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Food & Drink

Pumpkin Rice & Pumpkin Soup Recipes

October 22, 2011

Two pumpkin recipesIt’s that time of year when we’re all scooping out the flesh of our juicy pumpkins and wondering what to do with them. When supermarkets are selling large pumpkins so cheaply, surely we owe it to the farmers who’ve spent months growing them to at least use the flesh.

Here’s are two recipes that our family enjoy taken from two favourite cook books. First up, a delicately flavoured rice from Caribbean Food Made Easy by Levi Roots.

Pumpkin Rice Recipe

(serves 8-9)

550ml (just under a pint) water
400g (14oz) pumpkin flesh, deseeded and cut into small chunks
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp salt
450g (1lb) basmati rice
15g (½oz) butter

1. Put the water, pumpkin, 2 sprigs of thyme and salt in a saucepan, cover with a lid, bring to the boil then turn down and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes or until soft.  Remove the thyme and very roughly mash the pumpkin with a potato masher.

2. Wash the rice two or three times in a bowl to remove some of the starch, swishing it round in cold water and draining, until the water is almost clear, then add it to the pumpkin mixture.  The liquid needs to cover the rice by about 2.5cm (1in).  Add a little more water if necessary (or pour off some if there’s too much).  Add the butter to the pan and mix until it melts. Pop the lid back onto the pan, bring the mixture to the boil then turn down to simmer on a very low heat for 20 minutes. No matter how tempted, don’t take the lid off as the heat needs to be kept in the saucepan. Don’t worry if the rice brows slightly on the base of the pan. After twenty minutes, turn off the heat and leave for a few more minutes, or until you’re ready to eat.  Add the remaining spring of thyme and, if you want to serve it with lots of style, pack into a lightly oiled dish and turn it out in a neat mound on to a serving plate.

The second recipe we use for the flesh is a lovely Pumpkin Soup from The New Covent Garden Food Co Book of Soups

2 pumpkin recipesPumpkin Soup Recipe

(serves 6)

25g (1oz) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
200g (7oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped
900g (2lb) pumpkin, diced
250g (9oz) carrots, diced
1.2ltrs (2pints) vegetable stock
150ml (1/4pint) milk
demerara sugar to taste
finely grated nutmeg to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the onion and cook gently for five minutes with the lid on.  Add the potato, 700g of the pumpkin, the carrots and the vegetable stock.  Cover, bring to the boil then turn down and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender.

Cool a little, then purée in a liquidiser.  Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk.

Meanwhile, boil some water with a little added salt and cook the remaining pumpkin for two minutes.  Drain and add to the soup.  Add the sugar, nutmeg and seasoning to taste.  Reheat gently.

This makes a table talking centrepiece if you serve the soup in a hollowed out a pumpkin. For an added touch, line the base with some toasted baguette topped with grated Gruyère cheese before adding the soup, and popping the lid back on.

2 pumpkin recipesHave you any favourite pumpkin recipes?

Food & Drink

Pumpkin Rice and Pumpkin Soup Recipes

October 27, 2010

It’s that time of year when we’re all scooping out the flesh of our juicy pumpkins and wondering what to do with them. Here’s a couple of our favourite recipe ideas…..

Like many of you I have a bookshelf full of cookbooks. I love cookbooks.  A good cook book is my ideal Christmas present.  I can curl up by the fire on Christmas day whilst the Children are watching a movie and lose myself in a book full of delicious sounding foods.

I especially like the books with a bit of a story to tell. Explanations on basic techniques for example, or in the case of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Everyday book, learning lost techniques.

A couple of times, when I’ve been feeling a bit cheeky, I buy my hubby a cook book too (which is a bit like buying myself an unofficial present.)

The first time I wasn’t sure of the reaction but as he’s a big fan of Rivercottage I took the risk and bought him the Everyday cookbook mentioned above.  To my slight surprise he absolutely loved it – told his friends about it (it seems that men don’t just talk about football!), and loves choosing and cooking recipes from it. One of his top 5 recipes of all time comes from this book – Beef with Soy Sauce and Ginger, and some of our friends that he’s cooked it for loved it too! 

Recently, instead of the noodles recommended with this dish, he tried out another recipe from the second cook book I bought him: Pumpkin Rice from Caribbean Food Made Easy by Levi Roots.  This is a great alternative to the usual soups and roasting methods we’ve used in the past for the pumpkin flesh as the flavours are very delicate. This is the recipe as written by Levi in his book.

 

Available from Amazon

Pumpkin Rice (serves 8-9)

550ml (just under a pint) water
400g (14oz) pumpkin flesh, deseeded and cut into small chunks
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp salt
450g (1lb) basmati rice
15g (1/2oz) butter

1. Put the water, pumpkin, 2 sprigs of thyme and salt in a saucepan.  Put on a lid.  Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until soft.  Remove the thyme and very roughly mash the pumpkin into the liquid with a potato masher.  You’re not after a smooth puree, more a rough mix.

2. Wash the rice twice to remove some of the starch, swishing it round a bowl and running cold water over it until the water is almost clear, and add it to the pumpkin mix in the saucepan.  You want the liquid to cover the rice by about 2 1/2cm (1in).  Add a little more water if necessary (or pour off some if there’s too much).  Add the butter and stir it in as it melts.  Put the lid back on the pan.  Bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer immediately.

3.  Leave to simmer gently for around 20 mins.  Do not uncover the pan to take a peek as you want to keep in the heat.  The bottom of the rice will brown a little; this is how it is meant to be.  Just make sure it is on the lowest heat.  Turn off the heat and leave for a few more minutes, or until you’re ready to eat.  Add the remaining spring of thyme and, if you want to serve it with lots of style, pack into a lightly oiled dish and turn it out in a neat mound on to a serving plate.

The second recipe we use for the flesh is a lovely Pumpkin Soup from another favourite, The New Covent Garden Food Co Book of Soups. I’ve also adapted this recipe when I’ve been trying to follow the Weight Watchers Diet by leaving out the butter, and just throwing all the ingredients together in a pan, cooking until soft then blending.  Here’s the original version though:

Pumpkin Soup (serves 6)

25g (1oz) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
200g (7oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped
900g (2lb) pumpkin, diced
250g (9oz) carrots, diced
1.2ltrs (2pints) vegetable stock
150ml (1/4pint) milk
demerara sugar to taste
finely grated nutmeg to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring.  Add the potato, 700g of the pumpkin, the carrots and the vegetable stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender.  Cool a little, then puree in a liquidiser.  Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk.

Meanwhile, add the remaining pumpkin to a saucepan of boiled salted water and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain and add to the pureed soup.  Add the sugar, nutmeg and seasoning to taste.  Reheat gently.

The most effective way to serve is in a hollowed-out pumpkin.  Take a pumpkin, slice off the top quarter, scoop out the seeds, place slices of toasted baguette in the base together with grated Gruyere cheese.  Fill with the soup, put on the lid and serve at the table.

Yum Yum. Enjoy!

This is part 1 of 3 blogs I’ll be writing on pumpkins this week, so keep an eye out for what’s coming next.

       
        Happy Halloween!

Food & Drink

5 Things to Do With a Pumpkin and One Thing Not to Do, Ever.

November 6, 2016

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

FOOD WASTE

Halloween is over but pumpkin is very much in season.

5 things to do with a pumpkinPumpkins are colourful vegetables in the squash family and they come in all shapes and sizes. They’re versatile and will last for months in a cool, dry environment. I recently heard however, that 15 MILLION pumpkins are wasted in the UK every year. If you add that figure to those wasted in Ireland, everywhere that decorates their Halloween homes and gardens, that’s a colossal amount of food waste, never mind the resources that go into growing pumpkins. Can we do something about it?

Pumpkins are inexpensive and make tasty, sweet or savoury dishes yet we undervalue them. One average size pumpkin can provide a snack, soup and dessert and they are far from bland once they’ve been roasted in the oven with oil and seasoning.

We throw out 15 million pumpkins every year in the UK.
Let’s start eating them instead of binning them. Share if you want to stop the #foodwaste horror. 🎃

Posted by OLIO – The Food Sharing Revolution on Wednesday, 26 October 2016

If you’re concerned about pumpkin waste and would like to do more with them, here’s five suggestions, including saving seeds and several links to recipes. At the end of the article there’s a short video clip showing what not to do with a pumpkin, especially if you can’t seek the help of some kind friends or family…

No. 1 – How to Save a Jack O’Lantern Pumpkin

How to save pumpkin seeds

License: (license)

Once the pumpkin is carved, there’s not much we can do but before we make it into a creepy devil or spooky cat, we can save all the flesh we scoop out and cook it.

  • Remove the ‘lid’ at the stalk end by cutting a disk shape around the top with a sharp knife. Remove as much of the flesh as you can from the inside, leaving enough so you’re able to carve it without damage. Separate the seeds and leave to one side.
  • If possible, chop the flesh into large bite sized chunks and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, if not, spread the pumpkin out on a baking tray, toss in olive oil and bake in a hot oven until roasted. Pumpkins are much easier to deal with if not trying to carve them into Halloween faces and roasted pumpkin chunks can also be served hot as a side vegetable.
  • Remove the cooked flesh from the oven and allow to cool. It can now be used in soups, puree and even a tasty pie. If you don’t have time to bake or make right now, bag up the roasted flesh when it’s cool and freeze.
Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

Pumpkin Soup

No. 2 – How to Cook with Pumpkin

I was in my thirties before I tried making any kind of  soup and it’s regularly on our lunch menu now I’ve discovered how easy soup is to make. When you grow your own vegetables, soup is a free meal and becomes a great way of feeding a crowd. Making soup is also a terrific way of using up ‘gluts’ of veg and it can be frozen too.

Apart from the ingredients, a source of heat and a blender are the main pieces of kitchen gadgetry needed. Once you have those, you’ll be flying. Basically just chop up some vegetables, add them to about a litre and a half of hot water, add a stock cube, some seasoning, heat until the veg have softened, then blitz in the blender. Job done.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

Vegan No Bake Pumpkin Pie

I’ve a few pumpkin soup recipes in the archives if you’d like to try them, as well as a pumpkin rice recipe.

We used a soup recipe from The Happy Pear recently at Gleann na Bearu community garden. It has a heart warming gingery tang and it just feels like it must be doing some good. We also made this no-bake vegan Pumpkin Pie I’d urge you to try for special occasions, assuming you don’t have a nut allergy.

No. 3 – How to Save Pumpkin Seeds

If you’ve grown the pumpkin in your garden and you know the variety, you can save the seeds for replanting in the springtime as long as they weren’t from an F1 cultivar (they’re likely to revert back to their parentage if they were F1’s). Likewise, if you bought your pumpkin from a farmers market, ask the stall holder what variety they’re selling and you might be able to save those seeds. Supermarket pumpkin seeds may or may not germinate, but could be fun to try.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for HalloweenTo save the seeds, scoop out the soft, seedy, fibrous flesh inside the pumpkin with a metal spoon and place into a colander.

Pick out as many of the seeds as you can before sifting through the rest under a tap of running water. (Tip: do this holding the colander over a bowl and use the drained water for the plants or flush the toilet with it.)

Leave to dry fully on parchment paper on a windowsill then pop into brown envelopes, label and store in an airtight tin until you’re ready to sow them. Always sow more than you need for when some aren’t viable. To test the viability of seeds or learn how long you can expect them to last, take a look at this archived post.

No. 4 – How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

If you purchased your pumpkin from a supermarket, it’s unlikely you’ll know its provenance so why not try cooking the seeds instead of saving them. It’s very easy and they’re tasty too.

Ingredients

Pumpkin seeds
Cold water (about half a litre)
2 tbls salt (or less if you don’t want the seeds overly salty)
1 tblsp olive oil

Heat oven to 20oºC/Gas 6/400ºF

Clean the seeds as above then add them to a saucepan with the salt and water, bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes or so to allow the seeds to soften.

Take off the heat, drain, pat the seeds dry with a clean tea towel then toss in the olive oil before placing on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for around ten to twenty minutes, until the seeds brown and are crispy.

Pumpkins ~ Not Just for Halloween

“Green Man” Pumpkin

No. 5 – How to Decorate a Pumpkin without Cutting it Up

In the U.S. pumpkin decorating is massive, check out Pinterest for thousands of ideas.

A couple of years ago I entered a bloggers pumpkin decorating competition with a natural, autumnal themed entry. My ‘Green Man’ eventually shared the table with all the chutney a group of community gardeners made to sell at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

I made the creation pictured by collecting seasonal leaves, flowers and cones and sticking them to the pumpkin skin using a glue gun. Drawing or dressmaking pins would work well too if you’re try to avoid the chemical addition.

Don’t Try This At Home

I hope you’ve enjoyed those few ideas for using your pumpkin. Next year as Halloween approaches, if you don’t already do so please consider cooking your pumpkin instead of throwing away all the seeds and flesh. Whatever you do, don’t try this at home. Especially if you’re home alone…


photo credit: clarkmaxwell Halloween deconstructed (aka: pumpkin autopsy) via photopin (license)

Vegetable Garden

Pumpkin Art – Time For Something Different?

October 25, 2014
Pumpkin Art - Are You Ready For Something Different?

“Green Man” Pumpkin

It never occurred to me to decorate a pumpkin at Halloween any other way than carving it, but Melissa from the Empress of Dirt blog recently published a post calling for entries to a pumpkin decorating competition where pumpkins are embellished rather than sculptured and it seems such a great idea.

Pumpkin Art - Are You Ready For Something Different?If you’ve ever carved pumpkins you’ll have noticed how quickly they go mouldy inside, yet when they’re left in one piece they’ll last for months, which is great if you’re wondering what you can cook up after the festive season that’s cheap, cheerful and healthy.

We usually carve one or two pumpkins at Halloween to hold tea lights on the windowsills, but I’ve friends and neighbours with several dotted around their homes and gardens. That’s a lot of pumpkin flesh to use up or freeze at a busy time of year. Embellishing the pumpkins can give you the best of both worlds – a decorated squash in October that you can eat at Christmas.

If you like the idea of creating a piece of pumpkin art and trying something different this year, Melissa has lots of examples that you can find here to give you some ideas.

Pumpkin Art - Are You Ready For Something Different?I opted for a natural, ‘green man’ look with the giant community garden squash that will be on display at Savour Kilkenny (using a glue gun to stick everything to the pumpkin).

If you’re in Kilkenny this weekend and would like to see it, the Kilkenny Community Garden Network will have a stand in the Leader Partnership marquee on Sunday, where we’ll be selling this seasons chutneys and jams, made by the gardeners from produce mostly sown and grown in Callan community garden this year.

I was planning to make an autumn door wreath but haven’t managed to, yet this seems to make up for it. Our eldest daughter wasn’t so keen on my ‘green’ pumpkin as she couldn’t see its orange skin behind the leaves but Mr G loved it as he’s always been a Green Man fan.

What do you think? Could you be persuaded to hang on to your pumpkin a bit longer, embellish it and perhaps make a soup from its flesh or roast the seeds in a couple of months time, or are you a carving traditionalist, something that was after all, supposed to have originated in Ireland?

Community Gardens, Food & Drink

Cooking Pumpkins in the Community

October 14, 2014

Cooking Pumpkins in the Community | greensideup.ie

Not content with growing the vegetables, a couple of weeks ago  I rashly gamely offered to demonstrate a few ways of cooking pumpkin flesh at Callan community garden as there’s little point in growing food if we don’t know how to prepare and eat it. It’s the first year we’ve grown a pumpkin patch there and as the fruit have swollen nicely, it seemed a good idea to demonstrate that there’s more to pumpkins than Halloween window decorations. I’m sure many of us are, or have been guilty of discarding the flesh we scoop out and it seems such a waste of good food. In the shops and farmers markets, pumpkins are coming into season and are a vegetable/fruit that will store for months in a cool, dry environment, making them a fantastic winter staple.

Not only do pumpkins make great decorations, they are extremely good for us, containing over 200% of our recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, the vitamin that’s good for our eye sight, they’re rich in fibre, contain very few calories and are great for helping to lower cholesterol among other things.

Cookery Demonstration

Cooking Pumpkins in the Community | greensideup.ieI’m a family cook who likes a recipe in front of me (even though I stray from it quite regularly) which therefore resulted in a very informal cookery session at the family resource centre where everyone helped with the prepping and washing up, before gathering to share the food presented. I chose two safe, tried and tasted savoury pumpkin recipes using the flesh from one medium-sized pumpkin, as well as a roasted seed recipe that you can find below. I also demonstrated how to make courgette cake, a recipe I’ve talked about on several occasions but gardeners had yet to try. The courgette cake recipe can be found here and the basic soup and delicately flavoured pumpkin rice recipes here. I’m afraid there’s no photos as I was too busy cooking.

I would have loved to have baked a pumpkin dessert for the group but simply didn’t have time to find a recipe that uses fresh pumpkin flesh – no matter where I looked, they all used tinned pumpkin purée. However, I’ve since been given this recipe that shares how to make our own purée by Kristen who writes That Blooming Garden Blog, so they’ll be no stopping us.

If you’d like to try cooking pumpkins this year, as well as the recipes linked above that I cooked for the group, I’ve added a few variations of soup at the bottom of the post from some fellow garden bloggers.

Cooking Pumpkins in the Community | greensideup.ieRoasted pumpkin seeds

Ingredients

225g pumpkin seeds
450ml water
2 tbls salt
1 tblsp olive oil

Heat oven to 20oºC/Gas 6/400ºF

Remove the ‘lid’ of the pumpkin at the stalk end by cutting a disk shape around the top with a sharp knife. Scoop out the soft, seedy, fibrous flesh inside with a metal spoon and place into a colander, leaving the tougher flesh that’s around the inside of the pumpkin to tackle later for another recipe.

Pick out as many of the seeds as you can before sifting through the rest under a tap of running water. (Tip: do this holding the colander over a bowl and use the drained water for the plants or flush the toilet with it.)

Add the seeds, water and salt to a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer for ten minutes or so to allow the seeds to soften.

Take off the heat, drain, pat the seeds dry with a clean tea towel then toss in the olive oil before placing on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast in the oven for around ten to twenty minutes, until the seeds brown.

Three Pumpkin Soup Recipes

Soup is such a versatile dish, quick to make and winter warming too. Here are some links to three variations of pumpkin soup you might like to try.

Cooking Pumpkin in the CommunityThe first is from Emma from De Tout Coeur Limousin in France where she adds sage, garlic and chilli to her pumpkin recipe .

Secondly, from Kristin in British Columbia, a step by step guide to pumpkin soup with a nutmeg flavouring, very handy if you’re new to soup making.

Lastly (and these are in no particular order) Heather from the New House New Home New Life blog makes a curried soup and although has used purée as a base, the flavouring could easily be switched to a fresh pumpkin recipe.

Pumpkin Competition

Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Pumpkin Decorating Contest from The Empress of Dirt

If you’d like to try your hand at decorating this year’s pumpkins with embellishments and not carving them, there’s a fun competition over on Melissa’s Empress of Dirt Blog where the winning entry could take on the illustrious title of Creator Of The Ultimate Pumpkin Head of 2014!

History of Pumpkin Carving

If you prefer to carve your pumpkins, here’s an archived post on the blog that explains why we do it. Did you know the tradition originated in Ireland?

What do you think… will you be cooking your pumpkin this year?

Food & Drink

The Prince of Squash – Soup Recipe

October 31, 2012
Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Winter squash harvest

This week we carved five squash/pumpkins to celebrate Hallowe’en – one of which was one of my precious Crown Prince squash varieties.

Grown this year from seed, I’ve watched three grow and develop and there’s a part of me that didn’t want to slice and bake the tasty fruit. Although the skin is a grey/blue, the flesh inside is a rich orange in colour and once roasted is one of the tastiest squash we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It develops a deliciously sweet chestnut flavour and when made into a soup is simply divine. As we were scooping out the flesh the scent of melons filled the kitchen, reminding us of the Crown Princes’ relationship with the rest the Cucurbita family.

Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Crown Prince Squash

If you’ve yet to grow a Crown Prince, I heartily recommend you try it next year as they’re easy to grow (instructions here) and are great for winter storage. If you haven’t grown them, try sourcing them in a farmers market – I bought my first one last year from a local organic farm gate.

This is my third squash or pumpkin soup recipe on the blog and the tastiest yet. The reason I keep posting them isn’t for their amazing flavour – pumpkin can be quite bland on its own, more that I’m hoping it’ll encourage you to use the flesh!

In my previous life before children, I’d scoop out the seeds and flesh before carving pumpkins and composting them. That was it. I was too scared to try cooking them and didn’t have a clue what to do with the flesh. In fact I have a vague recollection of thinking what a waste of food, there must be something I could make with it, but it wasn’t until I became a budget conscious mum and starting cooking more than mushroom curries that I found out what to do with it.

Given that there’s only so much squash soup a family can make, this year we’ll also be making pumpkin muffins based on the courgette cake recipe and will be roasting some of the seeds. I spotted this recipe for cocoa roasted pumpkin seeds on twitter from the Food to Glow blog and will be giving it a go.

Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Ingredients

Diced flesh from a Crown Prince squash
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 ltrs vegetable stock
25g butter
Lots of finely grated nutmeg to taste
freshly ground salt & pepper
150 ml milk

Carefully cut the top from the squash and scoop out the seeds and fibrous contents. You can’t save and plant the seeds from a squash such as Crown Prince as it’s an F1 variety (meaning that whatever you grow wont be like its parent). Rinse and place the seeds to one side so that you can make the cocoa roasted snack when the oven’s hot. Using a spoon, scrape out as much flesh from the squash as you can without damaging the outer shell. Place the empty shell to one side ready for carving. Spread out the pumpkin flesh on a roasting tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 175ºC for about an hour.

Once roasted, melt the butter and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring.  Add the potato, roasted squash and vegetable stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender.  Cool a little, then purée in a liquidiser.  Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk, grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the soup into the empty shell for serving if you’re not planning on carving it.

Do you have any favourite squash recipes or links you’d like to share?

Crown Prince Squash

Crown Prince Squash

Food & Drink, Travel

Two Squash Soup & Kilkenny Food Camp

October 28, 2012
Thanksgiving Cornbread from Ron Wise at Savour Kilkenny

Thanksgiving Cornbread from Ron Wise at Savour Kilkenny

Kilkenny is buzzing this week with the sixth year of the annual food extravaganza that is Savour Kilkenny currently taking place. There’s so much happening in the Marble City – from cooking demonstrations  competitions, foraging and markets, tasting, talks and tasty tweet ups – every year the programme looks better and better.

Unfortunately I’ve yet to spend time at more than the atmospheric weekend market or for the third year running, Food Camp, but maybe next year we’ll make it to one of the evening meals instead of watching them unfold on twitter from the comfort of the sofa.

Blight Resistant Potatoes

Blight Resistant Potatoes on the Parade

I’m a big fan of the Food Camp which I’ve written about before and would encourage anyone who hasn’t yet been to one to make a date for next year.

Food Camp is a place where anyone with an interest in food is encouraged to talk about it. This sharing of passion sends you home motivated, worried, excited and above all more informed about aspects of the food world than you were four hours previously (or seven if you’re there for the day). This year was no exception. It can be difficult to choose which topic you want to sit in on as three run at the same time, but I wasn’t disappointed listening to Sarah Baker share her passion for teaching children of all ages about where food comes from and how to cook it, William Despard of The Bretzel Bakery confused that parents would sooner buy fancy buns than decent bread or Natasha Czopar share her knowledge and enthusiasm for raw food.

Savour Kilkenny 2012

Savour Kilkenny 2012

The last topic of the morning that sent me home uncomfortable about our future however, was from journalist Suzanne Campbell when she talked about sky rocketing global food prices that haven’t quite filtered down to us but soon will do.

Make no mistake, next year we’ll see food prices rise higher and higher, and they won’t be coming down in the foreseeable future either so we’re going to have to get used to paying a lot more for our weekly shopping. The global weather conditions – including droughts in the US to the long wet summers in Ireland and the UK will impact heavily. With our weekly or monthly housekeeping already stretched (and that’s before the November budget) surely it makes more sense than ever for people to grow their own food? Anything we can do to help keep our food bills at manageable levels has to be good and I for one will be planning to sow and grow more for my family next year.

In the meantime, this year we’ve had lots of squash growing in the polytunnel so when thinking about what to cook for the Food Camp lunch, given the event that it was, choosing to take a seasonal recipe along to the pot luck lunch seemed obvious. Slight confession here in that I didn’t use one of the several large winter squash growing here as my children had pestered my to buy some bright orange pumpkins for carving and we didn’t grow any this year. I did however, add some courgettes to the saucepan giving this a slight twist on the usual pumpkin soup. This recipe could easily be spiced up with the addition of some chilli or even a touch of five spice for a Far Eastern twist.

Winter squash harvest

Winter squash harvest

Ingredients

Diced flesh from a medium pumpkin
Medium Courgette, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 ltrs vegetable stock
25g (1oz) butter
finely grated nutmeg
freshly ground salt & pepper
150ml milk

Carefully cut the top from the pumpkin and scoop out the contents. Place the empty pumpkin to one side. Discard the seeds (or clean and roast) and spread out the pumpkin flesh on a roasting tray. Bake in the oven at 175ºC for about an hour.

Once roasted, melt the butter and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring.  Add the potato, roasted pumpkin, courgette, carrots and vegetable stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender.  Cool a little, then purée in a liquidiser.  Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk, grated nutmeg and season to taste.

To serve, empty the hot soup into the empty pumpkin and grate a little more nutmeg onto the top.

Ron & Mona Wise

Ron & Mona Wise  aka “The Chef & I”

My Savour Kilkenny experience ended by spending a few hours on the parade with two of our three children. Here we munched on the tastiest free range chicken baps, supped on Badger & Dodo lattes and hot chocolate then enjoyed meeting up with twitter friends and listening to Ron and Mona Wise talk and demonstrate how to cook a thanksgiving dinner…. mmmmm is all I can say to that, Ron’s stuffed turkey was something else and what a finish to a lovely couple of days.

The festival runs until Monday, 29th so you still have time to catch some of the events there.  See the website for more details.

 

Community Gardens

From basket to gourmet menu

August 31, 2013

We usually share a cuppa and a pack of jammy dodgers when we meet, so sitting together sharing food from a gourmet menu that mentions the Goresbridge community garden was a very special occasion for the gardeners and a new step along their journey.

Goresbridge Community Garden Fresh Produce Basket

A small delivery to The Step House for Chef to create our Lunch

I recently wrote about the new connection we’ve made with The Step House in Borris, County Carlow. If you missed it you can read it here but we’re at the start of quite an adventure.

Head Chef of The Step House Hotel & Restaurant, Borris, Co Carlow - Alan Foley

Head Chef of The Step House Hotel & Restaurant, Borris, Co Carlow – Alan Foley

We’re learning about supplying a local restaurant with fresh seasonal food, from harvesting and packaging skills and techniques to providing a steady flow of raw food (or not) – this is a new experience for us all. Like all good restaurants, Head Chef Alan Foley is creating linkages with local food producers from foragers to community gardeners, meat, game and vegetable suppliers and he’s enthusiastically embracing the fresh, quality ingredients available so close to his kitchen.

Step House Gardeners & Foragers Gourmet Menu

 

Our supply of herbs and vegetables isn’t consistent enough just yet to demand payment. It was therefore suggested that in exchange for our produce, Chef would create a menu for us once a month that would include our herbs and vegetables.

It gives the gardeners the opportunity to taste produce that’s been grown and cared for in the community garden and Chef to come up with different and seasonal recipes that might entice his customers.

We weren’t disappointed.

My first venture into rabbit will not be my last…

Fois Gras Cream, Harvey Jelly, Chive & Brioche

Fois Gras Cream, Harvey Jelly, Chive & Brioche

Even the non beetroot lovers of the party enjoyed the flavours in this dish.

gravalax of salmon with beetroot

Gravalax of salmon with beetroot

We delivered the butternut squash underripe but wouldn’t have known once it was in the hands of a master. It was roasted, seasoned, roasted again before being whisked with milk to keep it as low fat as possible.

Lightly spiced Goresbridge Pumpkin Soup

Lightly spiced Goresbridge Pumpkin Soup

The pork was cooked gently for twelve hours (can’t wait for our own now!!)

Confit of Tom Salter's Pork Belly

Confit of Tom Salter’s Pork Belly with Goresbridge Sage, Crab Apple Jus

and lastly the dessert, well need I say more…

Local Strawberry, Blueberry & Wild Blackberry Salad with Amaretto Cream

Local Strawberry, Blueberry & Wild Blackberry Salad with Amaretto Cream

We finished off with Chamomile Tea served in the beautiful tea pot which reflected my sunflower frock no matter how I tried to photograph it.

Time for Tea

Time for Tea

As you might imagine, we’re looking forward to developing our relationship with the Step House and will be having a planning meeting to discuss the crops we can grow for the restaurant at our next meet up.

Gardeners, Foragers & ChefIf you’re wondering what you can grow over winter in the garden, take a look at the free monthly downloadable printouts available on the monthly Jobs section of the Greenside Up website.