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Saturday, 14 November 2020

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pumpkin Ice-cream

With Halloween done and dusted on Saturday, it seemed a little brutal to get stuck in to cutting up the pumpkin lanterns the next day but it was a Sunday, so there was time to do some processing and start making good use of the stuff whilst it was still fresh.

I started by turning a pound and a half of a lantern into pumpkin soup. Normally I would use 1lb of pumpkin and 1lb of butternut squash to make the soup but I didn't have any butternut squash so I used a pound and a half of pumpkin and 8 oz of potatoes to add the creamy texture usually provided by the butternut squash. With all the usual flavours added, it wasn't noticeable that I had changed the recipe.

Pumpkin & Potato Soup

1 lb 8 oz cubed pumpkin flesh
8 oz peeled and cubed potatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 fl oz vegetable stock
5 fl oz sieved tomatoes (or passata) or 2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Put some oil in the bottom of a large saucepan and gently saute the cubed vegetables for about 5 minutes then add  the garlic and fry for another minute. Pour in the stock and tomatoes and add the curry powder. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Blend until smooth, taste and season as necessary. Eat hot or cool and freeze in portions.

Whilst the soup was cooking, I put another lot of pumpkin chunks on to steam so by the time we had finished lunch, it was possible to use some to make pumpkin puree for the cheesecake and ice-cream ideas I had in mind. 

Pumpkin Ice-cream

450g fresh pumpkin
300ml whipping cream
120g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Peel and chop the pumpkin then steam until soft. Mash until a smooth puree is formed. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about a minute until well mixed. Pour into suitable containers and put in the freezer. Take out of the freezer after 2-3 hours and whip up with a fork to break up the ice crystals before returning to the freezer.

With the ice-cream in the freezer, I turned my attention to the cheesecake. I had made pumpkin cheesecake a few years back but it was a baked one and I think on the whole we prefer non-baked cheesecakes - they are certainly easier to make! The previous weekend I had made a totally delicious pear and gold chocolate cheesecake, served with pear and vanilla ice-cream and I really wanted to repeat the dessert this weekend but with the seasonal ingredients of pumpkin. So, stocked with luxury chocolate from The Chocolate Mill MK, I decided to pretty much follow last week's recipe but use ruby chocolate this time.

I was confident about the flavours but I really wasn't sure what colour the cheesecake would end up and I thought there was a possibility that the orange of the pumpkin puree, mixed with the pink of the ruby chocolate would make an unpleasant brown colour but in fact it turned into an attractive golden brown, just enough of a colour to hint at the pumpkin and spice flavours, and perfectly complimented by the gingerbread-like spiced ice-cream. Lovely!

For the base
150g digestive or ginger biscuits, crushed in a blender
75g butter, melted

For the topping
100g pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp mixed spice
200g ruby chocolate
30g butter
250g cream cheese
90ml whipping cream

For the biscuit base combine the crushed biscuits and the melted butter in a bowl then press into the greased base of a 20cm circular tin or dish. Place in the refrigerator for at least half an hour to solidify.

Next, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool. In another bowl, mix together the cream and cheese and beat until smooth. Once the chocolate mix is suitably cool add it to the cream mix and stir thoroughly. Add the pumpkin puree and mixed spice and stir in. Spoon the mixture onto the biscuit base. Return to the refrigerator to chill for a few hours or over night.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Halloween lanterns and Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

It felt as if Halloween should have been an anticlimax this year, what with rumblings about whether kids should go Trick or Treating or not. But as my girls have never had the desire to go Trick or Treating, they weren't going to miss that. Our only involvement normally is putting out pumpkins and having a bucket of sweets available for anyone who comes knocking, whilst suitably dressed up ourselves.

So on Saturday morning my youngest dressed in her Halloween themed dress, put on her bat wings and decorated the kitchen in Halloween decorations. Then we stuck on a Halloween playlist and gathered together our homegrown pumpkins to decide which ones to carve. Having selected three that looked suitable, we got stuck in, quite literally.

As usual, we saved the seeds and put those out for the squirrels. These little cuties had been tapping on the window all morning asking for treats so they would have to do for Trick or Treaters this year. 

Once carved, we put the pumpkins out in the back garden so that we could enjoy them without giving the wrong impression that we were open for Tricker or Treaters.

We also saved the bits of pumpkin cut out from the eyes etc. and I put that in the steamer so that I could turn it into pumpkin puree for use in recipes after that. As it happened, it was time to get dinner on by this point so I didn't make it into anything straight away.

We are the support bubble for my step-daughter, who lives with her cat just around the corner. She popped over in the afternoon to do some Halloween crafts with my youngest and I invited her to stay for dinner. We were having massive homegrown baked potatoes for dinner so it was easy enough to whip her up some vegan coleslaw and some baked beans to top her potato. She likes to add a few extra flavours to her beans so I fried up some homegrown courgette, mushrooms, shallots and garlic and she added soy sauce and curry powder to her taste.

After dinner, and once Strictly had finished, I asked if she fancied cooking some pancakes. They would, of course, have pumpkin in them (and be vegan). She's always up for dessert so I tinkered with a recipe and made vegan pumpkin pancakes, using some of the pumpkin I had steamed earlier, and she cut them into Halloween shapes before adding maple syrup. 

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes

55g wholemeal flour
115g plain flour
½ tsp salt
25g caster sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
3 tsp baking powder
300ml soya milk
3 tbsp sunflower oil
130g pumpkin puree

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Combine the wet ingredients together in a measuring jug.
Gradually pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring to form a batter. Heat some oil in a large pan then pour two coaster-sized areas of batter into the pan at a time. Fry 2 minutes then flip and fry 2 more minutes. Keep warm in an oven until ready to serve then serve hot. 

If you wish to make these non-vegan, halve the amount of baking powder, add an egg and use milk.

Anyway, my youngest went to bed, tired and feeling as if she had partied all day one way or another so definitely no feeling that Halloween had been cancelled in our house this year.