Winter warmers

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Guests coming over for dinner, or simple want to go the extra mile for a home-cooked meal? Look no further than these winter warmers.

Spicy chestnut, pumpkin & pancetta soup

Prep: 20 mins + chestnut prep time | Cook: 40 mins | Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
100g sliced pancetta, chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 long red chillies, deseeded and chopped
700g fresh chestnuts or 500g cooked and peeled chestnuts
750g peeled and chopped butternut pumpkin
5 cups chicken stock
Reduced fat sour cream
extra sliced long red chilli, to serve

To roast chestnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  2. Cut a shallow cross into the flat side of each chestnut shell. Place prepared chestnuts onto a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shells split open.
  3. Once cooked, remove chestnuts from the heat and wrap in a clean tea towel for 5 minutes.
  4. While chestnuts are still warm, quickly peel off the outer brown shell and remove the papery thin skin underneath.

To make the soup

  1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until crispy. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in the pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic and chillies and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add chestnuts and pumpkin and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in stock and three-quarters of the pancetta. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until pumpkin and chestnuts are tender.
  3. Puree soup with a stick blender until smooth. Season to taste. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat.
  4. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of sour cream, the remaining pancetta and extra sliced red chilli and serve.

Recipe courtesy Australian Chestnut Growers [chestnutsaustralia.com.au]


Easy cheesy potato bake

Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 50 mins | Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 large brown onions, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1.5kg medium red skin potatoes, quartered, skin on
  • 50g butter
  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1¼ cups full cream milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Method

  1. Place the onions in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with damp paper towel. Microwave for 3 minutes on High/100% power. Transfer to a frying pan with olive oil. Add the sugar. Cook, stirring over medium heat for 10 minutes until caramelized.
  2. Arrange the potatoes on a large microwave-safe plate in a single layer. Cover with damp paper towel, microwave for 10 minutes on High/100% power or until potatoes are just tender when tested with a skewer.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute until bubbling. Combine milk and stock in a jug, gradually add to butter/flour, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil. Whisk in mustard, season. This is your sauce.
  4. Preheat oven to 200°C. Transfer potatoes to a lightly greased 10-cup capacity ovenproof dish. Spoon the onions over the potatoes. Pour over the hot sauce. Season well.
  5. Press a sheet baking paper onto the surface then cover tightly with foil. Place onto a tray and bake 20 minutes or until potatoes are completely tender when tested with a skewer.
  6. Increase oven to 220°C. Remove the paper and foil, scatter over the cheese. Bake a further 5-8 minutes or until cheese is golden and edges bubbling. Sprinkle with thyme. Serve

Recipe courtesy Australian Onions [australianonions.com.au]

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