Archive | October, 2011

Pumpkin pie

30 Oct


Pumpkin is versatile and is equally at home in a curry or a risotto. My favourite use of pumpkin is for a dessert, a childhood favourite pumpkin pie

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
Serves: 12
Cost per person £0.35

Prices are based on and includes all sides


  • half medium pumpkin skinned and diced
  • 2 pints of milk
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 300g sifted plain flour
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • A cup of cold water
  • A pinch of salt
  • Directions:

    First is the pastry, I urge you to make the pastry as far ahead of time as possible. Cube the butter and allow it to get to room temperature. Then rub into the the sifted flour until you have a breadcrumb consistency. You can use a food processor for this, if so do it with cold butter.
    The trick is you want to touch the pastry as little as possible. You can if you want at this point add a large spoon of creme fraiche to give the pastry an added richness but this is not important.
    Next add very cold water enough to bring the pastry together. I always do this by eye and be careful not to make the pastry to wet. Once you bring the pastry together either in the food processor or gently by hand flatten into a small disc wrap in cling film and refrigerate. The reason for wrapping or covering food is that you keep it free from contamination by other food. Pastry will quickly take on flavours from other uncovered foods in the fridge unless wrapped up. Just to clarify be careful with pungent food stuffs, onions for example once chopped need to be used not put back in the fridge uncovered for future use.

    Once the pastry is resting then you can move on to infusing the flavour into the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin in a saucepan and cover with the milk. Then deseed the vanilla pod and place in the saucepan adding the anise and lemon zest. Put on a low heat until the pumpkin softens, then takeoff the heat cover and leave to infuse as long as possible. Once the mixture has sat for a while infusing take out the vanilla pod, which you can wash dry and keep for flavouring sugar. Take out the star anise pod too and discard. Blend the the milk with the pumpkin and put to one side.

    Roll out your pastry on a floured cool surface, roll to a 2mm thickness then place in a greased flan tin. Do this process as quickly as possible I will post a video for help with this. Make sure you plug any holes with excess pastry. Put into a fridge for half an hour to rest. Cover the rested pastry with baking paper and some baking beads. Put on a flat tray and place in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Bake for fifteen minutes then remove the the baking beads and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the pastry is a light golden brown.

    Whilst your pastry cooks in a Pyrex bowl whisk the eggs into the sugar and add the pumpkin mixture. Then make a ban Marie like so and place on a heat and get the mixture warm not boiling, but warm ready to pour in the pastry case.


    Turn your oven down to 120 degrees Celsius and slightly pull the pie case from the oven and gently pour into warmed pumpkin mixture directly into the pie casing. The reason the tray is underneath your flan tin is just in case of leaks and as a guide. This is why it is very important to plug any holes in the pastry before cooking. Bake the pie for roughly an hour making sure you check it by gently shaking it to check if the mixture is solidifying for decreased wobbles.

    Once ready turn the oven off and open slightly and allow pie to cool in the oven. The reason for this is it won’t get shocked and crack by a sudden change in tempreture, do not cut it hot! Then serve with a dollop of creme fraiche. Try and eat in one sitting, if not set aside and cover with a tea towel and eat later that day do not put pastry in the fridge it ruins it by making it claggy. As the butter turns solid again, the best pastry is eaten at room temperature on the day it was made ;o)


    Pumpkin and cumin soup

    24 Oct


    Pumpkin is In season at the mo and as your probably busy carving a face in one as we speak for Halloween. I thought I might give you a few helpful hints on using all that tremendously tasty pumpkin flesh.

    Preparation time: 30 minutes
    Cooking time: 30 minutes
    Total time: 60 minutes
    Serves: 4
    Cost per person £0.77

    Prices are based on and includes all sides


  • half medium pumpkin skinned and diced
  • 2 pints of milk
  • 200g of shallots sliced
  • 4 Maris piper potatoes peeled and sliced
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 stock cube
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 knobs of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 chilli sliced finely
  • Directions:

    First of all cover the pumpkin in the milk with the bay, cumin and garlic. Bring the milk to the boil, then simmer until the pumpkin softens slightly. Take off the heat cover saucepan and place to one side to allow the the flavour of the cumin to enthuse into the pumpkin.

    Meanwhile you will need to make the flavour base for the soup. This is done by by sweating off the shallots with the butter and oil in a saucepan big enough to hold your soup. Once the shallots get translucent add the carrot, chilli, and potato. Add the stock cube dissolved in a cup of hot water and stir.

    Take the bay leaves out of the pumpkin and milk and combine with the shallots. The soup will be ready once the potatoes have softened. Allow to cool Use a hand blender to puree the soup. You can add extra water if too thick. Once you are happy with the texture reheat the soup or refrigerate.

    I have served my soup with home made bread and a spoon of low fat yoghurt. Enjoy :o)

    Turkey stuffed with blue cheese and figs

    23 Oct


    Stuffing a turkey steak is one of my favourite techniques of cooking this inexpensive staple meat.
    Stuffing the turkey steaks is very easy and if you do not like the combo I have chosen here, there are plenty of alternatives goats cheese and caramelised onion being another favourite of mine.

    Preparation time: 30 minutes
    Cooking time: 30 minutes
    Total time: 60 minutes
    Serves: 5
    Cost per person £1.52

    Prices are based on and includes all sides


  • 5 turkey steaks
  • 8 figs

  • Blue cheese (I used Roquefort but I priced the recipe using Danish blue)
  • 1 kg of Maris piper potatoes
  • 1 head of savoy cabbage shredded
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 knobs of butter and a teaspoon of olive oil
  • A sprig of rosemary and 3 bay leafs
  • 2 stock cubes
  • Two teaspoons of quince jelly or recurrent jelly
  • Directions:

    Start with flattening the turkey breasts, if they come in steaks then they should be sufficiently flat enough to roll already. If not then place the turkey between two pieces of cling film and flatten with a heavy based saucepan.

    Once flattened, place on the turkey on a piece of tin foil ready for stuffing and rolling. Spread the blue cheese on the turkey breast in the middle away from the edges place the sliced figs on top as illustrated in the photo below.

    Then roll the turkey into a sausage like so.

    Then roll the tinfoil around the turkey, like it was a sweet in a wrapper. Be careful not to wrap up too much one layer of tin foil all around will suffice. I have used the tin foil to suspend the turkey over my oven dish, I put a cup of water in the dish. Alternatively you can put them on a grill tray and place the water underneath. This will help keep the rolled turkey moist when you roast it, also a great method of cooking pork belly.

    Cook for half an hour at 200 Celsius, if you have a meat temperature probe check the rolls after 20 mins. A temp in the middle of 70-4 Celsius will suffice. When turkey is ready, unroll and colour the exterior in a pan with a little butter and a splash of oil. The oil stops the butter from burning.
    I have served my turkey with a chicken gravy check the video.

    I have also served the turkey with mashed potato and lemon and thyme braised cabbage. Enjoy ;o)

    Carrot & fig cake

    18 Oct


    Preparation time: 40 minutes
    Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
    Total time: 2 hours

    Serves: 12

    Cost per large portion £0.51


  • 6-8 Figs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powdery
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250ml oil
  • 1 orange , zested
  • 1 lemon , zested
  • 200g carrots , finely grated
  • 150g walnuts , chopped
  • Directions:

    Slice the figs thinly in circles and arrange on your cartouche. Place the cartouche with the figs on the detachable base of your baking tin and put in the freezer to set for half an hour.
    Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Line a 20cm, 10cm deep cake tin. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs with the oil and citrus zests. Stir in the carrots and fold everything into the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts. Spoon the mixture into the tin on-top of the figs and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool.

    I served my cake with plain low fat yoghurt mixed with a teaspoon of sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Traditionally you would make a cream cheese and lime zest frosting for a carrot cake but there is no need with the figs on top. Plus it’s a slightly healthier option, c’est la vie.


    How to make a baking cartouche

    18 Oct

    A cartouche is a simple baking paper circle. To aid you with baking, stopping cakes and other baked goods from sticking too their containers.

    Fig & apple compot

    17 Oct


    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Cooking time: 12 minutes
    Total time: 22 minutes

    Serves: 8

    Cost per large portion £0.40


    • 6-8 Figs
    • 6-8 dessert apples
    • juice of half a lemon
    • 50ml of water
    • sugar to taste
    • Directions:

      Compot to me is an essential and tasty way to eat and preserve fruit. I often have a spoon of compot on my porridge in the morning or as a tasty desert with plain low fat fromage frais.
      Compot is very easy to prepare and you are able to store it in a sterilised jar for weeks.
      All I do is peel and core my apples slice them and wash my figs.

      Place the fruit in a perpex bowl with a dash of lemon juice and water. You can add sugar but I do not believe it to be necessary unless you are using cooking apples. Cover the bowl with cling film and microwave on full power for 12 minutes. Spoon mixture into the sterilised jar and that’s it very easy.



    15 Oct