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Butternut squash and mushroom lasagne

I'm a huge lasagne fan but it doesn't have to be all meat. In the autumn I like to play with ingredients such as squash and mushrooms which work well together. Believe me, you will not miss the meat element as the mushrooms pack enough of a meaty punch, frying them with Worcestershire sauce adds bags of flavour. Rather than using a bechamel sauce, I whizz up the squash with gorgonzola and mascarpone. It's a pretty rich combination but it works.

300g butternut squash seeds removed and cut into cubes
600g chestnut mushrooms roughly chopped
10ml oil for frying
5ml Worcestershire sauce
5 sprigs thyme, leave removed and roughly chopped
70g gorgonzola
70g mascarpone
70g freshly grated parmesan
10g parmesan for the top
20g gorgonzola cubed for the top
20g mascarpone for the top
100g fresh pasta dough rolled out thinly and cut into 4 sheets or 4 sheets of fresh lasagne
Sat and pepper for seasoning

Place the cubed squash on a baking tray and place in an oven at 180c for 30 minutes or until a knife pierces them easily
Remove from the oven and place to one side to cool
In a pan fry off the mushrooms on a medium heat, after 5 minutes add the Worcestershire sauce and stir through, fry for another 5 minutes and season with the salt and pepper, sprinkle with the thyme and stir though
Place the mushrooms to one side to cool
In a food processor whizz up the mascarpone, gorgonzola and the butternut squash, season to taste with the salt and pepper
Start to assemble the lasagne in a deep baking dish or cast iron dish
Place a layer of mushrooms, sprinkle over some of the parmesan
Spoon over some of the squash mix so it covers the mushrooms, add a pasta sheet
Continue to layer the lasagne
for the topping sprinkle over the parmesan and dot with the gorgonzola cubes and mascarpone
Set your barbecue up for indirect cooking at 180c or place in the oven at 180c for 30-35 minutes 

Chicken and Chorizo koftes

This is a quick and simple recipe with great end results. Chicken and chorizo work well together, smoky hit from the chorizo which adds so much to the chicken. Put them together on the barbecue and the char works even more wonders and brings out even more flavour. Rather than putting them in alternate layers on a skewer, I decided to whizz them together in my food processor. You can also use a mincer on fine setting if you so wish. 

300g chicken thighs
100g chorizo
70g red onion
1 clove garlic
10g coriander leaf
3g Piment d'Espelette (or 1g cayenne and 2g sweet paprika)
Salt and pepper
10ml olive oil
10 metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have been pre soaked in water for one hour)

Place all ingredients bar the salt, pepper and olive oil in a food processor and whizz until well combined
Season with salt and pepper and pulse a couple of times to ensure even distribution of seasoning
Take a small amount of the mix, form a ball and then put a skewer through the ball and then start to form a sausage shape around the skewer
Once you've made the koftes, place back in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow them to firm up
Set your barbecue up for indirect grilling at 220c
Cook for 2 minutes each side getting a nice char on the koftes

Fig Leaf and honey ice cream

Fig leaves are a very underrated ingredient, they have a wonderful aromatic flavour almost like coconut crossed with pandan leaves. I'm lucky to have a fig tree in the garden, so once the fig harvest is over I tend to turn to using up the leaves in various recipes. It's best to use the medium size leaves rather than the large from the trees as they have more flavour. Make sure you remove the stem and clean them thoroughly before using. The honey really complements the fig leaf flavour giving it a sweet richness but not too sweet.
4 egg yolks
70g honey
300ml cream
300ml full fat milk
5 fresh fig leaves, stem removed
20g salted butter

Start by making the custard base
Heat the cream and milk until just before boiling point and turn off the heat
Whisk the honey and egg yolks in a bowl until light and fluffy
Pour the cream and milk slowly into the sugar and egg yolk mix whisking as you do
Pour the mix back into the pan and continue to whisk slowly on a low heat until it reaches 70c, keep it at 70c for at least 5 minutes which will pasteurize the custard
Add the butter and stir through until fully melted
Lightly roll the fig leaves in your hand to release the aromas, place them in the warm custard base
Once cooled place the custard and fig leaf mix in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to infuse

To finish the ice cream
Turn your ice cream maker on for at least 5 minutes before using
Next strain the custard into a jug using a fine mesh sieve
Turn on the paddle and pour in the infused custard
The mixture will take about 35 minutes to churn depending on your ice cream maker

What's in season - October

The bountiful harvest is not quite over yet, but we are distinctly in Autumnal fare. I love this time of year as it's all about comfort food with soups, stews and pies abound. The game and shellfish season are also in full swing. 

Artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash, celeriac, celery, chicory, chillies, fennel, garlic, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce & salad leaves, marrow, parsnips, potatoes (maincrop), pumpkin, radishes, rocket, runner beans, salsify, shallots, swede, sweetcorn, tomatoes, truffles, turnips, watercress, wild mushrooms

Apples, bilberries, blackberries, elderberries, figs, grapes, medlar, pears, quince

Nuts and herbs

Almonds, brazil nuts, chestnuts, chives, cob nuts, hazelnuts, parsley (curly), rosemary, sage, sorrel, thyme, walnuts

Beef, duck, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, hare, lamb, mallard, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, turkey, venison, wood pigeon

Clams, cod, coley, crab, dab, dover sole, grey mullet, gurnard, haddock, halibut, hake, herring, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, monkfish, mussels, oysters, pilchard, plaice, pollack, prawns, red mullet, sea bass (wild), sea bream, skate, squid, turbot, winkles

Kitchen Exile Goatober

Every year I make a special effort to get involved in Goatober in October. you can find recipes such as Bock and bock beer pie, Harissa goat sausages and Pulled aromatic goat and there will be one more recipe before the end of the month. You can also search using the link Goatober on my website which gives you lots more recipes. 

Goatober is a now an international festival celebrating male goat meat, in started in New York in 2011, since then it has become an international event spanning many countries. In 2017 it officially launched here in the Netherlands with more participation from farming organisations and chefs. 

So why the special effort just to promote one product? With the increase in demand for goat dairy products, there is a preference with goat dairy farmers for (naturally) female goats. As a result of this demand, male goats are considered a "waste product" and many are euthanised at birth. 

Goatober is not just about raising awareness of the meat but acts as a means to connect farmers, some already in the dairy industry and farmers who would take the male goats and raise them on their farms. These male goats are not going to waste and are raised to be part of the meat industry. 

Goat meat is very underestimated, it has a wonderful flavour which can be compared to either lamb in it's young stage or venison or mutton in it's later stages. It is a very lean meat so very healthy and it's preparation and cuts are similar to those of lamb too.

You're probably now asking where can I buy goat and preferably ethical goat meat from small farmers and local butchers? In the UK you can purchase from Cabrito Goat Meat who do online deliveries, James Whetlor the owner of Cabrito (and founder of Goatober in Europe) has also written a book Goat, cooking and eating. Here in the Netherlands you can buy direct from farmers at KoopenGeit,  De BokkenBunker amongst others or you can buy from Butchers such as Slagerij Poldervaart in Amsterdam. For a full list of all participating Butchers and Farmers head to Meat the Male 

Give goat a try!

Mussels with green curry

Mussels work with a variety of flavours, you can go traditional with beer, wine or cider or you can really go for it with stronger flavours such as Thai green curry. The aromatic curry paste works so well with the sweet mussels and then you have a creamy coconut milk base to enrich the dish. I like to make the paste from scratch, my go to recipe is my version of the paste I learned to make at the Chiang Mai cookery school in Thailand.
Curry paste

Dry ingredients
5g coriander seeds
5g cumin seeds
2g black peppercorns

Fresh ingredients
10g fresh ginger or galangal grated
4 sticks lemongrass grated
10 lime leaves
30g coriander root
4 shallots, peeled
4 cloves of garlic peeled
5g shrimp paste
4 green chilies (or you can use birds eye chilies if you want more heat)
20g Thai basil, if you cannot get this then use normal basil
10g fresh turmeric grated (this stains very easily, so wear gloves when using and avoid porous surfaces)

Roast the dry ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan for 5 minutes and then grind into a fine powder
Place all the fresh ingredients including the ground spices in a food processor and blend until you have a paste
You can also place these in a mortar and pestle if you wish and grind that way, its the more traditional approach, but I find for larger amounts, the food processor is much easier
You can store the paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a couple of months

50g curry paste
5g chopped coriander leaves for garnish
Juice of half a lime
100ml coconut milk
5g palm sugar
10ml soy sauce
1kg mussels, cleaned and debearded, (discard any mussels that will not close, check by tapping them, if they do not close, then discard)
5 lime leaves
10 ml oil for frying

Those of you cooking on the barbecue with your wok, set the temperature to 180c with the wok insert
In a large pan or wok fry off the curry paste in the oil for 5 minutes on a medium heat
Add the mussels and stir through
Place a lid on the pan/wok and cook the mussels on a high heat for 5 minutes
Add the coconut milk, lime leaves and palm sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes with the lid on or until the mussels are fully opened
Add the soy sauce and lime juice and stir through
Discard any mussels that have not opened
Serve garnished with coriander leaves

Stuffed courgettes with lamb and feta

Courgettes are coming to the end of their season and this recipe certainly makes the most of them. Lamb, feta, harissa and courgette are a great combination. The earthy flavour of lamb compliments the punchy harissa and the salty feta cuts through it all. Of course my preference is to cook this on the barbecue which adds even more flavour.

2 courgettes cut in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out of the middle of each half (keep the seeds to one side for the filling)
20ml olive oil

200g lamb mince
75g feta
50g red onion finely chopped
10g fresh coriander finely chopped
20g harissa paste
Seeds from courgettes
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients bar the salt and pepper together
Season to taste with the salt and pepper, it may not need much in the way of salt as the feta is quite salty
Place in the fridge for 4 hours 

Courgette prep
Pre heat your oven/set your barbecue up for indirect cooking at 180c
Fill each courgette half with the filling mix
Place on a baking tray or in a cast iron dish and sprinkle with the olive oil
Bake in the oven/barbecue for 30 minutes
Serve with tzatziki