great easy supper dish. Just bring out the cheese and fruit afterwards.
It freezes well so you could make a double dose and freeze half but leave out the prawns, as they are not good frozen twice.

Serves 4
2 whole butternut squash, peeled and sliced into large chunks
Chilli oil for roasting
1½ litres chicken stock (freshly made if ­possible) or a veggie alternative
1 large tin coconut milk
1 small tin of coconut cream
1 packet small prawns
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven 200C/400F/gas 6.
Put the cut up squash and chilli oil into a roasting tin and cook for about 45mins (until it starts to caramelise). Leave to cool slightly and then blend until smooth adding the chicken stock gradually until all is used up and you have a smooth soup.
Add the coconut milk and cream and then season with the salt and pepper. Heat to simmering point and then finally add the prawns and serve immediately with the crusty bread.

Smoked Mackerel Quiche
Well away from the festive food and a smashing and different quiche. Serve with a crunchy salad and you will have a light lunch or supper dish. Remember to leave salt out as the mackerel has enough.

Serves 6
175g plain flour
75g butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
Little oil
3 eggs
284ml single cream
Freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
2 fillets smoked ­mackerel, flaked
150g grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped chives.

Put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture feels and looks like crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of water and knead the mixture in a dough with a round bladed knife.
Roll out the dough on to a floured surface and line a 24cm fluted flan tin. Make sure the edges are tidy; prick the bottom of the flan with a fork and leave to chill for around 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill up with baking beans. Cook on a baking tray at the top of the oven for around 15 minutes, take out the beans and cook for another 5 minutes and then remove and set aside.
While you are cooking the pastry, fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat until it is softened but not brown in colour. Beat the eggs, cream and chives together in a bowl with a generous amount of pepper and nutmeg. Put the flaked mackerel and cheese into the pastry case and then pour over the cream and egg mixture. Reduce the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5 and cook for around 35 minutes until it is all set and golden in colour.

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