November 2006

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pumpkin ragout

I don’t like pumpkin. The leverage required to slice through one says missing fingers and the name, because of joke I was once told, says hillbilly coupling.
As a result, this recipe has sat in my recipe book, undisturbed, for a good decade or so. It’s quite a good recipe – vegan from when I knew vegans. I’m sure they’re still around, we just don’t hang out anymore. I went my meaty way and they went theirs. Maybe I do know some and they’ve been keeping it from me. I obviously feel quite bad about this and maybe my circle of friends is too narrow. Hello! Vegans! Any of you like to be my friend? Maybe I should settle for pescetarians.
I think the recipe is from a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook, or maybe the Enchanted Broccoli Forest or something.
The dish is a boon for those who would like to practice their dry roasting skills. The total skill set being – the ability to stand at a stovetop for a few minutes without wandering off to check email or see what’s on telly; and gentle shaking (of the pan).

1.5kg pumpkin – chopped into chunks; 1tbs cumin seeds; 2tsp oregano; 3/4 cup peeled almonds; 5tbs sesame seeds; 1 onion-chopped; 2 cloves garlic – crushed; 2 small dried chillies – chopped; 250ml of tomato juice; handful of coriander leaves

Dry roast the cumin seeds in a frypan until fragrant then add the oregano and continue for another minute. Grind in a mortar and pestle.
Sautee the onions in oil until soft, add chilli and garlic, and finally the organo/cumin seeds.
Add the pumpkin and tomato juice, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the pumpkin is soft.
Dry roast the almond and sesame seeds seperately, and grind finely.
Leave a little aside for garnish, add the rest with the coriander to the pumpkin, stir and heat through.
Garnish with ground sesame and almond and a little cream (or not).
You can use gazpacho instead of tomato juice if you happen to have some left over in the fridge.

And that’s it.

cherry clafoutis

I’ve always wanted to make a cherry clafoutis. No particular reason, I just like the sound of it. Same reason I’ve always wanted to go to Djibouti. It’s good value. It’s as easy as pancakes. Yorkshire pud without the dripping. You don’t even have to pit the cherries – the French don’t. Take pleasure in the reduction of the workload and that any guest who doesn’t thoughtfully enjoy a slice with sufficient care may lose a tooth or choke to death. A welcome change for the underappreciated kitchen worker. It’s so easy I’m not even going to pretend I did anything other than follow this recipe and decide to use the frypan because I used the pie thingy for the last post.

AND I think you should check out Saffy’s breakfast peach clafoutis .


Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon meringue pie

The reason I don’t do a lot of desserts/baking is because I always imagine them as dour, precise exercises in tablespoon levelling and scale taring. That they may be, but a lemon meringue pie, at least, seems to work on shifting realities. Three basic elements and I don’t think I saw two recipes that were the same. Not just different amounts of ingredients but in procedures as well. So either there is only one true recipe or people are just making it up as they go along. I took comfort in the latter.

First thing, ignore any recipe which use cornflour. It’s just wrong. Don’t ask me why. No wait. I’ll tell you why. Because it’s lazy. So there. You’re using cornflour because you can’t do 10 minutes of stirring in a bowl over boiling water. Make enough and you can put it in jars and make a half-way decent Christmas present. Ignore key lime pie. It contains four ingredients – pie base, condensed milk, key limes and cream – and perpetuates an internet-stuffing variety of recipes from canned food dependents.

The two main I used were recipe were from Stephanie Jaworski at Joyofbaking, who has a great name for crime fiction, and Delia. Delia really just for the pastry instructions and then not much, so don’t bother. The ingredient amounts at Joy of Baking were pretty good though.

Half butter, half lard (’twas a saint in the city of angels that turned me to the lard – not the easiest thing to buy these days, the packaging just says ‘lard’, I think methylated spirits gets fancier labels)

210 gms all purpose flour; pinch of salt, 60gms unsalted butter and 60gms lard at room temperature; 50 gms white sugar; 1 egg yolk lightly beaten; 1tbs cold water

Sift flour and salt, mix in egg yolk with sugar, then work in some flour and start to rub in bits of butter and lard tio make crumbs and then work into a dough. Don’t overwork, finish off with a splash of cold water to a smooth ball and then put in the fridge wrapped in greaseproof paper for an hour.

Roll to a circle, fold into quarters (thank you Marg) and then unfold into a buttered pie thingy (I never realised I had one, pie thingy that is). Don’t stretch the dough. Blind bake (greaseproof paper weighed down with rice) in a 210C oven for 10 minutes then remove the greaseproof paper and rice and continue to bake until light brown.

Lemon and Passionfruit Curd
Juice and zest of two lemons; two egg yolks; one whole egg; 3/4 cup white suggar; 60gms unsalted butter; pulp of one passionfruit.

Place juice, eggs and sugar in a bowl. Place bowl over boiling water to make a double boiler and stir until thickened to the consistency of thick cream or hollandaise – about eight minutes. Whisk butter in in small pieces. Stir in the zest and passionfruit pulp – you can add as many seeds as you like, it does add crunch.

Important point! Can’t remember where I saw this but if the curd is hot when you put the meringue on, it won’t detach later.


3 egg whites; 1/2 a cup of sugar – double for an impressively high pie.

Whisk until stiff peaks form, but you knew this.

Place curd in pie and spread evenly.

Spoon meringue on top, covering the curd. Make pointy bits by dabbing the meringue with a spoon and lifting.

Cook in a 170C oven until the meringue has nice golden browny bits (10 minutes) remove and allow to cool.

That’s it. Fabulous! You’ll love yourself and so will your guests.

lemon meringue


beer and trowel

Hooray the mag is off to the gestetners. Which leaves me to indulge in my three favourite things – beer, country music, and trowelling.

And I’ve a hankering to make a lemon-meringue pie so maybe I might actually put some food up here.

Too long has spiceblog toiled under the thankless yoke of amateurism and it now enters a new age of income. Thank you Kitchen Warehouse, who asked me nicely. They’re actually my first stop on my regular Scarborough Beach Road pilgrimage of mammon. But now, thanks to the internets, you can avoid the dangers of t-boning a desperate right-turning car at Ikea and browse from the safety of your own computer. Current faves are:

an orange toaster
a very sharp knife
a rather heavy tagine

Get clicking.

steak and asparagus on white bean gazpacho
Tasty though. Organic sirloin. Mushroom sauce (again! but with white wine instead). On a white bean gazpacho. What’s the recipe for white bean gazpacho? You’ll just have to read this Summer’s edition of Spice magazine – out in December [was that a good plug?]

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