My my, my American style pumpkin pie…

It started with a pair of pumpkins. My boyfriend arrived home with the suggestion of a carving challenge, but I fancied a cooking challenge!

Pumpkins

Pair of Pumpkins

If you think about it, there aren’t many obvious things to make with a pumpkin, other than soup or pumpkin pie. I searched online and through cook books for inspiration but decided since I hadn’t ever made pumpkin pie that I’d give it a go.

Pumpkin

The Victim

I searched through various pumpkin pie recipes and loosely based it on Felicity Cloake’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe. I added bourbon instead of rum, allspice instead of ground cloves (I couldn’t be bothered to grind up my whole cloves!) and also made my pastry really easily in my Magimix.

I started by roasting the pumpkin, which was different to the BBC Good Food Pumpkin Pie Recipe which calls for boiling. After roasting, the pumpkin is peeled, whizzed up to a puree then strained over a sieve to remove the liquid (there was loads!).

Roasting Pumpkin

Roasting Pumpkin

I hadn’t made pastry myself for years so thought it would be nice to give it a go. I overfilled the pastry a little and had excess too, so filled my little pumpkin coloured Le Crueset pots and made a couple of baby pies too.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie & Mini Pie

Sadly, I didn’t quite cook the pastry enough on the blind bake, so created myself a bit of a soggy bottom! The pie was delicious though, and was the perfect end to a delicious American Feast! It wasn’t too sweet, had a lovely autumnal feel to it and a perfect amount of spice. Despite the soggy bottom, the pastry was deliciously crisp round the edges.

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Look out for my next post which will include Tom Kerridge’s amazing fried chicken, the star of the feast! What will you be making with pumpkin this Autumn? Let me know if you have any recipe ideas!

I’ve started blogging at www.fabulousfoodfinds.co.uk so if you want the most up to date posts and news, please sign up to posts by email, or follow there. Thanks!

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BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award Winners 2013/14

I’m delighted to announce the winners of the BBC Good Food Show Bursary Scheme for this year. After months of accepting applications, carefully reading through, sorting through hundreds of samples and finally tasting them all at the BBC Good Food kitchens we’ve selected the deserving winners and here they are!

BBC Good Food Show Scotland – Glasgow, 18 – 20 October, SECC

BBC Good Food Show London – Olympia, 15 – 17 November

BBC Good Food Show Winter, 27 Nov – 2 December, NEC

BBC Good Food Show Summer, 11 – 15 June 2014, NEC

Don’t forget to visit them at the shows and show your support by buying from these outstanding British producers!

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Macarons and More – Tim Kinnaird’s Beautiful Shop

You might remember the brilliant Tim Kinnaird from MasterChef a few years back? The one with Tim, Alex and Dhruv Baker in the final three and Dhruv ended up winning? Well, after the show, Tim went on to develop his own patisserie business, Macarons & More and recently realised his dream by opening his very own shop, by the same name, in the Royal Arcade, right in the centre of the fine city of Norwich.

Shop Front

Macarons

In addition to the fabulous selection of macarons you will find the ‘more’ which certainly exceeds expectations! You’ll find flavoured marshmallows, meringues, pastries, bread, amazing brownies, hot chocolate, nut brittle and lots more! You can also buy a fantastic coffee or tea to drink in or take away to compliment your sweet goods.

Marshmallows

I dare you to resist the gold and silver brownies…

Brownies

Artisan bread comes from a brilliant local baker.

Breads

The shop displays and windows are beautiful, inspirational and made to make your mouth water!

Macarons and More Window

Favours

Window Display

My selection of macarons were the perfect chewy texture, full of flavour and gorgeous to look at. After much deliberation I went for peanut butter and jam which is a classic combination but utterly perfect in a macaron, salted caramel which was buttery, creamy and slightly salty and cappuccino which had a great coffee kick to it.

Macarons

If you can’t get yourself to Norwich, you can buy online or find Tim’s Macarons & More at the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2013, handily overlooking the MasterChef theatre!

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Award Winning Black Pudding from The Fruit Pig Company

I love black pudding, so when I heard about a local producer winning a rather special award from the French for his fresh blood black pudding, I couldn’t help but find out more. What is Matt Cockin’s The Fruit Pig Company doing so well to win a coveted award from the French? I asked if I could pay him a visit and learn some secrets behind his success, and he was delighted to accept!

Matt Cockin

Matt Cockin sources his pigs from local farms and small holdings that he knows and trusts. I was lucky enough to visit one of the small holdings which is located just outside Wisbech (on the borders of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire) and had a great time with the pigs and getting out in the fresh air!

Now, these pictures are pretty cute, so please do bear in mind that these lovely pigs live a great life and the reality is that they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the demand of us meat-loving humans wanting to eat them. It’s also important to understand and appreciate that meat was once a live animal and we should all try to buy the best standard of meat we can afford, or perhaps cut down rather than buying lots of cheap, unethically reared meat.

The farm (or I should probably say small holding) owner loves his pigs, and you can tell that they live happy and fulfilling lives.

Matt really knows his pigs but has chosen to stick to what he does best with the butchery and charcuterie making – all the better for us I say!

Matt warned me that his unit probably wouldn’t live up to my expectations of a traditional wooden shack or cottage out in the country – instead I found a functional, spotlessly clean unit in a business park, which ticks all the boxes for what Matt needs to make his delicious black pudding, sausages and other meaty goods.

Most black pudding producers in the UK use dried blood to make their black puddings. It is rare to find a producer using fresh blood, which takes a lot more effort to do. Marc Frederic, a well respected British Charcutier, is an advocate of using fresh blood in black pudding. In fact, when Matt was experimenting with recipes he asked Marc for his opinion – Marc wouldn’t even taste a dried blood version!

So now it gets a little gruesome… but what did you expect from a post about blood pudding?! Matt has to be super quick to collect the blood from his slaughtered pigs – if he’s too late, the blood starts to coagulate and clot, like our own blood would. As soon as possible he must add the oats, so has a great system for doing this (no secrets given away here!) but he does have to get up ridiculously early to do it! It makes him realise why so many producers take the easy option and use dried blood!

By the time I reached the unit, the oats and blood had already been mixed, but the colour was still shockingly vibrant.

Fresh Blood Mix

So, aside from the obviously good fresh blood, what were Matt’s secrets to the success of his award-winning black pudding? Unfortunately somethings have to be kept exactly that – secrets! Matt mixed his added ingredients before I arrived so I couldn’t tell what was in there – clever man! I did take a good snoop at all the ingredients on his shelves though…

Secret Spices

Secret Ingredients

Oatmeal is a key ingredient in their black puddings – as with all blood puddings there needs to be a binding agent, which is usually some kind of grain like barley or rice but in England oats are usually used.

Oatmeal

Fat is also added to the black pudding, which Matt melts down to give an even consistency to the pudding.

Mincing Fat

The mixture is stuffed into black skins and then placed in a water oven to cook through. I didn’t know, but black pudding is actually cooked when you buy it, so all it needs is a warm through, and for me a little bit of crispness!

Black Puddings

The Fruit Pig Company’s black pudding has a flavour and texture that is definitely worth the extra effort that Matt puts in. It almost has a creaminess to it, which adds to the rich, meaty flavour and crumbly texture.

Black Pudding

Every year in the old French market town Morgagne-au-Perche, over 600 black puddings from across the globe are judged by the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Pudding. The festival runs over 3 days with the aim of uncovering the very best black puddings in the world. Matt did England proud by bringing back a silver medal – congratulations!

The Fruit Pig Company don’t only do black pudding… they also have a delicious range of flavoured sausages, bacon, meat joints and other charcuterie items too. I asked whether he was doing anything about the pulled pork trend – of course! Matt opened up an upright smoker and lo and behold shelves full of pork joints smoking ready to be sent out to chefs for pulled pork!

Pulled Pork Shoulders Smoking

I think it’s important to support producers that make this kind of effort with their produce – The Fruit Pig Company work hard to produce a quality product and deserve our attention and custom. Luckily if you aren’t local enough to visit the Creake Abbey or Kings Lynn farmers markets then you can buy online from their online butchery.

If you are keen to find out more about black pudding, and the festival organised by the Knights of the Black Pudding, listen to the brilliant Radio 4 Food Programme on the subject.

If you’d like to see more pictures from my farm visit – take a look at my Flickr page.

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BBC Good Food Show Summer 2013 Highlights

I’ve just about recovered from the BBC Good Food Show Summer – as ever it was an awesome show, with well over 100,000 food and gardening lovers coming through the doors! I’m still buzzing with inspiration after meeting so many fantastic producers, chefs, bloggers and food lovers during the show. Here are a few of my highlights, I’m afraid I was having too much fun to take many photos so you will have to use your imagination for some of it!

Backstage snacking

As part of the show team I get backstage access so on Emily Cloke‘s birthday we took some Ooo Meringues behind the Belling stage and ate them with the lovely Simon Diss… then along came Rachel Allen who is even more beautiful and lovely in real life as she looks on the TV!

Katy Truss and Emily Cloke

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Brompton Cookery School AKA Marcus Bean’s new gaff!

Earlier this month I was invited to the launch of the lovely Marcus Bean’s new cookery school and B&B – Brompton Cookery School and Bed and Breakfast. It is a beautiful farm conversion nestled into the stunning Shropshire countryside, with bed and breakfast accommodation, state of the art cookery school, kitchen gardens and incredible views across the surrounding National Trust estate. Of course, all this made so much better by Marcus Bean and his beautiful family at the helm, after recently purchasing the business.

Marcus Bean

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The Midlands’ Best Street Food!

I’ve been delighted to be involved in the BBC Good Food Show‘s search for the Midland’s Best Street Food, and so excited that the winners have now been announced! I haven’t yet tried food from any of these amazing sounding vendors so am really looking forward to lunching with them at the upcoming Summer Show! They were all mystery shopped by the BBC Good Food Shows’ Midlands Blogger Community, so we know they are of the highest quality in terms of product, service, use of fresh, local ingredients and creativity.

And the winners are…

Ross and Ross – Slow Roasted locally sourced lamb and homemade Salsa Verde, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

Fresh Roots – Vegetarian and Vegan World Food, from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Jabberwocky – Gourmet Toasties, from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Squisito Deli– Italian food made using fresh local ingredients, from Rugby, Warwickshire

So that’s four days of lunches sorted! I cannot wait to meet them and find out more about what they do. Look out for them outside of the halls amongst the RHS show gardens, you may just see me there!

Oh, and if you would like 15% off tickets just quote KT15 either on the phone or in the promotional code box!

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