Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Scones

‘These tasty savoury scones are best eaten warm with lashings of butter, or they can be served with prosciutto slices for a weekend brunch’, states Jacque Malouf. They’re also very good for dinner alongside an array of Canalside roasted vegetables.

Pumpkin, Cheese and Rosemary Scones
Makes about 8 scones

Ingredients
250g pumpkin or squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
250g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
60g cold butter, cut into small cubes
180ml buttermilk or yoghurt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
100g sharp cheese (feta, cheddar, goat, as you prefer), cut into ½-inch cubes

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the squash or pumpkin on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, and then toss with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender and lightly caramelised. Set aside to cool. When cool, chop the squash into ¼-inch cubes.

Increase the oven temperature to 225C and butter a baking tray.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Rub in the butter until the mixture has an even consistency, like fine breadcrumbs.

Fold in the buttermilk, rosemary leaves, cheese, and cubed squash or pumpkin.

Knead gently in the bowl and then tip onto a floured board. Gently roll out to 1 inch thick. Cut into scones using a 2½-inch cutter.

Place the scones on the baking tray and bake for 12 minutes. Remove to a rack and eat warm or cold.

Recipe adapted from Jacqui Malouf, Breakfasts (2005).

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Bobbie Griffith’s Pumpkin Muffins

Bobbie Griffith was, I think, my second cousin twice removed, or something like that. Anyway, she lived in Wisconsin and this is her recipe for pumpkin muffins. They’re spicy and comforting, and easy.

Shaker Style Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients
2/3 cup soft brown sugar, packed into the cup
¼ cup treacle
½ cup butter at room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée (see below)
1½ cups plain flour
¼ cup oat bran (or use 1¾ cups plain flour)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 180. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper muffin cases.

Cream the sugar, treacle and butter together until very light and fluffy. If you use an electric mixer you can leave it to do its work for as long as five minutes if you like. Add the eggs and pumpkin and blend well.

Combine the flour, oat bran (if using), bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin batter and mix only until blended—don’t overbeat.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted into the centre of a muffin. Let cool a little before eating.

To make puréed pumpkin or squash
Preheat the oven to 190.

Slice your pumpkin into large wedges and remove the seeds. Place it on a baking sheet and roast until it’s cooked and tender throughout. Depending on the size of the wedges this should take between 15-30 minutes. Peel the squash and mash or purée with a hand blender until smooth. You can freeze any extra.

Pumpkin muffins

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Squash and Pink Peppercorns

‘Wow—that looks delicious!’, exclaimed a friend as we unpacked our lunches yesterday. It was. The ribbons of orange squash soften in lime juice spiked with the sweet spiciness of pink peppercorns. (These are essential; substituting black pepper will not work.). You can make this well in advance if you like.

Anna Jones recommends serving with tofu crisped in a pan with honey and soy, and brown rice, to make a dinner.

Squash and Pink Peppercorn Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients
500g pumpkin or squash, peeled and deseeded
1 lime
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
Big handful of mint, dill, parsley or coriander, roughly chopped

Preparation
Shave the squash into thin ribbons, using a vegetable peeler or whatever specialist gear you happen to have. Place the ribbons in a bowl.
Zest the lime over the ribbons, squeeze in the juice, and toss together with the salt.
Put the pink peppercorns in a mortar and crush them roughly before adding to the salad.
Stir in the herbs and serve.

Recipe adapted from Anna Jones, The Modern Cook’s Year (2017).

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Spicy Pumpkin with Barley

My friend Sharon gave me a copy of Diana Henry’s beautiful new cookbook. It consists of a series of menus. This magnificent recipe is from the menu called ‘Midnight at the Oasis’. She recommends serving it alongside some pickled vegetables with other nibbles, semolina bread with orange and aniseed, olive oil braised leeks with harissa and dill, roast sprouting broccoli with chile, feta and preserved lemon yoghurt . . . well, I’ll stop there but it’s a pretty mesmerising list of dishes, no?

This particular dish combines the buttery crunch of barley with the melting texture of roast pumpkin, all topped with very spicy red shatta. (I’d not heard of it either, but it’s apparently a first cousin of zhug.) It turns out to be a thick, chile-hot blend of fresh green herbs with tomato and cumin. It’s very good.

I have no idea where you get black barley, so I used ordinary pearl (not instant) barley, and it was delicious.

Pumpkin with shatta and black barley
Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pumpkin
3 tablespoons olive oil
10g butter
1.5kg pumpkin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar
3cm ginger, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

For the barley
10g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 small onions or shallots
250g barley
5 tablespoons dry white vermouth
700ml water or stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the shatta
5 red chiles, 4 de-seeded and all roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
50ml olive oil
50ml water
50g tomato purée
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of ½ a small lemon
30g coriander and parsley in any proportion

Preparation
To make the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 190C. Put the olive oil and butter into a roasting pan large enough to allow the pumpkin to lie in a single layer, and melt in the oven while you prepare the pumpkin. Halve the pumpkin and remove the seeds. You can peel it or not as you prefer. Cut it into slices about 3cm thick.

Toss the pumpkin in the melted butter and oil, and roast for 20 minutes.
Add the fennel, ginger and garlic, toss, and roast for another 20 minutes or so, or until the pumpkin is tender and begins to caramelise on the edges. Set aside.

To make the barley, heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions (or shallots) until they are soft but not coloured. Add the barley and stir it about for about 2 minutes so that it gets coated with butter. Add the vermouth and cook until about half of it has evaporated. Add the water or stock, bay leaves, and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, with the lid on, for about 40 minutes, or until the barley is al dente. The liquid should be absorbed but check a bit beforehand and if it’s still very liquidly, take off the cover and raise the heat a bit so that some of the liquid can evaporate.

To make the shatta, purée everything except the herbs in a blender and pulse into a chunky purée. Add the herbs and pulse it again so that you have a red purée flecked with green—don’t over-blend this. Set aside

To serve, arrange the barley on a big platter and set the pumpkin on top. Spoon some of the shatta over the top, and serve the rest on the side, in a little bowl.

From Diana Henry, How To Eat A Peach (2018).

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: That Squash You Got in the Share Several Weeks Ago…

Is it still sitting about in your kitchen? Here is what to do with it.

Anchovies, capers and cheese combine with the soft, unctuous texture of the squash to make a thick, salty sauce for pasta, or serve it as a main course with a vibrant multi-coloured salad of greens, red radicchio and herbs. It’s good hot or cold. This Italian recipe from Apulia can be prepared with winter squash such as the little greeny-orange one we got a few weeks ago, or a butternut, or a pumpkin.

Winter Squash With Anchovies, Capers, Olives and Cheese
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 pounds winter squash or pumpkin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, soaked for 5 minutes in cold water, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, an chopped if large
½ cup black olives
2 tablespoons grated strong-flavoured, hard cheese
freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Peel the squash if you like, or leave it unpeeled, as you prefer. Cut it into 1-inch chunks.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet and add the onion, garlic clove, anchovy fillets and capers. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the squash, stir together, add about 1/4 cup of water if the pan seems dry, and cover. Cook, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Add the olives and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for another 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with pepper.

Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle on the cheese and serve.

Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times Cooking.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Crispy pumpkin gnocchi with a simple butter sauce . . . a very good dish for an Autumn day. Serve with a green salad.

Making gnocchi is very easy. Making beautiful gnocchi is a bit trickier; I’ve not mastered it despite numerous attempts. Fortunately even the most peculiarly-shaped gnocchi are delicious. I have learned a few things about making them, though. First of all, the less flour you use, the more tender your gnocchi will be. Resist the urge to add a lot of flour to the dough and accept that it will be a bit sticky. Second, for this recipe, it’s important to let the pumpkin purée drain for at least half an hour. The drier your purée the less sticky the dough, and the less flour you’ll need to add to make it workable. . . Finally, you can make this in stages. The shaped gnocchi can sit around for ages until you’re ready to cook them, and since you re-heat the cooked gnocchi in the butter sauce right before serving, you can also cook these in advance and leave the final toss in the butter until the last minute.

I apologise for the eclectic mix of measurements (tablespoons, cups and grams) in this recipe, and also for its length. Do try it—it’s very tasty indeed. One small Canalside pumpkin should produce exactly the right amount of purée for this recipe.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter
Serves 2

Ingredients

Gnocchi
2/3 cup drained pumpkin purée (see below for preparing your pumpkin puree)
1/2 cup ricotta
1¼ cups plain flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus more to grate on the finished dish
1 egg
¼ tsp salt and pepper to taste

Sage Butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
30g butter
20-30 fresh sage leaves

Preparation

First prepare your pumpkin purée:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash the pumpkin to remove any residual earth, and then cut it in half from top to bottom. Turn each half on its side and slice into 1-inch hemispheres. Drizzle a little oil on a baking tray (or several baking trays if necessary) and lay the pumpkin slices on the tray. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Remove from the oven. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scrape the roasted pumpkin flesh into a fine sieve, discarding (or eating . . .) the seeds and skin. Using your hands (or a stick blender), mash the pumpkin into a purée. Leave the puree to drain in the sieve for at least half an hour. You want the purée to be as dry as possible.

Make the gnocchi:
Mix all the gnocchi ingredients in a bowl to make a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a floured board and roll into a log. You might need to incorporate a bit more flour, but try not to add much. Cut the log into 6 pieces and roll each into a rope about an inch thick. Using a sharp knife cut each rope into 1 inch squares. These are your gnocchi. If you wish, use the tines of a fork to press little ridges onto each square. These are attractive and will help the butter sauce adhere. You can leave the shaped gnocchi to sit at room temperature until you’re ready to cook them. It’s best to arrange them on a piece of baking paper so they don’t stick to your worktop.
When you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Drop about half the gnocchi into the water, one by one, keeping the water at a boil. Give them a stir. After a minute or two they will start rising to the surface. This means those gnocchi are cooked. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and set them on a rack to drain. Cook the remaining gnocchi. If you’re not ready to eat yet, the cooked gnocchi will wait perfectly contentedly until you are.

Finish the dish:
When you’re ready to eat, melt the oil and about a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the cooked gnocchi and sauté for several minutes, until the gnocchi begin to turn golden brown and crispy. Add the remaining butter. When it melts, add the sage leaves and toss about for another 2-3 minutes. The gnocchi will be golden, the sage crisp and the butter slightly browned. Grate some cheese and black pepper over the top and serve.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Roasted Pumpkin, Walnuts, Grains

This combination of soft, roasted pumpkin, red onions, and buttery walnuts blends with the chewiness of farro or barley in this easy recipe. Farro is the Italian name for hulled wheat grains, which are toothsome and soothing. You could also use barley, which pairs beautifully with walnuts and cheese. If you want to make this a more substantial meal you can add a green salad.

Roasted Pumpkin with Walnuts and Grains

Serves 4.

1 cup = 8 fluid ounces = 250 ml (roughly)

Ingredients

2 cups farro or pearl barley, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
5 cups water (or stock)
3 cups pumpkin, cut into 1/2-inch dice (no need to peel unless you hate the peel)
1 large red onion cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup walnuts, deeply toasted and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons walnut oil (or use more olive oil)
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preparation

Preheat oven to 180C.
Combine the farro or barley, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grain is tender, about 40 to 60 minutes. Taste it often as it cooks. You want it al dente, not mushy. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and set aside.

While the grain is cooking toss the pumpkin, onion, and thyme with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt and spread onto a large baking sheet. Try to arrange it in a single layer.

Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, tossing every 7 minutes or so to get browning on all sides. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.

In a large bowl gently toss together the everything except the goat cheese. Taste and add a bit of salt if necessary.
Arrange on a platter garnished with the goat cheese and serve.

Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks.

Dom’s Recipe of the Week: Frittata from the oven

This is a great way to use up odds and ends of fresh veg, and leftovers too. You can use more or less whatever you fancy from the list, though I do think some kind of onion is essential. As the egg is poured straight into the roasting dish full of hot veg, you don’t need to fry this frittata at all, but it helps to have a heavy ceramic or cast-iron dish, which retains the heat well. And the eggs should be at room temperature, not cold from the fridge.

Oven-roasted roots frittata

Ingredients

About 600g mixed winter veg, such as onions, carrots, squash or pumpkin, parsnip, celeriac, beetroot, jerusalem artichokes, black spanish radish, potatoes
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
7 large or 8 medium eggs
A handful of mixed herbs, such as curly parsley, chives and thyme, finely chopped
About 20g Parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or other well-flavoured hard cheese, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Meanwhile, prepare your chosen veg: peel shallots or onions and quarter or thickly slice; peel carrots and cut into 5mm slices; peel squash or pumpkin, deseed and cut into 2–3cm cubes; peel parsnip, celeriac and beetroot and cut into 1–2cm cubes; cut potatoes into 1–2cm cubes.

Put all the veg into an ovenproof dish, about 23cm square. Add the garlic, oil and plenty of salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the veg are all tender and starting to caramelise in places.

Beat the eggs together with the chopped herbs and some more salt and pepper. Take the dish from the oven, pour the egg evenly over the veg and scatter over the grated cheese. Return to the oven for 10–15 minutes until the egg is all set and the top is starting to colour. If your oven has a grill, you can use that to accelerate the browning of the top.

Leave to cool slightly, then slide the frittata out on to a plate or board. Serve warm or cold. Perfect lunchbox fare…

Thanks to River Cottage

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: A Splendid Curry from Meera Sodha

Another recipe from Meera Sodha’s prize-winning Fresh India. The coconut milk gives a deep, creamy richness to the dish. This makes a good dinner with rice.

Pumpkin, Black-Eyed Bean and Coconut Curry (‘Olan’)
Serves 4

Ingredients
For the curry
1.2kg pumpkin or squash
coconut or rapeseed oil, to drizzle and fry
1 tablespoon garam masala
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 green finger chillies, slit lengthways
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 400g tin of black-eyed beans, drained, or about 2 cups of beans you’ve cooked yourself
150g fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges, or 1 400g tin of tomatoes
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 400ml tin of coconut milk
For the curry leaf tarka
10 curry leaves

Preparation
Heat the oven to 200C.

Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, then cut it into crescents around 2cm at the widest part. Transfer to a big bowl, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with the garam masala, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Toss to coat evenly, then arrange in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the chillies and onion. Cook for 12 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden, then add the garlic. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the beans and stir to mix together. Add the tomatoes. If you are using tinned tomatoes (not Meera Sodha’s recommendation but that was all I had to hand and it was still delicious)—if you’re using tinned tomatoes add about ¾ of the tin first; you might not need the entire tin. Cook for 5 minutes until soft and jammy around the edges. Add a bit more tinned tomato if you think the sauce can absorb a bit more and cook for a few more minutes.

Next, add the turmeric, ⅓ teaspoon of black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt and the coconut milk. Tip the roasted pumpkin into the pan and stir to mix. Cover with the lid and leave to heat through for 5 minutes. Check for salt and chilli, adjusting if you wish, then transfer to a serving dish.

If you like, finish off the dish with a curry-leaf tarka: put 2 tablespoons of oil into a small frying pan over a medium to high heat. When hot, throw in the curry leaves and let them crackle and turn translucent in the oil. Pour over the pumpkin, then serve.

(Recipe adapted from Meera Sodha, Fresh India.)

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Roast Anything with Anything Pesto

Roasted vegetables dotted with cheerful, green pesto. Delicious for a mid-week dinner. It’s nice served with brown rice, or any other grain you might have lying about, but it’s good on its own as well. I suspect it would be tasty tossed onto pasta.

Roasted Anything with Anything Pesto

Serves 2

Ingredients

Roast Vegetables

A mixture of root vegetables and/or pumpkin. For two people one of those little Canalside squashes, 2 medium potatoes, and 4 large carrots would be fine, for instance.
shell of a squeezed-out lemon, if you happen to keep such things around.
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper to taste
Any twigs of thyme or rosemary that you happen to have to hand
1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled

Anything Pesto

1 handful of packaged pumpkin or melon seeds, or pine nuts, or almonds, or a mixture. I think you could add sunflower seeds, as well.
1 bunch of any fresh herbs. A mixture is fine and the quantity isn’t crucial. I used a blend of parsley and a little dill.
any feathery carrot tops
Olive oil
1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

Optional Toppings

Capers
hard cheese, grated or chopped into little cubes
Home-made roasted squash seeds (see below)
Yoghurt

Preparation

For the Roast Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Scrub the root vegetables and peel them if you prefer them unpeeled. Cut them into bite-sized pieces. Ditto the squash or pumpkin, if you are using it. After you cut it open remove the seeds and set them aside for use in the pesto.

Place all the vegetables in a roasting tin and toss them together with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Slice the lemon shell into thin shreds and add this to the tray. Scatter any thyme or rosemary over the top. Place the unpeeled whole head of garlic in the tray as well.

Put the tray in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender when you poke them with a fork. Toss them periodically so that they roast evenly.

For the Squash or Pumpkin Seed Garnish (if used)

Once you’ve put the vegetables in the oven you can prepare the fresh pumpkin seeds. Wash them carefully and pick out the seeds from the tangle of pumpkin fibres. Place the cleaned seeds on a baking tray and put them in the oven as well. Roast them for 10-15 minutes, tossing occasionally. They should begin to turn golden. At that point take the tray out of the oven and toss the seeds with a little more olive oil and salt. Put them back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes. They should now be crisp and toasted. Set them aside to cool. Nibble a few while you prepare the pesto.

For the Nuts or Seeds for the Pesto

Place the nuts or packaged seeds on a baking tray and put them in the oven to toast. Check them after about 3 minutes as pine nuts in particular burn easily. Once they start to turn golden remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.

For the Anything Pesto

Blend the herbs and carrot tops (should you have any) in a hand-held blender, or, if you are feeling energetic, pound them a bit at a time in a mortar and pestle.

Add about the toasted nuts/seeds, and blend/pound some more to make a thick, herby paste.

Find the roasted head of garlic and squeeze out the now-tender garlic from each clove. Add this to the pesto and blend. Thin the pesto with olive oil until it reaches the consistency you like.

Grate in the zest of the lemon. Juice the lemon and add some juice to the pesto, along with some salt and pepper. Add a pinch of pepper flakes if you like.

Now taste it: does it need more lemon juice? More salt? More oil? Adjust the flavours and consistency until you are pleased with the result.

To Serve

Arrange the roasted vegetables on a platter. Dot or pour the pesto over the top and garnish as desired with capers, cheese, or your home-made roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve, if you like, with a bowl of salted yoghurt on the side.

You can serve this together with rice or another grain if you like. Perhaps you have some leftover rice in the freezer?

(Recipe adapted from Anna Jones, The Guardian.)

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