I apologise for lack of posts! Working two occupations has left little time for cooking experiments and I've fallen into the trap of cooking from the books. But now that I have a bit of time to breathe I should have a few up for you in the next couple of weeks.
Autumn is my favourite time of year. The vibrant red and gold leaves against muted browns and sparkling green moss; the mellow warmth of an afternoon and the crisp cool evenings when Mr Sprout lights the fire and we settle in for the evening. The harvest has been gathered and the farmers markets and the grocer are full of the bounty of a good summer. I feel we are spoilt for good local produce
in Australia, and especially the mountains where I live. Despite my lack of input this last season (although I was full of good intentions, not full of time) the garden managed to produce without me. We have plenty of spuds, and I have been making potato bakes - good comfort food. The pumpkin vine managed to produce 10 decent sized fruit, and the kale hasn't gone to seed so I've left it for the winter. We have oodles of purple garlic, some of which I replanted, and plenty of red shallots (also some of which was replanted). I even got in some early broad beans which have taken off - so not bad considering.
But what to do with the pumpkins? I made a pumpkin and chestnut tart, with roasted red shallots, spinach, mushrooms, sage, and garlic. All lovely autumn goodies. don't be daunted by making pastry. The beauty of this one is I did not blind bake, and it still cooked beautifully on the bottom. The trick is not to roll your pastry too thick. Freezing before baking I found helps prevent the pastry shrinking back too, and I didn't bother to let the dough rest before I rolled it. I don't know about you but letting the dough rest always means to me it goes too hard and I can't roll it, so I don't bother - putting it in the freezer works just as well, if not better. It's up to you.
2 cups plain flour
100 gr copha
50 gr nuttelex
cracked black pepper
Grate copha, and rub through flour with nuttelex until you have what looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add salt, and pepper to your taste (Mrs Bean and myself get a bit excited about pepper, but you can omit it if you like).
Add a little water, enough to bring the mixture together into a firm, slightly sticky dough. I typically use about 2 tablespoons, but on a warm day I may use a little more. Knead for a minute or two, and roll out to about 3 mm thick on a floured bench.
Press into a lightly greased tart tin (I used a long rectangular tin) and pinch the excess off the top. Put into the freezer while you do the filling, or you can cover and leave in the freezer until you need it.
2 cups cooked pumpkin, half of which needs to be mashed, the other half roughly chopped
1 large roasted red shallot bulb, chopped
5 large roasted chestnuts, chopped
small handful sage leaves
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
handful spinach leaves
small handful raisins or cranberries
1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp crushed coriander
Roast the pumpkin and shallots and allow to cool.
Mash one cup pumpkin and spread onto the base of the frozen tart shell.
Sprinkle remaining pumpkin pieces onto mashed pumpkin with other ingredients, and drizzle with garlic infused olive oil.
Place in a a 180C preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until pastry is light golden.