Fright night!

Halloween, pumpkin

My attempts at carving

I’m a sucker for a celebration. Screw the kids and the sweets, Halloween for me is about disembowelling a pumpkin, or three, embracing my creative side with a spot of carving (see my pathetic efforts above) and making lots of comforting autumnal meals. On Friday night I made a proper chilli con carne with all the trimmings (rise, corn chips, Greek yoghurt sprinkled with spring onions, homemade guacamole and grated cheese). Unsurprisingly it went down a treat: I put the success down to California Rancher’s spice mix and recipe – featuring a splash of bourbon and some treacle. What a revelation!

    But it was the pumpkin recipes I tried this weekend that really got me excited. First up was a soup. I regularly make butternut squash with Thai green curry flavours and coconut milk and it was with this in mind and after taking part in an Indian cookery course at Swiss vegetarian cookery school Hiltl last month that I came up with this:

Spiced pumpkin soup with coconut and lime

1 medium pumpkin
2 tsp garam masala
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of caster sugar
1 can coconut milk
1 can cold water (or stock)
1 chicken stock cube
The juice of 1 & ½ limes
Olive oil

1. Chop the pumpkin into quarters and once again and then remove any spidery bits and pumpkin seeds. Throw them into a roasting tin with a good glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, your garam masala (mine is quite a sweet blend bought at Hiltl) and a small pinch of sugar. I had been making churros earlier in the day so had some ready-made cinnamon sugar which I sprinkled over. Roast for a good 30 minutes on a medium-high heat or until the pumpkin is tender.

2. When the pumpkin is roasted put them in a pan (reserving a few chunks for the recipe below) with a can of coconut milk and the same volume of cold water (or until the pumpkin is covered) along with a chicken stock cube. Obviously fresh stock is better but I didn’t have any to hand. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes before leaving to cool slightly and blitzing with a hand-held jshuzzer (technical term).

3. Blitz until smooth and then sieve until you have got rid of all the flecks of skin. I don’t normally bother but it does only take seconds and it really is worth it for a velvety smooth consistency. Return to a clean pan, season with the juice of one and a half limes (add more or less to your taste) and more garam masala if you need it. Stir and serve!

Seasonal greens with roasted pumpkin and goats' cheese

Seasonal greens with roasted pumpkin and goats' cheese

Tonight’s dinner also used that delicious roasted pumpkin. I have kidded myself into thinking it is mildly healthy but the goats’ cheese begs to differ…

Sautéed greens with roasted pumpkin and creamy goats’ cheese

A selection of seasonal greens (cavolo nero, sprout tops and Swiss chard)
Garam masala roasted pumpkin
Pumpkin seeds
Red chilli
A creamy goats’ cheese
Olive oil

1. Wash and prep your greens (i.e. removing the tough stem from the cavolo nero and sprout tops, and chopping up and retaining the stems of the chard). This has to be one of my favourite jobs in the kitchen. I love the squeak of the clean greens then the bubblewrap-like crackle of the cavolo nero. Who doesn’t love food with sound effects?

2. Slice up a clove of garlic and a few slices of fresh red chilli (to taste) and put it in a pan with some olive oil and the washed greens. Sauté until the greens are just tender, push to one side and heat up your roasted pumpkin until warm in the same pan.

3. While the pumpkin is heating, toast your pumpkin seeds in a dry pan. Allow them to just turn golden and hear them crackle.

4. Pile the greens up on a plate with the pumpkin, seeds and then dot with generous lumps of the tangy goats’ cheese. And eat!


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