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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Warm and Wonderful - Christina Hollis

Autumn is really closing in. It doesn't get light here until after breakfast, and it's dark by teatime. The advantage is the wonderful autumn colours we've enjoyed this year, and when the wind blows the clouds away, extravagantly starry nights. If you're lucky you might see a shooting star, or even Comet Hartley  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/103P/Hartley, but there are lots of distractions, including firework parties!  When you come in from the cold, it's great to curl up in front of the fire with something comforting. My favourite roast pumpkin soup recipe is really easy. Splash chunks of pumpkin (no need to peel, but discard the seeds and tough fibres), crushed garlic cloves and a thinly sliced onion with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 180C for about 40 minutes or until soft, then (taking care not to burn your fingers) scrape the flesh into a saucepan. Add enough vegetable or chicken stock to produce soup with a good consistency then  mash or blitz until smooth. A pinch of smoked paprika is a good addition. Heat the soup through, then serve with cheese topped rolls.
That's great for nights when you've been out getting chilly, but sometimes it's lovely to just snuggle down with a book and something chocolatey. Grannie's Gateau (crushed cookies stirred into a melted mixture of butter, syrup and cocoa and chilled until set) is a real treat, but so rich it's only for special occasions - especially when given a chocolate topping!
What's your favourite fireside snack at this time of year?

Christina Hollis writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon's Modern Romance/Presents Extra. Her latest UK release, The Italian's Blushing Gardener, will be released in the US in January 2011 under the title The Master of Bella Terra. Visit her website at Http://www.christinahollis.com for details of her Christmas Holiday Competition!

14 comments:

Elanor said...

Wow, that pumpkin soup does sound wonderful - have you tried adding butterbeans to it, too? They really add depth and a yummy chunkiness if you don't blend it completely smooth.
My favourite autumnal treat has to be a dish Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall called 'tartiflette'; basically cheese, bacon, potatoes and onions fried up together and eaten with homemade French bread. Hideously unhealthy of course, but shouldn't we all be laying down a little extra fat for the winter??

Best wishes,
Elanor xXx

Christina Hollis said...

Elanor, HFW ties with Raymond Blanc as my favourite chef! All hale hearty, practical food. Yes, tartiflette is pretty much a heart attack on a plate but hey - Hugh recommends eating it in the company of a glass of red wine, too and that's supposed to be the antidote, isn't it? ;)

Joanna St. James said...

sounds yum, I just love curling up with a mug of hot chocolate laced with cinnamon and a book.

Christina Hollis said...

That's another delicious treat, Joanna - especially if you can get a lovely, frothy, cappucino-like head on the chocolate. Mmm...

Linda Henderson said...

I love hot chocolate or a cappucino with some cookies this time of year. I like to curl up in my favorite chair with a hot drink and a good book.

Christina Hollis said...

Cookies - that's a good idea, Linda. Not as heavy as cake but nice and sweet. Choc chip ones with nibbed hazelnuts are my favourites, though yesterday we had some lovely soft wafer thin double choc ones at a coffee morning. They were delicious!

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thanks for your post, Christina. The recipes sound yummy.

To answer your question, I'm far from picky about food. If it's cold outside and I'm freezing, ANYTHING hot will do!

But I don't want to warm up alone; I'd sure go for someone hot. But not just anybody. In this department, I'm VERY picky!

Keep up the good work!

Christina Hollis said...

That's a great suggestion, Mary Anne - a little afternoon delight to go with the roaring log fire and calorie free toasted treats fantasy!

Michelle Douglas said...

Ah, Christina, I'm afraid it's been getting rather warm (as in very hot!) in the southern hemisphere. Although your pumpkin soup sounds divine and I mean to give it a go when the weather starts cooling off here again.

My favourite snacks at the moment are ripe, juicy peaches. Yum!

Mary said...

That sounds really good. I love things flavored with Pumpkin and roasting the pumpkin seeds are great too.

Christina Hollis said...

Michelle, I'm really envious of you eating fresh, ripe peaches in season - they're so lovely. It's a bit different here today, to say the least. All the gates were frozen shut this morning, and the hens' water container had a layer of ice on it only an hour after I put it out!

Christina Hollis said...

Mary - I've read you have to shell the pumpkin seeds before you roast them, so I've never tried it (too fiddly for me!). Is that true, or can you get away without doing it?

Mary said...

I've never shelled the Pumpkin seeds before roasting them. I soak them in salt water beforehand and so they have a delicious salty flavor on the shell that most peopel want to suck off before biting into the shell.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks - I'll try that, as we've had a really good pumpkin crop this year!