More Pumpkins Than You Can Shake a Ghoul at…. and how to bring a glow to a grey day

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Thank goodness there is a bit of colour in our lives on days such as these, when grey skies are above and the world is damp and chill. Jack and I were entranced by the pumpkin display at Vlinders ann de Vliet in Voorshoten, so we had to stop and take a photo. So many types, so easy to grow and quite delicious to eat (some not all). One of our family favourites is the roasted butternut and sweet potato (kumara) pasta dish, mixed in with loads of herbs, blue cheese, olives, pine nuts and baby rocket leaves, prefect for serving piping hot on a dark, dank day. It’s a time of year where we need to be uplifted by colour, candle light, stories and warm music. 

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A wonderful friend of mine, Jo Parfitt (author and writer’s mentor – http://www.joparfitt.com) sent me this glorious glowing picture of spices from a market in Malaysia and it conjured up spicey memories of saffrony sauces, tumeric, cauliflour and coconut soups, minty cumin sauces and markets including our own Haagse Mart. This huge market open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday is well worth a visit for any aspiring cook, just go early and take some bags and your largest shopping trolly! Fresh herbs, preserved lemons, flat breads, thick breads, nuts, dried fruit, you will find it all here and more.  

So what recipes will I offer you on an Autumn day as the last leaves fall soggily to the ground? The first is from a little catering job I did for the hockey girls last week and it is a request from my Norwegian friend Kurt. It’s a popular filling for sandwiches in our house and yes, you can make devilled eggs with it too! 

Curried Egg Sandwich filling

Note you can make this with a hint of curry or not but I like it with Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney which I will be using next Saturday the 9th when I make Kiwi inspired food for Jens Hack’s new Kiwi Shop de Wandelaar. 

4 free range organically farmed hard boiled eggs – I have always been told to remove them straight from the boiling water and plunge into cold to stop the yolks becoming discoloured and greenish. Now this could be an old and wishful tale but it seems to work. Peel underwater and make sure they are free from shards of shell. Place in a large bowl.

2 tablespoons (again up to you!) of a good quality mayonnaise. I use the lemon flavoured mayo from De Marqt organic store

1 tablespoon of soft salted butter

pepper/salt/celery salt

sprinkling of capers/finely cut celery

finely cut chives/spring onions and parsley to add flavour and colour

some milk for mixing

Using a fork, mash it all together, adding in some curry paste such as Pataks mild curry paste or some chutney or just season to taste with pepper and salt.  

Use on toasted bread or in rolls or for stuffed egss. Garnish with lettuce leaves, sprouts etc Image

 

Now for a weekly tip and one which will hopefully save time and give a tomatoey richness to the weekly dinners. Just about everyone I know is juggling: their time, work time, kids time, exercise time and learning time, not to mention, tired time! Some people tell me they just don’t have time to cook, others say they don’t much like cooking. This sauce will take you no time at all and hopefully will form the basis of many tasty dishes such as the tofu mince shepherd’s pie I made last night. 

 

Roasted tomatoes in the oven as a basis for pasta sauces, pizza toppings, mexican bean dishes etc. 

1 kilo of fresh tomatoes, organic if you can afford it

2 tbsp olive oil

some whole peppercorns or soft red peppercorns

coarse sea salt

a sprig of rosemary if you have some

2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped in half – smell it in the shop, you will know if it is a wholesome smell or a chemically one! Also remember to smell the butternut and other pumpkins as well – I have really been quite horrified by unpleasant smells from some supermarket veggies of late.

1 red or white onion, peeled and quartered

1-2 Turkish peppers, seeds removed, sliced into 2 halves

Heat the oven to 185, place all the above into a roasting pan, roast for approx 20 -30 mins, check and savour the smell. Take out of the oven when the edges of the onions, peppers and tomatoes are just beginning to caramelize, and set aside to cool. 

When completely cool, remove the stems and skins of the garlic, tomatoes, and peppers plus the rosemary twig and blend in a jug with a wand. If you want a Thai style flavour add in some sweet chilli sauce or a chilli pepper.

Adjust pepper and salt to taste and use throughout the week in whatever way you fancy! You will not want to go back to a commercial variety of tinned tomato ever again. Enjoy and get cooking!  Will I see you at the opening of De Wandelaar in Amsterdam on Saturday November the 9th, hope so! 

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