Dip into these delicious recipes from the Reader's Digest archives, perfect to enjoy in colder weather
See out the winter weather with these flavour-packed, easy to make recipes. With just a hint of the exotic, you'll find they spice up your meals with unusual flavours and textures.
Pasta and bean soup
Preparation time: Approximately 35 minutes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 stems celery, thinly sliced
- 900 ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 450g can red kidney beans, drained
- 2 tsp pesto sauce
- 75g small pasta shapes
- freshly ground black pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oil and fry the onion, carrots and celery gently together for 5 minutes. Add the stock and garlic and bring to the boil; simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the beans, pesto, pasta shapes and pepper to taste. Cook until the pasta is just tender. Serve in warm soup bowls, with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cook the onions gently in 50g (2oz) of the butter, in a covered pan, until they are really soft and pale gold. (About 20 minutes.) Add half the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
While the onions are cooking, make the croutes: using a pastry cutter or a small saucer as a guide, cut a circle from each slice of bread. Heat enough butter in a pan to give a depth of about 5mm ( 1/4 inch). Add the circles of bread and fry gently until evenly golden on both sides. Drain on some absorbent paper.
Poach the eggs for about three minutes and drain them on absorbent paper if necessary.
Place the croutes on individual plates. Top each one with some of the warm onion mixture, then two folded slices of ham and finally, a poached egg. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve as soon as possible, withe a sprig of parsley to garnish.
Aubergine and coriander puree
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Split the aubergine lengthwise and grill, cut side uppermost, under a hot grill until the surface starts to char. Turn them over and continue to grill until the skin blisters and chars. Test with a fine skewer: the aubergine flesh should be quite soft. Scoop the centre flesh into a bowl. (If the flesh seems very watery, squeeze in a piece of muslin to remove excess moisture.)
Beat aubergine flesh with garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice, onion and cumin. Stir in the parsley and gradually beat in sufficient oil to give a smooth cream. Season to taste with salt.
Serve with hot pitta bread, or fingers of hot toast. Alternatively, the puree can be used as a dip for strips of raw vegetables.
Ginger pudding with fresh cream sabayon
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 115g dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp dark rum
- 2 eggs
- 115g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 3 egg yolks
- 45g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur
- 4 tbsp double cream
For the pudding: Beat the butter and sugar until soft, light and creamy. Beat the rum with the eggs and sieve the flour with the ginger. Gradually beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, adding a little of the flour to prevent curdling. Fold in the remaining flour, lightly but thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased microwave pudding basin. Cover with a lid of cling film ensuring that it domes in the middle and touches the side of the basin. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes, until spongey to the touch.
For the sauce: Put egg yolks, sugar and Kahlua into a large bowl and whisk briefly. Stand over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the sabayon is thick and light, and will leave a trail. Whisk in the cream. Unmould cooked pudding carefully. Cut into wedges and serve with the hot sauce.
Tip: Kahlua is a coffee flavoured liqueur. You can substitute Tia Maria, Drambuie or dark rum, if preferred.
Orange and almond dumplings
Preparation time: 35 minutes plus chilling time
Serves: 4 to 6
- 4 tbsp coarse cut marmalade
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 tbsp brandy
- juice of 1/2 an orange
Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the ground almonds and rub in the butter. Beat the golden syrup, milk and egg yolks together; add to the dry ingredients along with the orange rind and mix to a softish, firm dough.
Cut the marzipan into 20 small cubes. Break the dough into 20 even sized pieces and roll each one round a piece of marzipan, dampening edges of dough to seal. Place on a floured baking sheet and chill. Lower the shaped dumplings into a wide, large pan of simmering water, and poach gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Put all the sauce ingredients into a pan and heat through, adding a little water if the sauce is too thick.
Drain the dumplings carefully on absorbent paper and place on small, warm serving plates. Top with the sauce, dust with icing sugar, if liked, and serve immediately.
Apple and date salad
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Toss the sliced apple in lemon juice. Heat the butter gently in a large shallow pan. Add the apple and juice and stir over a gentle heat for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook gently until the apple just starts to soften. Add the dates and sherry and simmer gently for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
Spoon onto small individual plates and sprinkle with nuts. Top each portion with a scoop of ice cream and serve immediately.
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