1. One pumpkin, so many meals. My boyfriend has started to despair of my ongoing pumpkin obsession. I currently have at least five in a basket in my kitchen at any one time, and buy a gorgeous slate blue Crown Prince every time I go to the market. This is no mean feat, as they weigh about three kilos. But it’s worth it for the luscious bright marigold flesh, with the texture of delicate fudge and a deep autumnal flavour. I’ve discovered that a single one of these pumpkins can be transformed into about eight different meals, which is pretty budget-friendly considering they cost £1.20 at my local market. I also grew my own pumpkin this year (top left) - a proud moment. Here are just some of the recipes I’ve enjoyed with pumpkin over the last two months – catch them while they’re still in the markets and have a go yourself:
- Spiced pumpkin and apricot scones (bottom left; my recipe on the AO blog here)
- Linguine with wild garlic pesto, crispy sage, toasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, roast pumpkin and parmesan (top middle)
- Thai-style pumpkin in sweet coconut milk
- Roast pumpkin with goat’s cheese, pomegranate seeds and gremolata (from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite)
- Pumpkin and ricotta bake with crispy sage
- Pumpkin risotto with roast purple carrots and pecan gremolata (bottom middle; recipe here)
- Roast partridge with pumpkin, figs, cider gravy and walnut gremolata (my recipe here)
- Stuffed acorn pumpkin with brie, cherry tomatoes, crispy sage and a rocket and pomegranate salad (based on this recipe)
- Roast pumpkin and blue cheese macaroni cheese (bottom right)
- Roast pumpkin wedges with caramelized onions, sun-dried tomato paste and fried halloumi
- Savoury pumpkin, orange and rosemary crumble (from Nigel Slater's Tender Part I)
2. Turkish eggs à la Kopapa. This summer I was invited by Time Magazine to a fantastic brunch event at Kopapa in Covent Garden, which saw me drinking a vodka cocktail before 12pm for the first time ever in my life (it also had peach and basil in, does that mitigate the hedonism somehow?), before tucking into a beautiful dainty glass of crunchy, nutty granola, creamy yoghurt and fresh fruit…followed by these eggs. THESE EGGS. It might sound a bit odd to put two poached eggs in a bowl with some garlicky yoghurt and call it breakfast. But when you then douse the lot in sizzling brown butter infused with fiery Turkish chilli flakes, parsley and dill, you’ll soon understand everything. You end up with a gloriously savoury, buttery bowl of creamy egg, punctuated with the freshness of herbs and the tang of yoghurt. Mandatory accompaniment: sourdough toast, to dip in the buttery yolk. It’s like egg and soldiers, but improved a hundred fold in that way only brown butter can facilitate. Since learning how to make this myself, I’m hooked. The recipe is here, on Great British Chefs. Incidentally, I would highly recommend dinner at Kopapa; the flavour combinations and unusual fusion food are fantastic, and I had one of the best dinners of my life there in the summer, including a meltingly tender pork belly with gooseberries and a salted caramel and fig tart so dense yet delicate it was like eating a buttery cloud.
3. Fresh coconuts. The other week I took the long-overdue step of buying a fresh, hairy coconut to use in a recipe. Whenever I’ve made recipes involving fresh coconut before, I’ve always shied away (no pun intended) from the prospect of breaking into one of these beasts and instead bought frozen coconut pieces from Asian shops, or those little boxes of ready-to-eat coconut chunks from supermarkets. But the other day they had sold out of the latter, and I was in a hurry and had no choice but to buy the intimidating whole version. A screwdriver and a sharp whack against the patio later, I had shards of shell filled with creamy flesh, which I scooped out with a spoon and shredded using a vegetable peeler to make this utterly delicious Ottolenghi salad (fabulous with any kind of Thai food). Far easier than I could ever have believed, and now I’m a convert – I’ve bought several fresh coconuts since. If you’ve never tried one before, take the plunge – it’s worth it for the delectably firm, refreshing coconut meat, which just isn’t the same frozen or pre-packaged.
4. A bowl of poached quinces. I can't get enough of their rosy, honeyed, translucent beauty. A bit like the pumpkins, I buy a few quinces most weeks whenever I can find them. I peel and core them then cut them into eighths, before lowering them into a light syrup of water, sugar and spices - sometimes simple vanilla, sometimes a medley of star anise, cloves and cinnamon - with half a lemon to stop them turning brown and to add piquancy. You should cook them on a very very low heat, covered with a circle of greaseproof paper and a pan lid, for an hour or so. This gives gloriously melting, tender results. You can use the quince slices in everything from a tarte tatin to a crumble to a lamb tagine, and they're delicious on porridge or muesli for breakfast.
5. Amazon Student. This month I’ve teamed up with Amazon to promote their student offering for Prime. For six months, students can trial Prime for free (and afterwards pay only £39 a year), giving you unlimited one-day delivery on millions of items, access to Prime Video and Prime Music (unlimited streaming of content), student offers and prize draws, and unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos. It’s a fantastic offer for students, particularly the one-day delivery, for those times when you need a book urgently for an essay and the library doesn't have it or, more importantly, for when you just can't wait more than a day to get your hands on an incredible new cookbook and start trying out recipes. I wish I'd had Prime a couple of years ago, when my induction hob smashed and I urgently needed a temporary portable one to make some homemade ricotta the following day (this may be just me, though). Click here for more information and to sign up – all you need is a university email address or proof of your student status.