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!