Autumnal Musings


I love Halloween, not for begging for sweets at stranger’s houses (bit strange!), but for all the veg the comes into season. And for the excitement of being able to eat stews and soups without feeling guilty that it’s 30°C outside, not that it ever gets that hot in England.

I’ve always been a bit of an Autumnal sort of person, and I don’t think I really realised why until I started cooking properly for myself. Being a sucker for a bit of romance and all, there is of course the natural beauty of everything, but only adding to this is the wonderment of root vegetables that are available. I, for instance, decided that, for the first time, I would carve a pumpkin. Shock horror! It actually went alright, and although it looked more like a gurning old man (which, I suppose, is a little scary) the innards were far more rewarding. 
 
Using some bits and bobs I had in the cupboard, I ended up making a HUGE batch of pumpkin soup, which surprisingly came out quite well to say I wasn’t working to a recipe. Working on the basics of my food knowledge (with a little help from my big sis’), I figured out some complimentary flavours to try and make it more than just pureed pumpkin. Frying a good bit of leftover onion, some ginger, some garlic and a few pinches of spices and seasoning, it needed little more. And to say I was going to throw away all the waste! It had a lovely kick from the curry spice, some mellow from the cinnamon and a fresh aftertaste from the ginger, oh, and it tasted like pumpkin of course. All topped off with a handful of toasted chilli pumpkin seeds gave it a bit of fire crisp aswell. 
 
Honestly? I was really chuffed!
I even had left over pumpkin to make some pumpkin pie, but I left it too long (and later realised I didn’t quite have enough), so I concocted a banana and chocolate ganache cream pie instead.
 
Another reason for loving Autumn…it gets cold, so I can actually get away with using the excuse “It’s too cold to leave the house”. Loving it! And loving the fact that I can trawl the Internet looking for new and weird things to cook. I’ve actually come across a pretty cool looking cake called (aptly), “The King of Cakes”, or Baumkuchen to the more European amongst us. I vaguely remember eating this at a fair in Germany when I was younger, mainly because it reminded me of a Kit-Kat when I bit into it. It’s traditionally made on a spit and the cook paints the batter on in layers. If you take a cross-section of it, it really looks like the rings of a tree, which is pretty cool. 
 
 
 
It takes forever to make, so if you have no patience, it’s probably not the best project to undertake, although you can do it in a regular oven, your tree rings’ll just be horizontal rather than vertical, which i’m sure you’ll be forgiven for! And if you can’t be bothered, it’d probably be quicker to wait for the tree to grow and eat that instead, although I doubt it’ll taste as good. I don’t know who to thank for this strange creation, François Fournier? The good people of Salzwedel? Hungarian brides? Or good ol’ fashioned Blighty in all it’s Medieval greatness? Either way i’m glad they all exist to keep people like me entertained on a Sunday evening.
 
So. Tasks for the year now span to:
 
1) Make perfect, pretty Macaroons.
2) Make a makeshift Baumkuchen.
 
I know this post is a bit of a beast, but I have a lot of time on my hands seeing as it’s ‘Reading Week’. So i’ll save your eyes and skip to the ‘Recipe of the Week’, dun dun dunnn! (Oh, the cheese):
 
Jess’ Pumpkin Soup.
Feeds- ‘the 5000’
 
The innards of 2 pumpkins  (seeds removed, washed and dried and put aside)
 2 Medium onions (white)
Fairly big knob of unsalted butter (Lurpak’ll do).
3 Garlic cloves
2″ Root of Fresh Ginger
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 Pint Chicken stock
Pinch of Curry Powder
Tablespoon of Chilli flakes
Good bit of sea salt and ground black pepper
Dollop of cream
 
Everything about this soup is easy, it takes a bit of  time to cook but it’s really simple and you can leave it mostly alone. 
Firstly you need to chop the onions (pretty finely), the garlic and the fresh ginger. Fry the onions in the melted butter on a medium heat, then turn it right down so they cook slowly for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, they should barely sizzle if it’s on the right heat, really don’t want it to burn or it’ll taste horrid! Cook for a further 5 minutes and add the pumpkin, sizzle for a little while, then add the chicken stock, cinnamon sticks, curry powder and seasoning. 
 
Leave it for about 20-30 minutes to cook on low, so it’s almost turning to mush, remove the cinnamon sticks and blend with a hand blender. Stir in a bit of cream if you want to make it a little richer, and leave cooking on a low heat whilst you prepare the pumpkin seeds.
 
Take a dry pan and add the chilli flakes and as many pumpkin seeds as you like, if you’re a little timid with heat, add less chilli, if you like your food hotter than the sun, add more. Easy! Toast for a little while until slightly coloured and coated with chilli, and serve on top of the soup as a garnish!
 
I thought I would alternate between the sweet and the savoury with my recipes (just to be fair of course, I wouldn’t want to hurt the other’s feelings!)
 
It’s been quite a successful beginning to Autumn, I can’t wait until Christmas! There is going to be a feast and a half if i’ve got anything to do with it!
 
Peace
JR 
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