Saturday Soup – Lightly Spiced Pumpkin

Ok, I know, I know – we’re barely into October and here I am eagerly grappling with pumpkins but, the truth is, I’ve never cooked much with pumpkin before and as soon as I saw the culinary ones arrive in Tesco I knew I had to do something with them.  The first something is this soup!

The recipe is adapted from one by Barney Desmazery over at BBC GoodFood.

Lightly Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

  • 500g pumpkin flesh (~1 kg pumpkin, if you wish to make the base a bowl)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 600ml stock
  • 100ml water
  • 150ml carton of double cream
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Optional

  • 2 rashers streaky bacon
  • A few fresh coriander leaves
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (made from those in the pumpkin, if you want!)

Directions

  • Heat the oil and add the onions to it to soften.
  • After the onions have softened, add the pumpkin flesh, cumin, coriander, ginger and a little black pepper mixing well and heat through for about ten minutes.
  • Add the stock and top up with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for ten to 15 minutes – until the squash is tender.
  • At this point add the cream, mix well, and bring back to the boil.
  • Take off the heat and leave to cool for a little while, then use a hand blender to purée.
  • Whilst the soup is cooling, cook the bacon and chop up the fresh coriander if you’re going to use it.
  • Reheat the soup, slice the bacon into small strips and sprinkle it, the seeds and the coriander onto the soup.

Extra Notes

  • You can bump up the amount of spice to your own taste – the amounts given are relatively mild so as not to overwhelm the pumpkin flavour.
  • To make your own roasted seeds simply wash, shake dry, put salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil on them and stick in the oven for 30 minutes or so at a medium-high heat.
  • If you make a bowl out of the base of the pumpkin, try and get as much flesh out as you can to minimise wastage without making holes in your bowl =)

Tasty, not too thick, and filling.  I’d definitely make this soup again but I suspect that I’ll only be able to make it once or twice a year since Tesco doesn’t stock pumpkins outside of October =(

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Microwave Tablet (Fudge)

The recipe is based on Helli S in a thread full of wonderful Christmas gift foodie ideas – a great starting point for those wanting to make home-made gifts for friends and family. It’s down as ‘fudge’ in the thread and it wasn’t until it was cooling and hardening that I realised that was actually what I’d always called tablet – denser, harder and tooth-decayingly sweet.  Only the night before making this had I found out that outside of Scotland tablet was often called fudge but, sadly, didn’t even think to check on this before making it.  In the end it worked out well as I love the fact I now know how to make tablet, but it just goes to show how regional variances can really hinder online recipe usage.

Microwave Tablet

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 397g condensed milk (one standard tin of Carnation brand)
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavouring

Directions

  • Prepare a glass / ceramic tray by greasing it well with butter.
  • Sift the icing sugar into the largest pyrex bowl which will fit into your microwave (a see-through non-glass dish which is microwave-safe might do – you want to be able to monitor the sugar’s level without taking it out of the microwave).
  • Melt the butter until soft and add it, with the condensed milk, to the icing sugar and mix well.
  • Set the microwave to 18 minutes on high heat.
  • After around 4-5 minutes you’ll notice the mixture beginning to boil and rise – take it out with care and stir it with a wooden spoon.
  • Place back in the microwave and continue to take it out and stir when you see it begin to rise.
  • Until around 8-10 minutes remaining you’ll probably need to take it out only every 2 minutes or so, until 5 maybe every minute and thereafter it might be as much as every 30 seconds.
  • When you get to 5 minutes remaining on the timer add the vanilla flavouring and stir in well.
  • When ready, the mixture should be thicker and darker than when it started.

Safety Tips

  • I recommend having your oven mitts handy and something to set your spoon on between stirrings.
  • Use a wooden spoon – many plastic ones will melt!
  • Do not be tempted to lick the spoon after you’ve poured the mix into the bowl – it’ll remain hot for quite some time.

My microwave is 750w rating so you may have to adjust the times a little for a higher powered one and expect the times between stirring to come more frequently.  I thought it was fudge, so I used quite a small tray (10 1/2 x 7 x 2 inches) and my pieces ended up around 4cm cubed.  This is waaay too much sugar in one bite and it’d be best if you can find a largeish tray or two medium ones to set the tablet in.

I’d tried making tablet before, over a stove, and it was terrible – too hard, gritty, ick.  Doing it that way requires the knack of it, an even heat, infinite patience for stirring and it was acknowledged by those I asked at the time that it usually took two or three tries before someone even began to produce ‘decent’ tablet.  This, though, was smooth, buttery, and melt-in-the-mouth first time.  Isn’t technology wonderful? ;)  A very excellent recipe and something I wouldn’t be ashamed to send to even the members of my family who’ve been able to make it on a hob for years!

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Requisite Blog Post About Blogging

Purple Foodie celebrating her 3rd anniversary made me curious as to how long I’d been writing this blog.  As it turns out I’ve missed my first anniversary by a  mile… a 6month mile.  Whoops.  It got me to thinking about this blog, though, and what it means to me.  It’s not my first blog – that dubious honour goes to the livejournal I kept for the years up until Uni and it’s not even my second, with a couple of years dedicated to a gaming blog which really catapulted me into writing in a more mature way and for an audience which is not necessarily all close friends.

I always talk to an audience when I write my posts even though if I go by my google analytics there are a whole…8 of you? I wouldn’t have even bothered with analytics if I didn’t already have it set up for the now long-forgotten gaming blog.  It’s slightly disheartening in a way – when I was writing my other blog I had around 400 or so subscribers.   I guess that’s typical of a niche blog, though – like fanart or fanfiction it attracts a wider audience than original work because there’s an instant connection with the subject that one cannot expect from a personal blog.  To get ‘into’ what’s here you need to get ‘into’ me.  I’m not sure I even like the idea of being overly gawked at in my own persona, rather than cloaked in a gaming disguise.  I’m rather dull, I know, and I pootle about with gardening & cooking, too much of a follower of ideas to generate any interest from either groups in my own right.  It’s dull, but I’m not going to go out of my way to change that.  I didn’t really like the pressure to post that is inherent with a non-personal blog, a thematic one.  I wrote almost  entirely for an audience towards the end, there, and not always  entirely to my own interests and passions.

Still, I write to ‘you’ out there in this blog, of course.  Or even, possibly, I write to me.  Future me, who’ll read this post and think:  Whoa, what trippy arse mood were you in when you wrote this? I can’t imagine writing without imagining an invisible audience, truthfully.  It prompts me, for one thing, to actually bother trying to correct typos I notice, to try writing better, to try and make my photos better.  Peer pressure, even imagined, is powerful.

I like writing and sometimes I could do with taking more time over it.   I waver between sticking myself to a schedule and complaining internally that a schedule is what turns me off writing – the sense of being forced to write which, like when I’m ‘forced to draw’ sucks any and all creativity out like a literary or artistic leech nine times out of ten.  The other problem is that when I write something but then cannot be bothered to cajole, coax and edit photos or images for it.  I don’t know why, but if I have illustrative images they have to go in.  I don’t like letting my writing stand on its own, I guess: it needs camouflage.

This post, unfortunately, doesn’t have much of a ‘point’ per se.  Mainly a notation on how I feel about my blog and writing due to a chance reminiscence.  That’s two ‘about blogging’ posts in a week.  Erp.

Back to attempts at shiny pictures, baking fail and random soups shortly! ;)

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Saturday Soup – Cabbage and Fleischwurst

This recipe was one based on a soup my mother used to make but which I don’t have a recipe on-hand for.  Trying to find one online didn’t work either as most cabbage and sausage soups seemed to be tomato based which wasn’t what I was looking for.  The creamy soups I’ve been having for the last few months have spoiled me a little, but either way this soup is not the best I’ve made – it needs a little something to boost the flavour – though the blended version seemed to have brought them out better.   I actually love soft boiled cabbage, but if you don’t then this soup is definitely not for you!

Going to have to go back to the drawing board on this one, really.

Saturday soups is probably going to have to change to Sunday soups from now on.  During the summer, I had free Saturdays and busy Sundays and whilst Sundays remain busy, I now have tabletop gaming on a Saturday throughout the day. This means I can’t sit and write a post during the day and get a bit overtired at night (as happened yesterday).  This week blind-sided me a little, hence the post today, but I’m going to give it a few weeks of trying to get most of a post done on a Friday night before admitting defeat!

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