November 5th is an important date in the English calendar, namely Guy Fawkes Night.
Guy Fawkes was one of a group of plotters who were caught trying to blow up parliament on November 5th 1605. Celebrations that the plot had been foiled included the lighting of bonfires around London and thus was born a tradition that endures to this day.
When I was young you still occasionally encountered kids making crude effigies of Guy Fawkes and wheeling them around begging for “pennies for the guy” with which to buy fireworks, but that tradition is fairly rare these days.
Modern day events around November 5th revolve around fireworks and food. Many towns hold large organized firework displays but it is also a good excuse for a back yard party with suitably warm, comforting seasonal food. Bowls of spicy chili, hearty soups, sausages, baked potatoes and toffee apples are all firm favourites.
Food on a stick is always fun at an al fresco gathering but rather than a full size apple coated in caramel I cut bite sized pieces of apple with a melon baller and dipped them in dark chocolate before sprinkling them with homemade toffee pieces.
The soup combined creamy cannellini beans with the classic English blue cheese of Stilton. Simple to make with just a few ingredients it is a warming and comforting soup to drink from a mug on a cold evening.
Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Apple Bites
8oz Dark chocolate
Toffee pieces: you can buy them or make them yourself. I used this simple recipe, adding a generous pinch of flaky sea salt: http://www.zestuous.com/2012/01/homemade-toffee-bits/
Using a melon baller cut balls from the apple and place on a skewer or stick.
White Bean and Stilton Soup
1 tbs butter
0.5 cup of diced onion
2 cups Vegetable stock
14oz can of cannellini beans
4oz Stilton cheese, crumbled or coarsely chopped
Pour in the vegetable stock and add the drained beans. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn down to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the crumbled Stilton to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Season to taste with freshly ground pepper.
Blend to a creamy and smooth consistency in a blender or food processor, or using a stick blender. Double check the seasoning before enjoying.