Quick and easy pumpkin soup

Quick and easy pumpkin soup
This is a really quick and easy pumpkin soup to prepare in the pressure cooker. The best pumpkin to use is butternut squash as that way you don't need
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Ingredients
  1. 1 butternut squash
  2. 1 potato
  3. 1 litre vegetable stock
  4. 2 spoons of Greek yoghurt
  5. salt
  6. pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook all the ingredients in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes.
  2. Put the pressure cooker under a cold tap and quick release the pressure.
  3. Blend.
  4. Season.
Notes
  1. It s not necessary to peel the butternut squash.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Onion and potato soup

Onion and potato soup
Serves 6
Until our own onions are ready, we need to buy them in and the other day I bought a sack of massive Spanish onions. Normally, I would use four large onions but with these ones, three were enough.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 extra large onions or 4 large onions, halved, quartered and then sliced
  2. 2 large potatoes, quartered
  3. 1 litre vegetable stock
  4. 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  5. 2 dessertspoons Greek yoghurt
  6. salt and plenty of pepper
  7. extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat some oil in a pressure cooker and vigorously fry the onions for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes, stock and salt. Put the lid on and bring up to pressure.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes and then quick release the pressure by placing the pressure cooker under the cold tap.
  4. Transfer the potato into a 1-litre measuring jug with some of the onions and stock.
  5. Blend with a stick blender.
  6. Stir in the Greek Yoghurt.
  7. Season with pepper.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Hummus

Hummus
Serves 4
This is an adaptation of a recipe for hummus by Felicity Cloake from her series "How to make perfect ..." I found it tastes delicious without the bicarbonate of soda and just put all the ingredients in the blender. The word "Hummus" originates from the Arabic for chickpeas. Traditionally an Eastern Mediterranean dip, there are as many recipes for this dip as there are ways of spelling it. It can be served with pitta bread, flatbreads or crudité or as an accompaniment to a meal.
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Ingredients
  1. 200g dried chickpeas
  2. 6 tablespoons tahini
  3. Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
  4. 3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  5. Pinch of cumin
  6. Salt, to taste
  7. Olive oil, to top
  8. Paprika
Instructions
  1. Soak the chickpeas in water for 24 hours.
  2. Don't rinse the chickpeas but cook them in their soaking water in a pressure cooker 30 minutes.
  3. Quick release the pressure and remove the lid. Leave to cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Transfer the chickpeas with a draining spoon to the blender bowl, reserving the cooking liquid.
  5. Add all the other ingredients and blend well. Add some of the cooking liquid and blend to form a smooth paste.
  6. Taste for salt, garlic and lemon juice, adding more as and if necessary.
  7. Sprinkle top with sweet paprika and drizzle over some olive oil.
Cortijo de la Plata https://cortijoblog.com/

Using a pressure cooker to hard boil young hen eggs

HARD BOILING YOUNG HEN EGGS

Hard-boiled fresh eggs can be hard to peel but eggs laid by young hens are almost impossible. This year I had to replace my entire flock. It was especially frustrating to discover that even when the fresh, young hen eggs were left for 7 rather than the normal 3 days before hard-boiling, they were still impossible to peel.

An egg has an inner and outer shell membrane. Since the egg shell is permeable, as the egg ages, carbon dioxide and moisture are lost through the shell. This causes the two membranes to separate and the air sac to expand. As a result, the older the egg is, the easier it is to peel. 

My normal method of hard boiling eggs was to place them in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. The cooking time depends on egg size. I wanted a quick method that would ensure that relatively fresh eggs could be hard boiled and easily peeled. My Internet search lead me to the prairie homestead page. Although they were not talking about the problems of hard-boiling young hen eggs, they did mention the idea of using a pressure cooker. I am a huge fan of pressure cookers and believe that no kitchen should be without one. I have a number of different sized cookers and use them all the time to make soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes in a fraction of the time. They can even be used to can tomatoes and other vegetables.

 

For the experiment, I chose four eggs that had been laid on consecutive days. The egg on the right labelled 1 day old was laid on the same day, the 2-day old one the day before, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put 1 cup (250ml) of water in a pressure cooker and bring it to the boil.

Place the eggs on a steamer and lower it into the pan.

Close the pressure cooker lid and bring it up to full power. Turn down the heat and leave it for 5 minutes.

At the end of the cooking time, if your pressure cooker has a quick release mechanism, quickly release the pressure by placing the pan under the running cold tap. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water, running and change the water until the eggs are completely cool.

RESULTS:

I then peeled the eggs and these are shown in the photo below. The results are conclusive and show how the eggs are easy to peel, and even the freshest egg could be peeled with care.

 

How to cork a wine bottle using a hand corker.

This is my first ever instructional video explaining  How to cork a wine bottle.

bottle corker

The bottle corker

Why do we bottle  wine

Putting wine into a  bottle with a cork is an excellent way of keeping the wine until you want to drink it. When wine is stored it should only have a very small amount of oxygen available. Uncorking  a bottle of wine is a pleasant ritual which many prefer to using a screwtop bottle. The corks seen in the video are number 9 corks and are they are the most common. They should last 10 years with no problem.

When to bottle wine
The simple anwser is when no more gasses will be created which could cause the bottle to explode. Wine made from Grapes is picked in the Autumn. The initial very vigourous primary fermentation when most of the sugar is converted into alcohol, lasts about 10 days. The fertmentation then slows down and then many people say that the wine should be kept in a cool place for the  first winter.  The cold temperature seems to help the wine clear. The wine is just about drinkable by March of the following year and by May it should taste good. However, wine is not generally bottled until at least one year after it was first  picked because  sometimes  more subtle types of fermentation can occur such as maleoactic fermentation. This could create carbon dioxide which may cause the bottle to explode. Other types of wine such as champagne and fizzy wine can be bottled when fermentation is still active but they need high pressure bottles and a special cork. It is possible to stop a wine fermenting when it is still sweet by adding Potassium Sorbate which stop the yeast reproducing. However we never put chemicals of any kind into our wine.

 
Cork crusher

Where the cork is crushed.

The video below explains how we put cork into the bottles. For a very small producer like ourselves, a small floor mounted hand corker is enough for our needs. In reality we store a lot of our wine in recycled 5 litre plastic containers. However, a bottle of wine with a cork and a label is a pleasant object so we always bottle some to give away as gifts and to add a sense of occasion when sitting around the table etc. By the way the sphincter like crusher in the centre is called an iris. It dilates and reatracts a bit like the iris in an eye.