However you spent halloween, at a fancy dress party, shepherding little ghosts and ghouls round on the trick or treat circuit or staying up to scare yourself to death on fright films, now that it is over let’s get down to the serious stuff – cooking with pumpkins.
I did a quick run through the books on my shelves and pumpkin recipes on line and came to the conclusion that there is no excuse for not using the flesh from the pumpkins used to decorate the porch for the ghostly evening. I try not to get on my high horse in these blogs but the waste of food in the form of pumpkins really upsets me.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1.91 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the U.S. in 2014 were only used for lanterns before being trashed and in the UK we are no better. The UK buys over one million pumpkins during October – around 90% of annual pumpkin sales. Once carved, the majority are thrown away with around 18,000 tonnes ending up in landfill according to the North London Waste Authority (NLWA).
Don’t give me the stories about nobody in the house liking pumpkin – would they be able to identify it in a lovely vegetable stew? or not knowing what to do? – I found 20 pages of recipes from all over the world in my Ecosia search. Let’s aim to reduce the figure of pumpkin waste by next halloween.
So how about it? Send me your favourite pumpkin recipes. The three best will win a copy of Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen and I’ll publish them in future blogs.
For more information on what you can do with scooped out pumpkins this Halloween, a selection of handy recipes can be found on the Love Food Hate Waste website
One of my favourites is Pumpkin Bread from Flavoured Breads by Linda Collister
700g pumpkin or winter squash, 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (don’t be tempted to reduce this), 2 teaspoons of golden caster sugar, 15g fresh yeast*, 350g strong white bread flour, extra flour for dusting, 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt to glaze.
* or use 7g sachet of dried yeast, mix with the flour before adding the pumpkin puree.
Peel, remove seeds and dice the pumpkin into 1cm cubes, you need 400g. Cook this without water, either roast or steam. Put in a processor with the oil and puree until smooth. Then allow to cool until just luke warm add the salt and sugar.
If you are using freash yeast mix in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Mix the paste into the puree.
Measure the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Spoon in the puree then mix in the flour to make a soft dough. Turn our onto a floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 5 – 10 mins (or 5mins in a mixer on a dough hook.
Shape into a round loaf and put on a baking sheet covered to rise until doubled – about 1 1/2 hours.
Press your thumb into the middle to make small hollow and brush with the egg glaze. Score into segments with a sharp knife then bake in a preheated oven at 200c, 400F or gas 6 for 30 mins, until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack if you can without eating it before it cools (very difficult). It makes a lovely bright orange loaf that looks and taste great.
Let’s celebrate afternoon tea week, who can resist those little finger sandwiches, scones and fancy cakes, it’s like reliving a dolls tea party. That quintessential British meal that sadly is disappearing from our daily lives. With the advent of full time work for women the ritual that is afternoon tea became lost, hardly surprising, who of us has time to work and cook for a tea break?
As lifestyles and hours of working changed over time so have mealtimes , following working patterns and changes in social status. The following is from “A Short History of [British] Mealtimes”
Breakfast 10AM; Dinner 3-5PM, Tea 7PM, Supper 10-11PM
Breakfast 10AM (leisurely), 9AM (less leisurely), 8AM (working people); Luncheon Midday; Dinner 3-5PM; Supper 10-11PM
Breakfast, before 9AM; Luncheon (ladies only) Midday; Dinner 6-8PM; Supper depending upon the timing and substantiality of dinner
Breakfast 8AM (town), 9-10AM (country); Lunchoen 1-2PM; Dinner 6-8PM (depending upon formality and place)
Early morning 8AM (tea, bread and butter); Breakfast 8-8:30AM; Luncheon Midday; Afternoon tea 5PM, Dinner 7:30-8PM
Breakfast 8AM; Lunch/upper classes or Dinner/rest Midday-1PM; Afternoon tea 4PM; High tea 5-6PM; Dinner 7-8PM; Supper 9-10PM.
“Mealtimes…These vary somewhat depending on the region of the country you are visiting, but in general breakfast is served between 7:30 and 9, and lunch between 12 and 2. Tea–an essential and respected part of British tradition, and often a meal in itself–is generally served between 4:30 and 5:30. Dinner or supper is served between 7:30 and 9:30, sometimes earlier.”—Fodor’s Great Britain  (p. 34)
As you can see, tea the kind of fancy-schmancy affair emerged as a social event sometime around the 1830s or 1840s, Bruce Richardson writes in A Social History of Tea. And Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, led the pack. When there is nothing else to do but enjoy a little ‘something’ with friends, why not?
Nowadays we only celebrate high tea on high days and holidays usually eaten out rather than at home despite the popularity of TV programmes such as The Great British Bake Off which celebrate baking in all its forms.
But it is a lovely way to indulge yourself, so this week find somewhere locally that does provide ‘high tea’ and give yourself a treat. Or make something you usually don’t make time for – a few scones or how about a little Victoria sponge? or at least a biscuit and a cup of tea.
These great biscuits are easy to make and are just right for children to decorate.
Tunbridge Water Cakes (William Sayer)*
I have seen references to these biscuits called Tunbridge Wafers or Romary biscuits after the baker Alfred Romary who had a bakery in Tunbridge, opened in 1862. Romary later received Royal warrants for his wafers. Recipes seem to vary of course, some of them more savoury, and this writer has added orange flower water.
250g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon orange flower water
Preheat the oven to 180oc/350of/gas 4
Rub the butter in with the flour; add the sugar and make the whole into a paste. Don’t work too much as this will make the biscuits hard. Roll it out very thin on a floured table and cut it out with a plain round or scalloped cutter about 3in across. Place them on a greased baking tray and bake them to a pale delicate colour.
They take about 15 – 20 minutes depending on your oven.
These make lovely biscuits for children to decorate and makes about 50 biscuits.
* From Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen click here
Ciao amici miei!
I have recently started learning Italian. It’s a beautiful language and I am really enjoying it. Sadly as I get older my memory gets worse so it is hard work. I am trying all sorts of ways to get it into my head for more than a few hours (or minutes in some cases). I am learning on line both the grammar and vocabulary, I am taking conversation classes, I am writing my shopping list and a daily diary in Italian and reading Italian children’s books.
But being a bit of a food obsessive and as you know an enthusiastic amateur cook I decided that using an Italian language cookbook might be the way to go.
The first dish was Acquacotta, which literally means Cooked Water – who knew? This tasty dish of onions, yellow peppers celery and tomatoes was easy peasy and I ‘ve learnt LOTS of new words. Marvellous! or meraviglioso! as we say in Italian – see it’s working already.
For the final pie in British Pie Week I give you a classic. This is a real memoryjerker. Bacon and egg pie turned up quite frequently on our menu as a child in the 50s and 60s. With my mum’s light hand with the pastry and a variety of vegetables from the garden this was a staple.
The English version of Quiche? There is some discussion about where this originated, we Brits think it was a Victorian breakfast pie but in New Zealand it is a common household dish and it is common to come across it in menus of popular restaurants. So many people there claim that the pie probably originated in New Zealand. The jury is out on that one. A very popular, cheap and filling meal, hot or cold.
500g of shortcrust pastry
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200oC/400of/gas 6
Cut the bacon into smallish pieces. Put the onion and bacon in a frying pan and cook on a medium heat until the onion is transparent, the bacon crisp and no liquid is left. Roll 2/3 of the pastry and line a loose bottomed flan tin. inches diameter (20cm) about 2inches (5cm) deep, then roll the remaining 1/3 into a round to make the lid.
Lightly beat 2 of the eggs with 30ml milk and season, light on the salt but heavy on the pepper. Hard boil the remaining 3 eggs and chop roughly.
Place the bacon and onion mix in the pie, add a layer of chopped hard-boiled egg and the parsley then? pour on the egg mix. Add the layer of peas and season again then put on the pastry lid. Glaze with beaten egg.
Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 180oC/350of/gas 4 and bake for another 30 minutes.
I know it’s British Pie Week but the odd American import must surely spice things up. So against the grain here is a lovely Mimi’s Pecan Pie Recipe from Cordon Blue Grass – Blue Ribbon recipes from Kentucky.
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup (or maple syrup)
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon jiuce
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 1/2 cups pecan nuts
1 prepared flan case uncooked
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add all other ingredients except the pecans. Mix well.
Fold in the pecans.
Bake the pastry case for 2 – 3 minutes at 450 degrees f/230 degrees C/Gas mark 8
Pour in the filling and return the pie to the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees f/ 180 degrees C/Gas mark 3 and bake for 40 minutes.
This is scrummy!
It’s raining and cold here today so a bit of comfort food in the form of Egg Pie, a pie with mash not pastry. This recipe is from Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen (again!). From the time of World War II and like a lot of recipes in this era, Egg Pie was born out of a necessity brought about by rationing but actually reflects British comfort food. It just shows what you can make out of the store cupboard and with an inspired veg dish this will fill the family.
4 hard boiled eggs
4 onions, sliced
A little oil for frying
150ml white sauce
Salt and pepper
A small bunch of parsley
Hard boil four eggs. Throw into cold water and remove the shells. Fry the onion slices until golden.
Boil and mash the potatoes with a little butter, minced parsley and season to taste. Spread a layer of this at the bottom of a pie dish, then put a lay er of the cooked onions spread on the potato.
Then put a layer of sliced eggs a little white sauce and more potato and repeat until the dish is full. Finish with potato on the top. Put a few bits of butter on the top & bake until really hot and brown.
A great all-rounder, this pie comes from Vegetarian Cooking & Vegetable Classics by Roz Denny and Christine Ingram. I love it and it comes with it’s own inbuilt creamy sauce.
450g/ puff pastry, 450g Brussel sprouts, 16 whole chestnuts, 1 large red pepper, 1 large onion, 45ml sunflower oi,l 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of water,
For the sauce
40g plain flour, 40g butter, 300ml milk, 30ml dry sherry, 75g cheddar cheese, good pinch of dried sage, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, salt & freshly ground black pepper
Roll out the pastry to make 2 large rectangles (1 slightly larger than the other) roughly the size of your dish and about 6mm thick.
Blanch the brussels sprouts in 300ml of boiling water for 4 mins then drain, retaining the water and refresh them under cold running water.
Cut each chestnut in half. Lightly fry the red pepper and onion in the sunflower oil until transparent for about 5 mins. Set aside until later.
Make up the sauce by beating the flour, butter and milk together. Beat the sauce continuously and bring to the boil until it is thickened and smooth. Then add the reserved sprout water cheese, sherry, sage and season to taste. Simmer for around 3 mins then add the parsley.
Fit the larger piece of pastry into your pie dish and layer the sprouts, chestnuts, peppers and onions on top. Pour over the sauce making sure it seeps through the vegetables. Brush the pastry edges with the egg mix and fit the second sheet of pastry on the top sealing the edges well. Crimp the edges. Glaze well with the egg mix.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees f/200 degrees C/ Gas mark 6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
North Country Fidget Pie (G. R. Moore)
Generally fidget pie includes apples and bacon or ham so this North Country version is quite unusual. Fidget Pie is a traditional English recipe for a pie served in the fields to the workers busy bringing in the harvest. I can see why. The name fidget (or fidgety) pie, originates around Derbyshire andShropshire, in the middle of the country. The origins of the odd sounding name seem to have come from the fact that it originally was fitched, which means five sided in Anglo-Saxon.
250g plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of cold water
1 finely chopped onion
250g sausage meat
Pepper and salt
250g raw potatoes
Make the pastry by popping the flour, salt and margarine in a processor, whizz until the mix is like breadcrumbs then add the egg then the water, to make a firm dough. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest in the fridge for half an hour or more. Mix the chopped onion with the sausage meat, seasoning and bind with the beaten egg. If you are using frozen peas defrost and drain well, if you are using fresh- cook gently then drain.
Roll out the pastry and use 2/3 to line the base of a pie dish. Put in a layer of the sausage meat mix, then a layer of potatoes thinly sliced, season well then add the peas. Lightly beat the egg and pour over the filling. Use the remaining 1/3 of the pastry to form the lid, glaze using beaten egg. Heat the oven to 190oc/375of/gas5. Bake it in hot oven for 30 minutes reduce heat to moderate – 180oc/350of/gas4 and cook for further 15 minutes. Can be eaten hot or cold.
I know I am supposed to be in the book selling business to earn a living but sometimes I find it very difficult to actually part with some of my books. It is like saying goodbye to a friend and today is one of those days.
I am a particular fan of hand-written recipe books and one that I had in the shop has gone to a new home in Australia where I am sure it will be much loved.
William Sayer starting writing his book in 1821, the hand-writing is beautiful and the recipes exciting. Some of them I used to write Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen, including currie powder, camp vinegar, curacao, Oxford sausages.