Tag Archives: Butternut

A Winter Roasted Roots and Gruyere Pie!

Roasted Roots Pie

It’s still mightily cold isn’t it? I’m in the midst of the never-ending Winter that is the UK this week, and this morning has witnessed my third siting of snow since I’ve been here. Unbelievable. Not helped by the frequent Skype sessions to the littlies in France who are clearly enjoying the first few sun-drenched ‘strawberry days’ of the year. ‘Strawberry Day’ being a Francesca-ism for a warm sunny day. Each and every day her first question upon awakening is invariably ‘is it a strawberry day mummy?’. The answer (usually to the negative) not only giving her the potential to pick a strawberry from the garden (bless her, she’s perpetually confused as to why it can be sunny yet there’s none to be found) but more importantly would allow her to put on the summer dresses and shorts that she’s been so longing to wear again since October. So much for my non-girlie girl! She may have only friends that are boys but she’s turning out to be a right little fashionista.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Seeing as it’s still full blown winter in the UK I’m bringing you my recipe for a wintery Roasted Roots Pie, and sincerely hoping this might be the last wintery food blog for quite some time! The recipe for this pie came about on a recent family get together when I tasked myself with putting on a bit of a Pie Night. The meat one was a cinch to decide, opting for my Beef, Beer and Stilton Pie that I recently wrote for Delicieux and went down stormingly well with my pie-eating family!. But I wanted to match it’s decadent richness with a special veggie option for the non-meat eaters of which there’s a few dotted around our lot. Being a bit partial to my seasonal Rosemary Roasted Roots I opted for an interesting selection of Celeriac, Butternut, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots and encased them in a rich Gruyere, Parmesan and Wholegrain mustard sauce. And topped off with the same homemade Rough Puff pastry (you could obviously cheat on this bit and use ready made Rough) as it’s meaty brother pie. I’m very pleased to report the pie was an equal hit and the perfectly interesting and substantial veggie option, that even the ardent meat eaters couldn’t resist nibbling into. In fact I’ve already made it again since. It’s a keeper. Rock on the next Pie Night I say!

Being heavy on the Rosemary (most of my food seems to be these days!) I’m entering Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge again, this month hosted by London Busy Body (you’ll be sick of my emails by now!). And since it’s a made from scratch meal, to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays challenge. And last but certainly not least once again to Simple and in Season, the seasonal blogging challenge of Ren of Fabulicious Food and this month hosted by myself.

herbsonsaturday

Made with Love Mondays

Simple and In Season

Roasted Roots Pie

Roasted Roots & Gruyere Pie

Serves 6 to 8

Great for Pie Nights!, Dinner Parties, Vegetarians, Family Dinners, Special Occasions, Week-end Slowies, Winter Warmers

1.2 kilos of mixed Root Vegetables (I used a fairly even mix of Celeriac, Butternut, Carrots and Sweet Potato. You could also use Swede, Turnips, Pumpkin, Beetroot or Parsnips)

2 large Onions, large dice

6 cloves of Garlic, left whole with skin on

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Rosemary

Salt and Pepper

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

50g of Butter

50g of Plain Flour

700ml of Whole Milk

180g of Gruyere, grated

30g of Parmesan, grated

a tablespoon of Wholegrain Mustard

Salt & Pepper

450g of Rough Puff or Shop Bought Pastry (about 2/3rd of this recipe)

an Egg, beaten

Special Equipment: 2 x large roasting tins

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Dice all your veggies, bar the carrots, to a similar 2-3cm chunk size. Cut the carrots into inch long narrow battens. Place in the roasting tins, along with the diced onions, garlic cloves, rosemary and a generous pinch or two of black pepper and salt. Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a thorough mix with your hands. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, turning the veggies twice during the cooking time.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce. Using the roux method gently heat the butter in a medium sized saucepan until it’s melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and with the pan still over the heat slowly and gradually add the milk. You may want to switch the spoon for a balloon whisk at this point, whisking thoroughly between milky additions, until all the milk is incorporated. Continue stirring with the whisk or wooden spoon until the sauce is simmering. Stir in both the cheeses, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Remove the whole roasted garlic from the Roasted Roots and squeeze out the loveliness contained into the sauce. Give a final thorough stirring.

Combine the sauce with the veggies and place in your pie dish.

Roasted Roots Pie

Turn down the oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5.

Cover the top of the veggies in a layer of Rough Puff Pastry, crimp the edges. Brush with the beaten egg.

Roasted Roots Pie

Place in the pre-heated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked, puffed up and golden brown. Slice and eat. With lashings of buttery mash to ward off the cold.


Roasted Roots and an Easy Roasted Roots Pizza

Roasted Roots Scone-based Pizza swallow-recipes-for-lifeWhat to do with Carrots, Beetroot and Cheese? These were the three ingredients chosen for March’s Recipes for Life challenge, a new monthly event held by Vanesther at Bangers & Mash. The challenge is run in partnership with the Somerset based charity Swallow who work with adults with learning difficulties. Every month they’ll be a new trio of ingredients and bloggers are challenged to come up with tasty, healthy and easy to prepare dishes that may even appear in Swallow’s new cookbook. What a lovely challenge I say!.

Admittedly not an obvious choice of ingredients at first but after a few brief moments of ponder I realised this remit would not only include one of our regular quickie dinners at Chez Foti, Roasted Veggies with Feta and Couscous but also my Roasted Veggie Lasagna too. My wholehearted apologies for the awful photos on both these blogs, but in my defense they were taken in my very early days of blogging!. I’m a bit of a regular veggie roaster and tend to make huge seasonal batches that get used over the course of a few days. Not only are they an interesting veggie side to a roast dinner or even bangers and mash but they’re perfect in a lasagna or thrown on a tart or pizza, wonderful in a sandwich (hot or cold, with cheese or hummus or just plain) or simply enjoyed in their own right with couscous, pasta or brown rice or as an antipasta.

Roasted Roots with Feta and Couscous

Roasted Roots with Feta and Couscous

For today’s recipe I have my seasonal Roasted Roots. I’m particularly partial to my Roasted Winter Roots as they bring such flavour and cheer to an otherwise verging-on-dull selection of veggies. Go for whatever you have to hand but beetroot, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and red onions all work marvellously together and tend to cook in the same amount of time. I like to boost flavours with plenty of fresh chopped Rosemary but you could happily substitute with fresh Thyme or dried herbs.

Winter Roots

My entry for  the challenge is an easy-peasy Scone-Based Wholemeal Pizza topped with plenty of Roasted Roots and a ball of Mozzarella (or Cheddar, Goats Cheese or Feta if you prefer). Funnily enough I haven’t eaten a scone based pizza since I was a child myself (they seemed to be all the rage in the 80s!) but have been eager to give one a whirl for ages now. Mainly as they’re so easy and quick to put together with no need for kneading or rising. Results were very good though admittedly incomparable to a thin crust homemade bread dough. But very tasty nevertheless, and my kids happily wolfed it down for their tea roasted roots and all!. The perfect instant and healthy pizza if you ask me, and one I shall definitely be baking again.

Roasted Roots

simple2012smallSince you can’t get much more Seasonal than my Roasted Roots I’m also entering my blog to Ren’s Simple and in Season challenge which so happens to be being hosted by myself this month!.

And as there’s fresh rosemary or thyme with the Roots I’m also entering it to Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event, this month hosted by London Busy Body.herbsonsaturday

Credit-Crunch-MunchAnd last but not least as this so happens to be a particularly frugal eat I’m entering it to Credit Crunch Munch, a joint event by Camila of Fab Food 4 All and this month by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Roasted Roots

Roasted Roots

Great for Pizza (see below!) or Tart toppings, Lasagnas, Sandwiches, Antipasta, Veggie Sides or eaten with Couscous, Pasta or Brown rice. 

To make enough for at least two meals for a Family of Four (halve the quantity if you wish to make less)

2 Red Onions, very large dice

6 cloves of Garlic, left whole with skin on

3 Carrots*, peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm slices

2 – 3 Beetroot*, scrubbed (skin left on) and cubed to a 1.5 cm dice

1 – 2 Parsnips, peeled and cubed to a 1.5 cm dice

300g of Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash or Pumpkin* (or a mixture of any of these), peeled and cubed to a 1.5cm dice

300g of Celeriac*, peeled and cubed to a 1.5cm dice

a tablespoon of chopped fresh Rosemary OR 2 teaspoons of fresh Thyme or dried Oregano or Mixed Herbs

Salt and Pepper

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Special Equipment: 2 large oven baking trays

* Feel free to vary your veggies!

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Simply place all the peeled and cut veggies on two large baking trays. Sprinkle with the herbs, a large pinch of salt and pepper and the oil. Using your hands ensure all the veggies have an even coating.

Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Turn twice during the cooking time. The veggies should all be very tender and a little golden.

Scone based  pizza recipe

Easy Scone-based Wholemeal Roasted Root Pizza

Great for Toddlers and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Vegetarians, Quick Homemade Pizza.

Serves a Family of 4:

125g Wholemeal Self-Raising Flour

100g of White Self-Raising Flour, plus a little extra for rolling

a teaspoon of Baking Powder

a pinch of Salt and Pepper

30g of Butter

1 Egg, lightly beaten

a little Milk

a heaped dessert spoon of Tomato puree, plus 2 dessert spoons of water

2 large handfuls (or more!) of Roasted Roots

100g of sliced Mozzarella OR 75g of cheddar/goats cheese/feta

Special Equipment: A baking tray, rolling-pin

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Place the flours, baking powder, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and combine together. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg and using your hands try to get the mixture to come together. You may need to add a little milk, keep adding until the mixture comes together in one piece.

Turn out the dough onto a work top or large board, shape into a ball and carefully roll out with a rolling-pin until you have your desired pizza size and thickness (as thin as possible is best, but harder to do with scone dough!).

Combine the tomato puree with the water and spread over the pizza base. Scatter over as many Roasted Roots as you can fit and then finish with a layer of cheese.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes. The pizza’s ready when the cheese is golden and bubbling.

You might also like: 

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Super-Vegged Up Chilli con Carne

Super-Vegged Up Chilli con Carne


Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Butternut Risotto

We’ve still lots of lovely butternuts left from my autumn harvest, and thankfully they keep really well in a cool dark place for several months. They’re most definitely one of my very favourite veggies and so usefully versatile getting regularly thrown in many a Soup, Curry, Stir Fry or Stew and even in pasta dishes (think Carbonara or Mac ‘n Cheese). They even shine on a Tart or Pizza too. But a Butternut Risotto happens to be one of my favourite uses of this glorious veggie, and is a firm Chez Foti winter comfort food favourite.

This is actually a recipe I make with the littlies in mind and uses cream cheese, but if you want to make a  more grown up version replace the cream cheese with a goats cheese. I use plenty of fresh sage which I’m particularly partial to with squash or pumpkin and cheese, but if your kids are herb adverse then leave out. If making for very little littlies then omit the wine too and use ‘baby’ stock cubes available from most major chemists or supermarkets.

After watching Nigel Slater’s recent series I now always keep my Butternut Skin shavings and briefly roast them in the oven (which you’d be using anyway for this dish) in a little olive oil, salt & pepper and make some totally delish freebie Butternut Crisps. They’re wonderful served as a little crispy side to soups or risottos.

Cubes of Butternut

Since I’m using fresh sage in my recipe I’m entering my post, for the second time this month, to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanether at Bangers and Mash Chat. Please do go and check out all the entries, there’s sure to be something you fancy!

herbsonsaturday

Butternut squash risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Toddler and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Grown Up Dinners

Enough for a family of 4:

a largish butternut squash, peeled (keep the peelings if you want to make crisps!), seeds removed (these can also be deliciously roasted) and cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a drizzle for the crisps if making

salt & pepper

3 shallots or a small onion, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

20g of butter

220g of risotto rice

a glass of white wine

a litre of chicken or veggie stock, piping hot

a dessertspoon of finely chopped fresh sage

75g of soft cheese or goats cheese

a heaped tablespoon of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Place the butternut cubes on a large baking tray and drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Ensure the cubes are equally coated and place in the hot oven to roast for about 35 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve taken on a little colour and are completely tender and soft.

During this cooking time place the peelings on a separate baking tray and drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crisped up, checking regularly as they’re quick to burn. Once ready remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper until you’re ready to serve.

Now to make the risotto. Heat the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots or onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the butter and oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour on a ladleful of hot stock together with the sage. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is nearly all absorbed.

When the rice is on the edge of being ready and tender stir in the roasted butternut cubes and cream cheese/goats cheese. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes more before finally stirring in the Parmesan or Grana Padano. Taste and season with black pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any additional salt as there’s plenty in the stock and cheese.

Serve the risotto with a few butternut skin crisps on the side. A word of warning, whilst the crisps look pretty served on top of the risotto (as per my pic) they quickly become soggy from the steam!.

Here’s some other Chez Foti risotto recipes: Spinach, Courgette &  Pesto Risotto, Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto


October and November Veg of the Month: Pumpkin and Squash

We’ve had quite a harvest of pumpkins and squash this year and they should see us through to spring next year, if they’re able to keep good that long. Such fun veggies to grow and easy too. I rarely watered the plants nor gave them any attention at all past the seedling stage, and they happily brought themselves up and just got on with it, fruiting gloriously all over the patch. If only my children were as easy! And like everything here they’re totally organic. A wonderful veggie to grow for a beginner, albeit you do need quite a bit of space…and dare I say it, sunshine.

Pumpkin Tower

They also happen to be one of my favourite veggies to cook with, being so incredibly versatile as they are. Virtually every dinner  or snack has some form of squash or pumpkin in these days at Chez Foti, even the cakes and muffins!. My Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is always a big hit with the littlies, both to bake and eat. And the fact that it contains one of your five-a-day is a happy bonus. Jamie’s delightful recipe for Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top have also proved popular as are my savoury Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins.

Chocolate  Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Butternut, or flavoursome pumpkin, make a wonderful tart too, especially when combined with a little salty cheese like feta, Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme. And it’s equally as tasty on a pizza, I’ve made several of The Garden Deli’s Autumn Pizzas now, and this has to be one of my favourite pizza combinations ever now, thanks Sarah!.

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts & Thyme

Obviously you can make super soups with pumpkins and squash though I’ve yet to experiment with any new recipes this year. Last year I blogged the simple Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup then paired it up with a little bacon for my Pumpkin & Bacon Soup and Chorizo for one of my favourite soups ever in my Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo CroutonsI recently made a fabulous and health inducing Roasted Pumpkin Mulligatawny Soup, thanks to a recipe I chanced upon from Gastrogeek.

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

This magical duo also go superbly well in a curry, one of my favourite recipes being a veggie curry I blogged last year, Aloo Gobi Kaddu (Potato, Cauliflower and Pumpkin Curry). I also happened upon a wonderful recipe from my beloved Mr HFW for a very tasty Butternut Squash Curry which I’ve now made a couple of times. It’s also a fab veg to add to a stir fry, squidging down and soaking up the flavours, and has been happily added to my Noodles with Pork & Veggies  recipe many a time. I also have my eye on trying Shabby Chick’s Noodles with Squash, Chard & Prawns some day soon.

Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry

Aloo Gobi Kaddu, Potato Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin and squash are a fabulous base vegetable for most stews and casseroles, adding a subtle sweetness which my kids particularly favour, one of their favourites being my recently blogged Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew and last years Pork, Pepper & Pumpkin StewI also add plenty of finely diced pumpkin to my Cottage Pie and Kids Bolognese recipes, loving the way it melts down into the sauce.

Chicken, Borlotti & Pumpkin Stew

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

And if this isn’t enough cucurbitas in your diet, then you can always happily add them to many a pasta dish too!. Favourites in the Chez Foti household happen to be Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese and Pumpkin CarbonaraAnd then there’s always risottos, my Butternut & Sage Risotto recipe will be coming shortly.

Pumpkin Carbonara

Pumpkin Carbonara

I’ve also been serving up pumpkin or squash as a veggie side dish to a sunday roast. Either chunked and roasted with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper or with a pinch of cumin and coriander too. Pumpkin’s also totally divine roasted with a few bacon lardons and sage.

And don’t forget the glorious seeds and skin. Both squash and pumpkin seeds can be roasted in a frying pan or the oven with just a smear of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Great tossed into a salad or served as a snack with drinks. After watching Nigel Slater recently I’ve started roasting off strips of Butternut skin to make lovely freebie crisps, and also noted Shabby Chick’s Pumpkin Crisps blog.

Other squashy ideas that have grabbed my attention are Fishfingers for Tea’s Butternut Squash Falafel recipe, which no doubt would go very well with the Roasted Pumpkin Hummus that I made last year (and should really get around to blogging!), and Lavender and Lovage’s Roast Pumpkin Salad with Panchetta, Grana Padano & Pumpkin Seeds. And I couldn’t not mention Anneli of Delicioux’s Super, Sexy, Strange: Spaghetti Squash recipes. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

Well that’s it for this month’s round up, other than to say PLEASE do have a look at the fabulous array of squash and pumpkinie recipes in October’s  One Ingredient Challenge and We Should CocoaPrepare to be amazed! And my December Veg of the Month is the humble Parsnip, and we’ve got quite a few of those to get through too at Chez Foti. I’d love to hear of your favourite recipes to try out!,

Louisa

August & September Veg of the Month: The Tomato

July Veg of the Month: The Courgette

June Veg of the Month: Swiss Chard

The first pumpkin of the year!

The first pumpkin of the year!

Chez Foti Pumpkins and Squash


Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Unfortunately there’s been a distinct lack of blogging action of late and way too many nasty germs floating around at Chez Foti. Viruses, bugs and colds a plenty but I’m keeping everything crossed the family’s all better by the end of the weekend. Even Dotty the pup was rushed to the emergency vets with a life threatening tick bite. Yes really!. Without the hefty injection and drugs he gave her she wouldn’t have made it much more than another 12 hours apparently. Luckily I myself have managed to escape the worst of all this sickness, bar the usual night nurse sleep deprivation and requirement to watch round the clock CBeebies anyway.

This was our first stew of the winter. A gloriously warming, boldly flavoured and slightly sticky stew of Chicken, Pumpkin and Borlotti Beans. The ingredients are loosely based on a Leon recipe I made a few times last year, but I’ve chopped and changed everything around quite a bit from the original here. The kids both loved it, and as Jacques’s going through a particularly fussy stage these days I was delighted that he devoured his bowl. Flavoured with plenty of rosemary, red wine vinegar, a little chilli, garlic and honey, what’s not to like?

Move over Ratatouille!

My official wee taste tester, move over Ratatouille!

I used my homegrown borlotti for the first time in the stew and was very happy with the results. Whilst the yield from the plants was more than a little disappointing the small harvest I have will allow for three or four more hearty family meals over the winter. I think I’m going to give them another whirl next year, even for the gorgeous pods alone:

My ever-so-pretty Borlotti Beans, when fresh the pods look like the beautiful one on the right, when dried out and ready to pick like the one on the left

Try to marinade the chicken the night before, or at least a few hours, to boost the wonderful flavours. I served it for the kids with mash as they love their mash, and for us with couscous. The latter being a little hit and miss with the littlies these days and thus unworthy of the rejection risk!.

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin it can happily be substituted with a tasty squash.

I’m entering this blog to November’s Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday recipe challenge, this month hosted by Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes.

herbsonsaturday

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Just Grown Ups

Serves 4

For the Marinade:

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard

a tablespoon of honey

a tablespoon of olive oil

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

a fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced (less for kids or those adverse, if they don’t like a little heat)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a generous pinch of black pepper

4 free range chicken thighs, skin removed

For the Stew:

a large onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks

400g can of chopped tomatoes

400g can of borlotti beans, drained, or 125g of soaked and pre-cooked dried beans

500ml of chicken stock

Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and combine, then thoroughly rub into the chicken thighs. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Once marinated remove the chicken from the bowl and set aside the lovely marinade which you’ll use later. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large casserole or heavy based pan. Fry the chicken until golden on all sides, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the same pan. Fry for 5 minutes before adding the carrots and pumpkin. Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes before throwing in the rest of the marinade, chicken thighs, chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans and stock.

Give everything a good stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to slowly simmer for an hour. Et voila, one big pot of healthy loveliness!. Taste and season to suit and serve.

You might also like:

Chicken & Apricot Tagine: Boeuf en Daube

Chicken & Apricot Tagine with CouscousBeef in Daube recipe


Pumpkin Carbonara

I finally picked the rest of our pumpkins and squash yesterday. Frosts are on their way and I wanted to get them under cover sharpish. I have to admit most are looking more that a tad sorry for themselves and in need of some strong sun to finish ripening, and being a bit of a novice at these things I’m not really sure what to do! I grew lots of pumpkins last year in my first season of growing but they were all fully ripened and orange by now. Should I keep them inside and bring them out on sunny days? Or resurrect and put in the poly tunnel? Or should I just eat them as they are? Any pumpkin professionals out there willing to offer me some advice?

The last of the pumpkins & squash!

Luckily I’ve already picked lots of fully ripened radiantly orange pumpkins and so it’s pumpkin with everything these days at Chez Foti. And as usual I’m loving adding a seasonal touch of healthiness to our favourite family suppers. It was the turn of the carbonara this week. Much as I love carbonara made traditionally with just eggs, bacon and parmesan it’s not exactly nutrient rich and I’m reluctant to give it to my kids in its basic form. Whilst Mr F and I will happily eat a large leafy salad on the side the kids won’t, so I like to add some veggie goodness to the sauce. Pumpkin works wonderfully with both parmesan and bacon and so it’s a natural for carbonara, and I also like to add a little fresh sage which is the perfect paring for pumpkin and bacon.

The first pumpkin of the year

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin to hand (and believe me it’s not nice to cook with if it isn’t!) you can happily use butternut instead.

Since my carbonara is flavoured with sage I’m entering the recipe (for the second time this month!) to Lavender and Lovage’s October Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

Pumpkin Carbonara

Enough for a hearty meal for a family of four:

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut, peeled

a tablespoon of olive oil

salt & pepper

240g of dried pasta of your choice, or equivalent in fresh

200g of streaky bacon or lardons, cut into small strips

a heaped teaspoon of finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely slices

3 eggs, free range

3 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Start with roasting your pumpkin or butternut. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Dice into smallish 1 to 1.5cm cubes, toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place on a roasting tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

Cook your pasta to packet instructions. Try to time so your pasta is cooked and ready at the same time as the pumpkin roasted and bacon browned.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan on a medium heat and fry off the lardons or streaky bacon (in their own fat) with the sage and garlic. Drain off any excess fat. Fry until the bacon is a little browned.

While the bacon’s frying, whisk the eggs lightly and stir in the Parmesan and a generous pinch of black pepper (you shouldn’t need any further salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and parmesan).

As soon as the pumpkin, pasta and bacon are all cooked and still piping hot throw them all together in one pan and thoroughly stir in the egg and Parmesan mix. Don’t put the pan back on the heat or you’ll have pasta with scrambled eggs! What you want is a lovely glossy eggy coating. Taste and add further pepper if it needs it  (I do like lots of pepper on my food!).

Related Posts: 

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Sausage & Courgette Carbonara

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese


Butternut, Feta and Red Onion Tart with Thyme

I’m loving the Butternut and Pumpkin season at Chez Foti. To be honest it’s making a welcome change from all those tomatoes of the summer, not that they’ve completely finished yet!. And it’s been lots of fun getting a little more inventive with them than the usual soups and stews. One of my biggest successes was the Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, but I’ve also been making all manner of other sweet and savoury baked goodies that I haven’t found the time to blog yet. My latest mission has been to develop an interesting Butternut Tart and I’m finally happy with the results and ready to share the recipe. A Shortcrust pastry base (homemade or shop bought), a meltingly soft layer of red onions topped with roasted butternut cubes, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine kernels, a generous sprinkling of fresh thyme and finally a drizzle of  balsamic for a little zing. Not only is this a great family-friendly mid-week supper or lunch tart, it’s a more interesting than normal vegetarian dinner party option too.

I have to hold my hands up and admit I do use ready-made shortcrust or puff pastry occasionally, particularly to make a quickie mid-week supper. In France both pastries are readily and cheaply sold in a roll, ready rolled and ready to place directly onto a (round) baking tin or tray. How’s that for super-cheating? Even better that it can sometimes be very good quality pastry, but like most things you get what you pay for. I believe in the UK you can only buy frozen shortcrust or puff pastry that needs to be rolled out? I do obviously make my own pastry quite often too!

You could happily also use a flavoursome pumpkin for this tart, and in fact I used a mixture of pumpkin and butternut here as I was using up what I happened to have in the fridge. Though my normal warning with using pumpkin standsmake sure it’s a sweetie! Pumpkin can all too often be bland and devoid of flavour, particularly the pumpkins sold for Halloween in the UK. I’m luckily enough to have really flavoursome ones at Chez Foti, but then I’m also lucky enough to have long sunshiny summers!.

Since thyme is a crucial flavouring to my tart I’m entering my recipe to Lavender and Lovage’s October Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

I’m also entering it to the One Ingredient Challenge for a second time this month, hopefully this is allowed?! The One Ingredient Challenge  is a monthly blog event, held jointly by Laura @ How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima @ Franglais Kitchen, picking out a particular ingredient each month, and this month it so happens to be Pumpkin or Squash. Perfect!

Butternut, Feta and Red Onion Tart with Thyme 

Serves 3 to 4 people, or a family of 4:

400g of Butternut squash, peeled

a tablespoon of olive oil

salt & pepper

1 very large or 2 medium red onions

35g of butter

250g of shortcrust pastry, either homemade or shop bought

25g of pine kernels

a medium free range egg, lightly beaten

130g of feta cheese, roughly crumbled

a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

Special Equipment: A large oblong or round baking sheet or tray

Start with roasting your Butternut. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Dice into smallish 1 to 1.5cm cubes, toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place on a roasting tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the squash is soft and slightly browned.

Meanwhile finely slice the onions. Heat the butter in a frying pan on a low heat and saute the onions for 25 to 30 minutes until meltingly soft.

Roll out the pastry (or de-roll in my lazy case!) into a circular (roughly 30 x 30cm) or oblong (roughly 35 x 20cm) shape. Place on an appropriately sized and shaped baking sheet or tray. Lightly prick the surface all over with a fork. Bake blind in the already pre-heated oven (200ºC) for 10 minutes.

Now to toast the pine kernels. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and once hot throw in the kernels. Shake every few moments until you have been lightly toasted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the onions are cooked allow to cool for a few minutes before mixing them with the beaten egg and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.

Once the butternut has finished roasting, the onions are ready and pastry baked blind you can begin your assembly. Evenly spread the onion mix over the pastry, followed by the roasted butternut cubes then a scattering of the feta and pine kernels. Generously sprinkle on the thyme leaves and a little more black pepper. Carefully drizzle a few drops of Balsamic evenly all over.

Place back in the already heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes (200ºC). Remove when the pastry is golden at the edges. Slice and serve. Lovely with a tomato or green salad.

How about trying some of my other related recipes Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese,  Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans, A Couple of Tomato Tarts, Leek & Goats Cheese Tart


Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Yesterday it was Wednesday and there’s no school in most parts of France on Wednesdays so the littlies were at home. A bit odd at first but quite nice for the kids to have a day off half way through the week, especially as the school hours of 9 to 5 are so long (for Frannie anyway). Over the last few weeks it’s become a bit of baking day at Chez Foti, trying out a new cake or muffin recipe or two and getting the littlies to help with the weighing, pouring, whisking, stirring and of course most importantly the tasting. Yesterday it was the turn of a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, not only one of the ‘healthiest’ cakes I’ve ever made but one of the moistest and most temptingly delicious. And the kids LOVE it. I think this’ll be a regular Wednesday bake!.

The stirring and tasting team

I love experimenting with veggies in cakes, much to the horror of the French who still haven’t really got to grips with the humble carrot cake. I made many a Courgette Cake with homemade Lemon Curd over the summer, and lots of Chocolate Courgette or Marrow Cakes of late using up the last of the glut. I’ve also baked quite a bit with Butternut Squash in Muffins and Cakes and once even made a gloriously coloured Beetroot Chocolate Cake. But using Pumpkin was a newbie to me, and after a couple of attempts I’ve perfected my recipe and it really is a winner. Low in sugar, and only using healthier unrefined Light Muscavado anyway, and richly flavoured by Roasted Pumpkin, Cocoa and a little warming Cinnamon.

We’ve more than a few pumpkins at Chez Foti, to be honest I’ve not counted them but there’s a lot. They should definitely see us through the winter and I have a feeling the blog will be moving from it’s recent tomato red to pumpkin orange. I’ve picked a few already but most are still out on the patch and will stay there slowly ripening until there’s a risk of frosts.

The Leaning Tower of Pumpkins!

I’m entering this blog for my first ever time to the We Should Cocoa challenge, held by Choclette of the Chocolate Log Blog and the Chocolate Teapot Blog and this month guest hosted by Hungry Hinny. This month’s challenge is to pair Pumpkin with Chocolate or Cocoa.

I’m going for a double whammy and also putting it forward to the One Ingredient Challenge, as this month the ingredient so happens to be Squash or Pumpkin!. The challenge is held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen.

I baked my cake in a medium sized baking tin and made a wee extra in one of my Oogaa bowls for the kids. Being silicone they’re perfect for baking cakes in. Incase you haven’t already dropped by, the Oogaa Recipe site is now up and running and features several Chez Foti baby and kids recipes. You can even add your own recipes!

The kids love their cakes baked in an Oogaa silicone bowl

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Makes one very large traybake (20 x 35cm tin) or a smaller tin and a few individual cakes. Can be frozen.

700g of pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into very large chunks

120g of unsalted butter, room temperature

120ml of sunflower oil

260g of light muscovado sugar

3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten

130ml of milk

350g of plain flour

50g of cocoa powder

2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Special Equipment: 20 x 35cm baking tin lined with baking parchment, or 6 silicone Oogaa bowls 

Begin with roasting your pumpkin. Place the very large chunks on a baking sheet in an oven pre-heated to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Bake for about 40 minutes until they’re pretty soft, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once cooked remove from the pan, place in a bowl and thoroughly mash with a potato masher. Leave to cool a little. This part could always be done before, when you happen to be using the oven.

Meanwhile start the cake batter. Place the very soft butter, sunflower oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir or whisk until well combined.

Whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk.

Now gradually sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon to the cake mixture, stirring until well combined with each sifting.

Finally stir in the slightly cooled mashed pumpkin and spoon out into your lined baking tin or bowls. Bake big cakes in the preheated oven (190ºC/Gas Mark 5) for 30 to 40 minutes and smaller ones for around 25 minutes. They’re ready when they’re firm to touch on the top (but still feeling a little squidgy), and an inserted skewer comes out clean of crumbs.

Cut into squares and serve as soon as cool enough to eat. You won’t be able to resist long!

Here’s some other Chez Foti sweet treats: Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake, Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd, Chocolate Brownies, My Girly Fairy Cake Heaven, Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins.

Little Miss F having an approving taste!

Super-Seasonally Vegged-Up Cottage Pie!

There’s more than a chill in the air and finally it’s time to bring on the pies and stews. I love my winter food. As you’ll see from my last year’s Comfort Cottage Pie recipe normally I love nothing more than a super-meaty cottage pie with no more veggie additions than a little carrot and celery. However, my son Jacques (who’s now two and a half) is back on his Mission of Veggie Refusal and I’m back on my Mission of Veggie Disguise (a blog I wrote a few months ago getting kids to eat more veg). And this revised and super-seasonally vegged-up recipe has an umpteem of hidden veggies that will please even the most ardent of carnivores.

My basket of veggies freshly picked to make my Vegged-Up Cottage Pie, including carrots, parsnips, butternut, swiss chard, green beans and thyme

Interestingly the wee fella loves his fruit, particularly if he’s picked it himself which he often does, gorging himself on figs (his favourite), blackberries (second fave), plums, greengages and the odd pear from the garden. And he’ll happily eat a banana. And yet virtually all veggies are a complete no go these days, even his once beloved peas and sometimes low and behold even sweetcorn! He’ll happily watch and join in as I pick green beans and tommies, lift the carrots and parnsips, cut the brocolli or sweetcorn from the garden..but when it come to eating them, you’re having a laugh! It’s always a whiny ‘dont like’ coupled with a pushing away off the plate or even worse a full blown, increasingly more frequent, tantrum. I’m still lucky Francesca will eat pretty much all veggies put her way, admittedly not with great gusto (but then she doesn’t particularly like most foods!) and always under a certain amount of duress. But she does love her carrots, because horseys do.

My little veggie-refuser Grubster happily tucking into a fig

Jacque sagely eying up the veggies he’d just help to pick

This cottage pie is an out and out winner with them both and with us too, and provides us with a couple of very healthy and pleasing family dinners. Whenever I’m making these slow-to-cook meaty dinners I tend to double (or treble) up on quantities making at least enough for two family dinners, freezing half or keeping it in the fridge for later in the week. Halve the below ingredients list if you want to make enough for just one dinner.

Feel free to vary the veggies, use whatever’s seasonal or you have in. My weights are only what I so happened to have picked and are included for a guideline only, so please vary accordingly. I used swiss chard, carrots, french beans, celery and butternut squash in the meat sauce and parsnips and potatoes in the topping. The first parsnips of the year actually, and the first parsnips I’ve ever grown. Pretty impressive size I thought, Jacques and I were a bit surprised when we lifted them together! You could also use pumpkin, spinach, mushrooms, runner beans, swede, sweetcorn, peas, broccoli, cabbage, kale or peppers and probably loads of other veggies I can’t think of right now!

I also have a tendency to leave the skins on my carrots, parsnips and potatoes (and give them a jolly good scrub obviously!), but then mine are all organically home grown. It’s up to you.

Titchy carrots and whopper parsnips!

As an added meal enhancer try baking your kids their dinner in individual bowls, mine love eating theirs straight out of my gorgeous Oogaa bowls, which being silicone can handily be oven baked and microwaved.

This is also a recipe that can easily be adapted for weaning babies. Omit the Worcester Sauce and use baby stock cubes which are available at most big chemists, then whiz up the cooked beef and veggie sauce in a processor before piling on the topping.

The kids love their Cottage Pie baked in my individual Oogaa silicone bowls

Since my recipe is full of seasonal goodies I’m entering it into Fabulicious Food’s Simple and In Season challenge, this month hosted by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen

Super-Seasonally Vegged-Up Cottage Pie

Toddlers, Bigger Kids, Family Suppers, Just the Grown Ups too!

Enough for a family of four TWICE!:

For the Meat & Veggie Sauce:

a large onion

2 sticks of celery

2 carrots

300g of butternut or pumpkin

2 tablespoons of sunflower or olive oil

600g of good quality beef mince

1 tablespoon of plain flour

800ml of beef stock

1 heaped tablespoon of tomato puree

2 teaspoons of Worcester Sauce

3 large sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

black pepper

100g of french or runner beans, finely diced

200g of chard or spinach, separating any thick stems from the leafy parts and shredding separately

For the Topping:

850g of potatoes peeled or un-peeled, chopped into large chunks

500g of parsnips, peeled or un-peeled, chopped into large chunks

50g of butter

50ml of milk

2 teaspoons of creamed horseradish, optional

salt & pepper

Finely dice the onion, celery, carrots and butternut or pumpkin. I usually pulse these veggies in a food processor both for speed and to get them reasonably fine (and well hidden!).

Heat the oil in a very large saucepan and throw in the onion, celery, carrots and butternut or pumpkin. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft, stirring regularly.

Turn up the heat and add the beef. Cook for about 5 minutes until browned.

Stir in the flour, quickly followed by the stock, tomato puree, worcester sauce, thyme, bay and a generous pinch of black pepper.

Now prepare the rest of your veggies, dicing them to an appropriate size for your kids i.e. the finer the dice the less likelihood of rejection!. Add them to the sauce. If you’re using swiss chard, include the diced stems at this stage but add the green leaves later (the same for spinach). Cover and leave to simmer for at least 30 minutes. If the sauce looks like it’s drying out, add a little water.

Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6, and make your potato & parsnip topping.

In a large pan of boiling water boil the potatoes and parsnips until soft. Drain and allow them to steam  and dry out for a few minutes. Mash with the butter, milk and horseradish.  Season to taste (go easy on the salt or none at all for littlies).

Once the sauce is cooked, stir in the spinach or chard leaves if using and  have a final taste check, adding a little more pepper and some salt if necessary (no salt for littlies and you shouldn’t need to add any anyway as there’s plenty in the stock).

Pour it into a large openproof dish (remembering to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, which I usually don’t!) or smaller individual dishes.  Spoon on the mash. Shape your mash with the back of a fork as desired, I like a nice swirl!.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on the top (and if it’s not you can alway pop it under the grill). Individual dishes will need substantially less time.

My other whoppers of veggie disguise are Kids Bolognese, Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice, Super-Vegged Up Chili, Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce and Sunday Dinner Leftover Cakes

And here’s the little monkey wolfing down his super-vegged up Cottage Pie! Result.


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