This is a combination of Felicity Cloake's perfect pumpkin pie recipe and some bits of my own (i.e. sugar, always sugar)
1 pack of pre-rolled shortcrust pastry (life in this case is too short)
250g pumpkin puree (I used Libby's canned puree)
75ml maple syrup
55g light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp rum (optional - I used Captain Morgan's spiced rum)
140ml evaporated milk
- First thing is to blind bake the pastry crust. Roll out your pastry slightly (it's better slightly thinner than the pre-rolled thickness), and line a flan case (they're a fairly standard size). Don't bother trimming the edges, you can do this later. Then line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with baking beans, coins, or some raw rice. Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and rice, and bake for another 5 minutes to get some colour. Remove from the oven and leave on the side while you make the filling.
- For the filling, combine the pumpkin, maple syrup, sugar, spices and rum in a bowl. Add the two eggs and mix together thoroughly. Finally add the evaporated milk bit by bit until you have a creamy consistency - you may not need it all (I used 120ml this time around).
- Pour the filling into the pastry shell, and bake at 180 degrees (160 degrees fan) for 40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Serve at room temperature, with nothing, ice cream or cream.
In my former life, I was a bit of a salted caramel expert, and whilst making A LOT of them over the last couple of years has dimmed my love of the chewy kind, I still seek it out in most other incarnations (the exception being crisps). At this time of year (and most others too), an espresso martini is always a winner, and this recipe makes it all the more seasonally special with the addition of, the admittedly ubiquitous, salted caramel.
My first homemade espresso martini used the recipe from Nigella’s Christmas cookbook, and this version is a complete homage to that - tweaked to capture Salted Caramel in all its glory.
I’m not really sure I’m supposed to love Halloween as much as I do. It, or rather the over-the-top celebrating-of-it that I love so much, is ‘a bit American’ as my Mum would put it. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. The nights are drawing in, which in itself can be a little depressing. It’s getting colder and I never look as good in a polo neck as I think I should. But Halloween appears at the end of October and it’s a riot of fun, garishness, slight tackiness and faux-gore hilarity. Can’t go wrong really. We're having a tea party after school this year, and I get to indulge my love of this tacky holiday in full.
I love Halloween. It's something about the kitsch, fake spookiness and the excuse for a party. And this cocktail, a violet white wine spritzer, is the perfect adult accompaniment to Halloween goings-on. The good thing about this cocktail is not only is it delicious, but it's also absolutely not restricted to Halloween. In fact I've had this at my friend Zoe's house in summer and winter and enjoyed it every time, I'm just annoyed with myself for only now requesting the recipe!
There are many reasons I love cooking.
I love eating, first and foremost. I’d rather invest time in cooking something tasty than eat something indifferent. I also get a huge amount out of the process of cooking itself: a sense of detachment. My mind can wander as I just focus on the process - it’s meditative almost (that sounds wanky written down). But it’s also, massively, about the rituals food creates. The moments and memories that food can conjure. Eating and laughing together is one of the most joyful of family activities. And if you cook and eat similar things at similar events, those times, for me, seem to become even more precious. To separate the food from the occasion becomes impossible.