Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Healthy version – with metric measurements!

Homemade Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes!

Makes 18

Ingredients for pumpkin cupcakes:

100 grams plain flour

100 grams wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

20 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

100 ml sunflower oil

200 grams granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

150 grams solid packed, canned pumpkin puree
Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:

115 grams cream cheese, room temperature

25 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

175 grams confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

Garnish & decorations (optional)

chopped nuts, cinnamon and/or pumpkin candies

Instructions for pumpkin cupcakes:

Preheat oven (180 °C). Place rack in the middle of the oven.
Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and pumpkin puree, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.
Place in the oven and bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Place on a wire rack to cool.

Instructions for cream cheese frosting:

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the butter and beat until incorporated and smooth.
Add the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar and beat until fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes.
Garnish and decorate using nuts, cinnamon, or pumpkin candies (optional).

OTHER POINTS:

I used Libby’s Pumpkin Puree, which can be found in the UK in Waitrose or online from Ocado (currently cheaper from Waitrose!)

Ocado: http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Libbys-Pumpkin-Puree/29616011

Waitrose: http://www.waitrose.com/shop/ProductView-10317-10001-10003-Libby%27s+Pumpkin+Puree

Original recipe from The Joy of Baking: http://joyofbaking.com/cupcakes/PumpkinCupcakes.html

Borlotti Bean & Chestnut Stew

Borlotti Bean & Chestnut Stew

Celeriac Mash with Borlotti Bean and Chestnut Stew

Serves: 4
Dietary: vegan
Ingredients:
2 medium leeks, cut into thin rounds
2 tbsps olive oil
2 medium carrots, cut into thick rounds
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
4 sage leaves
2 large sprigs of rosemary
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml red wine
300ml water
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 bay leaf
2 fresh or dried red chillies, deseeded
4 tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tbsp shoyu
400g tin borlotti beans or 200g cooked borlotti beans
250g chestnuts, ready cooked
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Heat the olive oil in a large lidded saucepan and sauté the leeks until softened.
Add the carrots, garlic, sage, rosemary and oregano, cook for a few minutes with the lid on.
Stir in the flour, followed by the red wine, water, vegetable bouillon powder, bay leaf, chillies, tomatoes and shoyu.
Simmer for 20 minutes, until the carrots are tender but still have a bite to them.
Add the borlotti beans and chestnuts.
Check the seasoning and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Finish with chopped parsley and a twist of freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with Celeriac and Potato Mash

Tips: The most convenient chestnuts to use are the vacuum packed cooked chestnuts. If you use tinned chestnuts make sure they are un-sweetened.

Celeriac & Potato Mash

Ingredients:
250g celeriac, peeled and cubed
250g potatoes, peeled and cubed
40g capers, drained
1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp margarine or butter
freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Boil celeriac and potato until soft and mashable. Add the capers, parsley, mustard and margarine or butter to the celeriac mix and mash.
Season with lots of black pepper.

Party On My Plate

OTHER POINTS!

I didn’t buy shoyu but used low salt soy sauce instead.  The original recipe states to steam or microwave the celeriac and potato, or at least boil them separately.  I cubed them and boiled them together, with salt, for about half an hour and it worked fine. I also used olive oil to mix the mash instead of butter or magarine – butter isn’t vegan after all!  This lasted about a week in my cauldron and tasted better each day.

Recipe from Demuths Restaurant cookbook, also found here: http://www.demuths.co.uk/recipes/winter/borlotti_bean_and_chestnut_stew

Chocolate. Chocolate chocolate chocolate chocolate.

Everybody adores chocolate. Chocolate is good for Everybody.  These are 100% scientifically verified facts recently released from the School of the Television.  As I am a member of the community known as ‘Everybody’ I can confirm that I do indeed love chocolate thus thoroughly supporting this theory.  I took it upon myself to consume a range of chocolate to comment upon the health benefits and palatability.  Due to the cultural phenomenon known as ‘lunchtime’ and a distinct lack of the food product sandwiches,* I resorted to rapidly inhaling a chocolate bar.  To forestall the numerous expected accusations of ‘bias’, ‘favouritism’, ‘product placement’ and ‘pica’* I will call the chocolate bar by the assumed name of ‘Saturn Ring’.  As I expected, it was highly orally satisfying, or to use the technical term used in the Taste Industry ‘delicious’ and I enjoyed it greatly at the time.  However I was also aware that it was not beneficial to my health.  Nor was it in actuality bad for me, as long as I continue to limit the reign of the chocolate fiend I confess to possess within me.  As it transpired it was a very poor chocolate bar, poor due to its extremely high fat content, its tooth-melting quantities of sugar and the very low proportion of cocoa solids.  I have never in my short sugary years* made chocolate nor am I likely to ever make chocolate, yet I pass this brutal judgement on ‘Saturn Ring’ regardless.  Although my experience of fermenting cocoa beans can only truthfully be described with a clean unbroken window-pane, I still feel qualified enough to comment on chocolate.  This confidence in my chocolate quality analysis abilities arises from having consumed vast quantities of chocolate over time and less importantly from ingesting some literal knowledge about the ingredients and processes involved.  This leads to a potentially revolutionary way of chocolate analysis.  I know that I can comment on chocolate, discuss chocolate, and criticise chocolate without ever having made a chocolate bar myself.  I can recognise poor quality chocolate and good quality chocolate and enjoy or despise both.  It may be horrifying  when I dare to judge chocolate without ever having ground cacao nibs*, but if I know chocolate is lacking then that is what I know, regardless of how much time and effort went into making it.  I can say that without ever having liquefied cocoa mass.

Gosh I love chocolate.  More please.

 *1-          Sandwiches are a product of food?

*2-           Why is paper so delicious?

*3-           My years are shorter than your years.

*4-           It said it on Wikipedia! Wikipedia is the truth of the universe!