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.

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Prawn, tomato and ginger parcels

This is one of those chance recipes that just click into place and become favourite. I was investigating the range of chilled puff pastry dough in Waitrose (as you do) and my recipe radar went beep when I spotted the one on the back of JUS ROL All Butter puff. Go figure:

Ingredients

375g JUS ROL All Butter Puff pastry
150g prawns – cooked and peeled (I used frozen tiger prawns)
2.5cm piece root ginger – peeled and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes
small bunch of watercress – stalks removed (I used chives from my garden)
beaten egg
1 fresh chilli green or red finelly chopped
handful of petite pois
(the last two are my additions, not part of the original recipe)

Preheat over to 220C (200C for fan assisted over)/Gas 7

Divide the pastry into 4 and roll each part into a square approximately 12.5cm across

Combine the prawns, ginger, tomatoes and watercress and divide between the pastry squares, piling into the centre.

Brush the edges with beaten egg. Bring corners to the centre to meet over the filling. Pinch the parcels firmly at the corners to seal and fold back the point of the pastry from the centre to reveal the filling.

Brush pastry with egg and bake for approximately 15 minutes until pastry is risen and golden.

Having piled on more stuff than could fit the result was more flat than parcel-like. However, it was delicious and next time I will try to be less generous with the filling.

As it happened the king prawns were 20% off at Waitrose meat & deli counter, I had just the right amount of ginger left over, my tomatoes were ripe and in sufficient quantities to use them for cooking – the augaries were good and I obviously needed to make this that night. The sticky chicken I was planning to make that night could happily marinate in its juicy goodness for another day…

Pork belly with soy and star anise recipe

A recent find via the Telegraph recipes, a succulent dish of pork belly and aromatic ingredients such as star anise, chilli, ginger and garlic. I made it in the last throes of cold weather in the UK – it seemed to be a winter dish but the ginger lifts it to any season.

As it happens the cold, if sunny, spell continues so perhaps time to make it again.

 

IMG_7803, originally uploaded by alecmuffett.

The full set of photos is here.

Ingredients:

1.5kg (3lb 5oz) pork belly, bones removed, rind on
125ml (4fl oz) dark soy sauce
75ml (2¾fl oz) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
25ml (¾fl oz) rice vinegar
2 tbsp soft light-brown sugar
5cm (2in) piece root ginger, peeled and finely sliced (I added twice that much as we love ginger!)
3 star anise
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced (as usual, I added one more chilli)
12 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal (I didn’t have spring onions so used one red onion finely chopped)

Cut the belly into chunks about 5cm (2in) square. Put in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Skim off any scum. Strain the pork , rinse the pan and put the pork back in. Add about 1.5 litres (2 pints 15fl oz) fresh water (or light chicken stock ), plus all the other ingredients, setting aside half the spring onions . Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover tightly and leave to cook very gently for two hours, or until the pork is completely tender. Make sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more water if you need to.

Scoop out the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the liquor by boiling until you have a good flavour. Return the pork to the liquid and heat through. Serve in bowls with the rest of the spring onions sprinkled over the top. Serve with noodles or boiled rice, plus some kind of stir-fried greens – cabbage or pak choi. I got a bag of vegetables from M&S, which I quickly stir-fried with some oyster sauce.

Update: I made it again and this time I reduced the liquor to a syrupy reduction. This turns the dish from nice to fantastic!

Saag paneer

Another Indian side dish to join spiced okra in my Indian cooking escapades. Both spinach and cheese are popular in this household so how wrong could it go? Also, saag paneer is one of the dishes I tend to order when having an Indian meal (which is rarely until now).



IMG_7718, originally uploaded by alecmuffett.

IMG_7734 by alecmuffett IMG_7740 by alecmuffett IMG_7741 by alecmuffett IMG_7744 by alecmuffett

I used this BBC food recipe but instead of fresh spinach I got a bag of frozen one from Waitrose, which did just as well. Useful metric: cooking 10oz of frozen spinach will deliver the equivalent of 1lb of fresh, cooked one.

Ingredients:

750g/1½lb baby spinach, washed (I used >500g of frozen spinach)
3 tbsp vegetable oil (a bit less as I always try to go easy on fats)
1 tsp cumin seeds (only had ground cumin which I added after the onions, as they were frying)
1 large onion, chopped
thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into long julienne
1½ tbsp chopped garlic
1-2 green chillies, whole (got confused about this, but followed the recipe and discovered that whole chilli does transfer enough heat to dish. Chopped would have ruined it with too much heat).
2 tsp ground coriander (I only had seeds so crushed them myself)
salt, to taste
250g/8¾oz ready-made paneer (I found mine in Waitrose), cut into cubes (these were cut into 1cm cubes, but got a request to chop them smaller next time or quickly fry them before adding to spinach to have them a little more heated through)
½-1 tsp garam masala
6 tbsp whole milk, or 4 tbsp double cream (I used cream, so the fat I avoided in less oil shows up here. Better place, I say.)
1-2 tsp lemon juice, or to taste

  1. Blanch the spinach in hot water for three minutes or until wilted. Drain into a colander and run cold water over it until cool. In a food processor or blender, blend to a smooth paste and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the cumin and fry for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, then add the onion and fry over a low heat for about six minutes, until soft. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the ground coriander and salt to taste. Cook for another 30 seconds then add the spinach and a splash of water if necessary. The mixture should be loose but not watery. Bring to a boil and then simmer for three minutes.
  4. Add the paneer cubes, garam masala and milk or cream. Stir and cook for a few minutes or until the spinach is nice and creamy. Stir in the lemon juice to taste. Serve with pilaff rice or naan bread.

It tasted like proper saag paneer and I’ll definitely be making it again.

Quick chicken stir-fry with peppers, water chesnuts and onion

This is truly one of the improvised quick dishes. I was going to make chicken with okra Louisiana style but discovered that the okra has gone bad. So I had to regroup and stir-fry was the easiest (and fastest) option:

Ingredients:
Takes 10-15 mins (if you are fast chopper!)

groundnut oil
2 chicken breasts diced
2 garlic cloves
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger finally chopped
1 fresh green chilli finely chopped, use whole, do not deseed if you want a bit of kick
1 medium sized red onion chopped into slices so they retain shape and crispness
1 bell pepper cut into square pieces
1 can of water chestnuts
handful of cashews
packet of Amoy Teryiaki sauce

In a wok heat 1-2 tbsp of oil, fry the garlic, chilli and ginger. Throw in the cashews so they fry in the oil before everything else goes in. Add the chicken and fry for 3-4 mins depending on the size of the cubes. Add the water chestnuts cook for a minute, then add the pepper and onion and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the sauce, turn down the heat and stir for about a minute. Serve immediately.

Chicken tikka masala

I made this last week on a weekday and must say it was the best Indian dish I have had outside the Painted Heron. It is not from an Indian source but from Gordon Ramsay. The rice is wonderful too, cardamom and star anise working its fragrant magic.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

Groundnut oil
1 large onion, peeled
2 fresh green chillies
1″ piece of ginger, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
4 boneless chicken breasts (approx 150g each), cubed
10 dried curry leaves
4-6 tbsp natural yoghurt
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

For the steamed rice
400g basmati rice, rinsed
600ml cold water
Salt and pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 star anise

  1. Heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil in a pan. Slice the onion and fry in the oil. Meanwhile, deseed and chop the chilli, chop the ginger and add to the hot pan, crush in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
  2. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth (I transfered into a deepest pyrex ball I had and used a hand blender. This seems unnecessary as the sauce already look good, but it is an essential step to make the dish really creamy and make all the flavours blend.
  4. Add a tablespoon of fresh groundnut oil into the pan and fry the chicken pieces until lightly coloured (watch the video from Gordon on how to joint a chicken). Pour in the blended sauce and add the curry leaves. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Place the rice in a saucepan, add the cold water and season with salt and pepper (watch the video from Gordon on how to cook rice). Lightly crush the cardamom pods with your fingers and add to the pan with the star anise. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to steam for a further 5 minutes. Remove the cardamom and star anise. Fluff up the rice with a fork and set aside.
  6. Stir in the yoghurt to the chicken curry along with half the chopped coriander. Serve with the steamed rice and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Spicy dhal soup

After a rather nice dinner in an Indian restaurant, I decided to have a go at cooking some Indian dishes myself. I came across this red lentil soup, which turned out to be fragrant, tasty and filling. Serve with some warm grilled naan bread spread with a little garlic butter and cut into chunky fingers. If not bothered about keeping it vegetarian, serve with a decent amount of dry-fried bacon, it works wonderfully and turns it into a hearty dish.

Serves 4, takes 30 minutes to prepare. I made a double batch, which is enough for 8, for sure.

Ingredients:

225g dried red lentils
3 tbsp sunflower oil (used light & mild olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and chopped, plus extra to garnish, if you like
1 medium-hot green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
300ml hot vegetable stock (I used my own chicken stock, foregoing the vegetarian option)
200g can chopped tomatoes
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
100ml coconut cream
100g baby leaf spinach, to serve (I didn’t have any so I used lots of fresh parsley)
20g bunch fresh coriander, to serve
6 tbsp natural yogurt, to serve (optional)

  1. Put the lentils into a medium saucepan and cover with 900ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until tender and just falling apart. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pan, add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the spices and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, the lentils and their liquid, canned tomatoes, cayenne pepper and season with salt to taste. Cover and simmer for just 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then add the coconut cream. Blend, using a hand blender or in batches in a liquidiser, until the soup is almost smooth.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and most of the coriander leaves and cook for a further minute. Using a hand blender, blend briefly until the spinach is just roughly chopped.
  5. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of yogurt, the remaining coriander leaves and some finely chopped red chilli, if you like.

Note:
Nutritional Information per serving
369kcals
16.1g fat (1.6g saturated)
18.3g protein
41.6g carbs
7.6g sugar
1.6g