Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut, Ginger and Chilli

 Another pumpkin recipe- I hadn't realised just how versatile pumpkins are until recently. From one fairly large Crown Prince pumpkin I have made enough soup to generously serve 10 people, using the rest of the flesh in a cake, and I am planning to roast and salt the pumpkin seeds! I have used the Crown Prince variety here as I have heard they have more flavour than the standard Jack-O-Lantern ones (the orange ones which are usually used for carving at Halloween).

Serves 4


-500g pumpkin flesh (seeds and skin removed- this is roughly 1/2 a small pumpkin or 1/4 of a large one)
-1 tin coconut milk
-1 red chilli (or as much as you can handle), finely chopped
-3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
-1 onion, peeled and finely diced
-1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
-1 tsp tomato purée
-1 tsp marmite
-1 tsp stock granules (I used Marigold)/ 1/2 good quality stock cube
-1 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
-1 lime leaf
-Sunflower oil for roasting/ frying
-Seasoning to taste

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Chop the pumpkin into 3cm chunks and arrange on a roasting tray. Drizzle with sunflower oil and toss to coat. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft.
2. In a large saucepan gently fry the onion in some sunflower oil over a low heat until soft- do not let it brown. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilli and fry for 1 - 2 minutes more. 
3. Take a large measuring jug and fill with 1 litre of hot water. Add to it the following: tomato purée, Marmite, soy sauce, stock, and toasted sesame oil- stir to dissolve. 
4. Transfer the roasted pumpkin to the saucepan and add the tin of coconut milk, the stock, and the lime leaf. Simmer for 15 minutes then remove the lime leaf and purée using a stick blender or food processor (adding more liquid to get the desired thickness). Season to taste- you can also add more chilli/ soy sauce etc. if desired. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls- Fresh From The Oven October challenge

This month I am taking part in the Fresh From the Oven challenge for the first time. This is a monthly baking challenge for food bloggers, and i'm looking forward to taking part - I think it will be a good way for me to try things I wouldn't usually make. 

This month the challenge is Cinnamon Rolls and it's being hosted by Things We Make. I was very happy with this as a first challenge, as I had been wanting to make something like these for a while. They make a tasty breakfast treat, or are also nice with coffee in the afternoon, or both :-)

The recipe is below. I changed the filling slightly by adding chopped hazelnuts and flaked almonds.

  • 400g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 2 Sachets of instant yeast (14/15g)
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 250ml Lukewarm Milk
  • 50g Melted Butter
  • 1Tbsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 150g Very Soft Butter
  • 50g Brown Sugar - muscovado or demerara
  • 1Tsp Cinnamon
  • A Handful of Sultanas (optional)
  • (I also added 1 tbsp each of chopped roasted hazelnuts and flaked almonds)
Icing (optional*)
  • 2 Cups of Icing Sugar
  • 1 Tblsp Melted Butter
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Water to Mix
  • In a jug mix the yeast, warm milk and tablespoon of sugar.
  • Leave to froth for 10 minutes if you have time then add the melted butter and egg yolks.
  • Mix this into the flours, with the salt.
  • Knead for 5-10 minutes on a floured surface or in your food mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes.
  • Put in a large bowl with a plate on top and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours)
  • Knock down and flatten out until it's about the size of a large baking tray.
  • Slather with the very soft 100g ofbutter.
  • Sprinkle with the mix of brown sugar and cinnamon, and the sultanas.
  • Roll up so you have a long swiss roll type thing.
  • Slice into 2" slices and place in a deep cake tin
  • I used a 26cm Kaiser tin, with a bit of butter rubbed into it.
  • Allow to rise for another 1/2 hour. Tuck in any sultanas so they don't burn.
  • Bake at 200c for 10 minutes
  • Cover loosely with foil and bake for another 15 minutes or so.
  • At this point I brush it with a little melted butter and put it back in if not quite cooked through but it's probably not necessary. I am a born fiddler.
  • Tip out straight away - using a plate to tip it onto then back onto a 2nd plate.
  • Top with the warm buttery icing and leave to long as you can bear it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn Salad with Roasted Pumpkin and a Warm Dressing

 Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter


-1/2 a small pumpkin, peeled and seeds removed
-Small bag of salad leaves
-1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
-Shavings of parmesan style cheese (optional)
-Sunflower oil, salt and pepper for roasting

-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-4 tbsp sunflower oil
-1tsp honey
-1 tsp chopped roasted hazelnuts

 1. Preheat oven to 200C. Cut the pumpkin into 2cm slices, drizzle over some sunflower oil and some seasoning. Roast until soft (about 30 mins).
2. Meanwhile make the dressing. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and warm over a very low heat. Leave for 5 - 10 minutes until reduced- do not let it boil. Stir in the honey, oil, and hazelnuts and season to taste. 
3. When the pumpkin slices are soft remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Assemble the salad by mixing the red onion and salad leaves together and piling them onto a large plate. Carefully place the pumpkin slices around the leaves and scatter over the cheese shavings (if using). Drizzle over the dressing and serve. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spaghetti with Balsamic Mushrooms, Walnuts, and Dolcelatte

This is a really quick pasta dish to throw together, and you can vary the vegetables according to what you have in. A perfect midweek meal!

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch.

Serves 2


-200g spaghetti
-200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
-75g dolcelatte, cubed
-Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
-1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (fruity flavoured ones work particularly well, I used aged apple balsamic)
-1 small red chilli, chopped (optional)
-2 tbsp olive oil

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water, until al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, fry the sliced mushrooms in the olive oil with the chilli (if using). Add the balsamic vinegar and walnuts and simmer until the vinegar has mostly evaporated. 
3. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Add the dolcelatte and stir through. Season well to taste, and serve immediately. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

'Going Wild' Bread workshop at Plumpton Mill

Some of you may know that tragically my sourdough culture died over the summer, at only 6 months old. It suffered two weeks of neglect and starvation whilst I was away on holiday (having hired someone to feed the cat, but having totally forgotten about the needs of my sourdough culture). Resuscitation failed and I have been without sourdough ever since. So I was really looking forward to the workshop I booked at Plumpton Mill near Lewes (Sussex). I didn't know much about the place, but I did know we were going to learn about making sourdough.

During the 5 hour course we learned to make a loaf of sourdough, flat-breads, and some chocolate/cinnamon pastries. The course is run by Robin van Creveld, founder of Community Chef ( I picked up many useful tips for keeping a sourdough culture (or 'mother' as it is also called) alive and how to achieve great baking results. We were also given a cup of Robin's own starter to take home, so I am happy to say I now have a new 'mother'! 

My new 'mother'!

Whilst the bread was rising we were given a tour of the mill. As a food geek I found this absolutely fascinating. The mill itself dates back to 1575 and ran up until WW1, after which it fell into neglect. Paul and Carol Nicholson bought the mill 12 years ago and have lovingly restored it to it's former glory. It is now a fully working water mill and they produce flour from locally grown grains. We were lucky enough to see it working. I was amazed at the engineering involved, and how sustainable it is to produce flour in this way.

The mill in action

At the end we were treated to a delicious vegetarian lunch. The mill and house are beautiful and it was the perfect setting for this course. I am off to make some sourdough now.