Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mini pumpkin and black treacle pies

Hallow’s Eve is almost here and little ones up and down the land are getting excited at the prospect of free food in exchange for a fright.

Like any annual event in the calendar it is a great opportunity to have a party and as it is a child friendly time, they can get involved with the making as well as the eating. This year we will be making home made spooky pizza faces, wormy bug pasta and ghoulishly green apple and avocado smoothies.

The Americans are the masters of Halloween celebrations and they have used the pumpkin - something we usually simply carve out then throw onto the rubbish tip - to its full potential in a whole range of delicious pumpkin related recipes, including desserts. Pumpkin pie is a fabulous concoction of pureed pumpkin, sugar, cream and eggs and if you can get your head around the fact that there is a vegetable in the mix you will love it.

I like to use molasses packed sticky black treacle in mine, and they can be made into individual ‘pies’ for little hands by using mini pudding moulds such as in this recipe or jam tart cases. They are seasonal, delicious and frightfully fantastic. Happy Halloween kids.

Witches' Cauldrons
(Mini pumpkin and black treacle pies)

One pack of short crust pastry
500g peeled and chopped pumpkin
300ml double cream
100g muscovado sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp black treacle
½ tsp ground cinnamon
A little ground nutmeg
1 tsp ginger


1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4. Roll out the pastry then portion and line some mini pudding moulds leaving the edges overlapped. Put into the fridge to rest.
2 - Bring a pan of water to the boil then cook the chopped pumpkin until tender. Blend to a puree.
3 - Pour the cream into a pan then add the sugar and spices then heat up to just under boiling point.
4 - Pour in the eggs and whisk well, then add the black treacle. Stir in the pumpkin puree and pour into the pudding moulds.
5 - Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Bramble Ripple Ice Cream

Autumn is well and truly here and you don’t have to look too hard around the hedgerows of the United Kingdom at this time of the year to find some free food.

It is such a great season for getting out with your children and doing a bit of food detective work. Plums, apples, pears and brambles are just some of the delicious fruit we have been plucking recently.

Brambles are a big favourite of my daughter. We make a day of it by donning protective gloves and collecting a few plastic bowls full before returning home to cook a multitude of dishes, from bramble pies, crumbles, jams and ice creams to sticky sauces for rich meats.

It’s free, fun and delicious, therefore making it priceless for the whole family.

Bramble Ripple Ice Cream


300g brambles
2 tbsp sugar
300ml double cream
200ml milk
4 egg yolks
100g sugar

1 – Put the brambles and sugar into a pan. Bring to the boil then cook gently for 5 minutes, crushing with a fork as you go. Allow to cool then push through a sieve and reserve the juice. 

2 – Put the cream and milk into a pan and bring to just under the boil.
3 – Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl then pour in the hot cream and milk. Stir then return to the pan on the heat, stirring all of the time. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon and cook on a low heat. The custard is ready once you can wipe a finger across the wooden spoon without the custard running.
4 – Allow to cool then pour into an airtight container and place into the freezer. Check every hour and stir with a fork to distribute the crystals. This can all be done in an ice cream maker of course.
5 – Once the ice cream is almost frozen but still loose enough to stir a fork through, pour over the bramble juice and lightly fold through. Return to the freezer to freeze through.
6 – Serve with fresh brambles and optional meringues.