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Friday, 30 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 30 - Spiced Pumpkin Steamed Pudding

It was Christmas 2016 when I got my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and it was during 2017 that I enthusiastically experimented with making Christmas puddings in it. Where once Christmas pudding was a task that took hours of boiling in a steamy kitchen, suddenly it was an hour long task from start to finish and most of that didn't involve any kind of supervision from me.

Having well and truly cracked the Christmas pudding (early in September), I went on to experiment with other kinds of steamed pudding... syrup, jam... etc. And then, of course, we were into pumpkin season once again and I began to wonder if we could make a pumpkin-themed steamed pudding. The Halloween lanterns were freshly carved and we were due to have my parents over for dinner and fireworks the weekend closest to 5th November.

So, it was no surprise that, after the obligatory oohing and ahhing at the fireworks, we returned to the warmth of the house to enjoy a dinner of homemade hot dogs followed by Spiced Pumpkin Steamed Pudding.

My dad has always loved pudding and particularly anything that can be liberally coated with custard. It was, therefore, pleasing to see him tucking in to his dessert. In fact, it was very pleasing because he was terribly ill and his appetite was not what it used to be.

Later we helped this frail old man (how had he become that?) back to the car and my mum thanked us for a lovely evening (a moment of respite from his care), before driving him home.

It was a month later that he died. I haven't been able to bring myself to make the steamed puddings again since then. I'm sure I will do some day, though, as they are delicious and I have transcribed the recipe into my family recipe book. The recipes in a family recipe book have the magical ability to take us back to particular times and places... and people... and this one is no exception.

Spiced Pumpkin Steamed Pudding (makes 4)

225g dates, chopped
115g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
1½ tsp mixed spice, pinch of salt
1 egg
125g pumpkin puree
115g dark brown sugar
60g vegetable oil
2 tsp orange marmalade
A few drops of vanilla extract

Grease 4 mini (1/4 pint) pudding basins. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry and the chopped dates and mix into a batter. Spoon into the pudding basins and cover each one with parchment paper and foil. Boil basins for 45 minutes in a pan of water or steam in an Instant Pot on vent for 10 minutes then set to manual on low pressure for 35 minutes, followed by quick pressure release. Serve with custard.

(Sorry, no photo. It was an evening for taking photos of the family not the food and I haven't had the opportunity to photograph it since.)

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 28 - Pumpkin Marmalade

Pumpkin Marmalade was the first marmalade that I ever made and for some years it was, in fact, the only marmalade I made. When you make preserves from the fruit and vegetables that you grow, making marmalade can be difficult because I don't grow citrus fruit. However, I figured it would be OK if the marmalade, in addition to the citrus fruit, had some homegrown ingredient in it. It was a glut of pumpkins that led me down the route of making marmalade with added pumpkin.

Pumpkin, as I have said in some of my previous pumpkin related posts, doesn't have a particularly strong flavour of its own but it does nicely take on the flavours of things it is put with. It also mushes down to have a nice smooth texture and it adds bulk. So Pumpkin Marmalade taste mostly of oranges but it has a nice thick texture without being overly set and one batch makes plenty. The only thing I would say as a disadvantage to putting pumpkin into marmalade is the reaction of some people. Although many are intrigued or positively enthusiastic about pumpkin in marmalade, other are put-off by it. As such, I find the name "All Hallows Marmalade" is better as a marketing tactic.

Pumpkin Marmalade (makes 4-5 jars)

1500g pumpkin
900ml water
680g oranges
680g lemons
85g root ginger
1350g granulated sugar

Peel and remove the seeds and fibre from the pumpkin and dice. Thinly slice the oranges and lemons to give the size of bits that you want in your finished marmalade. Peel and grate the root ginger. Place the pumpkin, citrus fruit and ginger in the preserving pan with the water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the citrus peel is soft. Add the sugar and stir thoroughly until completely dissolved. Return to the boil then simmer until the marmalade has reduced to a thick liquid. Ladle into warmed jars and seal immediately.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Day 27 Pumpkin Challenge - Lime Chutney

Lime Chutney was one of the first ways that I discovered for preserving a glut of pumpkins. It is a really useful recipe because it actually uses quite a fair bit of pumpkin all in one go and, if properly sealed into jars, the resulting chutney has a shelf-life of about two years so you don't have to eat it all in a hurry.

This chutney goes very well with Indian cuisine and over the years I have had it tasted by authentic Indian chefs and have received nods of approval, so if you like a dollop of chutney with your Indian meal, you can't go wrong with this recipe.

Lime Chutney (makes 3 jars)

680g pumpkin
500 ml white wine vinegar 
4 limes
1 small onion
2 teaspoons peppercorns, 7 cardamom pods, seeds extracted
1 teaspoon turmeric, A dash of olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon crushed chillies
4 crushed garlic cloves, 2.5cm grated root ginger
85g sultanas
225g light brown sugar

Peel and dice the pumpkin then cook in the vinegar for about 30 minutes until soft. Remove the skin from two of the limes but leave it on the other two. Finely chop the limes and onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the spices until they start to pop. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 1 minute. Put the lime mix in the pan with the pumpkin, add the sultanas and spices and stir in the sugar. Simmer to reduce until thick then ladle into warmed jars and seal immediately. Leave to mature for 4-6 weeks.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 26 - Pumpkin Manju

When I mentioned that I had set myself the challenge of a pumpkin recipe a day for every day in November, my step-daughter suggested that I include a recipe for pumpkin manju. I had no idea what that was but a little research told me that they are a kind of Japanese sweet.

Japanese sweets are quite unlike any sweets we get in the UK. I first discovered this back in 2013 when my step-daughter took me to the Japanese sweet shop just off Piccadilly Circus. We bought an interesting selection of things from that shop and each of them were almost a cross between an elaborate jelly sweet and a beautiful French patisserie. However, the jelly effect is achieved either with beans or rice so they are suitable for vegans and people who wouldn't eat gelatin.

My step-daughter usually brings us back a box of mochi from her holidays in Japan and these again are unlike anything we would consider a sweet in the UK. With an unusual gooey, springy texture, they are often flavoured with peach or green tea and dusted with cornflour so are not unlike Turkish Delight in mouth-feel. Having decided to have a go at making them last year, I discovered that the filling is made from sweetened azuki bean paste and the outside is made from a glutinous rice flour. They were, indeed, unlike anything I had ever made before and very tricky! Anyway, my step-daughter declared them authentic and ate most of what I had made.

So, now my challenge was to make manju - another type of sweet - but this time I had no experience of even eating them. It is really quite difficult to make something when you don't really know what it is you are trying to make - as I'm sure the average Great British Bake Off contestant would tell you after the baking challenge.

Anyway, a search on google came up with a recipe at the very top that looked tasty and achievable and I had all the ingredients to hand, including some of my very own homegrown sweet potato.

So off I went and created my first batch of pumpkin manju. They didn't look quite as pretty as the ones in the photo online but my family descended upon them and ate all by two of them in the first sitting. They were like a soft biscuit with a sweet filling. Needless to say, the next day the biscuit bit had gone soggy so it was just as well we ate most of them fresh. Having said that, I will definitely be making them again as they were very nice and I liked the idea of them containing both pumpkin and sweet potato.

Later, I sent a photo of my pumpkin manju to my step-daughter to ask her if she thought they looked anything like the real deal. Quickly her reply came back, asking if I had baked them. Yes, I had, I told her, as per the recipe. Oh no, she replied, manju are never baked, they are steamed. I sent her the link to show I wasn't going crazy and she said that it really wasn't an authentic manju recipe so she sent me an alternative link.

This weekend I tried again to make pumpkin manju. I don't know what it is with the Japanese culture but they all seem to be so good at beautiful and precise craft so I found making manju a bit of a struggle. It is very easy to overfill the dough and then the filling tends to burst out unattractively. Of the 10 that I made, I had two that looked about right. I steamed them as I would a bao bun and the resultant texture was about the same as a bao bun - like a dumpling.

I confess the family did not fall upon this box of delights in the same way as the first attempt. Instead they eyed them suspiciously and prodded them with a finger, raising a questioning eyebrow. However, they all bravely gave them a try and declared them: "Not bad actually."

A photo emailed to my step-daughter was met with approval too so I feel as if this was a success (if not also something of a learning experience). They are, as you might expect, a small dumpling with a sweet cinnamon flavoured filling and actually rather nice.

Pumpkin Manju (makes 10)

225g pumpkin puree
100g sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cornflour

150g oo grade flour
70g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix together the filling ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to the boil to allow the cornflour to thicken the mixture. Cool to room temperature then chill.

Mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder then add just enough water to bring it together as a dough. Knead for a couple of minutes until smooth. Divide into 10 equal size pieces and flatten each piece with wetted fingers on a non-stick surface such as a silicone mat.

Put a teaspoon on mixture into the centre of each disc of dough then use wetted fingers to draw it up over the filling to enclose it. Place each ball, seal side down, on a piece of parchment paper in a steamer. Steam for 10 minutes then remove from the steamer to cool.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Day 25 Pumpkin Challenge - Sticky Toffee Pudding

Because my step-daughter is vegan, I have to make vegan meals every now and then when she comes over for dinner. As we always have a variety of home baked goods on offer for dessert, it seems only appropriate to have a vegan dessert to hand too on these occasions.

It was a few years ago when I first made her a sticky toffee pudding. As well as being suitable for vegans, it ticks a few boxes on the "healthy" dessert list too and it tastes so great that I make it on occasions even when she isn't coming for dinner just because we like it so much.

Originally, I used my Pear and Vanilla Jam in the recipe. 55g of that went into the cake and the other half of the jar was used as a glaze. This worked well but I don't always have this flavour of jam available. I discovered that 55g of pumpkin puree in the cake and a glaze of date syrup worked even better than the jam version so this is the version I make at this time of year when I have pumpkin puree to hand.

Whether you a vegan or not, this is a cake well worth making - it feels so indulgent even though it isn't.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (Vegan)

250g dates
2 tbsp ground linseed
300ml soya milk
200ml vegetable oil
175g dark muscovado sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
55g pumpkin puree
Date syrup or jam to glaze

Put the dates, linseed and milk in a saucepan and simmer for 2-3 minutes until soft. Put in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add oil and blend again. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line
a 20 x 30 cm baking tin. Put dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well, breaking up the sugar. Add the date mixture and pumpkin puree and stir well. Pour into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove
from oven  then glaze with warmed syrup or jam. Serve hot or cold with dairy-free custard or oat creme fraiche.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 24 - Pumpkin Swiss Roll

I always think Swiss Rolls look as if they are complicated to make. However, they are fairly straight forward as long as you have the correct sort of baking tray and enough time and patience to wait for things to cool. 

The biggest headache with Swiss Rolls is the cake cracking when it is rolled up. The way to avoid this is to roll it up whilst it is still warm and to leave it rolled up until it is very nearly at room temperature. I genuinely believe that the addition of the pumpkin puree to the cake makes for a more pliable cake that is less inclined to split when rolled.

You could, of course, fill the middle of the roll with butter icing but I think the cream cheese icing has a better, less sickly flavour. It does, however, have a tendency to go a bit slack when first mixed so it is best to mix it whilst cooking the cake and chilling it in the fridge until the cake is cooled.

I have plenty of different flavours of jam to hand but I think plum jam is best to use for this one. I guess apricot would work well too but I don't have that as I don't have an apricot tree. Anyway, it needs to be a plain-ish jam that doesn't smack you round the lips like blackcurrant or raspberry would. Because there is spice in the cake, I would avoid a spiced jam too, so a plain plum rather than, say, plum and cinnamon, works well.

Pumpkin Swiss Roll

60g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 
180g pumpkin puree

100g cream cheese 
100g icing sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
100g plum jam

Grease and line a Swiss roll tin - that's just a baking tray with rim all the way round. Preheat oven to 190°C, gas 5. Cream together the butter and sugar then stir in the eggs. Sift in the flour, spice and bicarbonate of soda then add the pumpkin puree and stir well. Pour this mix into the lined tin and level out. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and carefully maneuver the cake on its paper backing onto a clean tea towel then use the tea towel to roll it up into the Swiss roll shape. Leave it like this to cool completely. Mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract. Once cooled, unroll the cake again and spread the cream cheese icing and the jam over it. Remove the baking paper as you roll it up again then sprinkle with caster sugar.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Day 23 Pumpkin Challenge - Mock Mango Chutney

There are certain chutneys that I get asked for over and over again. These include onion chutney, piccalilli and mango chutney.

Of these, I have been making piccalilli for the longest as in the height of summer I just happen to have to hand the obvious ingredients to make repeated batches of piccalilli.

Despite onion chutney being the most popular chutney that I make, I did for years shy away from making repeated batches of it because, 1) it required peeling and chopping kilograms of onions, which isn't the most pleasant of tasks, and 2) it also required standing at the hob, stirring frying onions for 20 minutes or more. However, when I discovered an equally as delightful result could be obtained by roasting the onions instead of frying them, I found myself more inclined to make it and it became a regular item of stock.

Mango chutney is clearly more of a problem for the simple reason that I don't grow mangoes. However, it struck me a few years ago that there really isn't an awful lot of difference between a mango and a pumpkin - at least, not by the time it has been cooked down in a cocktail of spices and vinegar. And so, I decided to try a mango chutney recipe, substituting in pumpkin for the mangoes.

I guess overall there is less "fruitiness" in pumpkin compared to mango but I found that the use of Bramley apples helped to redress that issue. It is also possible to buy dried green mango powder (also known as amchoor) online and adding a couple of teaspoons of that can add some genuine mango to the chutney but this isn't essential.

One of the issues I always face when selling chutneys is knowing what to call them. It isn't possible to have all my chutneys available to taste at any one event so the name on the label has to appeal to the buyer. It also has to inform the buyer. Trading Standards stipulates that the name must inform the buyer about what the main ingredients are (although I often see big brands getting away with breaking this rule). In my view, mainly it should conjure up an idea in the buyer's head as to how it might taste and how they might like to eat it. As everyone knows what mango chutney is and how to eat it, that really was the name I wanted to give my chutney but without mangoes in it that wouldn't be allowed.

My thoughts turned to the rationing period of World War II when housewives were forced to make do with what they had and inventive cooks came up with a variety of "mock" dishes. Mock goose at Christmas, a mock marmalade made mainly from carrot... and so on. So that seemed to be the answer: Mock Mango Chutney - like mango chutney, just without the mangoes!

Mock Mango Chutney (makes 3 jars)

450g fresh pumpkin
600g Bramley apples
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
5g grated root ginger
1 tsp salt
200g granulated sugar
255ml cider vinegar

Prepare the pumpkin to make small cubes. Peel, core and chop the apples. Put all the ingredients into a large preserving pan or stock pot and cook until the pumpkin is soft and the apples have gone mushy. Continue to cook, without a lid on, until thick enough that you can draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan to leave a trail. Ladle into warmed, sterilised jars and seal immediately then leave to cool. Store for 4-6 weeks to mature before eating.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 22 - Pumpkin Drop Scones

If you fancy a nice easy recipe for using pumpkin puree, it is hard to find something more straightforward than pumpkin drop scones. Quick and simple to make and then quick and simple to serve. They are also a great way to showcase a tasty homemade jam. Although strawberry or raspberry may be obvious choices for scones, these ones also work very well with plum jam or, better still, plum and cinnamon jam.

Pumpkin drop scones (makes 12-16)

9 oz (250g) pumpkin puree
1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
7 oz (200g) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 fl oz (55ml) condensed milk
3 oz (85g) sultanas (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C, gas 6 and grease a large baking sheet. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend together. Dollop spoonfuls onto the baking sheet then bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden. Use a palette knife to remove them from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Can be eaten plain, with butter, jam or cream and can also be toasted.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Day 21 Pumpkin Challenge - Pumpkin Cheesecake

We love a cheesecake in our house and I enjoy making different cheesecakes with the changing seasons as different ingredients come to hand from the garden. Usually these are soft fruit or tree fruit but the year usually starts with a rhubarb cheesecake and ends with a pumpkin one.

Pumpkin seems to suit spicy flavours so it is no surprise that in the USA they have "pumpkin spice", which is very similar to our "mixed spice". It can also be paired with ginger or cinnamon on their own and even a bit of vanilla works well.

Cheesecake recipes fall into two categories - baked or non-baked. Often soft fruit suit the non-baked ones but pumpkin works best with the baked cheesecake method. When baking a cheesecake there are two main issues - one is making sure it is cooked just enough to set it but not too much to be kind of sticky in the mouth. And the other is making sure that the cheesecake cools down slowly enough that it doesn't crack. However, as I own an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, I have recently learnt that cooking a cheesecake in the Instant Pot takes away both of these issues.

People in the Instant Pot community rave about making cheesecakes in the Instant Pot but until the weekend I hadn't tried it - probably because all my recent cheesecakes had been non-bake ones. However, having put another whole pumpkin into the Instant Pot to cook, I had a bowl of puree to use and it seemed appropriate to try an Instant Pot cheesecake.

Well, it certainly is easy and the cheesecake came out cooked to prefection and it cooled without cracking too, so if you have an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker I would definitely recommend giving it a go.

This recipe is fairly low in sugar and the resulting cheesecake isn't very sweet. On its own its taste is reminiscent of an egg custard tart and I think the lack of sweetness would suit some people's palette. However, my family found a drizzle of maple syrup and a good dollop of sweetened whipped cream really lifted both the flavour and the mouth-feel.

Should you want to make this but don't have a pressure cooker then I would recommend cooking it in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes then switch the oven off and leave the cheesecake inside it for a further 10 minutes. Then open the oven door and give it a little jiggle to make sure it is set in the middle. If it isn't, close the oven door and leave a little longer. If it is set then open the oven door and leave the cheesecake inside until the oven is cool.

Pumpkin Cheescake

100g butter, melted
160g digestive biscuits
340g cream cheese
80g icing sugar
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
170g pumpkin puree
300ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp mixed spice
Maple syrup

Melt the butter in the microwave in a small bowl. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor and add the crumbs to the butter. Stir well then press the mixture into the bottom of a 7 inch circular cake tin. Place in the fridge to cool. Mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth then
add the eggs, stirring with each addition. Put in the pumpkin puree and 55g of the double cream. Add the vanilla and mixed spice and mix thoroughly. Tip the mixture into the cake tin then place on a trivet in theInstant Pot above 2 cups of water. Seal and set manual for 30 minutes then allow natural pressure release. Remove to cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 4 hours. Whip up the remaining double cream with a tablespoon of icing sugar then serve slices of cheesecake with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of the cream.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 20 - Pumpkin Tempura

I first had some tempura a few years ago when I went to Akasaka in Wolverton. Like most things on the menu at that time, I didn't really know what it was but my step-daughter ordered a sharing plate for us and we all tucked in and I was pleasantly surprised.

A short while later, I attempted tempura for the first time at home and it turned out to be easier to master than I imagined. It can be a bit tricky to get it ready whilst you are simultaneously trying to cook rice, noodles and a stir-fry so I would recommend having some help in the kitchen so that you can focus on the task but other than that it is straightforward.

Pumpkin is perfect for using as a tempura vegetable. It cooks brilliantly from raw to create a soft inside, wrapped in crispy batter. Other vegetables that work well include mushrooms, courgettes, beetroot and onions and it is nice to do a variety of different things to make an interesting plate. Few things fail to taste good cooked in a coating of batter and vegetables are no exception.

Pumpkin Tempura

Pieces of fresh pumpkin
150g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1/4 tsp salt
120ml chilled water

Just before you intend to start cooking the tempura, mix together the dry batter ingredients. Gradually add the chilled water until a thick, slightly lumpy batter forms (do not over mix). Heat a good depth of oil in a wok or deep frying pan. Dip pieces of pumpkin into the batter and ensure that it is well coated. Drop into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes until golden brown. Put onto a baking tray in
a cool oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest of the tempura. Serve hot.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Day 19 Pumpkin Challenge - Pumpkin Breakfast Biscuits

Like many of us, my husband likes to have a little something sweet to eat with his cup of tea. As such, I usually have a batch of flapjacks or some homemade biscuits on the go. However, recently he has been trying to eat more healthily and he asked me to find some recipes for "healthier" biscuits.

On might argue that you just shouldn't eat a biscuit if you are trying to be healthy but that can be very difficult, requiring a good deal of will power, and finding something to stop the belly rumbles that hits the spot with the same degree of satisfaction and convenience can be tricky. So, I think a healthier biscuit is probably a good way to go, especially if there are ingredients within it that are beneficial to eat, such as nuts and seeds.

So, when I came across a recipe for pumpkin breakfast cookies I decided to give it ago and make it my own. A few minor tweaks and soon I had a batch in the oven cooking. With my experience of making biscuits, I wondered how these ones would come out, as the addition of pumpkin puree mixed with egg was unlikely to make a crisp biscuit and the lack of sugar meant they weren't going to be very sweet.

And so it was. They have a slightly odd soft texture but it isn't unpleasant. Maybe they shouldn't be called biscuits, but then again, they aren't cakes either. They aren't particularly sweet but I actually quite like that. In fact, I like them a lot. 

Being a stickler for routine and boringly predictable, I almost always eat homemade granola for breakfast. I only break from routine on the occasional weekend morning when I fancy whipping up some pancakes or waffles or if I simply haven't had the time to make a fresh batch of granola. So, I'm not the sort of person to eat biscuits for breakfast but I found them absolutely the perfect thing for elevenses. My husband, on the other hand, found them too bland and sandwiched them together with some jam - I feel we still need to work on his commitment to healthy biscuits!

Having worked at an event all day on Sunday, I came home hungry and in need of a snack so together my youngest daughter and I polished off the last of the breakfast cookies. Then it was time for a bath to thaw out my cold bones before dinner. No time to cook a fresh batch of granola, sadly, but I had frozen some pumpkin pancakes recently so I put those into the fridge to thaw overnight. 

This morning I took the pancakes from the fridge and arranged them on a plate to microwave whilst I gathered together the whipped cream and maple syrup but upon removing them from the microwave my nose alerted me that something was wrong. I checked my handwritten label on the pancake bag and sure enough I had reheated savoury pancakes not sweet ones. My stomach protected at the thought of adding maple syrup to slightly curry-flavoured pancakes and I really wasn't in the mood to fry up egg and bacon. Plan B turned out to be toasted homemade bread with raspberry jam so that wasn't too bad but I couldn't help regretting scoffing the last of the breakfast biscuits the night before - just what we all could have done with on a busy Monday morning as my eldest rushed out to a week of mock exams.

Pumpkin Breakfast Biscuit

40g coconut oil, melted
75g honey
110g oats
55g (2 sachets) of Oats So Simple
85g dried cranberries
85g pumpkin seeds
25g ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Pinch of salt
125g pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a large baking sheets. Melt the coconut oil and honey together in the microwave in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the pumpkin puree and eggs to the oil and honey then stir this into the dry mix. Mix well then use an ice-cream scoop to drop balls of mixture onto the baking sheet. Flatten each one then bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 18 - Pumpkin Doughnut Bites

It is hard to beat the satisfaction of biting into a freshly baked doughnut but it probably isn't something you should do every day. I like to ration my doughnut making to those odd occasions when I have a suitable leftover. Mash potatoes, for example, makes an excellent addition to a doughnut recipe. And so too does pumpkin puree.

I made pumpkin doughnut bites the other day just at the point when my girls were returning from school. They noticed the smell immediately then hung around in the kitchen, telling me about their day, whilst I fried the dough.

Once ready they set upon the plate like a swarm of hungry piranhas. I don't know if piranhas ever regret their greed but a few minutes later my girls were groaning and just 3 doughnut bits remained on the plate. Oh well, they are best eaten fresh.

Pumpkin Doughnut Bites

225g plain flour
110g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp salt
180g pumpkin puree
1 egg
25g melted butter

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, spice and salt. In another bowl, mix together the pumpkin, egg and butter. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Heat a good depth of oil in a frying pan or wok until hot. Drop heaped teaspoons of batter into the oil and fry in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Roll in caster sugar and eat whilst fresh.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Day 17 Pumpkin Challenge - Beef Stir-fry

It's funny how some vegetables are mainstream and can be found in pretty much every household whilst other are considered too much like peasant food to be used much these days, and other are too exotic and misunderstood to feature heavily in the average kitchen. I remember reading somewhere that swede is considered to be animal feed in most of the rest Europe so the British are viewed a bit odd for eating it. And then we have the avocado, once a rarely eaten vegetable and now one of the trendy must-haves. Who knows what will come into favour next.

I know there are some households these days that don't buy any fresh produce but in these those that do, it is fairly common to find carrots lurking in the fridge or cupboard. They are, after all, a very easy and versatile vegetable. I guess that pumpkins aren't quite so convenient but they can be used in many of the same ways that you can use carrots. They are a good addition to casseroles, stews, mince dishes and stir-fries. When I have a fresh pumpkin to hand I chop it up and throw it into pretty much any dish I'm having for dinner. And why shouldn't I? It works well - try it!

Beef Stir-fry (serves 2)

1 sirloin steak cut into strips
1 carrot, cut into juliennes
1 piece of celery, cut into small pieces
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, sliced
A piece of root ginger, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Pumpkin, cut into juliennes
A fair dollop of oyster sauce
Same again of sweet chilli sauce
A little mushroom ketchup

Stir fry the steak and vegetables until cooked then add the sauces. Serve immediately with rice and prawn crackers.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 16 - Snickerdoodles

When you set yourself the task of sharing 30 pumpkin recipes in 30 days, it seems only logical to have a look on Pinterest to see what other people are doing with their pumpkins. Pumpkins are a massive deal in the USA and they seem to get through a heck of a lot of pumpkin puree. It is even something they voluntary buy in tins - something that the average Brit would find a tad baffling.

Anyway, during my search I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. I had absolutely no idea what a Snickerdoodle was but it seemed like such a delightful word that I wanted to find out more. I really don't know how familiar the word Snickerdoodle is to people in the US but maybe it is like saying "Hobnob" over here, who knows.

It turns out to be a kind of cookie - large, fairly flat and with a soft chewy but not cakey texture. Intrigued, I decided to give it a go. Well, actually it was my youngest daughter who baked them as she likes to have a bit of a baking session at the weekend. It was very straightforward and produced something like a large soft gingernut biscuit. It's soft texture is really quite disconcerting when you first bite into it but then a moment later you find yourself enjoying it immensely, like being allowed the nibble on cookie dough before it goes into the oven.

Well, they quickly got the approval of both my daughters and they proved robust enough to be packed in their lunchboxes and maintained their soft texture for the 3 or 4 days that we managed to eek them out. Definitely a keeper.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

115g soften unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g pumpkin puree
190g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

1 tbsp Demerara sugar

 Cream together the butter and sugars then add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin puree. Add all the dry ingredients then mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use an ice-cream scoop to put portions of dough onto the baking tray. Flatten slightly and sprinkle over the Demerara sugar. Bake 10-15 minutes then cool on a rack.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Day 15 Pumpkin Challenge - Vegetable Rolls

I love a sausage roll. I also love a vegetarian sausage roll. Having a vegetarian sausage roll recipe in your repertoire can be really useful on occasions, particularly if you have a family gathering and need to whip up a buffet that will feed everyone.

I invented these vegetable rolls a few years ago for one such occasion and much to my surprise everyone in my family enjoyed them. This is such a rare thing that I did a small happy dance and immediately wrote down the recipe before I forgot it!

They are easy to adapt too to suit taste and requirements. My eldest daughter likes to add a bit of chipotle sauce to the recipe to add a bit of a smoky bite. For my vegan step-daughter I use nutritional yeast instead of cheese and glaze with soya milk. They freeze really well before cooking too so they can be made ahead and just cooked from frozen, making them a very convenient addition to your buffet or picnic.

Vegetable Rolls

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
1 onion
1 carrot
100-150g fresh pumpkin
1 raw beetroot
1 large cup-mushroom
1-2 garlic cloves
1 slice bread - crumbed
Dried herbs, soy sauce, nutmeg, salt & pepper
50g mature Cheddar (or 1 tsp nutritional yeast)

Prepare and finely chop or grate the vegetables then fry them for 5-10 minutes until soft. Towards the end of cooking, add the seasoning, herbs, nutmeg and soy sauce. Tip into a bowl then add the breadcrumbs and grated Cheddar. Mix and leave to cool. Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthwise and spread the filling along the middle of each piece. Brush the long edge of each piece with milk or egg then roll up. Glaze the top of each roll then cut into suitable sized length. Freeze for later or cook at 200°C for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 14 - Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirls

Sometimes things just drop into place so perfectly that they are obviously meant to be. Like, for example, how I hadn't got round to opening up my subscriber copy of the September edition of the Good Food Magazine until the end of October. There I was about to start carving pumpkins for Halloween and out drops the usual load of leaflets... advertising mainly but also the monthly subscriber recipe card. And what should it be? Pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

We are all huge fans of cinnamon rolls in this house and I usually find myself irresistibly drawn to them whenever I am at the same event as Geoff's Real Artisan Bread. He does amazing cinnamon rolls and I was really pleased to learn how to make them at the bread course he ran back in March - see my previous blog post about that. Since then I have made them a few times and they always go down well so it seemed only logical to give this recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls ago now that we had an excess of pumpkin to hand.

Of course, I can't help but tinker with any recipe and I used my bread machine dough setting to do all the hard lifting with this one. Actually, it was mainly the icing that I changed on this as I didn't have any cream cheese to hand so I made my usual icing sugar drizzle. Unlike Geoff's, which are all individual swirls, these ones are cooked together in a square tin so come out as a block that you can tear individual rolls from.

It was Saturday afternoon when I made these and Saturday evening by the time I had drizzled over the icing. And so, as we sat watching Strictly Come Dancing, we pulled off rolls from the batch and munched our way through the next dance. Often pumpkin in lost or disguised within a recipe and you could argue that the bake would be the same if it wasn't included. However, I have to say these rolls had a particularly nice flavour that I can only attribute to the pumpkin.

You could easily make these vegan by using soya milk and a suitable margarine instead of the butter.

Pumkpin Cinnamon Rolls (makes 12)

For the dough:
250ml whole milk
25g butter
200g pumpkin puree
500g strong white flour
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp dried yeast

For the filling:
125g butter, 125g light brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla

For the icing:
100g icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, plus water

Use a bread machine on dough setting or an electric mixer or your hands to bring together the bread ingredients as a dough. Knead for 10 minutes and leave to rest for an hour. In the meantime, make the filling. Knock back the dough and roll out to a rectangle to 30 by 40cm. Spread the filling over the dough then roll up tightly along the longest length. Cut into 12 slices and place in a greased square tin. Bake at 180°C for 45 minutes then allow to cool completely. Make up the icing using just enough water to allow it to pour and drizzle this over the rolls. Tear off to eat.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Day 13 Pumpkin Challenge - Sausage Stew with Cheesy Dumplings

I don't know if it is a quirk of the variety of pumpkins I have grown this year or something to do with the heatwave in the summer, but I seem to have grown six or so pumpkins with extremely tough skin. I'm not exaggerating about this; I have to take a hacksaw to them to make the initial cut and then sort of prise the flesh from the outer skin. It is time-consuming and hard work and the next day my shoulders feel as if I had a session at the gym. Quite honestly, it is rather off-putting and I have to really be in the mood to attempt to tackle them.

Anyway, I read something online recently about putting whole pumpkins into the pressure cooker to cook and then dealing them with. This seems like it might be the solution I was looking for so at the weekend I used a pruning saw to remove the stem-stub from one of these pesky pumpkins so that I could fit the pumpkin whole into my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. I stood it on a trivet inside the pot with a couple of cups of water in the bottom then sealed the lid and set it for 15 minutes. Once finished and the valve released, I lifted the pumpkin out with oven gloves and put it on a chopping board to cool.

About half an hour later, I took a knife to it. The skin wasn't particularly soft even so but I could at least get a knife into it and I cut it clean in half. Inside the flesh was soft and pulpy, already to turn into pumpkin puree. I scooped out the middle seeds and goo then spooned out the fresh like the inside of a baked potato, leaving behind two shells of pumpkin that could probably be fashioned into re-usable bowls with a bit of knowledge and enthusiasm. Maybe if you have particularly greedy birds they could be used as an alternative to coconut shells to make bird feeders!

The flesh in the bowl only needed a light mashing with a potato peeler to turn it into puree and then it was good to use in any recipe calling for pumpkin puree. Such a relief! I now feel I can use up my remaining tough pumpkins without causing myself injury!

Anyway, I used 150g of the stuff straight away to make a sausage stew for my two daughters and me for dinner. This was a bit of challenge as my picky daughter had suggested she might like stew and dumplings as long as I did this and that and blah, blah... I figured the best idea was to get her down from her room and into the kitchen to discuss my plans and see what she thought. She wanted a smooth sauce and then only chunks of vegetables that she liked - sweet potato, butternut squash and carrot. And the mushrooms had to be cut up very small. And could I add some spice and some chilli? We compromised on some Cajun spice with no chilli powder. She was there to taste it as we went along and it met with her approval. Indeed, we ate it all, mopping up the last bits with some chunks of homemade bread.

My daughter wanted to know how many of her 5 a day she had ticked with this meal and I reckon it was probably about seven so she was very proud of herself. I figure that the combination of passata, pumpkin puree and other flavours would make a great pasta sauce too so I might use it mid-week for a quick pasta meal to get some more veg inside her.

Sausage Stew with Cheesy Dumplings (serves 2-3 people)

10g dried mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g passata
150g pumpkin puree
4 banger sized sausages, chopped
2-3 Mushrooms,
Mushroom ketchup
Oyster sauce
1 tbsp dried herbs
2 tsp Cajun spice
Carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash

65g self-raising flour,
25g butter,
1 tsp mustard,
12g Cheddar,
1 tsp herbs

Put the mushrooms into a small bowl with hot water and soak for half an hour. Heat some oil in a large saucepan then fry the onions for 3-4 minutes then add the garlic and fry 1 more minute. Add the passata, pumpkin puree and soaked mushroom and its soaking liquid then simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, fry the sausage pieces in a frying pan until browned, adding mushrooms a few minutes before done. Splash in mushroom ketchup and oyster sauce. Use a stick blender to blend the sauce until smooth then add the herbs, spices, sausages and vegetable pieces. Cook the stew with the lid on for 30-40 minutes. In the meantime, make the dumplings by rubbing the butter into the flour then adding the mustard, cheese and herbs and a little water to bring together into a dough. Split the dough into 6 pieces then plop on top of the stew and cook with the stew for its final 15 minutes.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 12 - Pumpkin & Ginger Teabread

I have been making Pumpkin and Ginger Teabread for years now. It uses fresh pumpkin, grated into the cake, so it one of those things you can only make when you cut into a new pumpkin. That's to say, it's doesn't use pumpkin puree, and as such you can't use puree saved in the freezer or from a tin. I, therefore, see the cutting of a new pumpkin as an opportunity to make this wonderful cake and all in all I don't make it more than once or twice a year. This, and its flavour, means it is remains held in high regard in our household.

It is worth noting that I have had some failures with this cake. There have been occasions when, despite being put into the oven for the required length of time, it has still been doughy in the middle. Despite putting it back into the oven for longer and even getting to the point where it was burning on top, it has remained apparently under-cooked in the middle. 

The first time this happened, I had just had a new oven installed so I blamed the oven. However, since then, and with experience of similar failures with other recipes, I have concluded that it is in fact down to the pumpkin. Specifically, the water content of the pumpkin. Ideally the pumpkin flesh used in this recipe needs to be quite dry - with the consistency of, say, a carrot, rather than a cucumber. Some lantern type pumpkins can be quite soft and wet so if you have a pumpkin like that, forget it (or use carrot instead). 

If you have one with a firmer flesh then give it a go because it is such a lovely cake when it turns out well - like a soft, gingery Madeira cake. And, should it hang around long enough to go a little stale, it also makes an ideal cake to line the bottom of a trifle.

Pumpkin and Ginger Teabread

175g melted butter
140g clear honey
1 egg, beaten
250g fresh pumpkin
100g light muscovado sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C, gas 4 and line a 2lb load tin. Mix together the butter, honey, egg and pumpkin. Add the muscovado sugar, flour and ginger and stir until well combined. Pour into the tin then sprinkle over the Demerara sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes until risen and golden. Check that a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Day 11 Pumpkin Challenge - Pumpkin Pakoras

Whenever I have a lot of any one vegetable, I always find myself wondering if it is suitable for sticking into a spring roll, a samosa or a pakora. For example, there is nothing I like better than a purple beetroot bhaji, so why not try a pumpkin pakora.

I didn't grow up with Indian cuisine so I am definitely no expert so I looked up the difference between a bhaji and a pakora and to be honest I couldn't really find one. It seems that a bhaji is the name given to an onion pakora. So maybe my beetroot bhajis should really be called beetroot pakoras, except I like the alliteration of a beetroot bhaji, and as such, I like the alliteration of a pumpkin pakora. I also, as it happens, like the flavour of a pumpkin pakora too - win, win!

We are not massive Indian food lovers in our house, mainly because we aren't keen on highly spiced foods, particularly chilli. However, when you make pakoras from scratch, you can adjust the spice to match your tastes, and, indeed, create a spice blend to match your preferences, so please feel free to adjust that to your palate. Other than that, it is very straightforward and should you not have gram flour or rice flour, use plain flour and cornflour and it will still turn out tasty, if less authenic.

Pumpkin and Red Onion Pakoras

100g grated pumpkin
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp dried herbs
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
80g gram flour
1 tbsp rice or cornflour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix together the pumpkin, onion, salt, spices and herbs. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours and bicarbonate of soda then add just enough water to form a thick, coating batter. Add the vegetable mix to the batter and stir well. Heat a wok full of oil until hot then add spoonfuls of the batter mix.
Cook in batches, turning once during cooking, until golden brown. Keep warm in the oven until all are cooked then eat hot.

Pumpkin Challenge Day 10 - Pumpkin Ice-cream

It was way back in 2009 when I saw something written by James Martin in a magazine suggesting stirring pumpkin puree through vanilla ice-cream. I thought at the time that he had lost the plot but on further consideration it sounded like it had potential. I remember that when I googled it later that day, I discovered something like 250,000 hits for pumpkin ice-cream. Out of curiosity I have just googled it again and today I got 114,000,000 hits! It clearly isn't as unusual as I first imagined.

The one thing about pumpkin is that it goes very well with spices such as ginger and cinnamon. I think vanilla is a bit wish-washy to go with pumpkin so I never did bother to test out the James Martin idea of stirring pumpkin puree through vanilla ice-cream. Instead, I found a recipe that included cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin I decided to give it a go and we have been eating it as a seasonal ice-cream ever since.

It makes an interesting ice-cream, unlike anything you are likely to find in the shops. As you can imagine, the spices are the dominate flavour with a slight toffee flavour from the sugar. No hint of pumpkin, in case you are wondering. It is the perfect thing to dollop next to a hot winter pudding such as apple pie or sticky toffee pudding.

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.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Day 9 Pumpkin Challenge - Pumpkin Katsu

I first came across Pumpkin Katsu when I visited Yo Sushi a couple of years ago for the first time. Yo Sushi is a little daunting when you first go as not only do they have the relatively unusual serving arrangements of food dishes passing by on a conveyor belt, but the menu, unsurprisingly, is full of Japanese dishes. Although I had by that point eaten in Akasaka in Wolverton and been introduced to Japanese cuisine generally by my step-daughter, I was still a little unfamiliar with the dish names. Fortunately, I was with my eldest daughter and she had visited Yo Sushi a few time previously with my step-daughter so was a little more au fait with the surroundings and the menu. So it was her that grabbed a bowl of pumpkin katsu from the conveyor belt and suggested I gave it a go.

Needless to say, I enjoyed my first pumpkin katsu and I have made it a few times at home now. The easiest way I find is to just take slices of pumpkin, coat them in breadcrumbs and deep fry them. It feels as if the pumpkin wouldn't cook quick enough during the brief time in the oil but my previous attempts at pumpkin tempura (a future post) had told me that it would be fine. And indeed it is, coming out crispy on the outside and beautifully soft on the inside.

I don't know an awful lot about Japanese cuisine but a little research has told me that katsu can be used to refer to things deep fried in breadcrumbs. Chicken katsu, for example is very popular and you can even buy this as a ready meal in supermarkets. Katsu is then usually served with some kind of sauce. Often this is a curry sauce but equally it can be served with a tonkatsu sauce. This is very similar to a barbecue sauce and you can make it at home by mixing together some ketchup, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce and oyster sauce.

The curry sauce that comes with the ready meal chicken katsu seems to be more along the lines of an Indian curry sauce or similar to the ones you might buy at a fish and chip shop. However, it seems more appropriate to me to make it with the blend of spices more usually associated with Japanese cuisine and for this you need some Japanese curry powder. You can pour the curry sauce over the pumpkin katsu but we prefer to serve it as a hot dipping sauce so that the katsu remains crisp and each diner can control how much sauce they want to eat.

I confess that a lot of my uses of pumpkin in recipes completely disguises the pumpkin so that you can't taste it or (often) even detect it in the resulting recipe. This is because it is there for what it adds to the texture of the dish or because it absorbs the flavours of the other ingredients (a property of pumpkin I particularly like). However, in katsu you can actually taste the pumpkin so if you have ever wondered what it tastes of and if you actually like pumpkin in its own right, then katsu will allow you to find out.

Pumpkin Katsu

Slices of pumpkin
Plain flour,
1 egg,
Panko breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil for frying

1 small onion or a shallot, finely chopped
1cm piece of root ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp Japanese curry powder
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey

Cut as many slices of pumpkin as you wish to eat  - e.g. 3-4 pieces per person. Dip each slice firstly into the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs to coat. Heat a good depth of oil in a wok then drop the coated pumpkin pieces into the oil in batches. Cook for a couple of minutes then turn over and cook until golden. Transfer to a baking tray in an oven to keep warm until all pieces are cooked. To make the sauce - fry the onion in a small pan then add the garlic and ginger. Fry one more minute then add curry powder and flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add water to make a thick dipping sauce then add soy sauce and honey and taste. Serve as a dipping sauce with the pumpkin.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 8 - Sweet Pumpkin Pancakes

After yesterday's post about savoury pumpkin pancakes, it seems only logical to bring you the recipe for sweet pumpkin pancakes today.

I have been making these for years now, along with other variations using mashed over-ripe bananas or cooked apple pulp instead of the pumpkin. They make for a great Sunday breakfast and any leftovers are easy to reheat the next day either in the microwave or toaster. Equally you can eat them as a dessert too. They also freeze really well.

It is possible to make these plain or to sprinkle a few sultanas into the middle as you fry them, tailoring each one to the likes of the person eating them. We enjoy them served with squirty cream and maple syrup and occasionally a sprinkling of blueberries if we have some in. But, as with all pancakes, they can be topped with whatever you like.

Sweet Pumpkin Pancakes

250g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp mixed spice
55g light brown sugar
3 eggs
284 ml carton buttermilk
175 g pumpkin puree
4 teaspoon sunflower oil

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, raising agents and spice. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, milk, pumpkin and oil. Make a well in the centre of the flour and gradually mix in the wet ingredients until a batter forms. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add 60ml (2 tablepoons or 1/4 cup) of batter at a time. Sprinkle in some sultanas at this point if you wish to. Cook until the base is set then flip and cook until the second side has set and browned. Either serve hot or cool on a wire rack and freeze for use later.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Day 7 Pumpkin Challenge - Savoury Pumpkin Pancakes

When you are the child of a woman in the midst of a 30 day pumpkin challenge, it becomes necessary to ask, "Does it contain pumpkin?" whenever an unfamiliar food is put before you.

And so it was when my daughter walked in through the door on Monday night to find dinner on the table - an (almost) classic English fry-up - bacon, egg, baked beans, mushrooms and... pancakes.

It has been a few years since I last made these savoury pancakes so it was no surprise that they were met with questions. She is a fussy eater so I never expect her to eat everything on her plate, even though it is often an edited version of what everyone else is having. So I kind of expected her to leave some of her dinner - only it was the fried egg that she left. Apparently she wasn't in the mood for a fried egg on this particular occasion. I usually find she is in the mood for a fried egg on the occasions when I decide she probably doesn't fancy one and don't cook one for her. Contrary, I believe is the word for that! Anyway, the pancakes went down a storm so that's the main thing.

They do go particularly well with a fried egg on top but there are other ways to serve them and they are great for breakfast or lunch as well as dinner. Previously I have made a vegan version of them by using soya milk, taking out the egg and replacing it with a total of 3 tsp baking powder and a total of 3 tbsp of oil, plus 2 tbsp water. As they are a sort of Scotch or American pancake, it is nice to scatter something into the middle of the pancakes where you might expect sultanas in a sweet version. For this, I would suggest chopped up red pepper, mushroom, sweetcorn or shallot pieces and to give them a quick fry before starting to fry the pancakes. Once you have poured the batter into the pan, scatter your ingredient(s) of choice into the centre. I also think the spice combination of Japanese curry powder compliments pumpkin particularly well but you can use Indian curry powder instead.

If you don't eat all the pancakes in one sitting, they can be bagged up and frozen for later use. Thaw out then fry on a low heat on both sides for a minute or two or pop in the microwave or even in the toaster.

Savoury Pumpkin Pancakes (makes 10-12)

55g wholemeal flour
115g plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Japanese curry powder
1½ tsp baking powder
300ml milk
1 egg
2 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 lareg 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.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Pumpkin Challenge Day 6 - Pumpkin & Orange Tray bake

I first made Pumpkin & Orange Tray bake when my eldest daughter was seven. At the time she declared it the "best cake ever". As lovely as that was, seven year olds tend to declare "best thing ever" at the drop of a hat. However, she is now 16 years old and still puts in a request for this cake whenever I am tackling the pumpkin harvest. A teenager coolly saying, "So good" is definitely a fine complement.

This is a very moist cake and best eaten with a spoon or a napkin to wipe your fingers on. Try to eat it within 3-4 days and, if you have space, keep it in the fridge as it can go mouldy in a warm kitchen within 4 days. We like it cold, at room temperature or even heated with custard. Whatever, it is delicious!

Pumpkin & Orange Tray Bake

200g butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
zest & juice of 1 orange
300g self-raising flour
300g light muscovado sugar
3 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g sultanas
500g (peeled weight) pumpkin, grated
100g icing sugar, sifted mixed with zest & juice of 1 orange

Heat oven to 180°C, gas 4. Butter and line a 25 x 25cm square tin. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients till combined.  Stir in the pumpkin. Pour into the tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch.  Whilst still warm, prick it all over with a skewer and drizzle with the orange juice/icing sugar mix.
Leave to cool completely.  Store the cake in the fridge but return to room temperature to serve.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Day 5 Pumpkin Challenge - Pumpkin Salsa

I created my first batch of Pumpkin Salsa this time last year whilst once again tackling my Halloween lanterns and we really enjoyed it. It can be eaten in any circumstance where you would enjoy any kind of salsa. I think we had it first as one of the things on the table to add to tacos, with pulled pork and halloumi options, plenty of salad and couscous.  In addition, I found it went beautifully as a layer under the cheese when making cheese on toast to enliven a simple lunch, and as a substitute for the tomato sauce on our Friday night homemade pizzas.

Pumpkin Salsa

225g cubed pumpkin
1/2 pint sieved tomatoes (passata)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Dash of lemon juice
Pinch mixed spice
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
Pinch of salt

Put the cubed pumpkin in a small saucepan with the sieved tomato and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until the pumpkin is soft then blend to make a smooth puree. In a medium saucepan, fry the onions until just beginning to colour then add the garlic, pepper and tomatoes. Pour the puree into the pan with these vegetables and add the other ingredients. Simmer with the lid off for about 10 minutes to thicken then taste and season if necessary. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to eat. Will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.