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Indian Pudding: Childhood Memories And Autumnal Tr...

Thinking back on my childhood, one of the things I remember from this time of year was my Mum making a dessert known as Indian Pudding. There was nothing quite like playing outside in the crisp Autumn air – jumping in piles of leaves and playing make believe in the back yard – and then coming inside to this wonderful dish. The spicy aroma and deep smoky flavour of molasses take me right back to those happy childhood memories.

The origins of Indian Pudding come from Colonial America where the settlers attempted to recreate dishes from their homelands. It is very similar to porridge and also to what is known in the U.K as hasty pudding. Cereal grains (usually wheat or oats) would be boiled down over a long period of time in scalded milk, resulting in a thick creamy consistency (no lumps please!).

Not having access to large stores of wheat or oats the colonists used cornmeal instead which was more readily available. Often butter or beaten eggs would be added to give the dish extra richness. Spices such as Cinnamon, Ginger and Nutmeg would be used to enhance the flavour and it would be sweetened with molasses. Dried fruits were also occasionally added.

For me this creamy dessert conjures up happy childhood memories (and Autumn) just as much as a big slice of pumpkin pie.

Here is the recipe for my Mum’s Indian Pudding

Ingredients

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup water

4 cups whole milk

1 large egg

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup dark molasses

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup combination of raisins and dried cranberries

Good quality vanilla ice cream to serve. (I love Mackie’s)

Directions

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees F).

Heavily grease a 1-1/2 quart oven proof baking dish with unsalted butter.

Place 3/4 cup water in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the cornmeal until it is completely mixed and smooth.

Scald 3 cups of the milk in a heavy saucepan (heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edge). Make sure you don’t bring the milk to a full boil.
Stir the cornmeal mixture into the hot milk. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently, for approximately 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.

Remove from heat.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Gradually stir some of the hot cornmeal mixture into the beaten egg, one spoonful at a time, until you have added about 1/2 cup of the mixture. (This will gently warm up the egg so the hot cornmeal mixture doesn’t cook it too quickly.)

Return the egg and cornmeal mixture to the saucepan and stir in the sugar, molasses, butter, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. You can add dried fruit at this stage if you want.

Pour the mixture into the prepared greased dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and gently pour the remaining 1 cup of milk over the top of the pudding. Do not stir in.

Continue to bake for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the pudding begins to set.

Remove from oven and set aside for 30 minutes to one hour. It will continue to thicken further as it cools.

Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Note: This recipe serves 5-6 but I love to have the leftovers for breakfast the next day – slightly warmed and served with milk. YUMMY!

Indian Pudding

Indian Pudding

Puff Pastry Pizza...

I am not ashamed to say that I buy frozen pastry. It is far easier to use then making pastry from scratch and even well known chef’s recommend using it! We had some puff pastry lurking in the freezer, so this week I thought it might be fun to try and make a puff pastry pizza.

There were a few veggies that needed to be used up so I decided to make a combination of 2 toppings. One was inspired by my Mum’s lasagne recipe and included ricotta cheese, parmesan, spinach and egg. The other was a tomato based sauce which was also going to serve as a light and easy lunch the next day.

I preheated the oven and put our pizza stone in to gradually warm up. Following the packet directions I rolled out the pastry sheet and put it on the warmed pizza stone. Liking the idea of a ‘stuffed crust’ I put thin strips of mozzarella cheese about a half inch from the edge and then folded the edges over the cheese. I sealed the crust with an egg wash.

I added about 6 large Tablespoons of the tomato sauce to the ricotta mixture and then spread the combined sauces over the rolled out pastry sheet. Finishing it off with some roughly chopped pieces of mozzarella cheese I put it in the oven for approx 20 – 25 minutes.

The pizza stone really helped it cook beautifully throughout. The base was lovely and crisp and not soggy at all (I was worried about the amount of moisture in the sauces).The crust puffed up and remained light and flaky. Biting into it and having hot mozzarella cheese ooze out was a delight!

It was excellent and went very well with a glass of red wine and a small green salad. We even had leftovers for the next day which were just as tasty. This makes for a light, flaky delicious pizza!

Luna Raye’s Puff Pastry Pizza

Ingredients

For Pizza Crust / Preparation

1 sheet of ready made puff pastry

1 beaten egg for the egg wash

2 x 125g mozzarella balls

For Tomato sauce

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Drizzle olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 small red onion

¼ cup finely chopped zucchini (courgette)

Pinch of dried chilli flakes

Pinch of dried mixed Italian herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Marjoram)

For Ricotta Mixture

250g Ricotta

4 chestnut mushrooms finely chopped

300g baby leaf spinach

3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1 egg beaten

Directions

Preheat oven according to puff pastry directions. Make sure pizza stone is in oven so it can gradually heat up.

Begin tomato sauce by adding drizzle of olive oil to a pan and gently caramelizing the onions.

When onions are soft add the minced garlic, chilli flakes and Italian herbs.

Mix well and add the tin of tomatoes.

Simmer on medium heat for 6- 7 minutes and then add the finely chopped zucchini.

Stir around and remove from heat.

Begin the Ricotta mixture by putting the ricotta in a large glass bowl.

Add a beaten egg and mix well.

Add the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and chestnut mushrooms and stir to blend.

Roughly chop the baby spinach leaves and add to the mixture.

Set aside.

Prepare the pastry by rolling it out on a flat surface. I used a large chopping board.

Cut about ¼ of one of the mozzarella balls into thin strips and place them about half an inch from the outside edge of the pastry.

Fold the outside edge over the cheese strips to create a ‘thick stuffed crust’

Beat the other egg and brush it over the crust edge (this will help keep it in place and also give the crust a more golden colour)

At this point I needed to transfer the pizza base to the pizza stone – so I carefully slid it from the chopping board onto the stone (making sure the stone was on a heat proof surface)

Add about 6 Tbsp of the tomato sauce into the bowl with the ricotta mixture and give it a gentle stir. It doesn’t matter if the tomato sauce is still a little warm. (Put the rest in the fridge for an easy lunch the next day)

Spoon the mixture onto the pastry base and spread it out.

Roughly tear or chop the rest of the mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the top.

Season with a bit more salt and pepper.

Put in oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes.

Assemble your simple green salad and pour some wine.

Enjoy!

I really loved this recipe and will make puff pastry pizza again! Check out this great site for more inspiring ways to use puff pastry!

Puff Pastry Pizza

Puff Pastry Pizza

Sweet Potato And Black Bean Soup: Magic In A Bowl...

“Soup is the song of the hearth… and the home.”
Louis P. De Gouy, ‘The Soup Book’ (1949)

There is nothing quite like a bowl of home made soup on a cold rainy Autumnal day. Usually when making soup I take my time; allowing things to gently simmer for hours, enjoying the process of flavours developing and coming together and breathing in the rich aroma of herbs and spices as they fill my kitchen. For me making soup is very much like brewing up a magic potion. It is a sacred ritual and something to be savoured – I enjoy the process as much as I enjoy eating the soup!

However I do understand that sometimes you just want to curl yourself round a big comforting bowl of soup as quickly as you can. That was certainly the case for me when I went out for a weekend walk and got caught in a sudden downpour. With no where to hide and no umbrella, I got soaked. By the time I got home I was chilled to the bone and to be honest, was also slightly cranky. What I needed was the powerful healing magic of soup!

Fortunately earlier on in the week I bought ingredients to make Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup. While browsing the Spark People website, this recipe shared by member SOUSRATURE, caught my eye. It is extremely healthy, uses an ingredient (black beans or turtle beans) which I have never used before and takes all of 20 minutes to prepare and cook. It did take me a little longer as I don’t have a hand held blender so had to transfer some of the soup into my glass blender. Still the soup was on the table within 30 minutes!

I had always been under the assumption that soup needed to bubble away for ages in order for deep flavours to develop and emerge but this soup was one of the most delicious I have ever tasted. The only changes I made was to use a Spanish Onion, add a pinch of nutmeg (of course) and an extra clove of garlic.
This is definitely a dish I will make again and again. If you love good wholesome tasty soup then do yourself a favour and get in your kitchen and brew up this magical recipe. I promise you’ll love it!

Here is Sousrature’s recipe as seen on Spark People:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup of rinsed black beans

1 cup sweet vidalia onion, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped garlic

3 cups veggie broth

1-2 bay leaves

.5 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Lightly spray bottom of sauce pan with olive oil and sweat the onion and garlic over low heat.

Add chopped sweet potatoes and beans and cook briefly.

Add water, 3 vegetable bouillon cubes, cinnamon and bay leaf. Turn up heat slightly and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes soften.

Remove bay leaf and blend just a bit with hand blender–be sure to leave some nice big chunks of sweet potato for contrast. Pop it back over the heat for a minute, then serve with an optional sprinkling of brown sugar and/or dollop of light sour cream on top.


NOTE:
Full of fiber, protein, and vitamins, this soup is filling enough to be a stand-alone meal! The black beans and orange sweet potatoes also look great together. (Tip: Use low-sodium broth to cut the salt content.)

Number of Servings: 2

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

Courgette Carbonara: Magical Meal In Minutes...

Usually I am not in a rush to escape the kitchen. For me it’s a peaceful and comforting place to be. There is something so deliciously wonderful about losing yourself in cooking. Whether you’re baking bread, tending to soups or stews, chopping, sautéing or creating an indulgent pudding, it’s a magical state of mind!

Now I have recently become quite a fan of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals. This may seem strange considering I enjoy spending large amounts of time pottering around the kitchen – but his recipes are good and inspiring. Jamie has a great way of creating recipes that are simple but really pack a punch. I have started writing a list of all his recipes that I am eager to try.

As my fridge is still happily stocked with a ton of zucchini (courgette) I decided to try Jamie’s Beautiful Courgette Carbonara. This is a really lovely twist on a traditional spaghetti alla carbonara – one of my favourite pasta dishes of all time. For this I used beautiful smoked streaky bacon from our local butchers which made it a real treat. I also opted for Rigatoni instead of Penne or Spaghetti.

It was sooooo good. I went back for seconds (ok I confess, thirds!) While it didn’t take long to prepare OR cook, I am ok with not having spent ages in the kitchen today. It has given me more time to cuddle up with Nutmeg!

Go on and give this recipe a try. It is delicious!

Click here to see Jamie Oliver’s Beautiful Courgette Carbonara recipe.

Courgette Carbonara

Courgette Carbonara

Waiting for a cuddle

Waiting for a cuddle

The Sunday Roast: Not Just for Sundays...

There is nothing quite like a home made roast dinner, especially when the nights are drawing in and the weather has turned damp and cold. They remind me of cosy Sundays spent with my family watching All Creatures Great And Small while delicious smells wafted from the kitchen into the front room. Of course traditionally the Sunday roast is served on Sunday but this week we threw caution to the wind and decided to have a midweek roast.

It did take a little bit more preparation then usual as this time I was determined to make Yorkshire Puddings from scratch. I do feel guilty that I never attempted this before – relying instead on a ready mix where all you need to add is some water and an egg.

Thinking about it, it all seemed a bit ambitious for a midweek meal but I was willing to give it a try. When I started researching recipes I went immediately to one of my favourite chefs; James Martin. If anyone was going to have a delicious and easy to follow Yorkshire Pudding recipe it would be him, and I was right! The recipe I found is for Yorkshire Pudding With Onion Gravy (hurrah an additional treat!). However I was wondering what I was getting myself into! I tried making onion gravy once before which ended badly. Not only was it time consuming but after all that effort it ended up being horribly bitter (I am still not sure what I did wrong).

The main issue with the Yorkshire batter is that it needs to rest – preferably overnight. We had only decided on this meal the night before so after my husband went to work the next day I set about making the batter so it would have at least 10 hours to rest. As I went to get the ingredients I realized that I didn’t have the plain flour, whole milk or beef dripping that the recipe called for. It was a really wet blustery day and the thought of a one hour round trip walk to the shops did not appeal to me. So I did what any kitchen witch would do – I went with what I had, which was self raising flour, olive oil and semi skimmed milk.

Once the batter was in the fridge, I really didn’t have that much to prepare until later on. I took the organic beef joint out the fridge about an hour before we were going to start cooking it so that it could come up to room temperature. I peeled some potatoes and got them ready for parboiling and sliced 2 red onions in preparation for the gravy. I opened a bottle of red wine and had a glass – just to make sure it was ok to use in the gravy (it was).

When we were ready to start cooking my husband rubbed a mixture of olive oil, sea salt and English mustard over the joint. He then seared it on all sides in a hot pan. We added it to our roasting dish with a few cloves of garlic and some fresh lemon thyme. While that was cooking we poured some olive oil in some muffin tins and when it began to smoke we added the Yorkshire batter. After the beef had cooked for 15 minutes we added the parboiled potatoes and a knob of butter to coat them (this is NOT fat free cooking!).

We like our beef medium rare and as the joint was small it didn’t take too long to cook. We took it out to let it rest, placed the roast potatoes in a warmed dish in the oven and used the roasting pan to prepare the onion gravy. I added butter (told you this isn’t fat free!) and then red onions and some minced garlic. While allowing them to soften I had another glass of wine just to make sure it was still ok (it was) and then added a good glug of it to the pan. It helped me scrape up all the lovely browned bits from the beef and potatoes that were still on the pan. Once I added the beef stock to the gravy, my husband began to serve up.

The Yorkshires were golden, fluffy and thanks to the self raising flour, some of the biggest I have ever seen. The beef was done perfectly and the roast potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I spooned the onion gravy liberally over the plate; after tasting it first of course! It wasn’t bitter at all. It was rich, tangy and complimented everything beautifully. As for the Yorkshires – WOW – from this day forward I will always make them from scratch. They were exactly like the ones I remember my Mum making. Light, fluffy and unmistakeably made with love and care! You really can taste the difference between home made and pre-prepared.

The midweek roast dinner was a huge success and something we will do again. If you have never tried making your own Yorkshire puddings then do give it a try – it is absolutely worth it. As for the onion gravy, this is a great recipe for lovely deep rich gravy that will have you mopping up your plate!

Enjoy!

To see this wonderful James Martin’s recipe on the BBC Food website please click here.

Roast Beef, Home made Yorkshire Puddings and Onion Gravy

Roast Beef, Homemade Yorkshire Puddings and Onion Gravy

Zucchini Slice. A Shared Recipe And A Delight!...

Sharing recipes and working with other people who are passionate about food and cooking is a big part of being a kitchen witch. I love looking for new recipes to try and discovering different ways to prepare some of my favourite ingredients.

I am very thankful to Caroline at the Lea House B&B who sent me a lovely email about her adventures with lemon possets. I enjoyed looking around her website (A visit may be in order soon. The gorgeous inglenook fireplace and a good book are calling me).

Anyway during my perusing I found a link to some of Caroline’s recipes and one immediately caught my eye. The zucchini (courgette) slice. This is something I have never tried before so I thought I would give it a go – especially as I still have a fridge full of zucchinis!

It was delicious hot and was just as good cold the next day! We served it both times with a simple green salad.

I didn’t have any bacon so I decided to add some sweet corn instead. I added about 1/2 a cup. I do think it would be wonderful with flaked smoked haddock and will certainly try that next time. The fresh red chilli I added for zing came through beautifully and gave each bite a nice little kick.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe Caroline. I will absolutely be making this again!

For those of you who would like to try Caroline’s recipe here it is as it appears on her recipe blog.

Zucchini (Courgette) Slice

Ingredients

• 375g zucchini (courgettes)

• 1 large onion

• 3 rashers of bacon

• 1 cup (75g) grated cheddar cheese

• 1 cup (120g) self raising flour

• 1/2 cup sunflower oil

• 5 free-range eggs

• salt & pepper to taste

• 1 finely chopped chilli/few drops Tabasco – to taste

Directions

Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, finely chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs and season to taste with salt, pepper and something with a zing. Pour into a well-greased baking tin (approx 16cm x 26cm) and bake at about 180 C for 30 – 40 mins till just browning and fairly firm. Serves 4 – 6

The quantities can be adjusted proportionately at will, and things other than the bacon can be added (flaked smoked haddock; grated carrot, peas etc for veggies).

Enjoy!

Zucchini (Courgette) Slice

Zucchini (Courgette) Slice

Pan Fried Scallops with a Basic Beurre Blanc Sauce...

I won’t deny that sauces scare me. You have to get the flavour and texture just right and your timing must be perfect. To me they have always seemed fiddly, labour intensive and far too easy to screw up. My question has always been – is it really worth it to make a sauce?

Well for a long time I didn’t think so. A few years back I did attempt a Hollandaise to go with some beautiful fresh asparagus. The result was a nasty curdled mess alongside charred asparagus (charred because I was so busy with the sauce I completely forgot about it).

So what are some of the things that go wrong with sauces?

• They can split, burn or curdle

• Be too watery, thick or lumpy

• Not have enough flavour OR have too much flavour and completely over power everything else on the plate

Of course when done correctly sauces have the ability to take dishes to a whole new level.

• They enhance the flavour of particular ingredient(s)

• They give added depth of flavour and marry ingredients together bringing harmony and balance to a dish

• They also add extra colour, aroma, texture and moisture

There are many different varieties of sauces but they all stem from what is known as the 5 Mother Sauces.

So what are the 5 mother sauces?

• Béchamel (white sauce made with milk, butter and flour)

Velouté (similar to Béchamel but made with stock instead of milk)

Espagnole (a rich brown sauce made with meat stock and root vegetables)

• Hollandaise (a rich sauce made from eggs, butter and lemon juice)

• As for the 5th sauce, some books mention Vinaigrette (a combination of oil and vinegar) while others mention Tomato based (or red) sauces.

Now there are some sauces I do feel confident in making and tomato or red sauce is one of them. I can also rustle up fairly decent vinaigrette when in the mood. However I am terrified of anything involving ingredients like eggs, butter, milk, vinegar or wine which requires vigorous continual whisking and vigilant temperature control. It all just seems…. too much.

Well the other week while watching Masterchef: The Professionals I was intrigued to see them prepare pan fried scallops with a classic Beurre Blanc sauce. The recipe really stuck in my mind and I felt this weekend it was time to face my ‘sauce’ fears and make this dish.

My husband seasoned the scallops (we had 3 each) with some salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. While he was searing them in the pan I was madly whisking a combination of shallots, bay leaves, peppercorns, white wine, white wine vinegar, thick cream and butter (a lot of butter!). I did my best to taste as I went along while making sure it didn’t burn. There were a few scary moments but it all went according to plan and the end result was pretty amazing! It was much easier then I thought it would be (despite the crazy whisking and intense temperature monitoring) and it worked beautifully with the scallops.

So if you were like me and afraid of sauces – don’t be. I know that the more I practice the easier it will become. It will also help take my cooking in a whole new direction which I am excited about.
Here is the recipe I used for a Basic Beurre Blanc sauce. It has been shared by Jay from the All Recipes website. It is a real winner and can be used with pan fried scallops, delicately poached fish or grilled vegetables. The only thing I added was a wee bit of freshly chopped parsley at the end.

Enjoy.

Jay’s Basic Beurre Blanc Sauce

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallot

• 1 bay leaf

• 6 black peppercorns

• 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons dry white wine

• 1/4 cup heavy cream

• 1 1/2 cups cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Directions

1. Place shallot, bay leaf, peppercorns, vinegar, and wine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and continue simmering until only 2 tablespoons of liquid remain.

2. Pour in heavy cream and bring to a simmer; simmer until the cream has reduced by half. Increase heat to medium-high, and rapidly whisk in the butter, piece, by piece until it has melted into the cream and thickened it. Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer to remove the spices. Serve immediately.

Scallops with a Beurre Blanc Sauce

Scallops with a Beurre Blanc Sauce

Bacon and Cabbage: A Taste of Ireland...

As many of you know my husband and I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend. While I was able to have a taste of home with my fresh pumpkin pie, I wanted to do something similar for my husband. He comes from a large fun loving Irish family (is there any other kind?) and one of his favourite dishes is bacon and cabbage.

Traditionally the dish calls for boiled bacon but we used some smoked back bacon rashers instead. We decided to keep this dish very simple so all we used was the bacon, some Savoy cabbage and a knob of butter. It was served as an accompaniment to roasted chicken thighs and garlicky potatoes. The saltiness of the bacon really complimented the chicken and the potatoes. The cabbage gave the whole dish a lovely texture and it soaked up some of the garlic from the potatoes – which was divine!

This is a simple crowd pleaser and a real taste of Ireland!

Luna Raye’s Bacon and Cabbage

Ingredients

3 rashers of smoked back bacon cut into bite sized pieces

½ a medium Savoy cabbage roughly chopped or shredded

1 knob of butter (approximately 1 Tbsp)

Black pepper to taste

Directions

Put the cut bacon into a pan over a moderate heat

Stir every so often until all the bacon is cooked through

Add the cabbage and give it a good mix around with the bacon pieces

When mixed add the butter and keep stirring everything until the cabbage is just wilted (not long – about 5 minutes)

Season with black pepper and serve

Enjoy!

This recipe serves 2-3 people as a side dish

Bacon and Cabbage

Bacon and Cabbage

These Thanksgiving dishes brought back many precious memories of past experiences, our homes and our families. It provided a good opportunity to remember all that we have to be thankful for, and all that we have to look forward to.

Home Made Pumpkin Pie.It’s Easier Than You Think...

The Magical Pumpkin

The Magical Pumpkin

Pumpkins ARE magical. They have pleasing shapes, are beautiful shades of orange and they smell of Autumn when you cut into them. Of course one of the best things about pumpkins is the way they taste! There are so many wonderful things you can create with pumpkins – never mind carving them into Jack O’Lanterns!

I am saddened by how many people throw away the seeds when they are carving their pumpkins. These seeds are not only good for you – they are absolutely delicious. All you need to do is clean them off and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes or so and presto – you have a snack that you won’t want to share with anybody else!

Luna Raye’s Perfect Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

Ingredients

A pumpkin of course!

Directions

While you’re scooping all the gloop out of your pumpkin make sure to have a bowl handy in which you can reserve the seeds.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

When you are finished with your pumpkin (carving it or preparing the flesh for a recipe) go back to the seeds and clean off as much of the gloop as you can, but don’t be too worried if there is a small amount left around the seeds.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread the seeds out.

Lightly salt them and put in the oven. There is no need to add any oil.

Keep checking on them and giving them a swirl around the tray to make sure they are toasted on both sides.

When they are crisp to the bite take them out and serve them up.

You will wonder why you ever threw them away!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

So what else can you make with pumpkins?

• Soups.

• Stews.

• Curries.

• Roasted in the oven with some butter and maple syrup or brown sugar.

• Mashed on its own (or with potatoes) with lots of black pepper and some butter.

• As a filling for pasta, pasties and rotis (the best I ever had came from a little newsagents shop in Fiji).

• But my all time favourite recipe for pumpkins is the mighty pumpkin pie!

The UK is not big on pumpkin pie. It is near impossible to buy the usual canned pumpkin that many people use back in Canada or America. I have seen it in specialist stores but it usually requires a small bank loan just to purchase one can.

Most of my friends in the UK make funny faces when I talk of my love for pumpkin pie (they start talking about weird North American foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or egg-y waffles (eggo waffles) with maple syrup and crispy bacon).

Maybe it’s the Canadian in me but it just doesn’t feel like Autumn without pumpkin pie. This year for Thanksgiving I was determined to make one from scratch. I thought it would be impossibly difficult, but I found the most amazing website which talked me through the whole process. I am not much of a baker but I am pleased to say the pie (well I actually had enough mixture for 2 pies!) came out beautifully. The website said that once you have tried pumpkin pie made from scratch you wouldn’t want to go back to the canned version and I absolutely agree!

Please follow this link for their really easy to follow and fun to read recipe for the perfect pumpkin pie made from real pumpkin.

For those of you who have never tried this wonderful dessert (usually served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream) then give it a try. You will love it!

Yummy Pumpkin Pie

Yummy Pumpkin Pie Made From Scratch.

My Grandmother’s Spinach Soup Served with Hard B...

My Grandmother is an excellent cook and I absolutely adore her food! Every meal she prepares is done so with love and care and is always full of the most beautiful flavours. A few years back when my husband and I were visiting Canada, she made this spinach soup and it has been on our minds ever since. I finally got a hold of the recipe and thought this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. It was just as good as I remembered although I did go a tad heavy on the salt. Never mind, next time I will be much more careful!

This soup makes a great lunch or light supper and it can even be used as an elegant starter – although I haven’t quite mastered the art of making a pretty flower out of hard boiled eggs yet (but I will keep working it!)

So here it is Raija’s Spinach Soup.

Ingredients

1 large Spanish onion finely chopped.

350 – 400 grams of fresh spinach well washed.

1 ½ – 2 tsp butter or a drizzle of olive oil (for sweating the onion).

2 Tbsp butter for making a roux.

2 Tbsp flour.

Chicken stock (approx 2 ½ – 3 cups) – I used Vegetable stock for mine.

Double cream.

Pinch of nutmeg.

1 clove minced garlic (optional).

Pinch of white sugar which helps give the soup some smoothness.

4 hard boiled eggs.

Directions

Melt the 1 ½ – 2 tsp or drizzle of olive oil in a pan. Be careful not to let the pan get too hot if you’re using butter as it may burn.

Add the finely chopped onion and mix well. Put a lid on the pot and allow the onion to sweat for a few minutes. Don’t let the onion get any colour. (I read somewhere that adding salt will prevent the onion from colouring and this is where I went wrong with my seasoning – I added too much salt at this stage! – so be careful).

In a second pot heat the spinach carefully – don’t add any water, butter or oil to the pot. The moisture in the spinach will be enough. The spinach should just go very slightly limp.

Once the spinach is just limp remove it from the pot and squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can.

Chop the spinach into small pieces and set aside.

Now it’s time to begin the roux. In another pot melt the 2 Tbsp of butter and then add the flour.

Do not let this mixture turn brown. Keep it on a moderate heat and gradually add the stock.

Mix it well and allow it to cook for approximately 3-5 minutes as you stir continuously.

Add the chopped spinach and onion to this mixture. Allow it to cook gently for another 5 minutes or so.

You can grate some nutmeg into it, or add some minced garlic at this stage. Also a pinch of white sugar will help give the soup some smoothness.

While the soup is cooking you can prepare the hard boiled eggs. Peel them and cut into halves or quarters.

When you just about ready to serve the soup stir in a good drizzle of double cream and mix well.

Serve with some freshly ground black pepper and the hard boiled eggs pieces arranged in the form of a flower.

Enjoy!

Or as my Grandmother would say in Finnish

Nautiskella!

Spinach ready – now it’s time to make the roux!

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