Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.


Cream of Pumpkin and Chilli Soup with Glazed Pumpkin Seeds, Croutons and Chives

I have two pumpkins to carve this year, so that means loads of tasty pumpkin flesh to make a variety of dishes for this Hallowe’en. First up is a pumpkin soup, from a recipe that appeared in the October 2011 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. Kashmiri Chilli is recommended for this dish, but you can use any mild chilli. This soup is quite hot and spicy, so adjust the amount of chilli as per your preference.

In a large thick-bottomed pot, melt 100g butter over a low-medium heat. Add the flesh from a large pumpkin (or two medium pumpkins) , a peeled and finely chopped clove of garlic, and 4 peeled and finely chopped shallots. Allow to sweat gently in the butter without getting any colour for about 6-7 minutes, or until the edges of the pumpkin pieces are starting to soften nicely.

Add 2 tsp of dried Kashmiri chilli, 2 tsp of ground coriander and 1 tsp turmeric powder and cook for a further minute. Add 1 litre of vegetable stock and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add 200ml cream, 30g grated parmesan and 1 tsp black pepper, then bring just to the boil and remove from the heat. Pour the soup into a food processor or whizz with a hand-blender to a smooth consistency.

Dry roast the seeds in a non-stick pan until just toasted. Cut a handful of stale bread into small cubes and gently fry in about 250ml of rapeseed oil (I used olive oil) until they’re golden brown, then season with fresh pepper and salt.

Pour the soup into bowls then sprinkle the top with croutons, seeds and finely chopped chives.



Trick or Treat!

The problem with carving a pumpkin is what to do with the flesh you’ve removed. This year I made a Curried Pumpkin Soup (recipe from The Irish Independent Weekend Supplement, 23 October 2010):

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Chop up two large carrots, 600g pumpkin flesh, 2 sticks celery and a large sweet potato – place them on a roasting tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Heat a large saucepan gently with a little oil. Add half a medium onion, a leek, two cloves of garlic and a rounded teaspoon of curry paste and pan fry for six to eight minutes to infuse with flavour.

Next, add the roasted vegetables to the onion and garlic mixture. Pour inĀ 1200ml chicken stock at this stage and allow the mixture to come to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until all of the vegetables are fully softened. Add 75ml cream, season, and blitz to a smooth puree. Return to the heat and reheat gently. Garnish with a spoon of creme fraiche and some pumpkin seeds.

Happy Hallowe’en!

It’s not Hallowe’en without a slice of buttered barmbrack.

Soak 175g brown sugar, 450g mixed dried fruit and 110g mixed peel in a bowl with 150ml cold strong tea. Leave in the fridge overnight, covered with a tea towel.

The next day mix in a lightly beaten egg, 250g plain flour (sieved), and a half teaspoon each of mixed spice and bread soda. Grease a 7-inck deep cake tin and line the base, pour the mixture in and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180C for an hour and a half. Don’t forget to mix in a coin or ring wrapped in baking parchment before putting it in the oven!

Cool in the tin and then place on a serving plate to slice.