Happy Returns

I was really chuffed to receive two very thoughtful birthday presents today, both of which had their origins in our garden. They were a ripe Styrian Pumpkin from my friend Bish whose pumpkins have grown while ours have not. This pumpkin was grown from seed which we had grown for Bish’s sons school fete. These pumpkins are grown for their seeds rather than their flesh. The seeds have no hulls so you have peptitas with no pain!

Styrian Pumpkin and Green Tomato Pickle
Styrian Pumpkin and Green Tomato Pickle

The second was a jar of homemade Green Tomato relish from my friend D. Again the tomato seed originated at Chez Fork.

Thanks guys for these great pressies.

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Autumn flavours

Following a weekend of good food, our expanding waistlines prompted a quick return to less calorie intense veggie dishes, but preferably ones that are not short on flavour.

Thanks heavens it’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to the rescue! Checking out his River Cottage Cookbook I came across a versatile recipe for a roasted tomato sauce that can easily be transformed into a soup.

Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 to 1.5 kgs of ripe tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic (more or less to your taste)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to your taste.

Turn oven on to 180 degrees C. Cut your tomatoes in half and arrange them on a baking tray, cut side up, add salt and pepper. Chop garlic finely and mix into the olive oil and spread evenly over the tomatoes. Bake the tomatoes between 45 to 60 minutes until the tomatoes have crinkled up and the surfaces are browned (up to you how long you cook them but mine took just over an hour).

Roasttom1

Push the cooked tomatoes through a sieve or a vegetable mill (mouli) and there is your tomato paste. Use it straight away or freeze for later.

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Making a Roast Tomato and Pumpkin Soup from your sauce
Roasted Tomato Sauce as above
Stock (any type of stock will do but remember that the better your stock is the better the result will be)
1 1/2 cups peeled & chopped pumpkin (can be more or less depending on how much soup you are making)
3 tablespoons of cooked rice
1-2 teaspoons of sugar (to taste)

Take an equal quantity of roasted tomato sauce and of stock and heat them together. Add your pumpkin and cook it in the tomato/stock mixture until the pumpkin is soft. Add the cooked rice.

Pulse the lot in a blender until smooth. Taste the soup and add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomato. Sit down and enjoy!

Soup

Keep on growing

One of my favourite vegs, the Warrigal Greens (aka New Zealand Spinach) continues to defy the frosts and is just keeping on growing. Just to be on the safe side I thought I would pick the majority of the plant and blanch it so I’d have some for creamed spinach during winter.

I started off with a washing basket full of plant …

Wgbasket

which when the leaves were plucked came down to a medium sized bowl

Wginbowl

and ended up as 6 x 200gm packets of blanched leaves.

Over on the other side of town Variegated was picking one of her ever-growing pumpkins. She kindly delivered this golden fruit along with a great recipe for Pumpkin Brioche! This is definitely a recipe worth making – just be warned though the results will probably disapper a in a matter of minutes. I’m not sure of the origin of Variegated’s recipe but this one appears to be very close.

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Making with Marrows ??? Pumpkin

TB cut our first pumpkin of the year to make an entrée for our dinner on Friday night. He made a pumpkin soufflé flavoured with goat’s cheese. Being himself he just made up the soufflé recipe – as you do! For those of us more challenged by the mere thought of a soufflé you can either use any recipe you have already tried or follow this recipe which I have previously used to make Sformata di Spinachi. Instead of the spinach add 250gms of cooked pumpkin. Add some grated parmesan to your white sauce and cut up very small cubes of goats cheese (about half a centimetre) to the mix just before you fold in the egg whites. Cook at 200° for 15 minutes, and then check your soufflé as it may need some further cooking for it to set properly.

Our main course was ham and vegetable soup. TB had hot-smoked a ham hock in the Webber and used it to make the stock base for the soup. The rest was a selection of garden vegetables diced and cooked in the stock. A piece of TB’s latest sourdough bread completed the meal.

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