Pumpkin and tahini spread

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Smooth, creamy and  with a warm spices note – Autumn doesn’t get any better than this. It was supposed to be eaten in small portions with savoury cookies, but soon spoons made an appearance. TEoU and I ended up having it as pumpkin purée for lunch…

Pumpkin and tahini spread (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • About 1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 70g tahini paste
  • 120g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Method

Heat the oven to 180C. Spread the pumpkin out on a medium-sized baking tray, pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon and salt. Mix well, cover the tray tightly with tinfoil and roast for 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Transfer the cooled pumpkin of the bowl of a food processor, along with the tahini, yoghurt and garlic. Roughly pulse so that everything is combined into a coarse paste

To serve, spread the butternut in a wavy pattern over a flat plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and a drizzle of syrup.

PS – Cookies (Taralli Caserecci Pugliesi) courtesy of Coop Fine Food 

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Roasted pumpkin wedges with dill sour cream

The good thing is that this is a delicious pumpkin dish. The bad one, that Autumn is here. I somehow feel I didn’t had enough of Summer. From here to Christmas is only a small leap. Thank God for the produce of the season to help me cross this bridge…

Roasted pumpkin wedges with sour cream (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)

Ingredients 

  • For the wedges
  • 1 pumpkin (about 700g), desseeded  pumpkin, and cut 1 about 2cm slices, skin on
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 3 table spoons of  finely chopped thyme
  • 6  table spoons of parsley
  • the grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2  crushed garlic cloves
  • Enough olive oil to brush the pumpkin wedges

For the dill sour cream

  • 12o mL of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped dill
  • salt and withe pepper

Method

Pre heat the oven to 190 oC.

Slice the pumpkin, keeping the skin. The wedges should be about 2 cm thick .

Lay the pumpkin wedges on a tray lined with baking parchment  and brush them with olive oil

For the crust, by mix  in a small bowl the Parmesan, the chopped parsley and thyme, the lemon zest, the garlic and some pepper (check for salt. Normally you won’t need to add it as the Parmesan is salty enough).

Sprinkle generously the wedges, with the crust mix.They should all be covered with a few millimeter layer of crust. If the

Put in the oven and roast for 30min or until the wedges are soft and tender. If the topping starts to get too dark, cover the tray with  foil

In the meanwhile, start the dill sour cream. Mix all the ingredients (sour cream dill, salt and pepper).

You can serve it warm or cold (better warm…)


Pumpkin Soup with Chicken and Ginger-Braised Leeks

This is not an easy to make soup. But, it is totally worth the effort… It might even be the best pumpkin soup I have had,  with the obvious exception of  Mrs Caramelized Sr’s creations. Just bumped into the recipe almost by accident on David Leite‘s website. By coincidence, I had all the main ingredients, a lot of time in my hands and the inclement weather was unsuitable for any attempt to try anything outdoors.

Half way through the making of the soup,  while struggling with so many elements and details, I took a closer look to the post header. It turned out this dish is authored by  Charlie Trotter, better know for its stylish and imaginative cuisine (meaning – a bit too difficult for the rest of us mortals). I probably would have never had the guts to try it if I had realized this earlier. But, once you start doing it, what else can you do but carry on and finish the dish?

A couple of tweaks were made though. The original recipe calls for thyme to be added to the pumpkin roast, and sage to finish the dish. I had none, either dry or alive, and simply omitted it. Also, instead of chicken breasts I had chicken thighs. Ended up doing the same that  Yotam Ottholengi does for its chicken and buttermilk cold soup.

Pumpkin Soup with Chicken and Ginger-Braised Leeks

Ingredients

 For the preserved ginger

  • 6 tablespoons peeled and julienned fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups (=300g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (=375mL water)

 For the soup

  • 1 small pumpkin, halved and seeded (I picked already cut pumkin, about 1,5kg)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 cups (=mL water) chicken stock, or enough to cover the chicken thighs
  • 2 leeks (white part only), cut into 1 cm inch-thick slices
  • 5 tablespoons (=70g) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups (= 375mL water) chicken stock (or enough to cover the chicken thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup preserved ginger
  • 4 chicken thighs
Directions
Make the preserved ginger

Place the ginger, 1/2 cup (=100g) of the sugar, and 1/2 (=125mL) cup of the water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain the liquid, and repeat the process two more times, reserving the final cooking liquid to store the ginger. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Make the soup

Preheat the oven to 350°F (=175°C). Season the flesh of the pumpkin with salt and pepper and rub with the olive oil. Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet. Add enough water to have about 1cm water in the oven dish 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender.[the recipe called for thyme sprigs to be put under the pumpkin, but I had none at home.]

In the meanwhile, start the kitchen broth. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic on a low heat for five to 10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the chicken, and the salt and the pepper to taste. Pour in stock just to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Reserve the broth and shred the chicken off the bones while it is hot . I always discard the skin, but that is entirely up to your taste.

Cook the leeks with 2 tablespoons (= 30g) of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add 1 cup of the stock and the 1 tablespoon ginger and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes, or until the leeks are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Keep warm.

Puree the 1/4 cup ginger and any residual ginger juice, the chicken broth, and the pumpkin pulp until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the soup in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until warm. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons (=40g) butter and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon some of the leeks into the center of each bowl and ladle the soup around the leeks. Arrange some of the shredded chicken in the center of each bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. [the recipe called for sage leaves to be added, but I had none at home.]



Pumpkin bread

Normally, I only publish dishes I have made with my own hands. But, this pumpkin bread baked by the lovely K. made me change my mind. I picked a slice, and  just couldn’t stop eating it. I had to go for a second slice. And a glass of milk.  Then, everything make sense again…

Pumpkin bread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 (=100g)  white flour
  • 3/4 (=100g) wholewheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (see recipe below)
  • ½ cup (=115mL ) olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup water (=60mL)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F (=180°C) and generously coat the inside of a loaf pan with your preferred cooking spray. Use a non-stick pan, if you have one.

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Set aside your dry ingredients.

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices thoroughly. Combine your wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, mixing lightly. Fold in the nuts and pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Bake the bread for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. If the loaf is browning too quickly on top, you can cover it with foil for the last ten to fifteen minutes of baking.

Turn your pumpkin bread out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Quick breads taste great warm but will crumble badly when you cut them before they have cooled completely. The bread will taste best after sitting for several hours or overnight, to allow the flavors to marry

Pumpkin purée

To make pumpkin purée, cut a small pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and strings. Lay the halves facedown on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour.

You can also cut your pumpkin into pieces and roast or boil them until tender. This makes removing the skin much easier. Cool the squash, scoop out the flesh, and mash it with a fork. Freeze whatever squash you don’t use


		

Hot sweet baked pumpkin

And to start well to Autumn, a lovely pumpkin dish by Nigel Slater. Sweet, hot and delicious…

Hot sweet baked pumpkin 

Ingredients

  • 1,5kg pumpkin or butternut squash, unpeeled weight, chopped in 3cm cubes
  • 50g butter

 For the dressing:

  • sugar 4 tablespoons
  • water 200ml
  • ginger a thumb-sized lump, chopped
  • 1 large, medium hot, chopped ed chilli
  • the juice and the zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • coriander a small bunch, finely chopped

Method

Set the oven at 200 oC/gas mark 6. Peel the pumpkin, discard the seeds and fibres, and cut the flesh into small pieces, about 3cm in thickness. Put them in a roasting tin with the butter and bake for 50-60 minutes, turning occasionally, till soft enough to take the point of a knife.

Put the sugar and water in a shallow pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer till the liquid has reduced by half. Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the ginger and put in the bowl of a food processor. Halve the chilli lengthways and chop roughly, removing the seeds if you wish for a less spicy seasoning. Add the chilli to the bowl, then grate in the zest of the limes. Squeeze in the juice from the limes, then process to a coarse paste.

Stir the spice mixture into the syrup and simmer for a minute before adding the fish sauce and coriander. Remove from the heat.

When the pumpkin is fully tender, spoon most of the chilli sauce over, toss gently to coat each piece, then return to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes. Toss with the remaining chilli sauce and serve.


Roasted vegetables

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A special roast required for ultra special roasted vegetables. That was why I used a modification to the Yotam Ottolenghi’s ultimate winter couscous recipe I cooked a few weeks back (orignal post here). Follow the methods, and then forget to add the chickpeas and the couscous (water is still needed to keep it moist, though).

The ultimate Winter couscous

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Another recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s column The new vegetarian on the Guardian. It took me a while to realize that it was worthwhile to face an inordinate amount of ingredients: his recipes are absolutely delicious and full of flavors. This one has over 20 ingredients, but it is very straight forward. Plus, the veggies can be done in bulk to eat latter (reheating won’t change its organoleptic properties). Seriously, how hard can it be to roast some vegetables and put them on top of couscous?

The ultimate Winter couscous

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (it is easier to be blessed with a sunny day in November than finding parsnips in Switzerland. I replaced it with a different type of pumpkin).
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • half teaspoon of  salt
  • half teaspoon ground ginger
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • half teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 300g squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks (weight after cleanning)
  • 100g  dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 200g chickpeas (cooked or tinned)
  • 350ml water (or chickpea liquor)
  • 170g couscous
  • 1 big pinch saffron fronds
  • 260ml vegetable stock
  • 20g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 25g harissa (I ignored it)
  • 25g preserved lemon, finely chopped (I ignored it)
  • 1 handful picked coriander leaves (I forgot to add, but at the speed this was eaten it didn’t seem to be instrumental for the recipe)

Methods

Preheat the oven to 190oC/gas mark 5. Put the carrots, parsnips and shallots into a large, oven-proof dish, add the cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, four tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and all the spices, and mix. Roast for 15 minutes, then add the squash, stir and roast for 35 minutes more, by which time the vegetables should have softened but retained their bite. Add the apricots, chickpeas and liquid, then return to the oven for 10 minutes, until hot.

Around 15 minutes before the vegetables will be ready, put the couscous in a heatproof bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, the saffron and half a teaspoon of salt. Boil the stock, pour over the couscous and cover with clingfilm. Leave for 10 minutes, then add the butter and fluff up with a fork until it melts in. Cover again and leave somewhere warm (I followed the couscous instructions for time and volume).

To serve, fill the base of a deep plate with couscous. Stir the harissa and lemon into the vegetables, taste, adjust the seasoning and spoon on to the centre of the couscous. Garnish with lots of coriander.