Butternut Pumpkin Risotto

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto with Chorizo flakes

So in lieu of actually writing a new post, I’m resorting to the quintessential one I prepared earlier… this was dinner from a few nights ago… however the recipe is a little ripper that I pulled together last year, formerly Double Pumpkin Risotto, but now refactored into single pumpkin (downsizing is inevitable these days).

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto

  • Risotto rice (Aborio, or even better Carnaroli)
  • Half a butternut pumpkin
  • Leek
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cream
  • Chicken stock
  • White wine (I used unwooded chardonnay, but i don’t think that’s significant, I just wanted to let you know)
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

How I Made Mine

This one will again be pretty short on specifics because I’ve made so many risottos that writing out the specific technique in detail again is like running my nails down a black board.

So suffice to say you make a risotto like you normally would. Fry the onions/leek/garlic in some butter or olive oil and then add the rice. Coat the rice in the veges and then add the wine, maybe a cup or so. Once the wine has absorbed, start adding the chicken stock (which has been simmering on the stove nearby) a ladle full at a time.

The different thing about this dish though, is the pumpkin purée. I made mine by chopping up the pumpkin into little chunks and putting it into a pot of salted water to boil until soft but not falling apart. When the boiled pumpkin is done, drain it, and put it into a blender along with some thickened cream, salt and pepper, and purée until it’s a nice smooth texture throughout. Seasoning or adding more cream until you get the consistency you’re after… which should be a thick liquid.

So once the risotto is about half way cooked, add the pumpkin purée and stir it through well. The moisture in the purée will continue to be absorbed by the rice, so let it simmer for a while and soften up, before finishing off with a good handful of grated parmesan. I also sprinkled chopped chorizo flakes over the top, which had been quickly fried til slightly crispy.

A delicious winter warmer if ever there was one…

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

For me, soup is soul food…

There is nothing better than a big hearty bowl of piping hot soup, that fills your belly and warms you up from the inside out.
Add to that some crusty bread to dip with, and soak up every last little drip, and you’ve got yourself the perfect lazy meal.
I have fond memories of Sunday nights as a child in our family. Mum was more than likely over the idea cooking anything fancy after spending all day preparing the Sunday roast.

So soup was the meal of choice. Served most of the time, with tray after tray of fresh scones and cinnamon scrolls.

So after casually mentioning to Dee that she should perhaps brush the cobwebs off her oven and make some of it, I figured I’d better make a batch of my own.

So here goes:


  • Butternut Pumpkin (I used a big half, maybe half a kilo)
  • 2 Chillis (or less if you dont want it too spicey)
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds, salt, black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Tablespoon or so of fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • A good handful of fresh coriander

How I made mine
This is a really simple recipe… You basically want to roast all your veges together in the spice mix, and then blend it all up. So i chopped up the pumpkin, onion, chillis, peeled garlic, and threw them into a roasting pan. Then over that lots of lovely extra virgin olive oil, and the spice/seasoning mixture which has been roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle.

Into a hot oven for as long as it takes to get the pumpkin soft, and we’re good to go.

Ready to blend Still Ready to Blend
Then out of the oven, into a blender. I’ve been having trouble with my blender, so after getting everything in there I realised I’d have to take it all back out and use the food processor instead, which was just as good, although probably didn’t get it as fine as the blender should have… but hey…this is soup… chunky is good.

So throw in all the veges, the coriander, the ginger, and the coconut cream and blend away until you’ve got it to the consistency you want. I’d say somewhere in between thickened cream and a slow moving porridge would be great.

Post Blending... now processing

After the blending… you can either put it into a pot and heat it back up… and play with the consistency/flavours a bit more (which is what I did), or just pour it out into bowls and serve with some nice thick pieces of bread, and perhaps some sour cream / parsley / fresh coriander / chives / whatever the hell you want… to garnish.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup

Now curl up on the couch, sup away at your hearty bowl of soup… and pray the weekend never ends.

Lamb Roast

Roast dinners were my staple when I was growing up. Every Sunday without fail, that magical smell would waft out of the kitchen, lamb, parsnip, pumpkin, potato, peas, carrots, mint sauce, and lots of gravy. We looked forward to it every week, perhaps the one meal we never got tired of (God knows tuna mornay and macaroni cheese had their day).

So this meal was a bit of change to Mum’s original method for cooking a roast. I found a nice leg of lamb at the butchers, and feeling industrious, decided to bone it out and butterfly it myself. A relatively simple procedure, although it’s just as easy to ask the butcher to do it for you.

Once I’d got the bone out, and scored the outside and butterflied the inside… It was all systems go with herbs and spices. A good slosh of nice olive oil and a solid covering of maldon sea salt and cracked pepper, then push as much rosemary as will fit into every little gap you can find. I also made up a spice mix in my funky new mortar and pestle, it was coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns.

My secret crush

So a coating of the spice mixture went over the seasoned lamb, which was then thrown into a roasting dish and plied with libations of a spicy shiraz I happened to have somehow forgotten to finish.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb

The flavours were already building, and so into the oven it went to cook on a medium low heat (about 150 C) for around 3 hours or so. A covering of aluminium foil (or aluminum of you’re North American, or tin if you’re from NZ), to keep the heat in and stop it from drying out too quickly, and off to get the veges ready.

Dan and Mabes turned up soon enough, with more lovely Shiraz procured the day before from Sandalford in the Swan Valley, and so we cracked the bottle while we waited for the rest of the vegetables to cook.

I had some really nice Kestrel potatoes that are perfect for roasting. I also had some japanese pumpkin and a nice bulb of fennel.
(I’ve just realised I’m using perhaps the worst adjectives in history here. Why do I keep refering to everything as ‘nice’ ? Hrmm, like you need justification that I haven’t been using rancid vegetables or something… anyway)

So sliced it all up into roastable chunks, onto a roasting dish, did the usual mantra of adding olive oil, salt, pepper, spices, and then into the oven for as long as it takes to get them nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (Actually I cheated and preboiled the potatoes a bit).

The rest was simply waiting and watching and smelling. A glass or two of Shiraz all round and an account of how much effort was involved in getting it, and it was time to dish up.

The lamb was amazing. Lamb is perhaps one of the most luscious comestibles I can think of, when prepared just right. Encrusted with herbs and spices, wallowing in a rich red wine marinade… waiting to soak up every precious little bit of flavour…
The meat was done to a perfect medium… soft delicate and moist. I took the lamb out of the pan and sliced it up, then putting the roasting dish back on the stove top, adding a little cornflour and thickened up the red wine and pan juices to make a delicious gravy.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking, but in a word… delicious. A lovely relaxing night with close friends, great wine, and great food.

My Lamb Roast

Lamb Roast

Pink is the new black

Fancy Aglio Olio

Fancy Aglio Olio

Some days laziness pays off. It was late, I was tired, Sharon was tired, the fridge was basically empty except for a few slightly mouldy looking vegetables and the cupboard was bare ( and so the poor dog had none ).

So I starting my normal routine of sifting through the usable ingredients from those that would be best confined to a hazardous materials containment area. What I came up with was.


  • Pumpkin (over 75% of usableness)
  • Spices (lots of, to roast the pumpkin with)
  • Basil (wilting, but still flavoursome)
  • Pasta (dried :( )
  • Chorizo (didn’t know I had any, but cured, so should still be good)
  • Cherry tomatoes (the ones at the bottom were all smooshed, but the ones on top were still good)
  • Olive oil (I have lots of it now… which i’ll be writing about soon)
  • Garlic (enough to scare off a coven of persistent vampires, always handy)

I started by peeling and chopping the pumpkin, then covering it will all the spices I could find (ok, not all of them, but a few), which was coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dried chilli, salt, pepper. Then drizziling them in olive oil and roasting them on a tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes or so.

I then chopped the cherry tomatoes, chopped some garlic, mixed the garlic and tomatoes together with lots of olive oil and the chopped basil, started frying to chopped up chorizo, and then added the tomato mixture. Let that all soften up a little and then threw in the pasta (which had been secretly boiling in a large pot with a little salt and olive oil the whole time). Stir it all around, add lots more olive oil, some crushed garlic, the roast pumpkin, and some more olive oil for good luck.

What you get is fancy aglio olio (garlic & oil) :)

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Pasta with Chorizo

Just the thing to hit the spot after a hard night of lying of the couch, playing video games, watching downloaded episodes of Little Britain (Computer says no…), and generally mooching about. Sharon gave it the thumbs up and so I have another quickie to throw into the repetoire.

5 things to always have in the cupboard for gourmet emergencies

  1. Dried Pasta
  2. Canned Tomatos
  3. Risotto Rice
  4. Sea Salt and Black Peppercorns
  5. Liquid chicken stock

5 things to always have in the fridge for gourmet emergencies

  1. Milk
  2. Fresh basil and spinach (if not in the garden)
  3. Chorizo (Or equivalent pork based sausage product)
  4. Onions & Garlic (my garlic actually lives on my bench)
  5. Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Let me know if you can think of anything to add to those lists.

Chicken Kofta with Roast Pumpkin Salad

Chicken on a stick

I was in a real hurry to go and play tennis with Steve (he’s been promising to thrash me for a while now). So this was basically the quickest thing i could think of to make that still required some creativeness (and didn’t involve opening any cans of processed food).

I had some chicken mince that i bought ages ago and can’t remember why, and half a pumpkin and half a bag of tomatoes that needed to be used.

So the recipe for the Koftas:


* Chicken mince
* Garlic (crushed)
* Onion, chopped finely
* Red chilli, chopped finely
* Bread Crumbs
* Coriander, Basil (basically any soft herbs you like) roughly chopped
* Tumeric
* 1 Egg

For the Salad

* Pumpkin (cut into bite sized pieces)
* Tomato (quartered)
* a few cloves of garlic
* Olive Oil
* Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
* Salt and Cracked Pepper


Basically just mix all the ingredients for the koftas together with your hands, until its a nice sticky consistency that holds together well. Soak some kebab sticks in cold water for a while and shape the chicken into little cylinders. Push the sticks through the chicken and make sure they’re good and sealed. Then heat your grilling pan or bbq or whatever you like to cook on, and fry/grill the koftas until they’re nice and crispy on the outside, but still moist on the inside.

With the salad, i just roasted the pumpkin by putting it on a tray and nestling a few cloves of garlic in amongst it. Then liberally poured olive oil over the top and seasoned with salt and pepper. This roasted for probably 20 minutes or so (my pumpkin was quite soft already). Then when the chicken is basically done, you pull the pumpkin out of the oven, combine it with the tomato (which has not been cooked) and the basil, add a bit more olive oil for good luck, and some more cracked pepper, and you’re done.

To serve them i found a few more things in the fridge i needed to use, namely some sour cream, ginger paste, a lime, and some more basil. I just combined all of these in a bowl (i would normally have processed it, but i had literally 10 minutes to eat before i needed to leave), and dolloped it on top.

This meal took me literally half an hour to prepare and make… So i was pretty happy with how it turned out. Plus i won the game of tennis, better luck next time Steve :)

Fresh Artichoke Ravioli with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Fresh Artichoke Ravioli with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Feeling mildly adventurous, i decided to make some pumpkin flavoured/coloured pasta. So in thinking what i’d like to have with it i found some nice fresh artichokes. Then decided to use the artichoke in the dish, and fill the pumpkin pasta with
spinach and ricotta (as you do).

The sauce was then made up of left over pumpkin, cream, basil, white wine, and salt and pepper.
Basically the pumpkin sauce was made by boiling the pumpkin in salted water (although you could also roast it for a more intense flavour) until its pretty soft. Then pureed in a blender til it’s a thick gloopy consistency.

I then folded that pumpkin puree into the pasta to give it a pumpkiny flavour and colour, and used what was left in the sauce.

So that was simply adding the puree, cream, white wine, salt, pepper to a hot pan with a little butter. I’m not good with measurements because I generally cook by sight and taste… but say 100 ml of cream and 50ml of white wine.
Just reduce it down til the alcohol isn’t so strong from the wine, and til you get the consistency you’re after.
When it’s basically done you throw a little chopped parsley (flat leaf) or basil in, and then toss through the ravioli.

Stuffed and folded the ravioli, cooked them quickly… boiled the artichokes, then combined it all together. I was suprised it turned out pretty nice.

The artichokes were so tasty… must find an excuse to use them more often.

***updated with a few more details a year or so later… but hey, who’s counting :) ***