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Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

CHOCOLATE, PUMPKIN AND PECAN BROWNIES

Delicious chocolate brownies with a twist. The creamy pumpkin mixture works a treat when stirred through brownie batter before being baked. To make pumpkin puree, simply boil or steam peeled cubes of pumpkin and blitz with a blender until smooth. This is a perfect recipe to make the most of the pieces of pumpkin you have leftover from carving out pumpkins.

makes about 20 squares

For the pumpkin mix:

25g butter

75g cream cheese

100g caster sugar

1 egg

100ml pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp ground ginger

75g plain flour

For the chocolate mix:

200g unsalted butter

200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped

3 large eggs

300g granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

125g plain flour

a pinch of salt

100g pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.

Grease and line an approximately 20 by 30cm rectangular baking tin, 3 to

4cm deep, with greaseproof or parchment paper.

To make the pumpkin mixture, beat everything together until smooth. Keep to one side.

For the chocolate mixture, melt the butter and chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or gently in the microwave.

With an electric hand whisk, beat together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until they are lovely and thick and creamy. Mix in the melted chocolate and butter. Finally stir in the flour, salt and pecans.

Pour into the baking tin and level the surface. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of the pumpkin mixture all over the top. Using the back of a table knife, loosely swirl into the chocolate mixture. Place in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is cracking and the centre is just set. Leave to cool in the tin for about 40-45 minutes before cutting into squares.

Photography Gareth Morgans

Spicy Pumpkin and Lentil Soup

SPICY PUMPKIN AND LENTIL  SOUP

Spicy up your halloween pumpkin by making this delicious soup…

Serves 4

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp olive oil

650g pumpkin flesh, cut into small pieces

1 celery stick, finely sliced

150g split red lentils

1 litre hot vegetable stock

200ml coconut milk

4 tbsp plain or Greek yoghurt

small handful of coriander leaves

warm naan bread, to serve

Heat a large saucepan and then add the chilli flakes and cumin seeds. Dry fry for a minute or so until they release their aroma and pop around in the pan. Remove half of the seeds and set aside.

Add the oil to the pan, and once it is hot, stir in the pumpkin and celery. Stir around for a couple of minutes, and the add the lentils, stock and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, covered with a lid, until the lentils are tender.

Blitz the soup until as smooth, and season with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon into bowls, add a spoon of yoghurt on top, scatter with the reserved spices, and add a few coriander leaves, Serve with warm naan bread.

PS…

This soup freezes really well, so it is well worth making more than you need, so you have plenty for another day.

Photography Gareth Morgans.

BAKED AMERICAN CHEESECAKE

BAKED AMERICAN CHEESECAKE – as requested by @lisabowhorse on Twitter, from Glamour Magazine 2007.

After one slice of this you’ll both be back for more! The crunchy biscuit base below the creamy vanilla topping is made even more scrumptious when served with a juicy berry sauce.

For the base:

350g digestive biscuits

75g butter, melted

For the filling:

225g caster sugar

3 tablespoons cornflour

675g cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)

2 large eggs, beaten

1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

300ml whipping cream

To serve:

350g frozen mixed berries

4 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.

Grease a round 22 to 24cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

To make the base, finely crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. This is best done in a food processor, but can be done by putting them in a sealed freezer bag and bashing with a rolling pin (a great way to relieve any stress!) Mix in the melted butter and press well into the base of the cake tin.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and cornflour (ideally in a food processor or using an electric hand whisk). Add in the eggs and cream, and beat until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.

Pour on top of the biscuit base and sit in a roasting tray filled with 1 to 2cm of hot water. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is lightly golden and the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before taking out of the tin.

To prepare the berries, place in a saucepan with the sugar. Heat for a few minutes until they are just holding their shape within a sweet fruity sauce. Leave to cool.

Serve wedges of the cheesecake with a spoonful of berries and enjoy!

Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Ham and Tomato Twists

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE SOUP WITH HAM AND TOMATO TWISTS

This can all be made in advance and kept in the fridge, or even frozen, providing you with a wholesome quick lunch or a ready-made supper after work.

Serves 6

For the soup:

50g butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets (you need about 800g florets)

1 baking potato, peeled and chopped

500ml milk

700–900ml vegetable stock

1 tsp English mustard

200g extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated

For the Ham and Tomato Twists:

150g ready rolled puff pastry

2 tbsp sundried tomato paste

50g wafer thin ham

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk (egg wash)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until it is softened but not coloured. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, cauliflower and potato. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the vegetables don’t brown and if they are sticking, then add a splash of water to the pan.

Remove the lid and pour in the milk and 700ml of the stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower and potato are tender and beginning to break up.

While the soup is cooking, you can prepare the Ham and Tomato Twists. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan ovens/gas 5.

Spread the tomato paste on top of the pastry then lay the ham, in a single layer on top.

Cut the pastry into approximately 24 x 1cm thick strips. Gently twist each strip and lay onto a couple of non-stick baking sheets, keeping them just slightly apart. Brush with beaten egg wash and scatter over a little sea salt and a twist of black pepper.

Place in the oven for about 10-12 minutes or until they are light golden brown.

Remove the soup from the heat and take out the bay leaf. Cool slightly, and then blitz in a food processor or blender until totally smooth. You’ll probably have to do this in two batches. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the mustard and Cheddar until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. The remaining 200ml of stock can be added if the soup seems particularly thick.

Serve the soup hot with the Ham and Tomato Twists on the side.

PS…

The Ham and Tomato twists can easily be prepared ahead, frozen and cooked when needed.

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