Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Country Bumpkin Pumpkin

Note to all viewers, if you ever decide to embark on making your own pumpkin puree, be prepared to get really creative and be ready to adapt your palette to pumpkin and only pumpkin. Sophia and I had relatively small pumpkins. I'd say that they were so wee they'd made baby jack-o-lanterns and still we ended up with endless pumpkin puree.. probably about 5 cups worth. Most recipes call for about .5 cup to a cup of pumpkin alone. I thought for sure that with pumpkin bread, pumpkin biscotti and pumpkin scones, I'd be gone with all of my pumpkin puree. I was left with a full heaping cup load extra puree!

It's my last night in Halifax before I head out for the holidays. I decided to bake pumpkin treats for the long trip and to greet the folks back home with. I had my work cut out for me already with these decadent pumpkin scones.

I got this recipe from one of the first food blogs that I ever followed, Baking and Books. http://www.bakingandbooks.com/2009/10/19/pumpkin-scones-with-autumn-spiced-glaze/

Next I swiftly moved on to the biscotti.

I found the recipe from this blogger, who also must have run into excess pumpkin puree, because she had three featured pumpkin recipes on her blog. They included pumpkin whoopie pies and pumpkin oatmeal cookies. http://www.thesweetslife.com/2010/12/pumpkin-biscotti-with-cranberries-and.html I, myself, found the biscotti too sweet. Perhaps it would be better dipped in coffee or hot chocolate.

Since I the previous pumpkin bread was such a huge success at the holiday party I decided to give it another shot with the extra cup of pumpkin puree. This time I even took a picture of it. It looks like banana bread to me.

And that's all the pumpkin, folks! Now I'm kind of at a loss as to what my next cooking adventure should be. I suppose I'll go switch to something savory, maybe try my hand at some new types of breads for the winter season.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I had to break down yesterday and buy eggs and butter in order to make a wonderfully smelling pumpkin bread. It was a huge success at the neighbourly holiday party. It was an easy recipe to follow from the Joy of Cooking and I was able to stick it in the oven, attend the party and run up to take it out of the oven on cue. It didn't burn one bit. Since I was anxious to bring the bread freshly baked right to the party, (which was in the same apartment building, mind you) I forgot to take a picture for the blog. After having had a full turkey dinner, I also forgot all about the bread once I was there. I did shamelessly lick the bowl, spoon and beaters clean of the batter after I stuck it in the oven though. It was finger lickin good!

Tonight I made good work of the leftover potatoes, carrots and onions. I made a Dutch hutspot, a mash of potatoes and carrots seasoned with a dash of curry powder and stock. It turned out to be a perfect hearty meal for a blustery windy day in Halifax like today. Typically it is to be served with bacon bits, some sort of weiner sausage or Dutch meatballs with gravy. I substituted by boiling the carrots with a bit of beef stock. I also kept the skins on the potatoes for extra nutrient. The recipe can be found here from the lovely Kay, the dutch woman of Gouda. http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/hutspot

What can I say? Mash never tends to photograph very well...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grammie's Tomato and Rice Soup

Seeing as the holiday break is approaching when I'll be leaving our lovely Quinn Street Attic for a whole month or so, I've refrained from buying any more food so that it may not go to waste while I am gone. It's been a bit of a challenge to come up with sustainent meals with an almost empty fridge and cupboard. Fortunately for me, I rather enjoy a good challenge.

Although far from being gourmet, these meals are low budget, easy to make, and relatively fast, which is why I've decided to share them with the blogging community at large.

Current ingredients left in the kitchen:

a cup of rice
a carrot and 1/2
small white potatoes
a tomato
1/4 left of a jar of pasta sauce
pumpkin puree
all purpose flour
white bread flour
2 eggs
vanilla extract
tahini paste
plus condiments... lots of condiments...
Almost everything from honey dijon mustard and worcestershire sauce to sambal oelek and fish sauce.

Tonight I brought out an old nostalgic recipe that my French Canadian grandmother used to make for me as a child. It's far from being French or Canadian but it's a no nonsense meal that fills your tummy with warmth.

It's Grammie's Tomatoe and Rice Soup!

I toasted the rice with onion and two cloves of garlic in oil on medium heat in the cooking pot. I then added about a cup of water and slowly added some beef broth accordingly, reducing the heat so the soup could simmer. I used bovril, which is a liquid concentration that acts almost like a bouillon cube, that is to be added to boiled water. I accidentally spilled a huge amount everywhere and ended up with a very salty, almost soy sauce like broth. So I reduced the amount of broth from a cup and replaced it with boiling water. I basically used the broth as the seasoning. Unfortunately out of habit, I forgot to omit the table salt. I chopped the tomato and added it with the leftover pasta sauce to the pot. By this point the rice had begun to soften and was starting to absorb the liquid. I added in cayenne for an extra kick, a dash of dried basil, and a bit of generic hot curry powder. I continued to add boiling water to the pot as the rice kept absorbing the liquid.

Overall, a simple sucess!

I had some leftover stale seasoned croutons that I threw in there for texture and flavor. I believe my grandmother used to make hers with instant rice, water, salt and canned tomatoes to make this soup and she would serve it with saltines. Eating mine, however, still conjured up memories of watching Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune doing a giant jigsaw puzzle, or playing yahtzee in her living room. The only thing that was missing to complete the nostalgic meal was oreos and milk or pecan icecream for dessert.

To be honest, I didn't think my photo of the soup I made would do it justice...
But here's a fancier type of tomato soup that I gave me the thought of making my humble Grammie's kind.

Pomidora Soup with Tortellini

And might I add, had I added sausage or tortellini, it would have made the soup exceptionally heart warming.

The pomidora soup with tortellini recipe is availabe here: http://www.kayotic.nl/blog/royal-pomodori-and-tortellini-soup
from a lovely Dutch woman living in Gouda.

Perhaps Sophia will turn to her in the future for nostalgic recipes...

What on earth will I end up making with the leftover ingredients in my kitchen, you say? And will I ever find a way to use up all that pumpkin puree?? Stay tuned and all shall be revealed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Posh Squash

I've been wanting to make a butternut squash soup this season thus when I finally spotted a decent squash at the farmer's market, I grabbed it. After the pumpkin soup incident however I was inclined to try something different.

Originally I was going to make a thyme, feta squash bake as Sophia suggested and has made in the past. Absolutely delicious! Here's the recipe that uses pumpkin instead of squash courtesy of Nessie, another fellow blogger of Auckland, New Zealand:

Although I could have used pumpkin seeing as I have so much puree leftover, I still wanted to stay away from making any savory recipe with pumpkin. After roasting my squash I realized I didn't have any white wine (though water could have been substituted) nor enough cream for the recipe. I did have a whole block of feta and some leftover mint. Then I stumbled upon this beautiful recipe that came to my rescue. https://secure.tesco.com/todayattesco/realfood/recipes/archive/mains/recipe_roasted_squash_feta_mint_chilli.shtml

It did just the trick! I love the spice of the chili, mixed with the salty feta and the sweet squash. I added cayenne pepper as well to make it even spicier. An easy and yummy way to make squash a little bit more fancy. I didn't go so far as to serving it in the squash itself because I was the only one who would be seeing it and eating it. But it would make a nice way to entertain guests, I suppose.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Clove Coffee

Katherine's been using the coffee grinder to grind cloves again. Now I'm drinking a lovely mug of side-effects.

Also, I had been planning to make eggnog again this year, but I wanted it too much to risk it curdling. So I just bought some. It's SO much better than the soynog I consoled myself with last year. Back when I instated the law that no real eggnog shall pass our lips unless it is homemade.

What a stupid rule. Cheers!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Punkin the Pumpkin

Now it's my turn to puree the pumpkin that I picked out for myself at Lunenberg. I found that cooking the pumpkin in the oven for a bit longer than Sophie made it easier to mash afterward. I knifed my pumpkin several times to let out steam and threw it in a baking dish with about an inch of water and let it sit for about 1.5 hours. I then cut out the top and let the insides cool before scooping out the pulp and seeds. The skin was easy to peel off and by cooking the pumpking with the skin on made it so the actual pumpkin flesh was protected from burning. I didn't need to microwave the pumpkin flesh at all afterward since it was relatively soft. I chopped it up into small chunks and processed it in the food processor before mashing it with a fork.

The end result?
Homemade pure pumpkin cookies :) I had a friend growing up that used to make these all the time. They're delicious and go well with a nice mug of egg nog if i do say so myself, topped off with a little bit o' brandy, of course. I found the recipe on this blog: How to Eat A Cupcake. http://www.howtoeatacupcake.net/2007/11/soft-pumpkin-cookies-w-craisins-and.html
I prefer to add chocolate chips to the cookies instead of dried fruit or nuts. Its all up to personal preference.I also substituted allspice with cloves.

Now I've got several cups of ready to use pumpkin puree. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! I've decided to stick with sweet rather than savory pumpkin recipes after my last episode with the pumpkin soup.

Next up... pumpkin bread! mmm mmm good.