Food and Drink's Harriet Laban discusses how healthy comfort eating is for your mental healthWritten by Harriet Laban on 17th December 2018
Bonfire Night: Two Sparkling Recipes
Food and Drink Writer Toby Fenton's Bonfire Night inspired recipes keep things hot in the kitchen this November
Toffee Apples are a Bonfire Night classic and should go down well with any group of people! You should get a sugar thermometer for this, it will be so much easier with one.
- 8 Granny Smith Apples
- 400g golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
- Place the apples in large bowl and cover with boiling water (you may need to do this in 2 batches). This step removes the waxy coating and helps the caramel to stick. Dry thoroughly with kitchen roll and twist off the stalk. Then push a wooden skewer into the stalk-end of each apple
- Lay out a sheet of baking parchment (or silicon baking mat like I used), near to your hob and place the apples on it. Add the sugar to a pan with 100ml of water and put over a medium heat. Then cook for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and then stir in the vinegar and golden syrup. Place your sugar thermometer in the pan and boil to 150oC or the ‘hard crack’ stage.
- When it has reached 150oC, take the pan off the heat, leaving the heat on in case the caramel goes too cold to work with. You will need to work quickly and very carefully dip and twist the apple into the caramel. I found it easier to lean the pan to one side to help get a better coverage. Allow the excess to drip back into the pan and place on your baking paper to cool and harden. Repeat with the remaining apples. If the temperature drops and the toffee becomes a bit too thick, just put it back on the heat to bring the temperature back up.
- If you had leftover caramel like I did, you could make a few more, or add flaked almonds to it to make an almond brittle. Pour this mixture out onto a further piece of baking parchment.
- Store in an airtight container/dry place
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
This soup is a great winter warmer with a great depth of flavour from the spices and the pumpkin. You can use butternut squash instead if you can’t get pumpkin. This is great to make around Halloween as there are so many pumpkins in the shops. This soup can be frozen for up to 2 months.
For the soup:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions - finely chopped
- 1kg pumpkin/butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 700ml vegetable/chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock for this)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 150ml double cream
For the topping:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 slices of good crusty bread (I used sourdough)
- 6 pieces of chicken skin (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200o Place the crotons on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season, then put into the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place a piece of baking paper on another baking tray and stretch out the chicken skin, then cover with another sheet of baking paper and another tray and cook for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, then add the chopped onion, and gently cook for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
- Add the pumpkin/squash to the pan and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until it begins to turn golden and soften.
- Then add in the stock, season the soup and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until the pumpkin/squash is soft. Stir in the ground cumin & coriander.
- Then add the double cream and bring back to the boil. Then purée the soup using a hand blender.
- Chop or blitz up the chicken skin in a food processor, until you have fine pieces.
- Serve the soup with the croutons, a drizzle of olive oil and the chopped crispy chicken skin.