Posts Tagged With: pumpkin

Cooking The Book – September Edition

September saw a return to normal service on the challenge front, as I successfully cooked two recipes out my book. I’ve actually been a lot better organised on the cooking front in general in the last month. We’re moving back into the season of soups and stodge, and frankly that’s the kind of cooking I’m best at. Big pots of soup, dals, curries and pasta bakes. Pies, both savoury and sweet. Mmmmm bliss.

First up – because I love the breakfast and brunch recipes in this book that aren’t muffins – I made red pepper egg cups. The recipe also involves those giant beefsteak tomatoes but as the only tomatoes I had in the fridge were the cherry variety and I was only feeding me, I stuck to the peppers. I’d forgotten how fun stuffed peppers are. I’ve not made them for years, not since long before I became a vegetarian and I’ve got a hankering to make them now – perhaps with harissa couscous stuffing? The only criticism I have of this recipe is that it ought to specify small eggs. The peppers I had in the fridge were fairly sizeable and I still ended up with egg overflow everywhere. However once I finally got them back in the oven they were great. I sprinkled a little Parmesan on them for the last couple of minutes in the oven and that worked a treat. Though next time I suspect I’ll either add substantially more paprika or a little chilli powder to give it a little kick and I’ll definitely take them out when the yolks are still a little soft. Regardless, definitely one to add to the regular Sunday brunch rotation.

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Secondly I made sweet potato gnocchi. I feel the name of this recipe is misleading as while you do in fact use sweet potatoes rather than the more standard variety of potato, there is rather more pumpkin involved. Handily I love pumpkin. I also love recipes that acknowledge that for 11 months of the year, you can only get pumpkin in a can on this side of the Atlantic. (I love pumpkin in a can – its too expensive to eat regularly but worth every penny in time not spent wrestling with an oversized squash. I hate peeling squashes with a passion.) Squash gnocchi – as I’ve decided to re-name it – is actually pretty straightforward to make. The hardest bit, as far as I’m concerned, is rolling it out into sausages. The first one worked perfectly, the others stuck to everything so next time I think I’ll add quite a bit more flour. Related to this, you’re supposed to chop them into little lumps, chill them and then drop them into the boiling water. As mine resolutely stuck together (and to the grease-proof paper) I ended up flouring my hands and lightly rolling them between my palms – like truffles – to ensure they stayed together. Which had the delightful effect of making them much more aesthetically pleasing and, for me at least, gave them a more traditionally gnocchi texture. Definitely one to make again – though next time, I’ll not be as heavy-handed with the garlic in the tomato sauce!

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Bake More Often: Cooking Up The Cupboards Edition

Having baked on a total of three occasions last year, it is now only March and I’ve already baked on four (or six, depending on how you’re counting as I did make the sausage rolls again) occasions. On this occasion, largely due to having ambitiously bought various ingredients with intent to bake more often and then having to use them up before I move house. I’m always a bit over-ambitious on the dried/cupboard goods front, but this evening as I was baking I was delighted to find myself finishing off numerous things. I was shaking out empty bags of flour for those last few grams, measuring out those last few drops of vanilla extract and emptying out that packet of chocolate chips that have been lurking around falling out of cupboards on me.

Both of today’s recipes came from one of the Lorraine Pascale books I received over the festive season. A gift that was inspired by my having her A Lighter Way to Bake out of the library when I was up in Inverness, which being the case meant that today’s White Chocolate Chunk Cookies – like the other week’s Pinwheel Snacks – were on my big 30 recipes list so manage to count as productivity on both counts!

First up were the cookies. I’ve never actually made cookies before so it was a bit of a stab in the dark. When I tested them after the initial cooking period they seemed very soft so I wasn’t convinced them were actually cooked and put them back for an extra few minutes, but having tried them once they were cool I think they would have been fine as the finished product was a little too brittle and biscuit-like. They went down well with my testing guinea-pigs but personally I prefer my cookies a bit softer. Weirdly, despite putting more chocolate chips in than the recipe stated they don’t really feel chocolatey enough?

Cookie Stack

I also made pumpkin muffins, largely because I knew I had a can of pumpkin puree in the cupboard. This isn’t the first time I’ve made pumpkin muffins – several years ago I bought a pumpkin at Hallowe’en determined to make pumpkin soup and embrace the joys of squashes and ended up with more pumpkin than I knew what to do with. Those pumpkins muffins were…alright…I suppose, they were pretty uninspiring and while I ate them, I never felt moved to make them again or buy them if I saw them in the shops or at bake sales. Perhaps it’s the recipe, or perhaps using canned pumpkin rather than fresh makes all the difference, I don’t know, however, these muffins were a whole different ballgame. A pleasant balance of savoury and sweet, the worked both with and without the icing. I’ve never made a cream-cheese frosting before and from experience of eating cupcakes I generally find cream-cheese frosting a bit hit and miss, but this one is really quite pleasantly more-ish. Next time I will, however, make the effort to find room to put it in the fridge as instructed to set before icing the muffins – they loose a little something artistically when the icing isn’t as firm…

Pumpkin Muffin

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