How to make Pumpkin Puree at home –
1 – 1 1/2 kilo pumpkin
You can either use small pumpkins or a wedge of a larger one, whatever you can get your hands on. I used about 1/3 of a Kent Pumpkin.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Cut into equal sized wedges. Leave the skin on. Scoop out the insides – the seeds and the membrane.
Place the pumpkin skin side down on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or till a knife pierced through the flesh of the pumpkin goes through without any resistance. (I did this while we were having dinner)
Let the pumpkin cool. (I left it to cool overnight and made the puree the next day.) Peel the pumpkin or scoop out the flesh, whatever you find easier, and place the pumpkin in a food processor and blitz till done. If it looks too dry, add a couple of spoons of water and blitz again.
What you are left with is a glorious bowl of fresh pumpkin puree.
Now, let’s get on to making the Pumpkin Pie.
For the pie crust –
250g all purpose flour
125g cold butter, cubed
A couple of tablespoons of cold milk
(If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt. If you’re using salted butter, leave out the salt.)
Place the flour and butter in the food processor.
Pulse a few times till the butter has broken down and you’re left with a mix that looks like this.
Add a couple of spoons of cold milk to help bind the pastry and pulse a couple of times till you are left a mix that looks like this. Start with a spoon or two and add more if needed.
Place some clingfilm on your work surface (lesser clean up this way) and tip this mix on top.
Press together to form a dough. Don’t knead or overwork the dough.
Wrap it up in the same cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.
While the dough is chilling, make the pie filling.
For the pie filling –
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk (a 12 ounce can)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till everything is well incorporated and smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a disc large enough to cover a 9 inch pie dish. Line the pie dish with the dough and pour in the filling.
Cover just the edges of the pie crust loosely with foil to keep it from burning.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or till a knife pierced through the center comes out clean. Take the foil off in about the last ten minutes to let it evenly brown.
Cool and cut into wedges and serve.
Pin now and try later.
So to ease back into the flow of things, this will be a quick post. The recipe also is a quick one, super simple to make. Infact, you can barely even call it a recipe, but the results are so very good, I will go ahead and post it here to share with you. If you haven’t tried out sweet potato fries yet, trust me, you really should. Even my beloved husband, who doesn’t care much for the sweet potato (he calls it a sweet mush / baby food), loved it and actually requests for these fries every once in a while.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. You could peel the potatoes, but I leave the skin on. Just give it a good wash and scrub and you are good to go. Also, size of the fries will make a difference. The thicker you cut it, the longer it will take to cook. The thicker sized fries will still be soft and fluffy. If you are like me and love a little crunch in your life, cut the fries thin. It cooks quicker and caramelises a little and is super delicious, not to mention perfectly crunchy.
This fries are a much more healthy version that the regular potato fries and are great either as a snack or as a side to a big roast dinner or holiday meal too.
Sweet Potato Fries
1 large sweet potato, washed
Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
A drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbsp)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the sweet potato into fries.
Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray.
Place the sweet potato, salt and pepper on the tray and toss to make sure everything is well coated. You can add a little more olive oil if needed.
Arrange the potato pieces in a single layer.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces once at the halfway mark.
Keep an eye on your oven from time to time. It may not need as long in your oven. Also this time will depend on the size of the pieces. So keep an eye on it the first time you make this.
When it is done to your liking, take it out of the oven.
Serve hot and enjoy!
When I lived in Mumbai, I was fortunate enough to have 3 really good Indian sweet shops or Mithaiwalas in the vicinity. Thankfully they weren’t too close. I’d literally go nuts whenever I went there. There were so many options to choose from. And I don’t to well with too many options. I just cannot pick in those situations. Anyway, my indecisiveness aside, one of my favourite Indian sweets has to be Gulab Jamuns. Gulab Jamuns are beautiful little deep fried dumplings soaked in cardamom infused sugar syrup.
I have made Gulab Jamun at home a few times now. Traditionally, the dumplings are made with milk that is reduced to an almost solid state. This process takes atleast an hour. If you live in India, you should be able to go to the store and buy mava / khoya (the reduced milk solids). If you don’t want to spend as much time or money (mava / khoya can be pricey), but still want to sit back and enjoy some home made Gulab Jamun, you have come to the right place. I have found a recipe that will probably take you about half an hour (or thereabouts) to make from start to finish.
If you are someone who has just about started dabbling in Indian food and want to impress your family and friends with some home made Indian dessert, try your hand at this recipe. You will love it and you can count on being hailed a superstar if you bring these to a potluck or any party.
Now, on to the recipe. I cannot take credit for this genious idea. I was watching Better Homes and Gardens one Friday night and I saw Fast Ed make these and I knew then and there that I had to try them out myself. It was too good to be true and the skeptic in me, knew there’d be something different about these. Either the flavour or the texture wouldn’t be right. But I was wrong, so very wrong. These Gulab Jamun turned out just like I remember them. Beautiful luscious dumplings, soft and drenched in the infused sugar syrup. These are best enjoyed a little warm but they are pretty darn good served cold as well. Even in the traditional sweet shops in India the sizes of the dumpling vary. I make them a little smaller because they will expand after frying and soaking in the sugar syrup. I prefer them smaller because that way they cook through quickly and they look so dainty served in a little bowl. I have also seen them made oblong in shape. Either way they are like little bites of heaven.
You could dress them up by sprinkling some pistachio dust (grated/ finely chopped pistachio) over them. They don’t need it, but it looks prettier. I didn’t have any pistachio with me, so I skipped that step.
If you love Gulab Jamun as much as I do, and you’ve been known to pick up some of the tinned stuff you get in the Indian stores or probably even the ready mixes (like Gits etc.), ditch them. You don’t need any of that stuff. Try this recipe out and you’ll never go back to those tins and mixes again.
For the sugar syrup –
4 pods of cardamom
Open the cardamom pods and separate the seeds and the shells.
Place all the ingredients, including the cardamom seeds and shells in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Lower the temperature after it comes to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Take off the heat and set it aside.
** We usually crush the cardamom seeds to a powder and add that to the syrup. This results in a stronger infusion of flavour. If you haven’t tried cardamom before or aren’t sure how strong the flavour would be, start off by keeping the seeds whole. The favour infused will be subtle. When serving, make sure you discard the seeds and shells first.
** Start off by making the syrup first because it needs to cool a little before you can add the dumplings. The syrup needs to be warm, not scalding hot when the dumplings are put in.
** Do NOT stir the syrup once the sugar has dissolved. Stirring will crystallise the sugar.
For the dumplings –
220g milk powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
A little milk (approximately less than half a cup)
Oil, for deep frying
Heat the oil for deep frying.
Place the milk powder, all purpose flour, baking powder and ghee in a mixing bowl.
Gradually add the milk a little at a time and bind the ingredients to a dough. It is important to not add too much milk while making the dough. Use just enough to bind everything together.
Shape them into little balls. You want the balls to be smaller than what size you want the finished product because they will expand.
This recipe yield 20-22 massive dumplings or if you’re after little ones, you can get about 45. I got 47 in all. Make sure the dumplings are evenly sized so that they cook evenly.
Test if the oil is hot by placing a tiny pea sized ball in the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top you’r oil is hot enough and you can proceed. If it just sits in the oil, you need to heat the oil a little more. If the ball just chars, you’re oil is too hot. Take it off the heat for a couple of minutes and then place it back on slightly lower heat and continue.
Have the oil on medium heat.
Carefully, drop the dumplings in the hot oil and fry till golden brown.
Your sugar syrup should have cooled down a little by now, but should still be fairly warm.
Using a slotted spoon, take the dumplings out of the oil and tap off any excess oil and put the dumplings in the sugar syrup straight away. Watch them expand as they soak in the syrup. Gently turn them around in the syrup after about a minute so that is soaks in the syrup on all sides.
Repeat with the rest of the batter. Once the dumpling have soaked in the sugar syrup and expanded a bit, you can carefully take them out into a shallow serving bowl or a baking dish like this one. Pour all the sugar syrup over.
At this stage, you can add the chopped pistachio over.
Sneak a peek at what it looks like on the inside. Soft, melt in your mouth goodness!
Serve warm or cold.
As the person who put made these lovely dumplings, even if you’re making this ahead of time, I urge you to sample some of these warm and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂
So back to the butternut pumpkin. This is the second time I’m making a butternut pumpkin soup. The last time it turned out really bland and I wasn’t overly impressed, which is why it hasn’t made an appearance on the blog. This time around, I decided I wanted some bold, punchy flavours so I looked around and took a few ideas from around the web. It turned out this recipe was easy, simple to make and has big, bold flavours. I remember thinking the last time, that a little ginger would make this soup so much better and I was right. This soup just warms the cockles of your heart.
I took the idea of topping it up with blue cheese from a recipe I found online. Please do yourself a favour and add the blue cheese. The blue cheese elevates this soup from being a nice soup to being a fantastic one.
Spiced Butternut Pumpkin Soup
700g butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp red chilly flakes, or to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp chives
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre boiling water
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Blue cheese, to crumble over
In a large pot, over medium heat, pour the olive oil.
Add the garlic and when it is fragrant, add the onion and and saute over medium heat, till softened and translucent. Add the ginger and continue sauteing.
Once the ginger has released its aromas, add the celery, carrot and pumpkin.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper and red chilly flakes and stir well.
Let the veggies, saute for about five minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Add one litre of recently boiled water. (You could add cold water too, but that will increase cooking time. Using hot water results in the soup simmering almost immediately.)
Cover and simmer till the veggies are cooked and tender.
When the vegetables are fork tender, take off the heat.
Using an immersion blender, blitz till you are left with a smooth puree. Add the cream cheese and blitz again.
Add the parmesan cheese and chives and stir through.
Serve hot with a little blue cheese crumbled over.
After looking around the internet for a recipe, I found one I was happy with. I picked up all the ingredients I needed and got to work. I was happy with the fact that I found a pressure cooker recipe, which meant that I could sit down to a nice bowl of soup in a fraction of the time. Since its the middle of the year, I didn’t have any leftover ham. But for those of you that bake a leg of ham around the holidays, using your leftovers would be perfect for this recipe. I bought some smoked ham meat from the supermarket and used it. When I think back, I think I’d be happy even without the ham in the soup. The split pea soup is so flavourful, a vegetarian version would be really delicious as well. All this without the fuss of having to spend hours developing flavour.
I looked at this recipe and this one to get an idea and then from there on I mostly winged it. So here’s my
homemade almost homemade split pea and ham soup. If you baked your own ham and made your own stock, you’ve got yourself a made from scratch Split Pea & Ham Soup. 🙂
Homemade Split Pea & Ham Soup
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb dry split peas
1 stock cube (chicken, beef, veg – its upto you)
6 cups water
200-250g ham, diced
Rinse the peas under cold water.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker under medium heat.
Add the bay leaf and onion and saute till onions soften up.
Add the garlic, carrots and celery.
Saute for 4-5 minutes.
Add the peas, crumbled cube and water.
Cover and bring to a boil. After it reaches pressure / till the first whistle, simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Take off the heat and let the cooker release pressure on its own.
When it is safe to open, adjust liquid by adding water if needed.
Adjust salt and freshly cracked pepper if need.
Add the ham, remove the bay leaf and let the meat heat through.
If the soup feels like it needs more cooking, cook till it reaches the desired thickness.
I crack some black pepper over it after serving it up and
** You could use stock instead of the cube and water if you have any at hand.
** This soup keeps well in the fridge. My pot lasted us about 10 days. I just took out small portions and heated it up as I needed it.
** I found that the soup thickened after refrigeration. So each time I need to heat up a portion, I added some hot water to the portion I was heating up, to reach the consistency I like and then heated it through.
Today I am going to share with you a wonderful recipe for which I can take absolutely no credit at all. Yup, you heard that right. This is a recipe that my husband remembers and has committed to memory from watching his mother and Nan cook. Can you believe that!!! I love him to pieces and its things like this that earn him extra brownie points. 🙂 I remember the first time he whipped up this beauty was a few years ago. I was out of town for a couple of weeks on work. I had a few things cooked up and kept in the fridge for him to just heat up and eat while I was away. I knew he was good with puddings, breakfast and the like, but wasn’t too sure if he’d manage mains for lunch and dinner. To my delight, when I got back from my trip, waiting for me was a pot of this beautiful fragrant stew. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Long story short, we both loved it and from then on, each time we have this stew, my husband actually makes it himself.
This is such a simple recipe and it requires just a handful of ingredients. If you use a pressure cooker to cook your meat, its comes together faster, which is what I did. Unlike typical Indian food, this stew is not spicy but is beautifully flavored. You can serve this up with a couple of slices of hearty bread or croutons or even over steamed rice. I personally think it tastes better on the next day, so we always make a little extra to enjoy for even 2 to 3 meals.
Nana Braganza’s Beef Stew
1lb. beef, boneless (I use what we call undercut, very flavorful n tender, cooks up really fast, but you can use what you have on hand)
8 pepper corns
Salt, to taste
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 onions, finely chopped
2 potatoes, cut into small cubes
1-2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
3/4″ ginger, finely chopped or minced
1/2 cup of red wine
2-3 rashers of bacon, skin taken off and chopped into small pieces (optional, but yum)
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper powder
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Cut the beef into 2-3 large pieces.
Sprinkle salt, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce over the meat. Add the cloves, cinnamon and pepper corns and toss well making sure the meat is marinated in this for about 10-15 minutes.
Pressure cook with a couple of cups of water till tender. I cooked it on low for 30 minutes after the first whistle. Let the pressure ease of on its own. Cut the beef into cubes. Reserve the stock.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the bacon. Let the bacon fry a little and release its fats. If you’re using bacon you may want to reduce the amount of oil a little. If your not using bacon, simply move on to the next step.
Add the chopped onions and chillies and saute them.
When the onions have softened a little, add the chopped ginger and garlic and continue sauteing.
After a minute or two add the potatoes and continue sauteing.
Add some pepper powder and stir.
When the onions have slightly started to brown, add the wine to deglaze and add the stock that the beef was cooked in with the whole spices.
Let it come to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
Add the meat and let it all heat through.
Check for seasoning and adjust if needed. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Once the flavors have fully developed, take it off the fire.
This recipe has been linked to –
Show me you Plaid Mondays
To check out my previous SRC assignments, click here.
Anyway, on to this month’s assignment. This was the first time ever I’ve been assigned an Australian blog, actually, I think its probably the first time I’ve spent this much time on one. My assignment this month was Leigh’s Chit Chat Chomp. What a fun name! And what a beautiful blog. Hi Leigh! I really enjoyed looking through your blog space this month. Leigh is from Melbourne and loves travelling and food. Her travelogues are very interesting. Though I didn’t have the time to go through them all, with Easter prep and stuff, I’ve bookmarked them to read through later. I think I could plan a lovely trip to Australia with tips from this lovely blog. Go on and visit her! You’ll have fun!!! Not to mention you’ll be drooling over her lovely food clicks and recipes. It was fun having so many lovely options to choose from. Oh did I mention that Leigh has a little weekend catering venture that she runs. I have a more than a few recipes I want to try out and I’m sure once you head on over there you’ll be in the same boat with me 🙂
For my assignment this month, I was on the lookout for some feel good food. I just got back from a 3-day weekend trip to Panchgani. More on that later. But coming back to the city had me down with a severe case of the blues. So when I saw Leigh’s caramel popcorn, I knew I was going to make it. Popcorn and caramel – two of my favorite things in one. Its tried and tested comfort food that makes you feel better instantly. Who am I to disagree? Its simple and quick to put together and I enjoyed every bit of it. I halved the recipe this time around since I knew I’d have no problem polishing off the whole lot and didn’t want to be faced with that kind of temptation. And I was right to do so! What a treat this caramel popcorn is! I had to try really hard to keep myself from finishing it off. Lovely caramel flavor, with a tiny hint of honey! I’m so glad I now have a recipe like this in my arsenal. This will be perfect for parties and around Christmas!
40g popcorn kernels (I used a pack of Act II – classic salted)
1 tbsp butter
1/8 cup honey
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Cook the popcorn according to the manufacturers instructions.
For the caramel sauce, place the butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir it till the butter melts down.
Turn up the heat to a medium and bring the mixture to a boil for 3-4 minutes or until it turns golden and has thickened.
Take off the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda and stir well to combine.
Pour the sauce over the popcorn, mix to coat the kernels well and spoon onto a lightly greased baking tray to set.
Break into pieces and serve.
Check out these little chunks of deliciousness!!!
Gaajar ka Halwa
(Makes about 14-16 servings)
1 kg carrots, grated
1 (400g) tin condensed milk (I used Milkmaid)
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. ghee or clarified butter
2 tbsp. sugar (please adjust this to suit your taste)
Seeds of about 15 green cardamom pods, pounded to a fine powder
A few almonds, slivered
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee.
Add the grated carrots and stir well. Let the carrots sweat a little.
Add the milk and let it cook off for a couple of minutes on a medium flame.
Add the condensed milk. Stir well. After a few minutes add sugar to taste. Stir well.
Leave it uncovered on a medium flame, stirring occasionally till all the liquid evaporates. You may need to turn the heat down towards the end of the cooking process.
When its almost done, add the powdered cardamom seeds and slivered almonds. Mix well and take of the heat.
Garnish with a few slivered almonds and serve.
Once it has cooled completely, you can refrigerate the rest.
Note: When adding the powdered cardamom and slivered almonds, you can also throw in a few raisins and/or some chopped pistachios if you want.
Please spend some time and check out what the others have brought to the table this week.