Stuffed Musquée de Provence Pumpkin

stuffed-musquee-de-provence-pumpkin

Yes! It’s another pumpkin recipe and one that isn’t doused in sugar, cinnamon and frosting! I’m trying new things with pumpkin, and I know that stuffing a pumpkin isn’t all that original but this beautiful, heirloom Musquée de Provence pumpkin is not just another pumpkin.

Last year, I promised myself that I would try a new pumpkin every week. I think I got through 2 ? Continue reading

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Yes, today is the obligatory pumpkin post that every self respecting blogger must publish every autumn.

As the wind picks up and the days are more blustery; ripping the last remaining leaves off the trees and forming swirling, golden whirlpools on the ground, one might think these are the signs that autumn has arrived. No. The signs of autumn are the pumpkin recipes on websites, the horrible PSL at Starbucks and Pinterest. Continue reading

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Pumpkin Doughnuts

My posting schedule is going haywire. My good intentions, to post weekly at my scheduled time, are going awry and the universe is out to get me. I am not as organised as some of my wonderful blogger friends who always have two or three posts scheduled in advance. I usually fly by the seat of my pants! Most of the times I don’t even know what I’m posting till I sit down to write! You’re all probably wondering what I’m doing writing a blog at all with this level of disorganisation! In my defence, I’m usually not like this. I do have at least a few posts ready to go normally, but these days, nothing is normal. 

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I was all ready to write my post on Monday night and publish Tuesday and what happens? I catch a bloody cold. My head’s full of snot, my ears are blocked, my throat hurts, my ears are watery, my nose is red and raw, and my head is spinning in Exorcist proportions. If that’s not all, it’s been snowing since yesterday and it’s 3F/-16C outside with road conditions so slick, that I pretty much skated to my physical therapy appointment this morning.

Anyway, though I am seeing double, I will get this post out.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Anyone who reads this blog regularly, will know that I have a love-hate relationship with pumpkin. But let it be known that I am a team player and will willingly and unselfishly, cook and bake with pumpkin solely for others 🙂

Having said that, damn, these Pumpkin Doughnuts were delicious and especially with the  salted caramel sauce and the chopped pistachios. Somehow, all those flavours just blended perfectly.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I posted these because they got such rave reviews from adults and children alike. I wanted to make sure to taste a little bit so I broke off a tiny piece. I ended up eating two whole ones. Pumpkin doughnuts aren’t anything new, and they’ve been done before but I wanted to use my new pans, and this allowed me to do something seasonal for my cooking demo last Saturday. I am so glad I did! These will be made again.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

To me, a doughnut is not a doughnut unless it’s fried. However, I loathe frying and I didn’t want to fry in the showroom; not the best air flow there. I have mixed feelings on cake doughnuts because to me they are just….a muffin….with a hole….

Pumpkin Doughnuts

BUT, team player and all…here are my baked, pumpkin muffins, I mean doughnuts. In time for Thanksgiving breakfast or even dessert.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Rating 

Prep time: 

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Serves: 12

Pumpkin Doughnuts scented with cinnamon and nutmeg and drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups/300g all purpose/plain flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup/235ml pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup/60g brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ cup/118ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup/200g granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup/60ml water
  • ½ cup/118ml heavy/double cream
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Spray the doughnut pans with non stick spray.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together.
  4. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin purée, sugar, eggs and melted butter together.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Add half the milk first and mix into a thick batter.
  7. Add the rest if needed.
  8. You want a dropping consistency so if you need more milk, add by tablespoons.
  9. Add the vanilla and mix.
  10. Don't over mix or you'll have tough doughnuts.
  11. With two spoons, scoop out pumpkin batter and drop into doughnut pan, may need to drop small spoonfuls and then blend into one smooth doughnut.
  12. Fill ⅔ of the way and smooth out.
  13. Place in the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, or until firm and risen.
  14. Allow to cool on a rack for 5 minutes,
  15. Dust with powdered sugar if serving plain doughnuts, or dip into or drizzle salted caramel over the top.
  16. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  17. Salted Caramel Sauce
  18. In a small sauce pan, add the sugar and water and heat on medium.
  19. Let the sugar melt and allow it to turn an amber colour.
  20. This will take some time, about 10-15 minutes.
  21. Watch carefully as the sugar can go from amber to burnt in seconds.
  22. Heat the cream in a small pitcher in the microwave and add the sea salt.
  23. Once the sugar turns a golden amber colour, add the cream carefully, it will splutter.
  24. Mix off heat until all the sugar is melted and the cream is incorporated.
  25. Pour into a heat proof jar and allow to cool.

 

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I hope everyone is having a great week so far, it’s almost the end of this week. I can’t believe that it is almost the end of the year. Where did this year go? 

Mascarpone Cream Fruit Tart

Fruit Tart

So, I have to admit that I’m having a hard time venturing back into the kitchen. My inspiration and motivation seem to be running a bit low and it’s hard to get going. Actually, the inspiration is present and alive, but it doesn’t seem to be trickling down to the feet or arms so that it can be put into action. There are a lot of ideas knocking about in the old noggin but nothing is materialising.

I fear I may have burnt myself out over the summer. I really hope not because I keep going to the farm stand and buying bag loads of organic goodies and I need to utilise them creatively. Lately, dinner has been a last minute ditch effort and unfortunately, quite a bit of take away. It will not do. Thankfully, I’ve had a few recipes to share from over the summer and that has been my saving grace. However, after this one, I’m going to be up the creek without a paddle!

Fruit Tart-2

I’m hoping to get my mojo back soon so I can get back into the groove of enjoying the cooking and baking. I really want to because the temperature is falling and the days are getting cooler. The colours of autumn are very visible and I am yearning to turn up the oven and bake away. The other day I was so desperate to smell “autumn”, I baked up a batch of cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon, apples, brown sugar, vanilla and butter are all reminiscent of autumn and cool weather to me. They remind me of cosy, lazy weekends on the sofa with a cup of coffee and a good book, or even a leisurely walk on the trails, treading upon the golden carpet of fallen leaves with the blustery autumn wind whipping up around you. Fall is my favourite season and so, the fact that I have no motivation is just about killing me.

Until I get going, here is a fresh fruit tart, a bit summery I know, but you can change out the berries or it’s quite perfect for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere. This was the dessert that I served at the Moroccan Dinner. The filling is an orange blossom water scented mascarpone and heavy cream filling and the crust is a semi cookie crust with fragrant star anise. A drizzle of slightly warmed pomegranate jelly over the top to quell any rogue sour fruit rounds out the tart. This Mascarpone Cream Fruit Tart was quite the hit. I didn’t manage to get any photos of a tart slice because by the time dessert time rolled around, I had cleaned the kitchen, packed up my stuff and was ready to call it a night.

The topping for this tart are endless and you can easily substitute autumn fruit in place of the berries. The berries, however, make an absolutely beautiful tart. 

Mascarpone Cream Fruit Tart

Rating 

Cook time: 

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Serves: 8-10 pieces

A cookie pastry crust scented with star anise and filled with a luscious orange blossom water mascarpone cream and topped with fresh, seasonal fruit.
Ingredients
Mascarpone Cream
  • 8 oz/225g container mascarpone
  • 1 cup/235ml heavy or double cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Cookie Pastry Crust
  • 1½ cups/220g all-purpose/plain flour
  • 4 oz/1 stick/113g unsalted butter, cold, cut into medium cubes
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground star anise or anise seed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3-5 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh Fruit
  • 1 heaping cup strawberries, cut in half if big, keep tops on some
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils
  • ¼ cup pomegranate or other fruit jelly, warmed up till runny.
Instructions
Mascarpone Cream
  1. In a bowl, add the mascarpone cream and beat with a mixer until softened.
  2. Add the cream and whip to a frosting consistency.
  3. You can always whip the cream separately and combine the two.
  4. Add the sugar and the orange blossom water.
  5. Chill in the fridge until needed.
Cookie Pastry Crust
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine, the flour, salt, sugar and ground star anise.
  2. Whiz to blend.
  3. Add the butter cubes and pulse to break up.
  4. To the beaten egg, add the vinegar and a tablespoon of water.
  5. Add the mixture to the flour and butter.
  6. Whiz again and check to see if flour holds.
  7. You may need up to 5 tablespoons of water.
  8. I usually need 4 tablespoons but this will depend on the humidity level where you live.
  9. You may only need 3.
  10. Process lightly till the flour butter mixture looks like it's coming together.
  11. Take out the mixture onto a clean counter and knead slightly to bring together into a ball.
  12. Flatten to a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.
  13. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  14. Roll out on a floured counter top into a 14"/36 cm circle for an 11"/28cm tart.
  15. I used a removable bottom tart tin.
  16. Gently lay the pastry into the tin and press down all around.
  17. I usually fold over the edges onto themselves to double crust the edges.
  18. Trim where necessary and prick all over with a fork.
  19. Chill the rolled out pastry for a few hours or preferably overnight.
  20. When ready to bake the tart shell, preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  21. Line the tart shell with parchment and fill with rice or beans or pie weights and blind bake.
  22. Bake the tart shell for about 10-15 minutes.
  23. The tart will start to brown and if he parchment comes off easily, then it is ready to finish baking without the pie weights.
  24. Remove the parchment with the pie weights carefully and return the tart shell to the oven.
  25. Bake the shell further until golden brown all over, another 10-15 minutes.
  26. Check often to see and if golden brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.
  27. Once the tart is cooled completely, it can be filled.
Assembly
  1. Take the chilled mascarpone cream out of the fridge.
  2. Spread the cream onto the cooled tart shell.
  3. If you are going to remove the tart shell from the tin, do it now.
  4. Carefully remove the outer tart ring and then carefully run a thin spatula or knife under the tart bottom.
  5. Carefully loosen the tart all around and slowly slip onto a serving platter.
  6. Once the tart is on the serving platter, decorate with the fresh fruit.
  7. Drizzle the warm jelly over the top of the fruit.
  8. Chill the tart until serving time.

Fruit Tart-1

I wanted to thank everyone who weighed in on the party etiquette question. I’m glad to see that all my blogger friends are well versed in dinner party etiquettes and also feel strongly about upholding them. It was also nice to know that I’m not the only one battling inconsiderate guests at times! I so want to invite you all to my place! I know I will have a well organised party with lots of hostess gifts and lovely thank you notes, emails and texts after! 

So, here’s another question, this time on blog visiting, commenting and comment answering etiquette. I will say that I do fail miserably here, but definitely not on purpose. I write one post a week, some write three a week. There is no way I can visit and read all three posts. So, I’ll visit and read one or maybe two. But that’s impossible when you have 40+ blogs to read!

If I get a comment from a new blogger, I will visit their site at least once and comment and check out their site. If I like what I see and if we “connect”, I’ll follow them. I try very hard to answer all the comments on my blog but sometimes I just cannot get to all of them. Is that wrong? Do y’all get upset??

Your turn, what are the blog etiquettes according to you?

Herb Grilled Chicken

BBQ food-1

Ooooh, a third new post, I must really be back! To be honest, with the hectic summer I had with all that cooking in the hot sun, most of it done during Ramadan when I was fasting, this feels so good. It is therapeutic; just the action of typing out a sentence or two, or editing a photo whilst listening to music, the cooking’s a bit chaotic but for the most part, it’s been wonderful to get back to blogging and catching up with old friends.

I know I have been a bit erratic visiting everyone but I promise, I’m coming! I have finished my events for the year, I think and am looking forward to concentrating on my website, visiting all of you and maybe throwing a party or two.

Today’s post is not so much about the recipe, though the Herb Grilled Chicken is pretty delicious and became quite the hit this summer, it’s more about the experiences and adventures I had this summer.

One such adventure was had last week at a metal workshop where they work with….metal. I should say, not just work, but design and create, the most amazing things with metal. 

Metal Art-1

I was, for lack of a better word, gobsmacked, at their workshop, their products and the great people who worked there. Since this was an evening event for a design association, they had transformed their big, old metal shed into the most graceful, rustic venue for the dinner/meeting. The textures, colours and ‘vibe’ were eclectic, artistic and so original. 

The huge metal workshop tables were covered with colourful, floral prints, and while metal cutting and fabricating tools hung on the underside, vibrant, yellow sunflowers adorned the top side. The whole cold metal, warm fabrics, sunny flowers and the earthy, rustic feel, played so well together and worked beautifully. 

Flowers and metal-1

As much as I loved the whole atmosphere, I loved their creations even more. So much talent and passion in this place and it can be seen by the way they talk about what they do. Raw Urth is located in Fort Collins and they basically design anything with metal. They are local artisans and if you are looking for something that’s unique, different and custom made, then you need to check them out.

Raw Urth Hood-1

Why is it that in this day and age, the craftsmen and the artisans are often overlooked? The ones who produce works of art, one of a kind pieces with so much passion that it can be seen in every stroke of their paint brush, every nail or every carved line; in a slice of artisanal bread or a cup of perfectly, crafted coffee. Even modern technology has its artists because I see beauty in a sleek, elegantly designed Aston Martin, or a shiny, gleaming Harley thundering off in the distance (I’m still working on getting mine, I figured I’d fix my knees first so I could ride the dang thing). My heart skips a beat when I see beautifully, crafted audio speakers or huge, powerful amplifiers, that fill the room with such a precise and soul wrenching sound. All these designs and creations require a desire for perfection. But in all this modernity, we seem to have forgotten the true art of creating and crafting. It’s so much easier and cheaper to go to IKEA or order from Amazon or walk into a Starbucks. And yet, thankfully, we still have these souls who take the time to create, carve and cultivate. 

Let me tell you how excited I was to see a real anvil!

Let me tell you how excited I was to see a real anvil!

 I have a good friend, who I don’t see very often and talk with even less, but we’re friends nevertheless, and on one rare occasion where we had the opportunity to converse, he showed me what he can do. What he can do, and do very well, I might add, is work with wood. He showed me photos of his past jobs: cabinetry and wood work. It made what I do seem incredibly insignificant! I just throw a bunch of ingredients together and hope for the best but here he was, all artisanal and cool, I was, I am, in awe. I knew he did this on the side but I didn’t know he was this brilliant.

custom metal vent hoods

custom metal vent hoods

I noticed something in my conversation with him that day, and I know this is true of anyone who loves what they do, the passion with which he spoke when he was telling me about the jobs. The ones who create the most beauty are the ones who put all of themselves into it; they are passionate, they are perfectionists and they are principled. I’d like to think I have passion, and I know I’m a perfectionist, but I’m a bit dodgy with the whole principles thing at times 🙂

So, what do you think? Are food bloggers artisans? Are we special in some way?

cookies-1

So, moving on to the recipe, the marinade and the sauce for this chicken is very much like a chimichurri and a Moroccan chermoula. I kind of didn’t stick to any hard and fast rule and mixed and matched so I didn’t want to call it either but it is inspired by them both.

The chicken was marinated in the sauce for about an hour and then grilled and served with more sauce on the side. I know it tastes good because everyone told me so. And it does, it’s quite excellent.

chicken-2

Herb Grilled Chicken

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6 servings

A tart, sweet herby sauce that marinades the chicken and is also served along side.
Ingredients
Marinade and Sauce
  • ½ cup cilantro, packed
  • ½ cup parsley, packed,
  • ½ cup mint, packed
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar, or any vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or a chilli
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 6 chicken breasts, sliced or butterflied in half
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients for the marinade and the sauce into a food processor and whiz till pureed and blended.
  2. Check for salt, pepper and sweetness.
  3. Adjust the vinegar for more or less tartness.
  4. I like a bit of honey to take off the vinegary edge but if you like it tart, you can omit the honey.
  5. In a plastic baggie, drop the butterflied chicken breasts.
  6. Add a ¼ cup or so of the sauce to marinade the chicken.
  7. Zip the bag and mix the marinade around to coat the chicken.
  8. Leave for an hour.
  9. Fire up the grill, and grill the chicken breasts till done.
  10. They shouldn't take too long since the breasts were sliced to be thin.
  11. About 10-15 minutes on the first side and about 7-10 on the other side depending on the thickness.
  12. Pull off the heat and allow to rest awhile.
  13. Serve with the herb sauce on the side.
Notes
There are no tules to this marinade, check the seasonings and adjust to your liking. The above quantities is how I liked it, but you may like it more sweet or more tart. Just taste it!

 So, I found this quote the other day and thought it quite appropriate, I’ll leave you with it. Have a great week.

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