Posts Tagged ‘Pumpkin’

Lately I have been on a bit of a cupcake hiatus – it was becoming a case of too much of a good thing!! So Halloween seemed as good an excuse as any to break out my box of cupcake goodies!

This may surprise you but I managed to steer myself away from the Hummingbird Bakery and turned to a new addition to my collection ‘Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery‘ – so many cupcakes, so little time….or should I say so many cupcakes, too many calories!!!

The Primrose Bakery book has a different recipe for every occasion and from the outset this book might just surpass HB in the cupcake stakes! Watch this space!

So, it’s Halloween and so obviously I flip to the Halloween section and well it was quite obvious really  – Pumpkin cupcakes!!

James had a few days away this week and so when Izzy & I got home on Thursday I said to Izzy ‘Do you want to have a bath or make cupcakes?’ –  do I even need to tell you what her answer was?!?


Child labour!

Izzy and I managed to make 2 dozen cupcakes, most of which went to her nursery teachers on Friday. Then on Friday I made another 2 dozen to take along to Harry’s Halloween party. As you may know now, I love pumpkin and so these are a winner for me!!

Pumpkin Cupcakes (courtesy of Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery – Martha Swift & Lisa Thomas)


110g unsalted butter, at room temperature

240g soft light brown sugar

2 large eggs, free range or organic

1/2 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract

100g pureed pumpkin (sold in tins)

125g self-raising flour, sifted

120g plain flour, sifted

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

125ml buttermilk (or 120ml milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice)

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 12 hole muffin tray with the appropriate size cupcake cases (this is Izzy’s job).

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take about 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and beat until just combined.

Combine the flours, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk and beat again until just combined. Repeat these steps until all the flour and buttermilk have been added.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 mins until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of he cakes – it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before placing carefully on a wire rack to cool.

Once they are completely cool, ice the cupcakes with spiced cream cheese icing and decorate with a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg on the top or some Halloween decoration, if that’s the occasion. (I went for orange colouring and a sprinkle of silver dragees).

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing


175g cream cheese

450g icing sugar, sifted

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat well until thoroughly combined and the icing is smooth and pale.

This icing must be stored in the fridge as it contains cream cheese, but will keep well. Before re-using, let it come to room temperature and then beat again.

I always like to use a piping bag to ice the cupcakes – gives them a nice finish and is super quick too.






Happy Halloween!!



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Aunty Amy came to visit us on Saturday and to give Izzy her first lesson in modern Japanese culture. After Amy’s recent jaunt to Tokyo she bought back a stuffed toy for Izzy called Tortoro and the English version of the DVD movie – My neighbour Tortoro. It was so sweet watching the 2 of them sit on the sofa and watch the movie together – which is so typically Japanese – it even managed to hold her full attention for at least 30 mins! Thanks Aunty Amy!!

Having an extra person in the house is also a good reason to cook a yummy meal and with time to spare on a Saturday we decided to go all the way and make 3 courses. I suggested just 2 but as Amy pointed out – ‘there is always room for pudding’!

The first course was pretty simple – Bruschetta. No recipe to follow as is pretty simple. I sliced up some ciabatta and placed it on the griddle until it was brown and then turned over. In the meantime I chopped tomatoes and basil and mixed this with some red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of S & P. Once bread is nice and crisp then take off, rub both sides with a clove of garlic and drizzle with some good olive oil. I used some that I had flavoured a couple of weeks ago by just adding fresh basil and then leaving for a couple of weeks before decanting into a clean glass bottle. After the olive oil add the tomato & basil mix  and serve. Scrummy!!


The King was back in the kitchen for the main course – Pumpkin Risotto. Sorry if you are bored of Pumpkin but there will be more to come….the pumpkin season is such a small window that we have to make the most of it! As always it was fab – James has truly mastered this dish.

Pumpkin Risotto (courtesy of Gennaro Contaldo – Italian Year)


150ml olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed, but left whole

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 sprig of rosemary

350g arborio rice

1 glass of white wine

1kg pumpkin (clean weight), cut into very small cubes

about 1.5 litres hot vegetable stock

50g butter

100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Place the stock in a saucepan on a low heat and simmer gently.

In another saucepan, heat the olive oil and sweat the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary until the vegetables soften. Remove the garlic and discard.

Add the rice, stirring well and making sure each grain of rice is coated in the oil. Add the wine and allow it to evaporate, stirring all the time.

Add the pumpkin cubes, together with a ladleful of stock & stir. As the liquid evaporates, stir in another ladleful of stock. Continue to do this for 20 minutes. remove from the heat, stir in the butter and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Classy dinner in front of the telly! Oh well it's Saturday and X Factor is on!!

Classy dinner in front of the telly! Oh well it's Saturday and X Factor is on!!


So for pudding we originally heading towards Banoffee Pie given that there were a couple of bananas in the bowl that only had about a day left in them. That was a great idea until I actually read the recipe and the base needs to go into the fridge overnight! Then there is the tin of condensed milk in the saucepan (in order to make the toffee) which my friend Tarns had a bad accident with so all signs were pointing away from the Banoffee Pie.

This week I received from my dear friends at Amazon (we better be friends with the amount I have spent with them over the years ;-)) the new Rachel Allen book – ‘Home Cooking’. For me Rachel Allen is running a very close 2nd to Jamie Oliver and ‘Home Cooking’ is my kind of book. Full of vibrant, fresh and delicious recipes that are aimed at, funnily enough, the home cook. A worthy addition to any cookbook collection!! So I flicked through my newest acquisition and came across a recipe for Rhubarb & Ginger Bread & Butter Pudding. Never made a B & B pudding before and I have 460g chopped rhubarb in the freezer (from our first PYO of the season) and the recipe calls for 450g….must be a sign! I didn’t have great expectations as I don’t really recall ever having B & B pudding although I am sure I must have at some stage but I do recall that my Dad is not a fan. However I think even Marty would like this one especially as it is made with rhubarb which is one of his favourites.  Amy was right…..there is always room for pudding!!

Rhubarb & Ginger Bread and Butter pudding (courtesy of Rachel Allen – Home Cooking)


450g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm slices

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

150g caster sugar

50g butter, softened

12 slices of white bread, crusts removed

350ml single or regular cream

350ml milk

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

4 eggs

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Icing sugar, for dusting

25cm square ovenproof dish or similar-sized dish

Scatter the rhubarb in a baking dish and sprinkle with the grated ginger and half the caster sugar. Toss together and then leave to sit for about 30 mins to soften a little.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the bread and arrange four slices, buttered side down, in the ovenproof dish. Scatter over half of the prepared rhubarb and top  with four more slices of bread, again buttered side down. Repeat with the remaining rhubarb mixture and bread.

Place the cream, milk and grated ginger in a saucepan an bring just to the boil. While this is coming to the boil, whisk the eggs, salt and remaining caster sugar in a bowl. Continuing to whisk, pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture until well mixed. Slowly pour this custard over the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top (oops forgot to do this!).

Place the dish into a deep-sided baking tray and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the sides (known as a bain-marie). Carefully place in the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until it feels just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a light dusting of icing sugar (forgot this too!) and some softly whipped cream.


Straight out of the oven

This post would not be complete without mentioning the X Factor – for the first time I am hooked! My faves are Stacey (how can you not love her – so funny and beautiful voice) and Jamie (go the Fro!!), but those twins…gggrrrr……they are the most annoying act I have ever seen and they need to go….NOW!! Don’t vote John& Edward!!!

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So you might know by now that I love Pumpkin’s! So as much as I hate the decline into winter and the darker mornings (I’m not a morning person at the best of times!) I can look forward to the pumpkin crop!

So after our trip to Hewitts and a chilly Sunday it was the perfect time for the first batch of pumpkin soup….

Pumpkin Soup (courtesy of New Covent Garden Soup Company’s – Book of Soups)


250g butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

200g potatoes, peeled and chopped

900g pumpkin, diced

250g carrots, diced

1.2 litres vegetable stock (no vegetarians in this house so I used chicken stock)

150ml milk

demerara sugar to taste

finely grated nutmeg to taste

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butte and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring. Add the potato, 700g of the pumpkin (I chucked it all in!), the carrots and the stock. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender. Cool a little, then puree in a liquidiser. Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk.

Meanwhile, add the remaining pumpkin to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and add to the pureed soup. Add the sugar, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Reheat gently. (This is the part that I skipped).

The most effective way to serve way to serve the pumpkin is in a hollowed out pumpkin. Take a pumpkin and slice off the top quarter. Scoop out the seeds. Place slices of toasted baguette in the base together with grated Gruyere cheese. Fill with the soup, put n the lid and serve at the table. (I haven’t done this but I think this might be cool for Halloween night!).


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Woke up this morning to the news of the Tsunami & earthquake that has rocked Samoa. It’s just so sad – these things always happen to people who have the least (in a material sense) and therefore have the most to lose. My parents have been visiting Samoa over the last couple of years and are full of praise for the Samoan people – so friendly and hospitable. My first thought was for their friends and so sent a quick text to Mum. Luckily they live in the hills and so were safe. I picked up the paper on the way home tonight and my stomach lurched when I saw the headline about the 2 year old boy who was swept away from his parents – makes me feel so sick. What a cruel world this can be sometimes. My thoughts are with his family and with all those in Samoa who have lost loved ones or are now suffering the anxiety of missing loved ones. I can’t even begin to imagine.

It’s been a busy few days with quarter end (as anyone who works in financial services knows) and I am pleased that another quarter is over! Time to start on the next one!!! So this is the first time I have had a chance to sit down and catch you up on our most recent culinary experiences – but know that I have left off some not so successful dishes!!!

A year or so ago our friend Kerry shared this recipe with us. Is a lasagne that substitutes pumpkin & courgettes for pasta (great for those who are doing the whole wheat free thing). We have made it lots of times now and it has the comfort factor without the stodge feeling. I just think it works really well and is another great way to add veges to a dish for kids. We all enjoy this and I like to serve it with a salad (made up with whatever is handy at the time!). It also works made ahead of time as I made this up on Sunday, put in the fridge and then heated it up on Tuesday.

Mince & Pumpkin Lasagne


500g mince beef

400g pumpkin, thinly sliced

400g tinned diced tomatoes

1 cup or more of grated mozzarella cheese

200g courgette (or zucchini – depending on where you are), thinly sliced

100g onion, diced

Handful of pumpkin seeds

1/8 cup oregano

1/8 cup parsley

1 clove of garlic, peeled & crushed

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C. Fry mince in a little oilve oil until browned, add herbs, onion & capsicum (or pepper – once again depending on where you are, but I forgot to put this in anyway!!). Fry until tender, add tomatoes and simmer until thick.

In a greased lasagne dish place a layer of pumpkin slices and cover with half of the mince mixture.



Place a layer of zucchini on top and add half the cheese. Then cover with the remaining mince mixture and top with left over cheese and pumpkin seeds.



Bake in oven for 40 mins. Serves 6-8.


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Just a quick entry as I have a bit of a back log – so many yummy recipes, so little time!

The leaves are changing and although it is a beautiful sight it is also a tad depressing. Each morning is a little darker than the last and another winter is stretching out before us – boooooo!! However one thing I do look forward to is the pumpkin harvest. Mum makes a great pumpkin soup and it is my all time favourite. Pumpkin is a popular food in NZ, especially as a roast dinner accompaniment but not so much here in the UK. Over the years I have tried to make pumpkin soup a few times but the pumpkins I managed to find were tasteless and bland 😦 That all changed last year when we went on a pumpkin seeking mission and discovered Crockford Bridge Farm and there we found the Crown Prince Pumpkin – now that is more like it! The perfect pumpkin soup pumpkin!

When we went to Hewitts last weekend for PYO I found a couple of Crown Prince’s in the farm shop and so this will be the first of many pumpkin entries!

Baked Pumpkin and Fresh Pea Risotto (courtesy of Tana Ramsay – Family Kitchen)


400g risotto rice

1 1/2 litres chicken stock

50g butter

500g pumpkin, peeled & chopped into cubes

12 slices pancetta, or unsmoked streaky bacon

Handful of fresh peas

250g grated parmesan

1 Tbsp flat parsley

Place the rice, stock, butter and pumpkin in an oven proof dish, cover tightly with either a lid or foil and bake for 30 mins at 200C.

Meanwhile, place the pancetta under the grill until crispy. Lay it onto some kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil.

Take out the risotto and remove the lid. Stir through, making sure to relieve any bits stuck on the bottom. There will be some liquid, but this will be absorbed.

Sprinkle in the fresh peas and stir through. They will cook in the stock very quickly (approx 3-4 mins).

Sprinkle over the parmesan, stir all through. This will now thicken.

Dish into bowls and lay pancetta over the top, either whole or broken into pieces. Sprinkle over the flat leaf parsley and serve.

Now James cooked this and so it is only appropriate that any additional comments come from him, here we go……

1. We used pancetta cubes and dry fried in frying pan and then rested on kitchen towel. Was then stirred through with the parmesan.

2. We used frozen peas so added slightly earlier.

3. We ended up adding about 15 – 20 mins to the cooking time as there was too much liquid left – we put this down to the heavy Le Creuset pan?

Bon Appetit! A great dish for all the family – Izzy loved it!



Most recipes are for between 4 and 6 people and there are only 2 1/2 of us most the time. Hence we often have a good amount of leftovers in the fridge. This works well for us as means that we can heat this up 2 nights later making a minimum effort dinner. Plus James will take anything in the fridge for his lunch.

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