As October draws to a close the clocks have turned back and the dark nights have settled in. Carved pumpkins are glowing on doorsteps and, as I walk home from work, the air outside smells of burning wood fires and home baked goodies; as if all of Belfast collectively decided that tonight was going to be as cosy as possible. I love this time of year.
In the aftermath of Halloween and the looming onslaught of pre-Christmas sales it’s easy to get a bit fed up of November. I mean what is there to do? And with no such celebration as America's Thanksgiving over here what is there to eat?!? Well thankfully there is still a foodie event to keep us going through what could have been an utterly boring culinary month...
The BBC Good Food Show returns to the Belfast Waterfront Hall this November (10th – 12th) and thanks to lovely folks at MCE we have an exciting opportunity which means that you could be seeing your favourite TV chefs such as Nadiya Hussain (Friday) and The Hairy Bikers (Sunday).In advance of the show I was sent a few recipes that the famous BBC chefs will be demonstrating in the waterfront hall. Once I stopped drooling on my screen I picked my favourites and set about seeing just how doable they were. How about a cream of carrot soup from Michel Roux (Saturday) and Doughnut Bread Pudding from Nadiya Hussain? A healthy hearty soup followed by a properly decadent but ridiculously easy dessert is my idea of heaven during the colder nights and although I tweaked the recipes slightly - purely for convenience and to save wastage - they are wonderfully simple.
For your chance to WIN a pair of passes to the show (for either Friday or Sunday) just comment below and let us know who you'd take with you and which chef you'd like to see!
I’ll explain the changes I made below each recipe and what I would do differently in the future.
Crème de Crecy (Cream of Carrot Soup) by Michel Roux
- 750g large carrots
- 1 onion white
- 60g bacon fat (or veg oil)
- 50g round rice
- 100g butter
- 1 bunch mixed colour heritage carrots
- 2.2lt chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- Salt, pepper
- Peel and finely slice the carrots and onion. Sweat in the fat or in oil gently until tender.
- Add the rice and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked.
- Season and then place in a food processor to blitz until smooth.
- Whisk in the butter and serve with slithers of the heritage carrots.
Credit: The French Kitchen cookbook by Weidenfield and Nicolson. Photographer: Cristian Barnett
What I Did: I don’t know about you but I don’t keep a lot of bacon fat sitting around so I rendered out a pack of streaky bacon in order to flavour the pan and the oil. I then used the chopped up crispy bacon bits as a topping at the end because, alas, my local Tesco doesn’t stock mixed colour heritage carrots. I also upped the quantity as I had a kilo bag of carrots and I knew they would only go to waste otherwise, a little extra stock balanced this out perfectly. Finally, along with surviving bacon bit - I may have nibbled - I stirred in a spoonful of dairy free greek style yoghurt rather than the butter, it added a lovely tang to cut through the sweetness and lessened the calories that I had added with the bacon!
What I’d do differently: I would absolutely NOT use my food processor in the final stage again. It’s messy, time consuming, and didn’t blend the soup finely enough. I have resolved to buy a new immersion/stick blender as that would be so much easier in the future.
Doughnut Bread Pudding
- Butter for greasing
- 6 jam doughnuts, cut in half horizontally to make two circles
- 200ml whole milk
- 300ml double cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 40g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan/gas mark 5. Generously grease a 23cm square dish.
- Lay out the doughnuts with the jam facing up.
- Add the milk, cream, vanilla, sugar and eggs to a jug and give it all a good whisk.
- Pour the mixture over the doughnuts, gently pressing them down so they are submerged.
- Put the dish to one side for 30 minutes, so the doughnuts can soak up the mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the centre of the pudding is slightly wobbly.
- Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Dust with the icing sugar before serving.
Credit: Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story (illustrations by Clair Rossiter)
What I’d do differently: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Maybe buy a medium sized baking dish so I didn’t have to split it up but honestly that’s a very small maybe.
Competition closes 5th November and is open to all of the UK and Ireland. All entrants must leave contact details so that we can contact you if you win.
Thankyou to BBC Good Food Show and MCE for the opportunity to try the recipes and the passes to the show. I hope to see you all there in November!