Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Made this yesterday for Halloween today and it’s absolutely delicious. Of all the recipes I could find for pumpkin pie I selected the one with most interesting variety of spices. This one had ground cardamom in it, on top of the usual suspects of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ground ginger, so it won.

Cook time: 1 hour
Serves 8

Ingredients

1 can of pumpkin purée
1 1/2 cup heavy cream or 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 lemon zest
1 shortcrust pastry (Jus roll sweet shortcrust pastry)

Preheat oven to 220C/425°F. Mix sugars, salt, and spices, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin purée. Stir in cream. Whisk all together until well incorporated.

Pour into pie shell and bake at 220C/425°F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 180C/350°F. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Honey & mustard glazed chicken thighs with chunky parnips

This is a quick, & tasty, wintery dish which makes for a lovely Friday night dinner while it’s dark and cold outside. Don’t know why, it just is. Don’t be stingy with the parsnips, no matter how many you make, they’ll get eaten. Trust me.

Serves 4-5
Preparation time: 10 mins plus marinating time (30 mins)
Cooking time: 40 mins

2 packs (approx 1kg) chicken thighs
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp coarse-grain mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into wedges

Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish. To make the marinate whisk together the oil, honey, mustard, vinegar, thyme and seasoning. Pour over the chicken and turn gently to coat. Cover the dish and chill for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Cook the parsnips in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Add the parsnips to the chicken, then toss to coast in the marinade. Transfer to a roasting tin in a single layer. Roast for 40-45 minutes, turning once during cooking, until the parsnips are golden and cooked through and the chicken is cooked through with no pink meat, with juices running clear. Serve with greens of your choice… with ginger beer or vintage cider.

Nutrition 569 kcals/31.3g protein/23.8 carbohydrate/15.9 sugars/38.7 fat/8.4g saturated fat/5.5g fibre/0.6g salt per serving

Spicy lamb burgers with coriander, tomato & yoghurt relish

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a BBQ party when my mother was visiting and it was a roaring success. Well, at least I loved them! The BBQ grill took ages to cook for some reason, so grilling these was a guess work as by the time the coals were doing their job I couldn’t see a thing. I recall a helpful maglite being used to determine what’s what. But… the end result was worth it, so here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
1kg/2¼lb minced lamb (it’s best not to use extra-lean mince as the fat will help bind the burgers and keeps them juicy when cooked)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp mango chutney (I used Sharwood Mango chutney which was bought in an emergency and didn’t live up to our usual chutney standards :))
3cm/1¼in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
oil, for brushing
flat bread, pitta bread or burger buns, to serve

For the relish
6 ripe tomatoes, quartered, de-seeded and diced
200g/7oz tub of Greek yoghurt
bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Place the minced lamb in a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, onion, mango chutney, ginger, chopped chilli, turmeric, crushed coriander and cumin. Season well with salt and pepper and mix by hand until combined.

Divide and shape the mixture into 8-10 burgers. If you want to check the flavour, fry a small burger in a drop of oil before shaping the rest and, if necessary, add extra flavourings or seasoning. Place the burgers on a cling film-covered tray and keep them in the fridge to relax for at least 30 minutes. They’re ideal made the day before cooking. To prevent the burgers from sticking, brush with a little oil before barbecuing over medium-hot coals for about 5-6 minutes each side.

Mix together the tomatoes, yoghurt, coriander, onion and lemon or lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the burgers, either inside the bun or as a dipping sauce. For a change, use diced, seeded cucumber instead of tomatoes, and try mint instead of coriander.

I will certainly be making these again, BBQ or not.

Potato, Fennel and Radicchio salad

This would be a constant favourite if not for the fact that our local waitrose doesn’t stock radicchio (shock! horror!) and it appears only sporadically on the North End road market stalls. The salad has wonderful flavours and texture, we usually add bacon to it as we find that very few things cannot be improved by addition of bacon. The secret to balancing the bitterness of radicchio and strong flavour of fennel is sweetness of orange juice in the dressing.

The recipe is straight from Tangerine Dream Cafe book of recipes. This is a casual eating place in one of my favourite summer hang outs – the Chelsea Physic Garden in Swan Walk.

Serves 4

500g salad new potatoes
1 fennel head
1 radicchio head
40g parsley
15 olives (optional)

Dressing
juice of 1 orange
60ml white wine vinegar
90ml olive oil

Boil the salad potatoes to just cooked – we use baby Jersey Royals in season, but Cornish Mids or Charlottes also work well. Drain and place in a bowl. Liberally sprinkle with olive oil and add salt.

Thinly slice the fennel and place on top. Halve the radicchio and de-core, tearing the remaining leaves into large uneven pieces. Scatter on top together with the olives and lightly toss the salad to just reveal the potatoes. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, add to the salad and serve.

Yakh Dar Behesht Ice in Heaven

This is an exotic, delicate, sophisticate  Persian custard laced rose water and sprinkled with pistachios and rose petals. I found it in a wonderful book Pomegranates and Roses by Ariana Bundy. It is traditionally made with milk but for a diary-free version use rice or almond milk, which worked best for me. Serve in individual ramekins or a large bowl and scatter with rose petals and edible gold leaf. I made it a couple of times now and each time I get better at getting the texture right. I state the cooking times below as in the original recipe but I found that it takes a lot longer for the mixture to thicken to the desired consistency. So feel free to double the times!

Ingredients
Makes 8 ramekins

1 litre (1 3/4 pints) 4 cups milk
75g (3oz) 3/4 cup rice flour
150g (5 oz) 3/4 cup sugar  unrefined – I used only 120g
2 tbsp rose water
5 cardamom pods lightly crushed
2 tbsp slivered pistachios – I used hazelnuts
rose petals and edible gold leaf to serve (optional)

Place the milk, rice flour and sugar in a saucepan. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, over a medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to thicken – about 10 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t catch at the bottom by scraping the bottom and sides of the saucepan with your spoon.

Add the rose water and the cardamom pods and continue cooking and stirring until the custard is thick and glossy – about another 2 minutes. The custard will resemble a white creme patissiere.

Pick out the cardamom pods, then pour the custard into ramekins, silicone moulds or a serving dish. Leave to cool in the fridge for a few hours, then sprinkle with slivered pistachios, rose petals and gold leaf if using.

Grilled Halloumi Salad with Pomegranate, Grapes & Thyme

I’ve wanted to make something with pomegranate for some time now. Ever since the chicken with pomegranate and yoghurt worked out so well, it’s become one of my favourite dishes.

Halloumi is a favourite so when I came across this recipe, it was just a matter of time and pomegranate. I didn’t fry the cheese in clarified butter, instead grilled the slices and then chopped into required sized pieces.

The salad was absolutely delicious and I shall be making it very soon. And then again.

 

Ingredients

Serves: 2 as a main salad, 4-6 as a side salad

400 g mixed greens (approx. 8-10 cups)
Seeds from one pomegranate (½ cup or more)
1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
Small bunch fresh thyme, washed, dried and stems removed
225 g halloumi cheese

Dressing:

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons sugar (sugar actually necessary as the molasses is not too sweet)
Juice from one lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed (less is more in this case, garlic I had must have been extra potent, so will go easy on it next time)

Method

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

In a large salad bowl, toss the greens with the fresh thyme, grapes and half the pomegranate seeds.

Blot the halloumi cheese with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Slice the cheese into slices just thick enough so they don’t disintegrate when on the grill. Grill for 7-10 mins each side. Turn and continue cooking until golden on both sides. Chop into bite-size pieces and toss the warm cheese into the salad.

Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss gently to coat. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Glazed roast duck

This is the best duck I have made to date. It came out beautifully brown, with five-spice, honey and other brown flavours with meat juicy and flavourful. A success, which I hope to repeat every time I want to roast a whole duck. It was the first time I decided to steam the duck simply because it reduced the overall cooking time to 1 hour 45minutes, which is better than the usual 2 1/2- 3 hours it usually took me to slow roast a duck.

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Here’s the recipe:

time to make 2½ hours, out of which 30 min is prep the night before

1 whole duck (4 to 5 pound)
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 slices fresh ginger (I went a bit crazy there as one can never have enough ginger)
4 cloves garlic (ditto)
1/2 bunch green onions (didn’t use these, forgot)
1 tangerine, peel cut in big strips
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce

To reduce the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the Chinese five-spice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Salt and five-spice powder makes a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate. I left the duck rest overnight in a larder so it was a bit air-dried as well.

When ready to rock and roast, stuff the duck cavity with the aromatics: the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tangerine peel. Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin. Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminium foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Seems obvious but when doing this, make sure you don’t get burnt by the escaping steam. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer and stir for 15 minutes until sauce thickens. The duck will be lacquered with the sweet glaze, which caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp and brown.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Take the foil off the duck, remove the rack with the duck and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out. Put the rack with the duck back inside the roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated in the glaze. Stick the whole thing in the oven.

Roast the duck for 1 hour, basting periodically with any remaining glaze to set in a deep mahogany colour. Tent the breast with some foil if it gets too dark. I didn’t need to do this as the duck was rather large so it could take the heat. The legs will wiggle easily when it’s done or the usual test – when pierce clear juices will run – works too.

I left it stand for a few minutes while waiting for the sweet potatoes to finish roasting for a mash. Carve and serve.

The duck was served with sweet potato mash and brussel sprouts with garlic and parmesan. Oh and a decent, if not extravagant, bottle of French red.
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Photos courtesy of Alec Muffett. Many thanks!