Pumpkin and Cheese Scones

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It’s pumpkin season and they are everywhere.  The variety of pumpkins seems to be growing year on year and the choice of shapes, sizes and colours can be a bit overwhelming, but why make a choice when you can have them all; they’re pumpkins after all! So, as you can see from the photo, I’ll be making pumpkin recipes for some time to come. Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween! This recipe, originally from Sainsbury’s Magazine (October, 2016), really hits the spot. It’s a savoury, cheesy treat, perfect to eat on its own, with butter or instead of a bread roll with soup. 

Ingredients

275g peeled and deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash (about 350g unprepared weight)

225g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon smoked paprika, plus extra to dust

50g soft butter

125g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

2-3 tablespoons milk, plus extra for brushing

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

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Directions

·         Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7.

·         Chop the pumpkin into rough 2.5cm pieces and put in a microwaveable bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover loosely with clingfilm and pierce in a couple of places. Microwave on high for 5-7 minutes. Drain off any water. Alternatively, wrap the pumpkin loosely in a foil parcel and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until tender.

·         Mash the pumpkin into a puree, then tip it into a sieve over a bowl for 5 minutes to drain off any excess moisture and let it cool slightly.

·         Sift the flour, baking powder and smoked paprika into a mixing bowl and season. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in half the cheese.

·         Tip the puree into the mixing bowl and use a table knife to start to blend it into the flour mixture. Add just enough milk to bring it together as a soft, but not sticky, dough.

·         Turn out onto a floured surface and roll or pat out until 2.5cm thick. Use a 5cm cutter to stamp out scones and transfer them to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Re-form the dough to stamp out further rounds until all of it is used up. Brush each scone with a little milk and top with the remaining cheese. Gently press a few pumpkin seeds on top and dust with smoked paprika. 

·         Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until well risen and crisp. Cool slightly before eating.

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Leek & Caerphilly Crumble Tart

Leek crumble tart

I first made this tart when we were visiting my parents in France. We were renting an apartment and I decided to cook. Unfortunately, I managed to break the oven, (I was mortified and not even my dad could fix it), but luckily for us the tart was just about cooked and was delicious. It’s perfect for this time of year when we still have sunny days and the light is that beautiful autumnal gold.  

Leek Crumble tart (2)

Ingredients

400g all-butter shortcrust pastry. (I used Eric Lanlard’s recipe)

250g plain flour

1 tsp fine salt

150g unsalted butter

1 egg beaten

1 tbsp milk

For the filling

50g butter

500g leeks (about 2), trimmed and sliced

3 eggs

75ml single cream

75ml milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

50g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled

For the topping

50g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled

85g fresh white breadcrumbs

50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Mini Leek Crumble Tart

Directions

To make the pastry

* Sift flour and salt into a large bowl

* Rub in the butter with your finger tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

* Make a well in the centre and add the egg and milk

* Use fingertips to mix and ingredients to make a dough

* Turn pastry out onto a floured surface and knead two to three times

* Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Blind Baking

* Preheat oven to 180°c (fan 160°c)/ gas 4

* Roll pastry out and transfer onto a buttered 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

* Prick the pastry and chill for a further 15 minutes

* Place a large piece of grease proof paper over the case and fill it with baking beads (or in my case dried split peas).

* Cook for 10-15 minutes.

* Remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is dry and crisp and the top edges of the tart are golden.

To make the filling

* Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the butter in a large pan and, when foaming, add the leeks, cover and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until soft. Leave to cool.

* Beat together the eggs, cream, milk, mustard, Caerphilly and some seasoning.

* Evenly cover the base of the pastry case with the leeks, then pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.

To make the topping

Combine all the ingredients. Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle the topping evenly over. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden brown.

Butternut Squash, Cheese and Chilli Muffins

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I can’t believe how well these muffins turned out. To be honest, I’m not really a fan of muffins, either sweet or savoury. I made them for C, but when they came out of the oven, they smelt so good. I just had to try one. And well, I have been converted; this recipe has changed my whole attitude to muffins! These ones are cheesy, spicy and extremely comforting. This is a stunning recipe from Jamie Oliver’s new Superfoods book. I’ve been really impressed by the Superfood series on TV, not just by the ‘superfood’ concept but by the number of recipes I actually want to make. I’ve also made the tofu burgers which may sound boring, but were fantastic. Kudos to Jamie Oliver.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/sweet-potato-muffins

Ingredients

olive oil

600g sweet potatoes or ½ a butternut squash (I used butternut squash)

4 spring onions

1-2 fresh red chillies

6 large free-range eggs

3 tablespoons cottage cheese

250g wholemeal self-raising flour

50g Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

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  •  Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  •  Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases or 15cm folded squares of greaseproof paper, then lightly wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper.
  • Peel the sweet potatoes or squash and coarsely grate into a large bowl.
  • Trim the spring onions, then finely slice with the chilli and add to the bowl, reserving half the chilli to one side.
  •  Crack in the eggs, add the cottage cheese and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until nicely combined.
  • Evenly divide the muffin mixture between the cases.
  • Sprinkle over the sunflower and poppy seeds, then dot over the reserved slices of chilli. Use the remaining Parmesan to give a light dusting of cheese over each one.
  •  Bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes (if using squash, it’ll be a bit quicker – check after 35 minutes), or until golden and set.

These are amazing served warm 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, and good kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

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