Caramelized onions

By now you probably feel that it is all about caramelized stuff with me. I do really enjoy some sweet and savory contrast in my food, and caramelized onions are no exception! I first got obsessed with caramelized onions after I first went to the renowned yearly Tapas competition in my home town. You get a map of the city with each restaurant and what they offer as part of the competition, and you get to vote for your favourite tapa of the year. In this one little cellar style restaurant, very modernly decorated, we were served little bread toasts with pork loin topped with aioli and caramelized onion. It was simply delicious (and I’m not a huge fan of pork!).

And I knew there and then I had to try this at home. And thus commenced my learning process of onion caramelizing. This recipe should be enough as a topping for a 2-people meal, if you want more, just increase the amounts!

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  • 1 middle sized onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Heat the olive oil on low heat on a pan, and add the butter until it melts.
  2. Throw in the onion, and watch it sizzle slowly until it turns transparent, then yellowish and eventually brown. Whenever it starts to stick to the pan, just stir it slightly with a wooden spoon or spatula. This should take some patience and around 20 minutes.

 

BONUS TIPS:

  • You can add 1 teaspoon brown sugar after the last step, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until it dissolves together with the onion. This is optional, but it will enhance the sweetness. I do this depending on the recipe I’ll use.
  • I used this batch to top of brulée brie. Don’ miss out!

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Curry butternut squash soup

I’ve always loved pumpkin, likely because it used to be kind of exotic where I grew up (obviously nowadays is a different story). It’s always fascinated me how there can be so many different types, and their colour and shapes are simply the epitome of autumn. And when I moved to Germany, where autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, it felt like everything was coming together. If you don’t believe me, have a look at these autumnal shots I took on one of my most recent walks with G.

 

I’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver since what feels like always. I love his style of cooking, so laid back, fun and enjoyable; it’s something I can very much relate to. So when I found his recipe for butternut squash soup with sage it automatically became a staple in my kitchen. However, as I’m ever-expanding my cooking skills and recipe book, I came up with this slightly time consuming but very much worth the trouble butternut squash soup.

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Lovely roasted garlic

This should be enough for 2 hungry people:

  • butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 1 heaped tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp honey
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • pinch of cumin
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1l / 4 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  1. Start by washing the butternut squash and halving it, take out and discard the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and some salt and put it chopped side down in the oven for at least an hour at 200ºC. I do it in the morning as soon as I wake up, as it takes me roughly an hour to get ready for work. That way, right before I leave, I turn the oven off and leave it until I get back. You can also do it the night before you plan to make the soup. The longer you roast it, the better it will taste.
  2. Once the squash is roasted, take it out of the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Then peel it and leave it to rest.
  3. Heat up a pan on low, throw in a heaped tablespoon of butter and drizzle some olive oil until it starts to sizzle. Then add the onion and caramelize for about 20 minutes. Once it’s transparent and very soft, add the honey and leave to caramelize for another 10 minutes.
  4. Blend the fresh coriander, the curry powder and the cumin with the stock.
  5. In a big pot (not hot!) throw the squash and add some of the stock. Blend and keep adding stock until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. Add salt, pepper and sweet paprika powder to taste, the fresh ginger and blend again. Heat it and gobble up!

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BONUS TIPS:

  • Extra chopped coriander and/or lemon juice add an extra zest to this already amazing soup.
  • Substitute half of the vegetable stock for coconut milk, for extra silkiness.
  • Zingy creme frâiche is also a good addition. I do love me some creme frâiche!
  • If you’re a garlic lover like me: roast some garlic in the oven with a bit of olive oil and blend in as well!

Stuffed butternut squash

Autumn is here! And with it, fallen leaves, rainy days, shorter day-light hours, and EVERYTHING PUMPKIN! I’ve always had such a fascination with pumpkins and squashes, since they didn’t use to be that common where I grew up. As a matter of fact, I remember carving melons for Halloween instead, because pumpkins would be too difficult to find – and possibly expensive-. I have to give the credit of that idea to my mum, who was always finding creative ways to entertain me and my friends at parties. And as much as I love the summertime – that’s the summer child in me, born end of July in the Mediterranean – I go nuts as soon as I see the first signs of autumn available in the supermarket!

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So here goes: my first autumn-y recipe (and there’ll be many more to come!)

  • one butternut squash
  • 500g minced meat (I used beef)
  • 1 big onion or 2 small ones
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper
  • sumac
  • sweet paprika powder
  • rosemary, sage, or any other herb you might like
  • grated cheese
  1. Wash the butternut squash and slice in half. Roast in the oven at 200º for about an hour, or until a fork can go through the flesh without resistance. Let cool enough to handle.
  2. Slice the onion thinly and caramelize.
  3. Brown the garlic clove in with the onion, and pick it out before it burns. This will give it flavour without it being too overpowering.
  4. Add the mince to the onion together with the sumac and sweet paprika powder, season to taste and cook to medium. Turn the heat off. If you don’t like your meat medium, it will continue cooking later in the oven, so don’t worry about it!
  5. Take the butternut squash halves and hollow them out as if to make “boats”. Add the flesh to the mince and onion and roughly mix.
  6. Scoop out the mix and fill the squash, and add grated cheese on top. Put in the oven at 200º for another 10-15 minutes, and you’re good to go!

BONUS TIPS:

  • There’s a wide variety of cheeses you can use to mix this recipe up: gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, feta, old Amsterdam…
  • Same goes for the herbs and spices: sage and rosemary are my favourites for this recipe, but oregano also pairs very well, and so do cinammon and cumin.
  • You could also knock yourself out and add two teaspoons of brown sugar to the onion while it’s caramelizing. This will give it such a contrast of flavours!