Tag Archives: Pumpkin

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

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Sausage, Bean and Veggie Hotpot

Sausage & Bean Hotpot

Now I love a bloggie challenge and when Vanesther, of the gorgeous family food blog Bangers and Mash, launched her new Recipes for Life Challenge I was really excited, particularly as it’s right up my foodie street. Each month she’ll be picking three ingredients and challenging fellow bloggers to come up with something tasty, wholesome and easy-to-cook with them. And the best recipes will be included in a new cookbook for the Somerset based charity Swallow. Swallow support adults with learning difficulties to lead more independent lives, including the running cookery courses to help members learn to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals.

swallow-recipes-for-life

This month the three ingredients are Sausages, Onions & Tomatoes and I knew exactly what I wanted to make for Swallow. My much-loved family favourite Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot that I’ve thus far failed to get snapped and blogged. It’s a lovely winter warmer one pot wonder dish, that’s so easy to throw together yet hearty, healthy and heavy on the veggies. And my kids LOVE it as much as us grown up folk. And you can chuck in whatever beans or veggies you so happen to have in, anything goes!.

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

Great for family or grown up dinners, toddlers, bigger kids, vegetarians (using veggie sausages obviously!), mid-week suppers, weekend slowies, winter warming

Serves 4 to 6 big appetites (or a family of 4 TWICE!)

a tablespoon of Sunflower Oil

6 – 8 Sausages, meaty or veggie

an Onion, diced

2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

2 Carrots, sliced

a Parsnip*, diced

300g of Pumpkin or Butternut Squash*, large dice

a generous pinch of Chili Powder

2 teaspoons of dried Oregano or Mixed Herbs**

2 x 400g tins of Chopped Tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of Beans (Cannellini/Butter/Kidney/Haricot/Flageolet all work brilliantly or a mixture of any of them!), drained and rinsed

Salt & Pepper

600g of washed and peeled Potatoes (about 3 medium sized), finely sliced

300ml of hot Beef Stock (or veggie stock if you’re using veggie sausages)

Special Equipment: A Large Lidded Oven-proof Casserole Dish that can also go on the hob

* Please feel free to vary your veggies as to what you have in, you can happily substitute with any sturdy veggies like sweet potatoes, swede, turnip, peppers, celery, celeriac, chard, green beans, cauliflower etc.

** Or fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme all work wonderfully if you so happen to have any, my preference is for fresh rosemary.

Pre-heat your oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5.

Heat the oil in the Casserole Dish. Fry the sausages until a little browned all over. Set aside to cool, and when cool enough to handle cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Set aside until later.

In the same casserole dish add the onions and garlic and fry in the fat left from the sausages on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches. Then throw in the carrots, parsnip and pumpkin or butternut (or your other chosen veggies). Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring at intervals.

Stir in the chili powder and herbs, quickly followed by the chopped tomatoes, beans and the set aside sausages.

Bring everything to a simmer and season generously with salt and pepper.

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

Take off the heat and arrange the sliced potatoes over the top of the hotpot. Pour the hot stock over the potatoes, place the lid on the top and slide into the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 45 minutes.

Hotpot

The hotpot’s ready when the potatoes have browned a little on top and are completely soft and tender.

Sausage, Bean & Veggie Hotpot

simple2012smallCredit-Crunch-Munch

I’m also entering my recipe to Ren of Fabulicious Food‘s Simple and In Season challenge, since it uses plenty of seasonal goodies. This month the event’s hosted by Cake, Crumbs and Cooking. And to Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla of Fab Food 4 All‘s Credit Crunch Munch event, as this is a particularly frugal munch!.

A Year Ago on the Blog: Cheesy Biscuits for Half Term

You might also like:

Chicken, Borlotti & Pumpkin Stew

Chicken, Borlotti & Pumpkin Stew

Chicken & Apricot Tagine

Chicken & Apricot Tagine


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, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins

I’m baking more and more with my littlies these days which is wonderful. At the ages of 2 and 4 they really enjoy getting involved at all stages. Every wednesday, as there’s no school on Wednesdays here in France, we bake at least one thing together, usually some sort of muffin, cake or biscuit. They love doing all the stirring, whisking, dolloping, sprinkling, decorating. Then obviously the scoffing.

We’ve made these muffins many a Wednesday baking session lately and I’ve only just realised they’ve yet to be blogged. So easy peasy to make, especially for little hands that like to do stirring, and pretty healthy to boot with all that deliciously sweet roasted pumpkin and red onion. I’m sure they must count as at least one of your five a day? If you or your kids are cheese fiends (like all of us!) then savoury muffins are the way to go, great for snacks, lunches and lunch boxes, picnics and even tea time treats. Fresh out of the oven is best, but they still hold their own cold.

Unusually for me I made large muffins this time round, I usually prefer to make smaller mini sized ones in fairy cake cases. It’s up to you. As for the cheese, I used about half Cheddar and half Parmesan in this batch but you could use all Cheddar or all Parmesan equally as successfully. You can happily substitute the pumpkin for butternut.

Cheesy Grins for Cheesy Muffins!

Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins or 24 small mini-muffins

500g of pumpkin or butternut squash, skin and seeds removed

a large red onion

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

275g of plain flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

½ a teaspoon of English mustard powder

salt & pepper

85g butter

2 free range medium sized eggs

200ml of milk

100g of grated Mature Cheddar or Parmesan or a mixture of the two

Special Equipment: Cake or Muffin Trays, Cake or Muffin Cases

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Start with roasting off your pumpkin. Cut into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until pretty soft and cooked through, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once roasted place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Set aside cool a little. This part could always been done before when you happen to be using the oven for something else. Over the pumpkin season I tend to always have some pre-roasted pumpkin in the fridge to be used in cakes, muffins, pasta dishes or soups.

While the pumpkin’s roasting, finely slice the red onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 10 to 15 minutes until softened.

Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard powder into a large bowl. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Melt the butter and allow to cool a little. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, then whisk or stir in the milk. Once the butter’s cooled a little whisk into the eggs and milk.

Attention littlies, lots of stirring action now required!. Throw the wet mixture into the dry and stir, stir, stir. Once combined chuck in the roasted and mashed pumpkin, red onion and ⅔ of the cheese.

Dollop the mixture into cake or muffin cases in cake or muffin trays. It’s about a dessertspoon of the raw mixture for a fairy cake sized mini-muffin or a heaped tablespoon for a large muffin. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.

Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes for mini-muffins or 40 to 50 minutes for normal full sized. They’re ready when they’re golden on the top, firm to touch and an inserted cake skewer or fork comes out crumb free.

Remove from the trays and cool on a cooling rack. Particularly lovely eaten warm, and if you want to be exceptionally naughty, ahem, break in half and smear in butter.

You might also like:

Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins     

Pumpkin Carbonara

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake                          

Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins


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.


Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

I cut into the last of our pumpkins to make this soup. I never actually thought we’d get to the end of our almighty Autumn harvest but now we’re on the last one I’m more than a touch sad!. Though I’m very excited about growing plenty more of these wonderful orange monsters again this summer, despite spending most of the last one cursing them for the enormity of space they took up and vowing never to bother again! My opinions however quickly changed after our first homegrown pumpkiny dinner (I think it was indeed a roast pumpkin soup), far more delicious and sweet than I thought possible of the humble pumpkin. The ones you buy in the UK, particularly around Halloween time, can be so bland and devoid of any real flavour, and I assumed our orange monsters would be the same. So wrong! I think the hot Southern French sun worked it’s magical wonders on my patch, each and every one were delicioso.

Not only are pumpkins so incredibly easy and fun to grow, albeit taking up way too much room, they are wonderful and versatile to cook with providing they have a half decent sunkissed flavour that is. I’ve added diced pumpkin to virtually all my stews and casseroles throughout the autumn and winter, stir fries, pasta dishes, curries, and obviously soup a plenty. It’s also a great veg to accompany a roast dinner, cut into large chunks and roasted in the oven with a little chilli and/or bacon pieces and plenty of black pepper.  Porky flavours work really well with pumpkin and squash which is how I came to concoct this soup. Might sound a little weird but it’s oh so lovely!.

Enough for a couple of servings each for a family of four:

1 kilo of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut squash, skin removed and cut into 2cm chunks

olive oil

salt & pepper

the merest pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

80g lardons or streaky bacon, diced

600ml of chicken stock plus a little more water to thin down

Rub a tablespoon of olive oil into the pumpkin chunks along with a little salt, a generous grinding of black pepper, and the chilli flakes, rubbing the oil onto all sides of the pumpkin. Place on a baking tray in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 220°C. The pumpkin is ready when it’s soft and starting to brown a little. Turn at least once during the cooking time.

Meanwhile heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until softened a little, now add the lardons or bacon. Continue to cook on a medium heat for a further 7-8 minutes  until the lardons or bacon are browning, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

Once the pumpkin is roasted add it to the onions and bacon and cook for a further couple of minutes then add the stock. Bring to the boil and leave on a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.

After ten minutes of simmering remove the soup from the heat and whiz thoroughly, I usually use a stick blender to do this as it’s much less washing up than a processor or blender!. Taste the soup and add a generous grinding of black pepper to suit, it’s unlikely you’ll need more salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and stock. Thin down with water to make to your desired thickness. We tend to eat our soups really thick as they’re easier for the wee ones to spoon.

Here’s some other Chez Foti soup recipes: Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup), Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

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