Well it is official – another summer has been and gone. September 23rd was the first day of Autumn and with it came rain and a definite temperature drop. It's once again time to put away the flip-flops and tank tops and bring out my wooly socks and cozy jumpers. However as sad as I am that summer is over (it is definitely my favourite season) there is also something lovely and welcoming about this time of year and I actually really enjoy the first few weeks of Autumn when everything is turning a golden yellow and orange, the leaves are falling from the trees and the nights shorter with a crispness in the air. Friday was our first storm of the season so it was the perfect day to stay inside and make some autumnal butternut squash soup and plenty of baking.
I don't really bake that much – I would love to do it far more often but I don't generally have enough time to do it and also if I do, normally I end up eating too much of it which doesn't really fit in with my plans to lose the rest of my unwanted 'baby' weight!!! Luckily for me though, my sister flew out to stay with us earlier in the week so I have an on-call babysitter leaving me extra time to do some baking and of course babysitter's need to be rewarded. Thankfully she is more than happy to be rewarded with some fresh baking so I set to work while watching the rain lash against the windows and the trees twisting and arching under the force of the wind.
Butternut squash soup with thyme was first on my list to be eaten for lunch with some goats cheese crostini. After that it was straight on with some rose cupcakes. A little summery perhaps but ones I have wanted to try for a while – girly and glittery pink they were just what we needed on such a miserable day. Next on my list was a return to my childhood with mum's oatmeal cookies complete with retro glace cherries on top! In my opinion you can't beat spending a stormy day in the kitchen and this storm more than paid off with plenty of culinary delights from the kitchen and thankfully for us, no power cuts!
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)
1 ½ lb/ 680g butternut squash (weight once prepared – approx. 3-4lbs before)
750ml vegetable stock
Salt & pepper
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve (optional)
Goats cheese crostini (see below)
Melt the butter with the oil in a large pan and heat until sizzling. Add the onion and leek and cook for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of thyme and chilli and cook for another minute before adding the butternut squash. Cover with a lid then over a low heat cook for 10 minutes before adding the stock and the salt and pepper. Leave uncovered to simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes until the squash is soft. Remove from the heat and leave to cool then puree in a blender until completely smooth. Return to the pan and add the remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves and the milk. Taste to check the seasoning then gently reheat. When ready to serve drizzle a little good quality extra virgin olive oil over the top and serve with some goats cheese crostini.
Goats Cheese Crostini:Thinly slice some ciabatta bread then drizzle with a little olive oil and toast until lightly golden on both sides. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub a little garlic over each piece of ciabatta then spread with soft goats cheese. Finish with a good grinding of black pepper, a little extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of fresh thyme.
Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and used rosewater instead of vanilla extract. For the icing I did the same, adding 1 tsp of rosewater instead of vanilla. Start with ½ tsp as every type of rosewater is different and the strength can vary enormously. Adjust to your liking and add a little pink food colouring. For a little extra pizazz I then sprinkled the cupcakes with some edible pink glitter for a touch of girly sparkle.