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Rachel Khoo’s Parisian passion was born in Croydon - French winter recipes

PUBLISHED: 16:56 21 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:26 13 April 2015

Rachel Khoo

Rachel Khoo

Archant

Famous for cooking up fabulous feasts from her little Paris kitchen, Croydon born chef Rachel Khoo focuses on wider French cuisine in her new book. Here, she brings us three hearty winter recipes to try...

Pumpkin soupPumpkin soup

STARTER

Velouté au potimarron avec du Chantilly et les oignons confits

Pumpkin soup with chantilly and onion confit

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Onion soup is pretty much a staple on every French alpine menu. But, listed just underneath, a pumpkin soup sneaks in more often than not, and I was fortunate enough to be served an exemplary version at the little bed and breakfast I stayed at in the Savoie region after a long day on the slopes. Unlike the dark, golden brown-hued onion soup, its pumpkin counterpart is altogether different; a vivacious bright orange it looks a little out of place between the drabber winter fare that is commonplace in the Alps. Roasting the pumpkin might sound like a bit of a pain (you could just as easily bung everything into a pan with vegetable stock) but it’s well worth it. The pumpkin takes on a rich sweetness with roasting that simply doesn’t compare to being boiled in a pot of stock. The soup is pretty delicious on its own but, to add a little Alpine flavour, I top it all off with some fluffy edible snow (well, almost!). A little whipped cream with some caramelised onions and crunchy seeds and you have a vibrant and colourful soup to take on those dark winter days.

INGREDIENTS:

1kg chestnut pumpkin, pumpkin or butternut squash, chopped into large pieces

4 cloves of garlic, left whole in the skin

4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (or use the seeds from the pumpkin)

Olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper

1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon butter

1 litre hot vegetable stock

100ml whipping cream

METHOD:

1. Place the pumpkin, garlic cloves and some of the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray, toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 30 minutes at 180°C, or until tender. Leave to cool before scooping the flesh from the pumpkin pieces into a pot.

2. Squeeze out the garlic from the skin and add to the pot. Clean the seeds of any strands of pumpkin and add to a separate pan with the onion and butter. Place on a medium heat and fry for about 10 minutes until the onion begins to caramelise. Stir occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, finish the soup by adding the hot vegetable stock to the pumpkin and garlic. Blend until smooth then taste and season.

4. Whip the cream with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper, to taste.

5. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and divide the caramelised onions and pumpkin seeds between the bowls. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to finish.

***

MAIN course

Poulet rôti au vin rouge

Roast red wine chicken

Serves: 4-6

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Marinating time: 30 minutes – overnight

Cooking time: 1 hour

Even in Bordeaux, arguably the wine capital of the world, sometimes you can’t quite finish a whole bottle. That’s when this marinade comes in handy. A loitering, leftover glass of red wine can make the perfect marinade. If leftover wine is a rare occurrence in your household, donate a little glass from your bottle of red and enjoy a spectacular dish to accompany the remainder of the bottle.

INGREDIENTS:

150ml red wine

100g tomato paste

3 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

3 sprigs of marjoram, leaves picked, or ½ teaspoon dried

100ml red wine vinegar

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces (approx. 1.5kg)

Salt and ground black pepper

500g baby potatoes, washed

3 onions, peeled and cut into quarters

6 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters lengthways

METHOD:

1. Mix together the red wine, tomato paste, herbs and red wine vinegar.

2. Season the chicken pieces with plenty of salt and pepper then place in a bag with the marinade. Shake the bag well to make sure each piece of chicken is well coated. Then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. In the meantime, place the potatoes in a pan of cold water, put the lid on top and bring up to the boil. Boil for one to two minutes, then drain in a colander.

4. Place the onions, carrots and potatoes in a large baking dish or tray (big enough to fit the chicken and the vegetables) and pour over 125ml of water.

5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove the chicken from the fridge and arrange the pieces, skin side up, in a layer on top of the vegetables in the dish. Pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken. Cover with a sheet of baking paper or foil and roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the baking paper or foil and baste the chicken with the cooking liquid. Roast, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Then serve immediately.

Les petits conseils – tips: Buying a whole chicken always works out more affordable. If you aren’t up for dissecting it yourself, ask your butcher to cut it into pieces for you. Otherwise, you can always cheat and go for chicken thighs. If you’re unsure whether the chicken is cooked through, pierce with a sharp knife and the juices from the chicken should come out clear.

Faire en avance – get ahead: The veg and chicken can be prepared up to a day in advance, then simply pop it all in the baking tray and cook as indicated in the recipe.

***

DESSERT

Kugelhopf

Makes one 20cm kugelhopf

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Resting time: minimum 6 hours, but best overnight

Baking time: 30 minutes

Kugelhopfs are typically baked in round ring-shaped moulds, but if you don’t have one, a loaf tin works too. Some German versions are cakier, but the traditional Alsacian style dough is very similar to a brioche, risen with yeast and enriched with butter and egg. My version is a little less buttery than its brioche cousin but just as moreish. I’ve opted for lovely squidgy prunes to stud my kugelhopf, but you can use raisins or other dried fruit for a classic version.

INGREDIENTS:

300g strong white bread flour

40g caster sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

5g (2 teaspoons) instant dried yeast

125g milk

1 egg, beaten

70g soft butter, cut into small cubes

70g soft, ready-to-eat stoned prunes

50ml cognac, rum or brandy (optional, if using very dry prunes)*

8-10 blanched almonds for decoration

1 egg, plus 2 tablespoons milk, for the eggwash

1 tablespoon soft butter, for greasing the mould

1 x 20cm kugelhopf mould, or 1 x 900g loaf tin, greased and lined with baking paper

* If using dry prunes, cut them into small 1cm chunks and leave to soak in the cognac while the dough rises.

METHOD:

1. Mix together all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the middle.

2. Add the milk and egg to the centre, and mix at a medium speed for six to eight mins. The dough will become soft, smooth and elastic. Add the softened butter bit by bit and mix for another five mins.

3. Scrape the bowl down periodically to ensure all the butter is mixed in. Once the dough is formed (it should be slightly sticky), decant into a large clean bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until it has doubled in size (ideally overnight).

4. Butter the kugelhopf mould. If using a loaf tin, line it with baking paper. Place one almond into each groove at the bottom of the mould. If using a loaf tin, just scatter loosely. Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from the fridge.

5. Drain the prunes of any excess liquid (if they were soaked in cognac) and knead into the dough, but keep the kneading to a minimum. Shape the dough into a ball and poke a hole in the middle. Tuck it neatly in the mould making sure the middle of the mould pokes through the dough. Brush with eggwash. If using a loaf tin, form the dough into a sausage the length of the tin. Pop into the tin and brush with eggwash. Cover with a damp clean tea towel or cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm until doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush the kugelhopf with eggwash and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling tray or rack.

*****

My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo is published by Michael Joseph, priced £20. Surrey Life readers can order the book for £16 (free p&p) from the Penguin Bookshop on 0843 060 0021, quoting Surrey Life Rachel Khoo offer and ISBN978718177478. The offer is subject to availability. Customers should allow up to 14 days for delivery. Offer open to UK residents only.

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