As I’ve mentioned before, I do love a pumpkin. Few vegetables signify a season quite as well. And, yes, I know this may in part be to our ever-expanding americanization, but I don’t mind so much in this instance. I know that the Yankee abduction of our seasons and traditions over here in Europe is often no more than a marketing ploy, but I’ll happily buy into a pumpkin fad. And anyway, they are the ultimate frugal veg because you can get so much out of them- a bargain rather than a frivolous, unnecessary splurge. So take that, Hollywood.
Although I have to admit that for me, Autumn would remind me of the States, even if the shops weren’t trying to sell me Halloween (and, at some delis in Notting Hill, even Thanksgiving). I think partly this is because when I lived in New York I was so struck by the way the city unfolded in shades of terracotta, yellow and umber. But, mostly, having gone to American schools when I was young, the autumn holidays made quite an impression. I loved it. The dressing up, the crafting, the cooking, the excitement and, if I was very, very lucky, an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner from an American friend. I was so impressed by the ritual of it all and loved the strange, exotic foods- cranberries, sweet potatoes (occasionally studded with mini marshmallows!), the enormous-seeming turkey and, of course, pumpkin pie.
So every year, I buy a pumpkin and I cook with it. This year, I managed to get three decent recipes and meals from 1 medium sized pumpkin. Here are two with the final one to follow.
Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup
You will need:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, half diced finely and half sliced
1 lemongrass, central part only, finely chopped
1 large handful coriander, leaves and stems separated and roughly chopped.
1 thumb of ginger, grated1/2 pumpkin, peeled and cut into rough chunks
2 onions, chopped
1 litre chicken stock
200ml coconut cream
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Fry off the garlic, the finely diced chilli, lemongrass, coriander stems and ginger until fragrant and aromatic. Add the onions and fry until softened, then add the pumpkin and stir to coat in the onion and spice mixture. Add the chicken stock bring to the boil. Simmer until the pumpkin has completely softened, about 15 minutes.
2. Blend the soup with a stick blender until completely smooth. Add all but 2 tbsp of the coconut cream and heat through, simmering for a little longer if not quite thick enough. To serve, pour into bowls and stir through a little bit of the coconut cream. Top with the sliced chilli and coriander leaves.
This recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi’s book Plenty. It would make a delicious side dish to accompany some spicy grilled chicken, or as a meal of its own with some quinoa and leaves.
Pumpkin roasted with cardamom and tahini dressing
You will need:
3 cardamom pods
1/4 pumpkin, cut into wedges
2tbsp olive oil
For the tahini dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tahini
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 green chilli, sliced finely
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped.
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Bash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar until you have something you have a coarse powder. Place the pumpkin wedges on a baking sheet and add the oil, cardamom and season generously. Toss to completely coat, then bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft and golden.
2. To make the dressing, stir together the olive oil, tahini, lime zest, about 1 tbsp of lime juice and some salt and pepper. Taste to adjust the seasoning and lime juice. It should be about he same consistency as plain yoghurt so it seems very thick, lighten with a little water. Serve the pumpkin wedges arranged on a large plate, drizzled with the dressing and scattered with the coriander and sliced chilli. Serve with some additional lime, if desired.
Happy New Year!
Its been a busy festive period here at Always So Hungry with travels down to Devon for Christmas via a short stint in Somerset then back up to London and onto Scotland for a New Years Eve wedding and finally back down to London for my start at Leiths. Can I have a holiday now, please?
Having said that, I had a wonderful few weeks not least because I got to experience my first Hogmanay. Those Scots sure know how to put on a decent do.
As a little hat tip, I’d like to present a twist on their classic shortbread. This foolproof recipe has been adapted to add a little flavoursome zing. I’m not entirely sure what they’d make of it north of the border, but I thought it worked out rather well. Adjust the flavours to your liking.
Lemongrass and coconut shortbread
(adapted from Leiths Cookery Bible)
You will need:
110g unsalted butter, softened
55g caster sugar + a little extra
110 g plain flour
55 g ground rice/ rice flour
1 lemongrass stems, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp coconut essence (optional)
100 g dessicated coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, lemongrass, essence (if using) and 50 g of the coconut in a large bowl.
3. Sift the flours into the bowl and work into a smooth paste.
4. Use a 15cm flan ring onto a lined baking sheet to press half the shortbread paste into a neat circle. Repeat with the other half of the paste. Crimp the edges and mark into a 6-8 wedges. Prick with a fork. Chill until firm.
5. Sprinkle the shortbread with a little extra caster sugar and coconut and bake for about 20 minutes until it is a pale biscuit colour.
6. Run a palate knife underneath the shortbread to release. Cool for 5 minutes before breaking into wedges. Alternatively, you can use a glass or round biscuit cutter to make round shortbread. Prick with a fork and crimp the edges, before rolling the sides in a little of the coconut and baking.
This is thee first in what will probably be a long series of Leiths recipes. We begin (as in on this blog, I have no idea what we are starting with on the course!) with basic ice cream making techniques. This, as you may already know from my other posts, is something I’ve been keen to tackle anyway, especially since being given an ice cream maker for my birthday.
Under the guidance of Leiths Cookery Bible, I feel this batch was my most successful yet. Here’s what I have learnt:
1. Freezing dulls flavour. So you actually want your ice cream base to be sweeter, zestier, stronger than you may normally prefer. For coffee ice cream, I used some really strong instant espresso powder.
2. Chill, chill, chill everything. This was something that had already been emphasised to me by the lovely people at St George’s Gelato and echoed by the recipe instructions. Once you’ve made your custard or ice cream base, cool it right down in the fridge.
3. The bowl of your ice cream maker is really cold. Maybe even colder than your freezer- is that possible? So make sure it is clean before you put it in to freeze. Trying to wipe it out once it is frozen will only result in kitchen towel/jay cloth frozen stuck to your ice cream maker bowl. Not a good look or particularly tasty.
So here is that recipe:
Coffee Ice Cream
from Leiths Cookery Bible
You will need:
4 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
425ml single cream
5 tsp instant coffee powder (I used espresso powder for a slightly stronger coffee taste)
1. Combine the cream and coffee in a saucepan and heat gently until the coffee dissolves.
2. Into a medium sized bowl, mix together the egg yolks with the sugar and salt. Pour the coffee-cream mixture into the bowl, stirring throughout.
3. Put the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir continuously until the mixture is thick and custard-like.
4. Strain and allow to cool before chilling completely in the fridge, whisking occasionally.
5. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or pour into an ice tray and freeze, whisking when the ice cream is half-frozen.
The recipe produced a delicious, creamy ice cream, but quite a lot of it. I really feared it would end up languishing in our freezer forever if I didn’t actively do something with it. I came up with two tasty combos. A kind of Eton mess with blackcurrant (did you know that coffee and blackcurrant are bosom buddies? I didn’t. Thanks, flavour thesaurus) and cardamom, coconut and coffee ice cream sandwiches.
Coffee and Blackcurrant Meringue Sundae
You will need:
1 L coffee ice cream (home made as above or shop bought)
3 egg whites (leftover from the ice cream recipe)
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
Blackcurrant jam or compote
1. Start with the meringues. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Gently heat approx 100ml of the jam or compote with a little water until you have a runny sauce. Allow to cool.
2. Using a perfectly clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites and vinegar/lemon juice into frothy submission.
3. Add about 50g of the sugar and continue whisking until the egg whites are firm- you should be able to tip the bowl upside down. Add the remaining 100g of sugar and whisk to incorporate.
4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Spoon out 6 large, round meringues. Using a teaspoon, carefully lace the blackcurrant sauce through the meringues, creating swirly shapes as you go.
5. Place in the hot oven, turning the heat down to 100 degrees. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the meringues feel dry and easily lift off the tray.
6. Break into pieces and scatter on top of scoops of the ice cream. Pour over the remaining blackcurrant sauce.
Coffee, Coconut and Cardamom Ice Cream Sandwiches
You will need:
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
120g butter, softened
90 g caster sugar
90 g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
crushed seeds from 8 cardamom pods
1 large egg
150g dessicated coconut+ a bit more for decoration (if desired)
Coffee ice cream (home made or shop bought)
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Combine the flour, bicarb and salt in a small bowl.
3. Beat together the butter, sugars, vanilla, cardamom and 150g of coconut in a larger bowl, until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.
5. Drop the batter by generous, rounded tablespoonfuls onto a lined baking tray. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.
6. Bake until golden- about 8-9 minutes. Cool completely and resist the temptation to eat them all.
7. Fill two cookies with a scoop of ice cream, squashing and shaping with a kitchen knife to form smooth sandwiches. Roll the ice cream part of the sandwich in the remaining coconut. Serve immediately or return to the freezer. The sandwiches will keep quite happily for a few days in the freezer, but may need a little thawing time before serving.
The nights are drawing in now properly and the dark mornings seem increasingly difficult to face from the comfort of a duvet. I find that the only thing that is likely to drag me out of bed is the promise of a decent cup of tea and a good breakfast. With that in mind, I made this granola. Scattered over a dollop of greek yoghurt and some of my super quick plum compote (literally just some chopped plums and a few tablespoons of water, boiled rapidly for a few mins), it seems to do the trick when it feels like nothing can.
Honey-baked Coconut Granola
You will need:
30g coconut chips
45g rolled oats
30g oat bran or wheat germ
40g sunflower seeds
80g almond flakes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
120 ml honey
100g unsalted butter
80g golden raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment or foil.
2. Heat a large frying pan without any fat or oil and toast the coconut chips until slightly golden. Set to one side.
3. Combine the oats, oat bran or wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almond flakes and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. Melt together the honey and butter in a small pan over a low heat. Pour over the granola mix well.
5. Spread onto the tray and bake undisturbed for about 20-25 minutes, until golden.
6. Leave to cool before breaking the granola into pieces. Add the raisins and toasted coconut before storing in an airtight container. Will keep for about a week, if it lasts that long.
I do love the way pumpkins look- their knobbly shapes and autumnal colour, not to mention all the weird and wonderful
artistic reinterpretations you get this time of year. But if I’m honest, when it comes to flavour I’d rather have a butternut squash. The brutal truth is that the pumpkin is quite bland. It hardly tastes of anything at all. The biggest favour you could do it is to puree and reduce it down to its most concentrated and thus most flavoursome form before sticking it in a pie. But even then it needs a lot of spice to really shine.
Having said that, one pumpkin can go a really long way in terms of feeding the masses, so it gets bonus points on that front. And there are ways to use it that work really well, either with other ingredients to lift and bring out its sweetness or as a way to add moisture and texture. And don’t forget that the seeds are edible too and make for a great snack.
Here are some ideas to make your pumpkin go further. These three dishes all came from one medium sized pumpkin.
To enhance the flavour:
Roast pumpkin, lemon and sage risotto.
You will need:
To serve 4
300 g pumpkin, cut into wedges, skin on
sea salt, pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 lemons, zested and juiced
200g risotto rice- arborio or carnaroli
100 ml white wine or dry vermouth
1 L good quality chicken or vegetable stock
A bunch of sage leaves, torn
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Lay the pumpkin wedges on an oven proof tray and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Scatter with salt an pepper and bake until just tender, about 40 mins.
2. Chop the onion and mince the garlic. In a large, heavy-based pan, sweat the onions in some olive oil over a medium heat. Add the minced garlic, the zest of one lemon, a few torn sage leaves and the rice and mix well. Fry these for a minute or so, allowing the rice to absorb some of the fragrant oils in the pan.
3. Add the white wine and vermouth and allow to bubble away. Once reduced, begin adding the stock, about a fourth at a time.
4. Cook until the rice is just tender with a bit of bite to it and the liquid has been absorbed and you have a creamy consistency.
5. Add the chopped pumpkin and lemon juice/zest to taste as well as a good grating of Parmesan. Allow to come together for a minute or two. Serve in hearty bowls with a grating of cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and some more sage.
To add umph to a cake- This recipe is adapted from this one I found on the BBC Good Food website. I had some leftover coconut milk kicking about, so I used this for sweetness instead and reduced the amounts of honey and sugar. To add more coconut flavour, add some essence or replace 50g of the flour with 50g of dessicated coconut.
Pumpkin, Ginger and Coconut loaf
You will need:
50g cooled melted butter
75 g honey
1 large egg
150 ml coconut milk
1 tsp coconut essence (optional)
250g grated pumpkin
100g light muscovado sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp demerara or light muscovado sugar
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Butter and line a loaf tin.
2. Combine the flour, muscovado and ginger in a small bowl.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, honey, butter, coconut milk, essence and grated pumpkin.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.
5. Pour into your prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
6. Bake for an hour until golden and cooked through when tested with a cake tester. Allow to cool before slicing and spreading liberally with butter.
Waste not want not:
Smoky Pumpkin Seeds
When carving your pumpkin, it is generally assumed that you scoop out the fleshy innards, including the seeds and chuck them in the bin. Don’t. Save the seeds- pop them in a bowl and into the fridge until you have a spare 15 minutes and you’ve got the oven on.
You want it to be set to 200 degrees C and have a large oven tray to hand. Spread your seeds onto this and remove any stringy bits of pumpkin flesh. Sprinkle with lots of sea salt, more than you think you’ll need, pepper and some paprika. Drizzle with a good slug of oil- olive if you have it, but plain will do too. Roast in the oven, giving the seeds the occasional shuffle about, until golden and toasted. They’ll keep for about a week and make for an irresistible nibble.