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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Venison steaks with cranberry sauce and celeriac puree

I love venison, especially in winter and this year I decided to try as many ways of preparing it as I can find. I think steaks are the best way, though I am partial to venison sausages with red wine (used to get them at the Kingsland Edwardian butchers in Portobello Road).

This recipe is a combined one. The venison steaks with the cranberry sauce are a Delia recipe, the celeriac puree is from BBC food site.


Venison steaks and cranberry sauce

For the steaks
2 venison steaks (about 14 oz/400 g total weight)
1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
2 level teaspoons crushed peppercorns
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
salt

For the sauce
2 rounded tablespoons cranberry sauce
zest and juice ½ orange
zest and juice ½ small lemon
1 rounded teaspoon freshly grated root ginger (about 1 inch/2.5 cm cube, after peeling)
1 level teaspoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons port

If you want to, you can make the sauce way ahead of time (even several days). Take off the outer zest of half the orange and the lemon using a potato peeler, then with a sharp knife shred it into really fine strips, about ½ inch (1cm) long.

Then place the cranberry sauce, ginger and mustard in a saucepan, add the squeezed orange and lemon juice, and place over a medium heat. Now bring it up to simmering point, whisking well to combine everything together, then as soon as it begins to simmer turn the heat off, stir in the port and then pour it into a jug to keep till needed.

When you’re ready to cook the steaks, heat the oil in a medium-sized, thick-based frying pan. Dry the steaks thoroughly with kitchen paper, then press the crushed peppercorns firmly over both sides of the steaks. When the oil is smoking hot, drop the steaks into the pan and let them cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium (4 minutes for rare and 6 minutes for well done).

Halfway through, add the shallots and move them around the pan to cook and brown at the edges. Then 30 seconds before the end of the cooking time pour the sauce in – not over, but around the steaks. Let it bubble for about 20 seconds, season with salt, and then serve the steaks with the sauce poured over.

Celeriac puree

700g/9oz celeriac
70g/2oz unsalted butter
70ml/2fl oz double cream or 100ml milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the celeriac in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, if you want, add 2 medium sized potatoes. Drain well and blend all of the ingredients either in a food processor or a hand blender (I use the latter). Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and blend to a purée.

Tagliatelle al ragu

As a student I perfected my own version of spag bol – who doesn’t! It came to mind as I had another of those dinners coming up when I couldn’t really be away from my guests before or during the meal and needed something hot and delicious in a pot to plonk in the middle of the kitchen table. Spag bol seemed like a good option but given my recent cooking escapades it seemed appropriate to search for a ‘proper’ spaghetti bolognese recipe. And that is how I came across tagliatelle al ragu, which is apparently how the real Italians do it. One of the surprises was the amount of vegetables that went into the pot – I was doing 4 times the recipe below. Another surprise was the subtlety of the flavours and juiciness of the meat. This is no spag bol!

The recipe that appealed to me most was from Gustoso:

Italy’s most loved but misinterpreted dish has to be tagliatelle al ragu. When it left Italy’s shores it somehow become spaghetti bolognese. The real bolognese dish is made by tossing a little rich, slow-cooked ragu (a meat sauce, usually veal and pork) through fresh egg noodles.

There’s a number of tricks to an outstanding ragu sauce. First you really need to let it simmer for a good 3 hours to allow all the flavours to meld together and fill your house with divine smells. A dash of milk is added to the ragu sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and wine.

My own trick for browning minced meat is to do it in red wine instead of using oil. The flavour is noticeably richer and arguably healthier – substituting fat with alcohol…

Ingredients:
Serves 4

30g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped or grated
90g pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
220g minced ground veal or beef (I used half pork/half beef mince)
220g minced ground pork
2 sprigs of oregano, chopped or 1/4 tsp dried oregano
pinch of nutmeg
½ cup dry white wine
3/4 cup milk, or soy milk
400g tin chopped tomatoes or fresh (I used tinned ones)
250ml beef stock (I didn’t use stock, there was plenty of liquid).
400g tagliatelle
grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion, celery, carrot and pancetta. Cook over a moderate heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the minced beef, pork and oregano to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mince has browned slightly.

Pour in the wine, increase the heat and boil over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the wine has been absorbed. Stir in the milk and reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomato and half the stock, partially cover the pan and leave to simmer gently over very low heat for 3 hours. Add more of the stock as it is needed to keep the sauce moist.

Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the tageliatelle, toss with the sauce and serve with grated Parmesan.

Cream of fennel soup

This, together with the white bean & smoked bacon soup, has to be my favourite. Another worthwhile recipe from The Sunday Times magazine. It’s sophisticated, smooth with complex flavours, the result of combination of fennel, Pernod and nutmeg.

Serves 6
75g butter (I use about 50g max)
1 medium leek, white part only, chopped
3 large fennel bulbs, trimmed of stalks (you want about 750g trimmed weight), chopped, and fronds reserved (these really make a difference when serving)
1 medium, floury potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
4 tbsp Pernod
1 litre chicken stock
150ml double cream
Salt and pepper
Nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large saucepan (again I use my 26cm Le Creuset casserole dish). Add the leek and fennel and sweat gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften. Add the potato, stir, then pour in the Pernod and cook for a minute to bubble off the alcohol. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Cook until the potato is done — about 15 minutes. Add the cream and bring to the boil again, then turn off the heat and liquidise. To do this I use a handheld blender which works really well, turning the soup into lovely smooth texture. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, dusting the top of each one with nutmeg and scattering with some of the reserved fennel fronds.