Sunday, 31 October 2010

Cooking With LouLou - Halloween Edition - Redone

When it comes to Halloween I really take it or leave it, I'm not big on dressing up as an adult, and skulls to be honest give the creeps, what I can get on board with though is Halloween food. Have a look on You Tube or on Pinterest and there are loads of spooky themed recipes for both sweet and savoury treats. I'm not sure I fancy spooky severed finger hot dogs though, so today I'm sharing one of my favourite Halloween recipes, and a recipe that I could literally eat every day of my life.

The first recipe is based on a recipe in one of my favourite vegetarian cookery books, Delia's Vegetarian Collection by the queen of TV cookery herself, Delia Smith. if you're a veggie and you haven't read it I thoroughly recommend this book that you track it down, I believe it's out of print now but I regularly use it and it features everything from soups, and stews, to main meals, and cakes and desserts.

For so many people carving a pumpkin is all about the art and for creating the most perfect Instagram approved pumpkin but I carve mine with the aim of extracting as much pumpkin flesh as possible. As pretty as they are Pumpkins are food, they're good for you and they should be eaten, so show it some respect extract the flesh, cook it and eat it - please don't throw it away! There are so many pumpkin recipes online but this one is a real winter warmer and it's so easy to make. 

Delia Smiths Pumpkin Soup With Toasted Sweetcorn

1lb 8oz (ish) Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Peeled, De seeded, de gunked, and roughly chopped
1 Can Sweetcorn (Drained)
2 Corn Cobs Stripped
1oz  Butter
1 tsp Butter
1 Onion Peeled and Roughly Chopped
1 Clove Garlic (optional)
A Sprinkle of Chili Flakes (optional)
275ml Milk
About 1.5 Litres of Vegetable Stock
Salt and Pepper To Taste

1. Add 1oz butter to a large pan (I am using a pressure cooker pan here) add the roughly chopped garlic and the onion - cook for about 5 minutes to soften

2. In the meantime strip one corn cob and open a tin of sweetcorn

3. When the onion is soft add the pumpkin to the pan I usually leave it for about 5 minutes till it starts to soften

4. Add the stripped corn cob and the can of sweetcorn bar 2 tbs to the pan -season and cook for about 10 minutes or so with a lid on till the vegetables start to soften (the pan will look quite full don't panic it will cook down)

5. Meanwhile prepare the stock

6. Add the stock to the pan, give it a quick stir and then pop the lid on for at least 20 minutes (this is pretty flexible I've left it for up to an hour and it's fine) then add the milk x

7. Make sure all the veg is soft then turn the pan off the heat for a little while - your going to blend it and you don't want to be too hot

8. Blend the soup to your preferred consistency - I use a stick blender which is easier for me but you could always carefully pour it into a blender

9. Once it's blended add the remaining 2tbs tinned sweetcorn for a bit of texture and return to a gentle heat

10. In the meantime strip the remaining corn cob and put the corn onto a baking tray sprinkle it with salt and pepper and the remaining teaspoon of butter and put it under a hot grill

11. Keep watching it as it will turn very quickly - you wanted it nice and toasted, but not too burnt - it sometimes pops a bit but it smells amazing like hot buttered popcorn

12. Check the seasoning on your soup - then serve with a spoonful of the toasted corn on the top

Hints and Tips 
* Delia uses all fresh corn but I find it a little tasteless and dry so I only use half and
half - For the toasted corn the fresh stuff works best but again I've used a combination of the two just make sure that you drain the canned stuff really well and pat it dry with a piece of kitchen paper
* Neither does she use the garlic or chilli but I think it gives a nice kick
* You needn't be too precious about quantities - add what you have soup for me isn't an exact science I used about 2/3 of the huge pumpkin that you can see above - if you have any spare pumpkin just throw it in and add some more stock - or blanch it and freeze it so you can make soup anytime you like
* This soup freezes really well (for up to a year in my experience and it will also keep for a few days in the fridge
* Obviously if your veggie like me use veggie stock but it would also work with chicken stock
* You can also use Butternut Squash but Pumpkins are plentiful at the mo and they may even be reduced tomorrow ;) What am I saying of course they won't be reduced - my local supermarket sold out days ago!

So that's what I do with my pumpkins but what about the seeds, well as you probably know you can eat them, but how do you get from the soggy, orange coated goop in the pumpkin to the things you buy in health food shops well this is how I do it - first of all wash the orange goo off, then put them in a bowl with some salted water overnight, next day drain them and dry them the best you can I usually wrap them in a tea towel and squeezy, next put them on a baking tray sprinkle with salt, and pepper, maybe add a bit of garlic salt or some chili flakes and a swig of olive oil and put them in a hot oven till they brown :)

You can take the seeds out of the kernels but there really isn't a need they are perfectly fine the way they are, they are a really nice snack :)

As well as my Pumpkin based treats I also made something I try not to make too often the reason being it's so addictive, you don't always fancy bread with soup, often in my case because some gluten free breads aren't that great but this is gorgeous with soup, with chili or even on it's own, and it's a good alternative to a cheese scone. From another fabulous vegetarian cookery book this time by the late Linda McCartney comes Spicy Mexican Cornbread from Linda's Summer Kitchen, again it appears to be out of print so I'm doing the honourable thing and I'm sharing my version of this fabulous recipe with you x

Spicy Mexican Corn Bread

1 Egg
2 tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
6 oz (175g) Canned Sweetcorn (about a can, drained)
125ml Plain Yogurt
4oz (125g) Yellow Cornmeal (Polenta)
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
8oz (250g) Cheddar Cheese - grated, cubed or crumbled (reserve a little for your topping)

1. Put the cornmeal, salt, chili flakes, baking powder, cheese and sweetcorn into a large bowl and mix together

2. Crack your egg(s) into a jug, then add the yogurt, and the oil and mix well

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well till all the cornmeal is covered, you might need to add a bit more liquid I sometimes add an extra egg

4. Put your mix into a loaf tin I used my trusty silicone here, and sprinkle with a bit of cheese, then pop it into the oven at about 180°C/ Gas 4 for about 40 minutes till the top is browned

5. Serve slightly warm or cold, you can also heat it up for about 30 seconds or so in the microwave

Hints and Tips
* In the original recipe Linda McCartney uses 1/2 oz of fresh green chili and 125ml of Creme Fraiche but it works just as well as chili flakes and plain yogurt
* Cornmeal or Polenta is available in most major supermarkets (try the world foods section) and health food shops - you can can different textures so try them and see what you prefer I must say I prefer the a finely milled one for this recipe
* The original recipe uses cheddar but to be honest I have made this with what ever cheese I have in the fridge - here I've used Cheddar and a bit of Feta, but it works with pretty much anything you have Spicy Mexican Cheddar is particularly nice and so is Mozzarella especially when it's served warm :)
* This recipe is gluten free providing you check the cornmeal and the baking powder x
* Again the quantities can be altered - I've doubled the recipe here but it's pretty flexible
* As well as making it into a loaf you can also make into a tray bake, muffins or buns ;)
* It's best eaten within a couple of days and to be honest I've never tried freezing it because it never lasts that long in my house

So there you go my Halloween eats - they work perfectly together but they work just as well on their own x The Trick or Treaters have been a bit thin on the ground this year so hopefully there are lollies, and mini Mars Bars left x Hee Hee Happy Eating and Happy Halloween xx


  1. Oh my god I LOVE corn bread! xxx

  2. MMmmmmm it all looks so yummy! I did loads of cooking this weekend too... cupcakes, curry, crumble. It was loads of fun!



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