The weather around here has become quite cool and the mini-series of pumpkin recipes will end (for the time being) with a hearty pumpkin soup. As with most braised dishes, this soup has lots of flavour and gets some fresh overtones from the parsley.
Pumpkin and Bacon Soup
Adapted from Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
300g smoked, streaky bacon, cubed; skin reserved in one piece
1 can tinned tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 liter vegetable stock
1 liter water, plus more if needed
In a braising pot, heat some olive oil and fry the onion, leek and garlic on medium-low heat. Don't let them take colour. Add the bacon and the skin. When these have released their fat, add the tomatoes and braise on low heat for about half an hour. Peel the pumpkin and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add the pumpkin to the braise and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, stock and enough water so that you end up with a soupy mixture. Cook until the pumpkin is tender, about half an hour. Remove the bacon skin and bay leaves. Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.
Next in line of pumpkin recipes are pumpkin muffins. They are somewhat similar to carot cake and, as you might expect from the cake recipes I posted here, not very sweet (the original recipe calls for 350g of brown sugar). Perfect breakfast fare on a cold, foggy morning in autumn. I think one could easily double the amount of cinnamon and add maybe a touch of nutmeg or ginger.
Adapted from Butternut Squash Muffins from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
400g Hokkaido pumpkin, skinned and deseeded
3 1/2 Tbsp honey
pinch of salt
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175 ml olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tray with paper cups. Grate the pumpkin into a bowl on the most coarse side of a box grater. Add the honey and eggs, mix well. Add all the other ingredienst and mix until just combined. Fill the dough into the paper cups and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean.
After going for new recipes for the old asparagus and tomato during spring and summer of this year, I wanted to try something new with something new. So for the next couple of weeks I will cook and bake with pumpkin. For a start, here's a pumpkin curry with Indian-style flavours. The original recipe uses fresh chiles instead of dried and I guess next time I would also use fresh ones to give the dish a bit more heat.
Chickpeas with Pumpkin
Adapted from Tender Vol. I by Nigel Slater
200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 onions, diced
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
2 tsp ground turmeric
6 green cardamon pods, crushed
2 dried, red chiles
500g pumpkin, peeled and seeded *
250 ml vegetable stock
400 ml coconut milk
* Used Hokkaido.
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
Drain the chickpeas and boil in unsalted water until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the onions on medium-high heat until soft. Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger and cardamons and fry on low heat, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Cut the pumpkin into bize-sized chunks and add those to the skillet. Add the stock and chickpeas, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is tender. Add the coconut milk and let come back to a simmer. Serve with basmati rice.
Last year, while trying to figure out the strie[s/z/tz]el spelling, I came across a recipe for Battenberg cake in Nick Malgieri's A Baker's Tour and bookmarked it. As any birthday party requires cake, now seemed to be the perfect time to give it a try. Instead of baking two separate cakes to assemble into one, I went for Battenberg muffins adding some almond oil to make up for the missing fondant icing. The muffins as such turned out ok, but because the cocoa and vanilla taste gets mixed in bite-sized portions, the cocoa will overpower all other flavours. So I'd say it's not worth the extra work.
The reason, which got me interested in the recipe in the first place, is that Battenberg is a small village, complete with the ruins of a castle, not too far from where I live. I went there today to get some pictures for this post, but as it was a balmy, sunny day in autumn the place was packed. The only pictures unobstructed by the full car park or loads of other people were from a small watchtower and a hazy glimpse of the Rhine valley.
Adapted from the muffin recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.
Flavour combination for Battenberg Cake from A Baker's Tour by Nick Malgieri.
3 Tbsp melted butter or neutral oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk, plus more if needed
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp home-made vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp almond oil
Yields about 12 muffins.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cups. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Beat together the egg, milk and melted butter or oil. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Divide the batter into two bowls, add the cocoa powder to one half and the vanilla extract and almond oil to the other. Spoon two or three alternating layers into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of them comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before taking them out of the tray.
The final week of cooking with Mark Bittman has come around at IHCC and what a ride it has been. For the last recipe I chose a risotto-style preparation for pasta. It produced a flavourful dish, but was more work than the usual approach of cooking the pasta and sauce separately. Still this is not a problem if you like to spend your spare time with cooking.
Overall, I found the last six months of cooking with Mark Bittman very instructive. Even though I used "only" recipes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (which has more to do with the local availibility of cookbooks than anything else), there were lots of recipes, techniques and approaches, which were new to me and to which I will come back in the future. In short, this is the kind of book one should give to his children, when they leave home for college. As the six months drew to a close, I grew a bit worried that Bittman would leave foot steps too big to be filled by somebody else. If there had been a poll about who should be the next chef, I would have nominated Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. But anyway, I'm looking forward to cooking the recipes of Giada de Laurentii.
As a final look back, here is my copy of HTCEV with all the recipes I've made for IHCC, except for the home-made tofu I had planned on making for the cheesy week in September but didn't get around to do. (Note also the removed dust jacket. I only do this with books I use very frequently.)
Cooking pasta like risotto
Adapted from The Minimalist column; November 27, 2009.
(There is also a similar approach for making orzo risotto in HTCEV.)
The techniques of seperately frying the mushrooms first and of adding dried mushrooms to the stock are taken from the mushroom risotto recipe from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver.
250 ml vegetable stock
300 ml water
10 g dried organic shiitake mushrooms
200 g fresh mushrooms, cleaned and cut into slices
knob of butter
about 3 Tbsp olive oil
250 dried pasta
1 onion, diced
half a glass of white wine
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
In a small pot, add the water, stock and dried mushrooms. Let come to a simmer on low heat.
In a large skillet, melt the butter, add the mushrooms and fry on medium heat until the mushrooms become brown and soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium pot, add the onion and sweat until translucent. Add the wine and let the alcohol cook off. Then add a laddle or two of stock at a time, stirring frequently until the liquid has been absorbed.
The pasta should take more or less the same time as for conventional cooking. When the pasta has reached the desired doneness, add the mushrooms from the stock pot and from the skillet, let briefly come back to temperature. Add salt to taste. Fold in parmesan and parsley.