Tag: pumpkin

Pumpkin gnocchi with Saint-Nectaire sauce

Now that the kids are back to school, it’s time for me to play. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to sip my morning coffee, nibble on a butter croissant, read the news, bookmarked blogs and even some magazines. But one glance at the autumn colours on our kitchen table is all it takes for me to surrender to my cooking instincts. Thanks to my friend Dania’s latest pumpkin offerings (see previous post), I got inspired to make something creative. I took out the potato peeler, one egg, nutmeg, flour and turned my workplace into a Jackson Pollock playground.

What better way to enjoy the start of the fall season than with pumpkin gnocchi. These little orange pillows are so delicious with a sweet nutty aftertaste, to be devoured with a rich Saint-Nectaire cheese sauce. It’s the cheese that reminds me most of autumn, with its hazelnut and mushroom hints. Another reason to love France! Let’s start the season and indulge.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
500 g pumpkin/ 1 pound
250 g plain flour/ 2 cups
1 egg
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Extra flour, for dusting
A good pinch of salt and pepper

For the sauce:
200 ml double cream/ 1/2 cup
150 g Saint-Nectaire cheese/ 1/2 cup (you can replace this with any of your favourite cheese)
A handful of chopped walnuts

Peel and deseed pumpkin, slice in medium-sized cubes and cook in salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Purée pumpkin in a food processor until smooth, return to pan and dry-out the mash for a few minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin mash, flour, salt, pepper egg and nutmeg. Use your hands to mix the dough – it has to be slightly sticky leaving the side of the bowl. Divide dough into four sausage shaped rolls, and roll each portion gently on a slightly floured surface, about 1.5 cm thick. Slice dough into little cubic ‘pillows’, approx. 1.5-2 cm each. Sprinkle flour on gnocchi to prevent them from sticking.

In a small saucepan, heat cream, bring to a gentle boil and lower heat. Add slices of Saint-Nectaire cheese. When the cheese has melted, set the sauce aside.

Cook gnocchi in a large pan of salted boiling water (on a high heat) by batches if necessary. As soon as they rise to the surface, they are cooked and ready to be served. Drain.

Serve immediately with the Saint-Nectaire cheese sauce. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, salt and pepper to taste.

A simple September feast

Lately we have been enjoying more vegetables than ever thanks to the season’s harvest. Tomatoes, zucchinis and pumpkins are part of our everyday meals, and I have been enjoying coming up with new ideas on how to cook them. It brings such a sense of achievement to have grown, picked and cooked food that is so fresh, and it’s been nice to take a break from meat. However, yesterday, my appetite screamed for a juicy entrecôte steak. Sometimes a sublimely grilled steak is unbeatable. Teamed with a ballon de rouge (glass of red wine), I can’t think of a more utopian meal. Simple and perfect.

As a side dish, I usually prepare a Béarnaise sauce and french fries, or steamed spinach drizzled with olive oil and lemon. Since I am cooking in a pumpkin themed week, I wanted to make an opulent classic pumpkin gratin with Comté cheese (just like my grandmother’s version), but I also wanted to try a very simple roasted version with olive oil, rosemary and garlic. They are very easy to prepare so I made both. The kids preferred the roasted version, the adults loved the gratin version. I loved both.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

2-3 good-quality entrecôte steak – (my cuts are very large, so 2-3 are enough)

Pumpkin gratin with Comté cheese:
600 g pumpkin (deseeded, diced in cubes and peeled)
2 eggs
150 g grated Comté cheese (or any of your favourite cheese)
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche
1 small clove of garlic
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Wash, peel and deseed pumpkin (if you want to save time just boil with the skin on and slice off when cooked – it will be much easier). Dice coarsely in cubes and place in a large pot of salted water (1 litre). Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Return to pot and ‘dry’ out the mash on a medium heat stirring constantly for 3 minutes. This will dry it out and prevent it from being too watery when baked as pumpkin is a very watery vegetable. Place mash in a bowl, add eggs, 1/3 of the cheese, crème fraîche, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Rub garlic all over roasting pan. Place mash in the roasting pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake in a preheated oven (200°C) for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden on top.

Roasted pumpkin with rosemary and garlic:
500 g pumpkin (sliced in a crescent shape, skin left on)
A bunch of rosemary
Olive oil to drizzle
5 cloves of garlic (unpeeled and cut in two)
Coarse sea salt and pepper to season
Parchment paper

Wash pumpkin, slice in a crescent shape and deseed. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper and place sliced pumpkin. Drizzle with olive oil, season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook in a preheated oven (200°C) for 30 minutes or until golden, turning them over midway.

Cooking the entrecôte:

Fry your steak on a griddle or frying pan. Heat a frying pan or griddle on a high heat, and when the pan gets very hot, add a tsp of oil. Fry steak on both sides – I like mine medium, so about 2 minutes on each side.

Here are three golden rules when cooking steak: 1) Always take out the meat from the fridge 1 hour before cooking. 2) Salt the steak before cooking it. 3) Do not move of touch the steak when cooking. Just let it sizzle.

Farkas, our latest baby (Smooth Fox Terrier).