I’m thrilled to be starting a new column on the PHS – Kate's Kitchen. Thanks very much to the PHS editors for indulging my foodie side!
Foodwise, January’s an odd month. It’s just after the holiday season, which tends to come with too much rich (not to mention time-consuming to prepare) food, so you need something simple and quick to balance you out again. Early January is the time of year when everyone’s still sticking to a new year resolution to eat more healthily/lose weight. And in the northern hemisphere it’s usually cold and damp or icy, meaning that comfort food is the order of the day (which would probably scupper any good intentions on the diet front!).
How do you get something that fits all three?
For me, it’s soup. This one is warming, comforting and yet light (and I love the scent of fresh ginger).
The colour is just glorious on a dull January day.
Carrot, Ginger and Sweet Potato Soup
500g carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 sweet potato (about 200g), peeled and diced
25g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
750ml water or vegetable stock
Place everything in a pan, bring to the boil, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.
Cool, then put through a blender.
Heat through to serve (though, in the southern hemisphere, it’d work nicely as a chilled soup).
If you’re not a fan of ginger, replace the ginger with the grated rind of an orange or lemon at the start, and add the juice of the citrus fruit to the blended soup just before serving.
Now, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add a little naughtiness. What better to serve with soup than warm home-made bread? (This lasts about 5 seconds in my house.)
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
320ml warm water
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the yeast, sugar and salt.
Add the water gradually and mix until you get a soft dough.
Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes, and leave in a warm place to rise in the bowl for about an hour.
Knead again, place into a 2-lb loaf tin, and leave to rise for another half an hour.
Bake at 230 degrees C for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the base.
In the UK, you can get a copy of The Doctor’s Royal Love Child (from the first Penhally series) as part of a four-in-one book, ‘Secrets in the Village’; in the US, you can still get a copy of her ice cream book, ‘A Moment on the Lips’, from the eHarlequin website.You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com/) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/)