Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Roasted pumpkin with macaroni goat’s cheese - Orange food part one

I love autumn. There’s something about kicking crisp honey-coloured leaves on a sunny morning, the smell of damp leaves on a rainy day and curling up with hot spiced apple juice by a log fire that means autumn is here. I also start to crave orange food: pumpkins, squash, carrots, oranges etc.

PA200022The sweetness of squash is something that goes wonderfully well the saltiness of goat’s cheese, which gave me the idea for this recipe. Also, I was inspired by 5 Star Foodie’s challenge to make macaroni cheese with a twist. Until now, I’ve only ever made a pretty straightforward macaroni cheese, so I was a bit sceptical setting-out on this!

During an action-packed afternoon off from work, in between trying to speed-read a book for our book group meeting, taking the kittens to the vets and rescuing various bits of furniture from the exploring kittens, I also made this:

Roasted pumpkin with macaroni goat’s cheese recipe

  • 300gr of squash, peeled, cored and cubed. (I used pumpkin, but I think it would be better with butternut squash)
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • A pinch of paprika
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 1 cup of macaroni
  • 25gr butter
  • 25gr plain flour
  • 1/2 pint milk, warmed slightly
  • A grate of nutmeg
  • 80gr hard goat’s cheese (this was all I had, it would be better with more!), grated PA200030
  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius and put a oven tray in to warm-up. Put the pumpkin in a pan of boiling water. Boil the pumpkin until it starts to soften slightly, about 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the pumpkin and put the oven tray with the olive oil, the chilli, cumin, paprika and a good grind of black pepper. Roast for about 15mins, or until the edges are crisp.
  3. Meanwhile, boil a pan of water and add the macaroni, cook according the instructions.
  4. In another pan, melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the milk.
  5. Return the heat and gradually bring to a simmer, you will need to stir frequently. When it has thickened, remove from the heat and add the cheese and nutmeg.
  6. Put the sauce and macaroni in a dish and stir to make sure they are combined well. Add the pumpkin and stir lightly so as not to turn the pumpkin pieces to mash.
  7. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees Celsius and place in the oven for 10 mins.

This a great dish to, but I would definitely use butternut squash in future and more cheese, just to really bring out the flavours.

This recipe is also being submitted to 5 Star Makeover: Macaroni and Cheese.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

How to skin a pheasant

I never thought I'd be writing on this topic, let alone doing it myself!

I enjoy eating meat, so given an opportunity to prepare our own I was determined not to bottle it. Vegetarianism would have been next if I'd found I couldn't stomach it. But, I did it! I'm so chuffed I managed to do this that I can't resist writing a small piece about it! If you think you'll find this offensive, please look away now.

I was slightly apprehensive before we started this morning, the pheasants had hung for three days so this morning's job was skinning and gutting. I'd been assured by a friend (who has prepared pheasants, ducks and geese before) that pheasants were easiest. I wasn't convinced.

PA180011Nick found a video on the internet (the obvious place to look!) about how to skin a pheasant, it was excellent. I would thoroughly recommend Mark Hinge's video to anyone else who has never done this before.
Feeling slightly strange about handling a dead animal for the first time (not counting the mice that the cats have brought in) we started by removing the wings, feathers, tendons and head. Amazingly, I was OK until this point. Next came removing the skin and innards. I hadn't expected the smell at this stage. It was awful. Having said that, I did get used to it and turning on the extractor fan helped!

The first one was completed as a joint effort between both of us; I tackled the next three by myself. We now have four pheasants sitting in the freezer, I can't quite believe it!

This probably sounds quite dippy to anyone who has done this before , but I was surprised at how different each bird was. Young, old, male, female, etc, all seemed to affect the colour and texture of the flesh as well as the weight of the animal. Why it shouldn’t, I’m not quite sure. I think I was just more aware it because of the close contact with the birds.

Now I'm not quite sure what to do with them, I'm thinking of a pie...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tail and pheasants

Tail between my legs. I feel rather sheepish.

I can’t believe I haven’t written a post for nigh-on six months. Shame on me. I’d love to use the excuse that I’ve been too busy, but isn’t everyone?

More honestly, the problem has been in my head. The blog was so enmeshed with my PhD that when it was over I reacted quite strongly against anything to do with the thesis. Even things which I loved, namely reading books (even novels) and writing Springtime. There was no real reason, other than I needed a break. However, the letter arrived on the mat last week saying that it has all been officially accepted (corrections as well)! That flimsy piece of paper with the University’s hologram shimmering in the corner actually means, ‘Life may now continue’!

I won’t give a long and tedious update on what I’ve been doing, but needless to say, it’s been foodie related. I have a whole host of posts that need to be written, starting with the plastic sack containing 4 recently dead pheasants that I came home to yesterday…