Whole Roast Pumpkin with Autumnal Rice Pilaf

Cooking

I’ve been deliberating posting savoury recipes for a few years now but have always held back due to the simple fact that I called this site ‘tassybakes’ and so must, by my own ruling, share only baked goods (yeah, I’m quite neurotic). I’ve decided that’s a pretty stupid ruling especially as I’m a professional chef by day, who cooks savoury dishes the majority of the time.

Anyway you get the picture, I’m going to share savoury recipes with you, starting with this whole roast pumpkin. You part roast it before filling it with rice, wild mushrooms, cavolo nero, a load of spices, stock and pecans, then it’s popped in the oven for 15 minutes and voila, the rice is cooked and the flavours have seeped into the pumpkin flesh- delicious. You can adapt the recipe and use whatever veg or nuts you have lying around so go wild!

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 2 small/medium pumpkins or 1 large pumpkin
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • sea salt and black pepper

For the rice

  • 250g basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 green chilli, diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp garam masala
  • 2tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200g fresh wild mushrooms
  • large handful cavolo nero or kale
  • 100g pecans
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Green chutney, tamarind chutney, yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Slice the top of the pumpkin (or pumpkins) off and hollow out (reserve the seeds and roast them with spices, if you like). Drizzle with oil and rub with spices and seasoning all over, inside and out. Place on a tray (lid included) and roast for 25-35 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.
  2. Rinse the rice several times in cold water then leave to soak until required.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook out until lightly browned and very soft, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further few minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods and all other spices and cook, stirring often until aromatic. Now add the mushrooms and a little more oil if required, and cook until caramelised. Don’t stir more often than is necessary or they won’t colour up.
  4. Drain the rice. Add the pecans, cavolo nero and rice to the saucepan and stir to coat in the oil and spices. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then carefully transfer to the cooked pumpkin. Turn the heat down to 160c on the oven and pop the lid on top of the pumpkin to seal in the steam.
  5. Return the now filled pumpkin to the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to stand, lid on, for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Now you’re ready to serve. Slice the pilaf-filled pumpkin into big wedges and enjoy with green chutney, yoghurt, tamarind chutney and some pomegranate seeds, if you like.

Cherry, Chocolate and Tahini Parfait with Sesame Crumble

Chocolate, Cooking, Uncategorized

We’ve been enjoying a very unusual bout of beautiful hot weather here in the UK, so today’s recipe is an iced one. I served this up for my boyfriends birthday (after he broke the news to me that he didn’t want a cake- yeah, sacrilege I know) and although it requires a little more effort to make than a simple sponge, the creamy, indulgent and slightly bittersweet (thanks to the tahini and very dark chocolate) result is well worth it.

Ingredients

For the chocolate ripple

  • 150g bitter dark chocolate
  • 150ml double cream
  • pinch sea salt

For the cherry compote

  • 200g fresh cherries (de-stoned)
  • 3tbsp honey or caster sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange

For the parfait base

  • 4 eggs
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 150g tahini

For the tahini crumble

  • 25g tahini
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 25g butter, cubed
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1tbsp black sesame seeds

Method

  1. Start by making the chocolate ganache for the ripple. To do this simply place the chocolate, salt and cream in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (don’t allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl). Stir occasionally until it melts together and forms a smooth ganache. Set aside to cool.
  2. Now prepare the cherry compote. Put the cherries, honey (or sugar), orange zest and juice in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a sticky compote consistency (5-10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
  3. Now it’s time to make the parfait base. Line a loaf tin with 2 layers of cling film, leaving an overhang on all sides.
  4. Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in a large bowl along with the sugar and whisk until pale, meanwhile, heat the milk until just boiling in a saucepan. Remove the milk from the heat and pour into the egg yolks, then stir together until smooth. Return the mix to a clean pan and gently heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, the mix will start to thicken- once it coats the back of the spoon set aside and cool to room temperature.
  5. Once the ganache, compote and custard have cooled to room temperature, whisk the double cream to soft peaks. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to medium peaks. Stir the tahini into the egg yolk mixture. Fold the double cream into the egg yolk/ tahini with a large metal spoon, then do the same with the egg whites, retaining as much air as possible. Ripple through 2/3 of the chocolate ganache and 2/3 of the cherry compote.
  6. Spoon the remaining chocolate ganache and cherry compote into the bottom of the prepared tin, then spoon in the parfait mix. Cover with cling film and freeze for at least 4 hours.
  7. While the parfait is freezing, make the sesame crumble. Preheat the oven to 180c. Rub together the butter and flour until they resemble breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar and tahini, then tip onto a lined baking tray- bake for 10 minutes then check, shake and return to the oven to 10 more minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown. Stir through the sesame seeds and set aside to cool.
  8. Take the parfait out of the oven 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it to allow it to soften slightly. Sprinkle on the sesame crumble and finish with some fresh cherries.

Enjoy!

Roast Peaches with Coconut Crumble, Blackberry Compote and Lime (VG)

Cooking

This vibrant dish works well if you’re feeling a boujee brunch, but would also make for a delicious, light summer dessert; it’s a real celebration of summer produce and the contrast of flavours, textures and colours mean it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser (plus it’s vegan!).

Ingredients (serves 6)

For the peaches

  • 6 ripe peaches
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • 2tbsp coconut nectar (or honey/ maple)
  • 100ml dessert wine (optional)

For the blackberry compote

  • 300g fresh blackberries
  • juice 1 lime
  • 2tbsp coconut nectar (or honey/ maple)

For the coconut crumble

  • 75g rolled oats
  • 3tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2tbsp coconut nectar (or honey/ maple)
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g roughly chopped almonds
  • 50g flaked coconut

Other

  • zest 2 limes
  • 500ml coconut yoghurt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 1 baking tray and 1 high sided baking dish with greaseproof paper.
  2. Half the peaches and remove the stones, then place them in the baking dish, cut side up. In a small bowl, mix together the ground cardamom, ground cinnamon and coconut nectar. Drizzle all over the peaches (along with the dessert wine, if using).
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the rolled oats, coconut oil, coconut nectar, ground cinnamon and chopped almonds. Tip this mixture onto the baking tray and spread out.
  4. Pop both trays in the oven and roast the peaches for 20-25 minutes (or until very tender and sticky). Check the coconut crumble after 10 minutes and turn to prevent burning. Once the crumble starts crisping up and reaches a golden colour, add in the coconut flakes and cook for a further 5 minutes. When the peaches and crumble are ready, just leave them to cool while you make the blackberry compote.
  5. For the compote, simply place the blackberries, coconut nectar and lime juice in a saucepan and cook gently (stirring occasionally) until it reaches a loose jam-like consistency. Set aside to cool.
  6. To assemble the dish, start with the coconut yoghurt in the base of the bowl and ripple through some compote, then top with two peach halves, a generous helping of coconut crumble and a sprinkle of fresh lime zest.

Enjoy!

Ricotta, Raspberry and Peach Cheesecake Bars

Cooking

With a light baked ricotta filling studded with fresh raspberries, crunchy almond-oat base and griddled peach topping, these cheesecake bars pay homage to 90s peach melba, and make for the perfect summer dessert.

Ingredients (makes 12 bars)

For the base

  • 150g digestives
  • 2tsp demerara sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 50g almonds
  • 140g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 500g ricotta
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 30g corn flour
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g full fat greek yoghurt
  • 200g raspberries

For the topping

  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • few extra raspberries
  • decorative herbs, almonds, edible flowers (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c and grease and line a 22x22cm baking tin. Place the digestives, demerara sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and blitz into crumbs. Add in the melted butter, almonds and oats and very briefly blitz again to combine- don’t over mix here, you want a nice crunchy base. Tip this mixture into the prepared tin and pack down with the back of a spoon. Chill for 15 minutes then bake for 10 minutes to set. Once baked set aside for later.
  2. Now make the filling. To do this simply whisk together the ricotta, golden caster sugar, corn flour and vanilla until very smooth, then add in the egg and egg yolk one at a time, whisking between each addition to bring the mixture together again. Lastly, whisk in the yoghurt. Roughly break up the raspberries with the back of a fork and tip them in. Ripple them through then scrape all the filling onto the base. Place the tin into another larger roasting tin and fill with water (about half way up the sides of your baking tin). Bake for 1 hour or until the cheesecake is set but still has a uniform wobble.
  3. Once baked, leave the cheesecake to cool completely then chill for 4-6 hours to set.
  4. While the cheesecake is chilling, lightly oil a griddle pan and slice the peaches into wedges. Heat the pan and char the slices on each side, then leave to cool.
  5. When your cheesecake has set, just remove it from the tin, slice into 12 bars (use a hot knife for this and you will get a cleaner result) and top with the griddled peach slices, extra raspberries and nuts.

Enjoy!

Rose Labneh with Sumac Baked Figs

Cooking

I know I’m getting a few months ahead of myself by posting a fig recipe (usually they come into season around late July), but when I saw some particularly plump, dark looking figs in my local fresh produce shop, I couldn’t help but cook them up with some delicious accompaniments. You could recreate this super simple recipe using any seasonal fruit- rhubarb, greengage or peach would work particularly well.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 400ml Greek yoghurt
  • 3tbsp runny honey
  • 2tsp rose water
  • 10-12 ripe figs
  • 1-2tsp sumac
  • Few sprigs thyme
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only
  • 75g almonds

Method

  1. Place the yoghurt, 1tbsp of the honey and the rose water in a bowl. Mix together then transfer to a muslin cloth and tie up the corners. Sit this in a sieve over a bowl for at least 24 hours (refrigerated).
  2. After 24 hours the liquid will have drained from the yoghurt, leaving you with a thick, smooth labneh.
  3. Once the labneh is ready, prepare the other elements of your dessert. Preheat the oven to 200c and line a high sided baking tray with greaseproof paper. Slice the figs into either halves or quarters (depending on your visual preference!) and spread out on the tray (cut side up). Drizzle with the remaining 2tbsp honey and sprinkle over the sumac. Roughly break the thyme into the tray too.
  4. Roast the figs for 20-25 minutes until very tender and sticky. While the figs are cooking, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until lightly coloured, then roughly chop.
  5. To serve, spread a generous spoonful of the labneh onto your dessert plates and arrange some fig pieces on top. Sprinkle over the almonds and pomegranate seeds and lastly, garnish with some thyme, if you like.

Enjoy!

Pistachio Meringues with Strawberry and Black Pepper Compote

Cooking, Uncategorized

Shake up the classic British pavlova by combining seasonal strawberries with black pepper, tangy creme fraiche and pistachio meringues; the combination of sweet, spicy and savoury balances beautifully and is a great dessert option for casual summer evenings.

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch salt
  • 125g chopped pistachios
  • 400g strawberries
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • splash water
  • cracked black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 trays with greaseproof paper (you can secure this down with a little meringue once it’s made).
  2. Put the sugar on a baking tray and heat for 10 minutes in the oven until hot to the touch (not melting), then set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 120c.
  3. Place the egg whites in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until you reach medium peak. Add one third of the hot sugar and increase the whisking speed until well incorporated. Add the remaining sugar in 2 additions, whisking well between each. You should eventually have a thick glossy meringue with no grains of sugar. Tip the chopped pistachios onto the meringue and fold in gently. Spoon the meringue into piles on the prepared trays and smooth into your desired shapes.
  4. Bake for 1-1/2 hours until the meringues can be peeled from the paper with ease. Once baked, turn the oven off and leave to cool with the door closed (to prevent cracking).
  5. Now make the strawberry compote; place the strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and the strawberries release some juices. Now just cook until your desired consistency is achieved (I like to keep the fruit whole where possible but you can break down the strawberries by cooking for longer if a smoother result is what you’re after).
  6. Cool the compote and serve up with a generous spoonful of creme fraiche (or lightly whipped chantilly cream) and a crisp but chewy pistachio meringue.

Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Meringues with Rum Caramel and Bananas

Cooking, Uncategorized

Meringue is a guaranteed crowd pleaser throughout the year, whether you enjoy it torched on top of lemon meringue pie or piled high with summer fruits as the base of a retro pavlova. Though these classic forms of meringue are delicious, I thought I’d try out a brown sugar variation for a richer flavour; they worked brilliantly and the brown sugar adds a deep molasses kick which pairs really well with rum caramel sauce, caramelised bananas, peanuts and creme fraiche.

meringues1

meringues4

Ingredients (makes 6-8 large meringues):

For the meringues:

  • 225g dark brown soft sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • pinch salt

For the rum sauce:

  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 50ml water
  • 40g butter
  • 75ml double cream
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 tbsp dark rum

For the caramelised banana:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 2 bananas

For the toppings:

  • chopped peanuts
  • some creme fraiche

meringues2

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 120c. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and add the brown sugar and egg whites. Whisk with electric beaters until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is voluminous and hot to the touch.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and keep whisking. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time and increase the speed on your beaters. Whisk until you have stiff peaks.
  4. Pile the meringue into nests on the prepared baking trays. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Switch the oven off when you can easily peel the meringues off the paper and they are crisp. Leave in the oven to cool for an hour.
  5. While the meringues are cooling make the caramel. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved bring to a boil and allow to turn into a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and add the cream, butter and salt. Whisk until smooth (it will spit). Allow the sauce to cool slightly then add the rum. Taste and add more if you feel it needs it (hardcore). Set aside.
  6. For the bananas, place the sugar in a heavy bottom pan. Heat, allowing the sugar to melt. Swirl occasionally but do not stir. Take the sugar to a golden colour and add the butter (it will spit). Stir together then add the banana pieces. Cook for a few minutes then turn over and remove from the pan.
  7. To assemble top the meringues with creme fraiche, followed by the bananas, sauce and peanuts.

meringues3

Enjoy!

5 Minutes with Bake Off Champion Nadiya Hussain

Cakes, Cooking, Reviews

Since winning the Great British Bake Off last year, mother of three Nadiya Hussain has ran with her mantra of ‘I can and I will’ by taking on numerous projects; from documentary making and recipe book writing to royal baking and countless television appearances, it seems Nadiya’s future in the food industry is bright. Last month, the reigning Bake Off champ kindly took 5 minutes out of her hectic schedule to chat food, the Queen and instant fame with myself and fellow food blogger Hannah Bond (A Bond Girl’s Food Diary  ) …right after she humoured us with some fan girl photos.

So, it’s been a year since Bake Off- what’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on since? It’s a tough one but I think I would have to choose baking the Queen’s 90th birthday cake- that’s a moment in history and I can’t believe I got to do it – I still have to pinch myself!

How did you manage to get that commission? I was on a shoot and my agent called and told me- I was sure she’d got it wrong- as if they’d want me and not a professional… when I realised it was true I was a bit like, can I say no?! Of course I didn’t but it was a lot of pressure at first- it’s a big deal!

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 16.06.21

(Photo Credit: Telegraph Online)

You’ve spoken about struggling with confidence- do you think winning Bake Off helped you overcome that? Not the winning, but the process. Doing things I was unsure of or uncomfortable with on my own without my children or husband made me realise I don’t have to be a nervous or anxious person.

Were you prepared for the instant fame Bake Off gave you? No, I honestly thought I would fly under the radar and go back to normal life… being in the spotlight is a new world and it’s not something I have ever experienced- I try to just take it in my stride and enjoy it because you never know when it’s going to end.

Did Mary Berry give you any long lasting advice after Bake Off? She just told me to look after my family- she is such a family orientated person and I think we had that in common… she’s a bit like that Grandma you want to adopt!

Some less serious questions now… what is your desert island dish? Marmite! Marmite crisps.. I can eat six packets in one go.

Dream dinner party guest? David Attenborough. Every time.

Favourite cuisine? Vietnamese- it’s so fresh.

Two kitchen essentials? The perfect spatula and my stand mixer.

Mary or Paul? I’m not answering that!

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 16.04.08

( Just fan-girling…)

Many thanks to Nadiya for chatting with us and sharing her thoughts on a very exciting year- look out for her BBC documentary series The Chronicles of Nadiya which traces her Bangladeshi roots and food heritage and pick up her book Nadiya’s Kitchen now.