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Bucketloads of Pumpkin

The gift of an enormous pumpkin has left me scrabbling around for pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin and potato mash for Gastrobaby only made a small indentation, so next up was pumpkin soup. I considered an array of flavour combinations before hitting on caraway and ginger. If you’re not keen on caraway, you could try cardamom, ginger and nutmeg/cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for a sweeter soup, or reference Indian flavours with cumin and ginger/cumin and mustard seed. Or for a South East Asian twist, throw some lemongrass, chilli, ginger and garlic in a food processor¬† to make a paste and replace the double cream with coconut milk.

This soup is incredibly straightforward to make with very little chopping, allowing me to keep half an eye on Gastrobaby shuffling his way across the kitchen floor. I roasted the pumpkin, partly to add flavour, partly because that way seemed less labour intensive!


800g pumpkin

1 onion

1 tsp caraway seeds

30g fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped

750ml vegetable stock

salt and pepper to season

2 tbsp double cream

1. Begin by slicing the pumpkin into wedges, place these on a baking tray and put them in the oven, preheated at 180. Check these after about 20 mins, they should be soft and just beginning to turn brown at the edges.

2. Whilst the pumpkin roasts, chop the onion and saute on a low heat in a knob of butter for 10 mins, or until soft.

3. Grind the caraway seeds with a pestle and mortar then add to the onions along with the ginger. Continue to saute for a few minutes.

4. Add the roasted pumpkin and the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Blend before seasoning to taste, then stir in the cream.

¬†We ate this with soda bread, which can be made in under an hour. It can be difficult to find buttermilk, so I followed Gin and Crumpets’ recipe which substitutes a mixture of yoghurt and milk.


Improvised Oyster Chicken (gweilo style)

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Before marrying my Indian father-in-law, my Chinese mother-in-law was given a week long intensive course in Indian cookery, all under the watchful eye of her future mother-in-law. A week long course in Chinese cookery was (sadly) not my fate in the run up to our wedding, but I have been encouraged by Gastrodad to learn a few of his childhood favourites, with the promise that I would never hear the dreaded phrase, ‘it’s not as good as my mother’s’. Char kwei teow is the all time favourite (I have never managed to cook a decent version of this, so if anyone has a recipe they would recommend, I’d love to see it!), followed closely by Oyster Chicken (Penang style). A simple dish, for which a good many recipes are thrown up by a quick google search, but none of them seemed to match the dish my mother-in-law cooks, and since she doesn’t have it written down, I have created my own version.

1kg chicken thighs and legs

2 medium carrots

8-10 dried shiitake mushrooms

a chunk of fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp groundnut oil or vegetable oil

100 ml chicken stock/water

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine

1 tsp brown sugar

Serves 4

Soak the mushrooms in warm water until soft. Cut off the woody stem.

Pat the chicken dry and season it. Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the chicken on both sides. In the meantime, slice the carrots, chop the garlic, and julienne the ginger. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the garlic and ginger to the pan, stir frying briefly until fragrant. Mix the stock, oyster sauce, wine, soy sauce and sugar together in a bowl and add to the pan along with the carrots and mushroom. Put the chicken back in the pan, bring to a simmer and put the lid on. Cook for about 15 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with rice.