Friday, 30 November 2012

Aaaaah, not Bisto

I am now officially more prepared for Christmas than I ever have been before. A little late-night sieve- action has resulted in a bootiful turkey gravy* ready to be popped in the freezer for the big day. It's a bit more trouble to make it now, but you'll be glad you did.

Chicken wings and vegetables cooking in a pan
Eye of newt and toe of frog...
*Warning: does not contain turkey

Here's how I did it:

Tip a 0.75kg pack of chicken wings into a large roasting tin and add 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, 4 rashers of bacon, quarter of a leek, an onion, 3 cloves of garlic and a couple of sprigs of rosemary. Let it cook for about an hour on 190/gas 6 until the chicken is golden brown, giving it a stir or 2 on the way. 

Take it out of the oven and tip everything into a large pan, breaking up the wings with your fingers. Pour some boiling water into the roasting tin and use a spatula to scrape every last bit of flavour and colour off the bottom. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons plain flour over the contents of the pan and stir really well, then gradually add the water from the roasting tin, stirring all the time. Then add a load of cold water and a chicken stock cube - enough water to cover the contents of the pan and then some.  You can't really add too much as you are going to bring it all to the boil and simmer it for an hour or so until it has reduced and is tasting great.

Now sieve it well to extract as much flavour as possible from the bones, meat and veg. Put it in the fridge until cold and skim fat off the top, before bagging up for the freezer.

You can either serve it as is on the day: and/or add juices from your turkey pan (discard fat first), a glass of wine (red or white), some water that your veg are cooking in (if it needs thinning), another stock cube (if needed) or some cornflour dissolved in a little water (to thicken).

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cooking on the cheep

I LOVE Christmas shopping! It's the one time of the year I find everything I've been looking for - for me. That pair of boots in the pre-Christmas sale, the perfect necklace for wearing with your best party dress, the exact shade of nail varnish you've been looking for for about 2 years... and don't even get me started on the festive cake cases. My advice: Economise on the catering with immediate effect and treat yourself. Here is a recipe for Chinese chicken from a recent article by Prue Leith on how to feed your family (of four) for £50 per week.

Chicken drumstick and egg fried rice with carrots and peas
Chinese chicken and fried rice

Chinese chicken

Heat oven to 190/gas 5. Tip a 1kg pack of drumsticks and legs into a roasting dish, mix together 1 tablespoon honey and 3 of soy sauce, pour it over the chicken and roast for about 45 minutes.

(Egg) fried rice 

This was enough for 1 adult and 1 child, plus seconds for both - scale it up as required

3oz basmati rice
2 small carrots
2 small handfuls frozen peas
1/4 leek
light soy sauce
sesame oil
(1 egg, lightly beaten)

Cook rice, adding carrots halfway through cooking time and peas almost at the end. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan, tip in the egg and let it cook through like an omelette. Slide it out onto a plate, cut into strips and keep warm. Gently fry leek for a few minutes, then tip in the cooked rice, veg and egg. Splosh in some light soy sauce to taste and a drizzle of sesame oil; mix well.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Prawn and pea risotto

Two prawns forming a heart shape on ice
I heart prawns

A warming one-dish family favourite. Make it with:

1.5 litres liquid
(I used a veg stock cube and a carton of fish stock mixed with water, but any fish/chicken/veg stock would be ok)
half a red chilli, finely sliced
1 onion, chopped
300g risotto rice
1 glass white wine
200g frozen peas
zest of 1 lemon, grated
juice of half a lemon
400g uncooked prawns (better for flavour, but cooked prawns are fine)

Put the stock in a pan with the chilli and bring it slowly to the boil, then turn the heat right down and let it simmer. Meanwhile, fry the onion in a generous splash of olive oil and a bit of butter until it's soft.  Stir in the rice and mix thoroughly. Pour in the wine and stir well. When it has evaporated add the stock, a ladle-full at a time, stirring well in between. Near the end, add the peas, lemon zest, juice and the prawns and cook until they are pink.

If you want, stir through some parmesan/chopped parsley or coriander/a knob of butter, and garnish with strips of lemon zest.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Soup for freaks

When your loved one sends you a message saying they look like the Mule Faced Woman (from Ripley's Believe It Or Not?) following minor dental surgery, there's only one thing to do: make soup.

The mule faced woman, a freak
The Mule Faced Woman

Cauliflower cheese soup

Roughly chop a smallish cauliflower and an onion. Put them in a saucepan and add enough water to cover about two thirds of the veg. Add a stock cube, bring slowly to the boil and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. While that's happening, make a cheese sauce by mixing 30g plain flour into 30g melted butter, adding about half a pint of milk, a teaspoon of English mustard and about 100g cheese. The end result should be reasonably thick and tasty. Tip the contents of both pans into a blender and whizz until smooth and creamy.

Grace McDaniels made a good living out of being 'The World's Ugliest Woman', though she preferred to be called the Mule Faced Woman. Looks to me like she's just having a bit of trouble with her Big Mac...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Healthy chips

Chips don't have to be deep fried. Take some potatoes, cut them into chip shapes, put them on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and a few grinds of pepper. Flip the chips around a bit to make sure they are coated in the oil, then pop them into a hot oven (about 200/gas 6). Check on them from time to time, turning them over so they brown on all sides. Remove from the oven after about 30-40 minutes and sprinkle with salt.

Sliced lamb steak, sweetcorn and oven baked chips on a plate
Lamb steak 'n' chips

I served them with sliced lamb steak and frozen sweetcorn (glazed with a little bit of butter). Make lots, because there WILL be requests for seconds.

Tesco carrier bag reuse at home or recycle
I like Tesco's new carrier bags

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

35 days to go...

I'm getting ready for Christmas: I've bought two packets of tissues in festive boxes, some brandy snaps and some sausagemeat. All impulse buys. I have also purchased a small chest (titter titter) freezer for the garage which I am going to fill with festive food. Starting with a delectable cranberry compote to accompany your hot turkey and cold leftovers.

Dish of cranberry compote with spoon with holly background
Cranberry compote

Cranberry compote

150g dried cranberries
grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
half a pint of ginger wine
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Place everything except the arrowroot in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the cranberries are tender but not mushy. Meanwhile, mix the arrowroot with a little water, tip it into the pan and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. 

Next time: Gravy. Make it ahead to save you time and last minute lumpy gravy disaster.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Pig out

I have never met a child that doesn't love bacon. Ergo, children love gammon steaks. Add sugar and they love them even more. Tonight's meal is honey-mustard gammon steaks with sweet potato mash and broccoli. All made very quickly.

Cooked honey mustard gammon steak with sweet potato mash and broccoli
Honey-mustard gammon steak and sweet potato mash

Honey-mustard gammon steaks

2 gammon steaks (feeds one mother and 2 children)
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons mustard
a knob of butter

Pre-heat grill to medium-high. Place the butter in a roasting tin or similar and put it under the grill for a few moments to melt. Mix together the honey and mustard, adding a few grinds of black pepper. Pour it into the tin with the melted butter and drag the steaks through it. Turn them over and grill for about 5 minutes each side.

For the sweet potato mash I used equal quantities of sweet and normal potatoes (about 500g for the 3 of us) which I boiled in salted water with a clove of garlic. When they were cooked I drained and mashed them with some butter and a little milk.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Quick-chocolate-fix Cornflake cakes

My earliest memory of Cornflakes is eating them with cream and sugar as a young child. I must have needed building up. Sadly, I cannot make the same claim now but I do commend these chocolate Cornflake cakes to you as the very best of their genre. The recipe comes from my sister-in-law.

Toy panda tea party chocolate Cornflake cakes
Panda's tea party

Chocolate Cornflake cakes

Melt together 4oz butter, 4 tablespoons of golden syrup and 4 tablespoons drinking chocolate. Allow it to come to the boil but then take it straight off the heat. Mix in 4 and a half ounces Cornflakes and put the mixture in cake cases, before cooling in the fridge. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

The last time I ate turkey was December 25th 2011. But today I unearthed a packet of turkey mince from the back of the freezer (which I am clearing to make space for the Christmas bounty I will be squirrelling away over the next few weeks). Keep an eye on here for cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, stuffings, bread sauce etc to freeze in advance of the big day.

Two turkeys
Turkey - not just for Christmas

Nigella's Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (tweaked slightly)

For the sauce you will need:
1 onion
1 stick of celery
2 tablespoons garlic oil (I used ordinary olive)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the balls:
500g turkey mince
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery and onion (borrowed from the sauce... read on)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
half a teaspoon dried thyme

Put the onion and celery into a food processor and blitz it to a mush. Reserve 2 tablespoons of it for the balls. Fry the onion, celery and thyme in the oil over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add the tomatoes, then fill each tin with water and add that too. Season with the sugar, salt and some pepper. Let it come to the boil, then simmer while you make the balls.

For the balls, mix everything - don't forget the celery and onion - together, add a generous pinch of salt and roll them into balls. Nigella suggests a heaped teaspoon of mixture per ball, which will make about 50. Drop them into the simmering sauce and cook for about 30 minutes or until done, depending on how big you have made them (mine were bigger and yielded about 30). We had them with Ainsley Harriott's couscous.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Pear and ginger cake with ginger glaze

Ginger - guaranteed to cure colds and keep you young. It also protects you from radiation if eaten daily. Apparently. (I wonder if they know that in Fukushima). Yet again, I seemed to have a glut of nearly-rotten pears which I just couldn't bear to throw away, so this recipe which used 2 (or 3, by the time I'd cut out the brown bits) was ideal.

Pear and ginger loaf cake on glass plate, one slice cut
Pear and ginger loaf cake

Pear and Ginger loaf cake

200g butter (unsalted preferable but not essential)
100g soft brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Half a teaspoon ground ginger
200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pears, peeled and chopped
2 balls of stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped

Glaze: 3 tablespoons syrup from the ginger and 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Heat oven to 160/gas 3. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and vanilla gradually. Fold in the flour and baking powder and then the pears and ginger. Place the mixture in a lined 2lb loaf tin and bake for 60-70 minutes. Make the glaze by mixing together the syrup and the sugar, adding a half a teaspoon of water. Tip it over the cake and allow it to cool in the tin.

I had run out of self-raising flour so added an extra 3 teaspoons of baking powder to the recipe; and I used only half the amount of sugar - unintentionally - but you wouldn't know.

Talking of gluts, I have a few apples to use up...

... all suggestions gratefully received

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Thai green curry paste

green chillies, coriander, garlic, ginger, lime leaves, onion, shrimp paste
Ingredients for Thai green curry paste

Thai green curry paste

Another gem from the Wagamama cookbook. I made this today for curry-in-a-hurry tomorrow. Simply put all the above ingredients (in the quantities listed below) into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Purists would say you have to pound it in a pestle and mortar to release the oils properly, but I'll leave that decision to you. Once made, it can be kept in a jar in the fridge or frozen (in ice cube trays).

6 green chillies, roughly chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed, sliced finely
3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
1cm piece ginger root, peeled and grated
bunch of coriander stems
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted in a hot, dry frying pan
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

To make a chicken curry: Heat a couple of tablespoons of paste in a large frying pan with a teaspoon of palm (or brown) sugar. Pour in some coconut milk and when it comes to the boil add some finely chopped chicken and mini aubergine, followed by some halved baby corn. Cook until the chicken and aubergine are done. Finish with a generous squeeze of lime. Garnish with coriander and/or basil leaves.

Thai green curry paste

Monday, 12 November 2012

Don't overlook the wrinklies

Not a plea to be nice to Grandma, but a call to arms for droopy carrots and withered apples.

Bowl of carrot soup and spoon
Droopy carrot soup

Carrot soup

I used 6 medium carrots, 2 small onions, a generous knob of butter, a chicken stock cube and about 1 and a quarter pints of water. I cooked the onions in the butter on a medium heat until sweet and translucent, then added the carrots, stirred them round a bit and let them sweat over a low heat with the lid on for about 15 minutes. Then I poured in the water, added the stock cube and brought it to the boil, before putting the lid back on and simmering for a good half an hour and blending well.

Roasted apple wedges

The last 6 of my recent harvest have been sitting in a bowl, ignored, for about 2 weeks. They were a mixture of sizes and type, but I peeled, cored and cut them into wedges and put them in a roasting tin. I added 75g sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a few grinds of nutmeg, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of orange juice and a knob of butter and gave everything a good stir before putting it into a medium-hot oven (about 180/gas 6). My kitchen soon filled with the most amazing smell, which prompted me to open the oven and give everything another good stir. After about half an hour I had a mixture of slightly squishy and just-cooked wedges which taste like American apple pie. I am looking forward to eating them with some cold cream.

Roasted apple wedges on a vintage plate
Looks like chips, tastes like toffee apple

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Perfect scones

Hold the front page, I've just found the perfect scone recipe! Not much of a surprise that it comes from Mary Berry, Britain's baking supremo. These are the lightest I have ever made, and were delicious warm with double cream, lemon curd and the remains of some home-made strawberry jam.

A scone cut in half and topped with jam and cream
Perfect scone

Perfect scones

Makes 8-10:

450g self raising flour
2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
75g butter
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs
225ml milk

Pre-heat oven to 220/gas7. Put the flour and butter into a food processor and whizz until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and whizz for a couple more seconds. Break the eggs into a measuring jug, beat them and add milk to make up to 300ml. Reserve about 2 tablespoons, but add the rest gradually to the dry mixture with the motor running slowly. Soon you will have a soft dough which should be rolled out to about 2cm thick and cut with a 5cm diameter fluted round cutter. Brush the tops with the egg-milk mixture and bake for 10-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack, covered with a clean tea-towel to keep them moist (her word, not mine). Eat asap.

Freeloading Friday

Table containing teapot, mugs, chocolate chilli cake, lemon muffins, mince pies
Elevenses at Amanda's

If you like eating great food for free, invite yourself round to your friends' houses at mealtimes. Look what a lovely spread A has laid on for elevenses (above): chilli chocolate cake, crunchy lemon muffins and mince pies with homemade mincemeat, complete with roaring log fire and cuddly spaniel.

I left there on a sugar high and in a state of great excitement to collect my pretty new business cards. Unfortunately they had been rather badly botched, saving me 50%, but meaning that they are really only fit for scraping ice off the car windows or sticking up in phone boxes in the wrong end of town.

Things started looking up when I arrived at M's to find her slaving over some recipes from the latest Ottolenghi cookbook, which has been kindly published by Mr O for all those people too poor to live near one of his eateries. Such philanthropy, such generosity. We ate meatballs with barberries (heard of them?), roasted red onions and butternut squash with tahini, and a courgette, tomato and yogurty-herby salad. A total taste sensation.

Casserole containing meatballs with barberries
Ottolenghi's meatballs with barberries

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Make it quick

Faster Pasta Carbonara

Fusilli pasta with bacon and cream sauce

For 2, I used:

225g pasta, cooked
150g bacon, chopped (or use lardons to save even more time)
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
150ml double cream
80g grated parmesan (or my favourite, Grana Padano)

While the pasta is cooking, fry your bacon in a little olive oil until it is slightly crisp around the edges. Drain off excess fat, add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and cream, adding plenty of ground black pepper and most of the cheese. Drain the pasta and put it in the pan with the bacon and garlic. Add the cream-egg-cheese and stir well over a low-ish heat until heated through. Serve with remaining grated cheese.

To follow, we had tinned peaches with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream - a poor man's Poire Belle Helene. My favourite fruit and ice cream pudding is a good banana split, the success of which hangs on the quality of the chocolate sauce. I made two today in the interests of research. One, made with melted chocolate, turned out like Ice Magic (remember that?). The other was a super quick and easy Nigella recipe: Place equal measures (I used 4 tablespoons) of cocoa powder, sugar and water in a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has melted and there is a bit of bubbling going on. I later added a dollop of golden syrup. It is quite intense, so a little goes a long way. She says it will keep 'for a long time' in the fridge.

Pears with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce
Pears, ice cream and chocolate sauce

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

National Sausage Week

Did you know it's National Sausage Week? You can read all about it at Gen up on a whole host of piggy facts, join the British Sausage Appreciation Society, or even submit your favourite porky jokes (everyone knows that German sausage jokes are the wurst...).

We are having pork and leek sausages tonight in celebration of NSW. I have baked them, for ease and because they develop a nice even tan cooked this way; grilled are good but need attending to; and child 1 claims to like fried best (can he really tell the difference?) - but I hate the way they splatter and roll over when you're not watching them so they end up black one side and pink the other. Whichever method you choose, do not prick them and do not cook at too high a temperature or they will burst.

Two kune kune (fat, hairy, Maori) pigs lying on straw
The most important ingredient is a happy pig

This is my favourite sausage recipe, from an old Sainsbury's recipe card:

Spicy Sausage Ragout 

1lb sausages
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons paprika
1 x 397g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 284ml tub of fresh chicken stock (or make up your own with a stock cube)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or use a teaspoon of dried)
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Fry the sausages in a little oil until evenly browned, then remove them and set aside. Fry the onions until softened, add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slice the sausages into bite size pieces, add to the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with pasta and a sprinkling of parmesan.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Jamie Oliver, eat my shorts!

So Jamie can make money from a book telling you to make toasted cheese sandwiches. But I can tell you how to make one for free.

Cheese and ham toasted sandwich on a plate
Cheese, ham, tomato and chilli jam toasted sandwich
After a decidedly ascetic lunch of Raisin Wheats and skimmed milk, I was really looking forward to a hot, savoury meal. But I forgot to make one, and returned home too late to start. So I made a sandwich, put it in a toasted sandwich maker and took it out and ate it when the bread went a bit brown. My sandwich had grated Cheddar, sliced tomato, decent ham and a shimmer of chilli jam in it.

Nicely rounded off with a bit of yesterday's cherry crumble.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Nouvelle cuisine

Past experiences of introducing new meals into the household have not been entirely positive, but my children are both fans of Wagamama so I thought I'd try something from their cookbook. Child 1 came home from school with a stomach ache unable to eat, child 2 pushed it around her plate a bit, and my husband ate it all but didn't make any comment. I loved it, and urge you to try it!

Marinated chicken with orange, soy sauce and ginger 

(Serves 3-4)

For the marinade:
3cm piece root ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Put everything in a saucepan on a medium heat for a couple of minutes and stir until the sugar dissolves.

200g chicken meat, roughly chopped
150g medium noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
a handful of mange tout or sugar snap peas, sliced
80g baby corn, halved lengthways
100ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, briefly toasted in a hot, dry frying pan
1 lime, quartered

Marinate the chicken for between 1-24 hours. Cook the noodles, then drain and rinse with cold water. Heat the oil and cook the chicken (not the marinade) for a few minutes until golden. Add vegetables, remaining marinade and stock, and stir fry for another couple of minutes. Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and add to the pan, simmering for another minute or so until thickened. Add the noodles and sesame oil and stir well. Taste, and add more soy sauce if needed. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and serve with a wedge of lime. 

Stir fried marinated chicken with mange tout, baby sweetcorn and noodles
I didn't brown the chicken enough - but it was still delicious
(I also didn't have any sesame seeds or lime)

Saturday, 3 November 2012

You say "burger", I say "steak haché"

Three ginger biscuits with red icing, a pig, a star, a heart
Iced ginger biscuits
Further inspired by my trip across La Manche, I decided to re-create steak haché (our French friends' answer to the turkey twizzler). Mince was not sold in France until relatively recently, as the consumer preferred to pick out a piece of meat themselves and watch the butcher mince it. A canny way to avoid the accidental ingestion of cows' lips and other rubbery bits. 

Steak Haché

I bought 500g of lean minced beef, tipped it into a bowl and added a generous amount of seasoning. I then squished it all together wearing my best Marigolds, formed it into 4 patties and fried them for a few minutes on each side. Served with sugar snap peas, broccoli and oven chips.My steaks were rather thick and inelegant (and looked like burgers, I admit). Try and make yours as thin as possible.

Steak hache, looks like burger, with sugar snap peas, chips and broccoli
Steak haché frites

Iced Ginger Biscuits

For pudding, we ate some iced ginger biscuits made by child 2. 

12oz plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
4oz butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
6oz soft light brown sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons golden syrup (warm it gently for ease of handling)

Heat oven to 190/gas 5. Put butter, flour, ginger and bicarb in a food processor and whizz until it reaches the breadcrumbs stage. Add sugar and whizz again for a few seconds. Beat the egg and golden syrup together in a separate bowl, and add them to the dry stuff. Whizz yet again until it forms a dough. Roll the dough to about 5mm thick and cut out as many shapes as you can. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on how large your biscuits are. Leave to cool and decorate with tubes of writing icing.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Because good things come in small packages

Inspired by a few days in France, where the most delicious and fattening foods are served in teensy portions, I decided to make some individual, portion-controlled Banoffee Pies (in shot glasses).

Individual Banoffee pies made in shot glasses
Banoffee pie in a glass

Banoffee Pies

(Makes 10)

2oz butter, melted
4oz Hobnobs
(or Digestives, Ginger Nuts, etc)
A large banana
Just over half a tin of Carnation Caramel
About 250ml double cream, whipped
A couple of squares of dark chocolate, grated (or a crushed Flake)

I put the biscuits in a freezer bag and bashed them hard with a rolling pin until pleasingly and uniformly crushed, added to them to the melted butter and stirred well. I divided this between all 10 glasses, gently patting it down into the bases. I then added a few slices of banana and a generously heaped teaspoon of Caramel, before topping each one with some softly whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate.

Et voilà! Put them in the fridge and see how long you can resist their siren call.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pumpkin - it's almost good enough to eat!

If you didn't get round to carving your pumpkins yesterday - cook them. 

Chicken stew cooked and served in a pumpkin

Chicken in a Pumpkin

(Stolen, with thanks, from Josceline Dimbleby)

You will need:
A large pumpkin, top cut off and seeds and gunk removed, leaving firm orange flesh
A 3 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
8 cardamom pods
1-2 fresh green chillies
8 skinless chicken breasts
4oz butter
20 oz onions, thinly sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
4oz button mushrooms, halved
2oz plain flour
3/4 pint milk

Heat oven to gas 9/240 degrees. Extract the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind them in a pestle and mortar. Chop the chilli/es and cut the chicken into 1cm slices. Melt 3/4 of the butter and cook the onions in it until soft. Add the ginger, cardamom, chillies and garlic and remaining butter. When the butter has melted stir in the sliced chicken and mushrooms. Stir in the flour well and gradually add the milk, continuing to stir until it comes to the boil (don't overdo the milk - it should be thick). Season. Spoon it into the prepared pumpkin, put the top back on, and smear with vegetable oil. Cook for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to gas 4/180 degrees and cook for about another 75 minutes. To serve, scoop out some of the pumpkin flesh with the chicken.

This will amaze, delight and impress your friends, and will win over the staunchest of pumpkin-haters!

Pumpkin flesh, seeds and lid