pumpkin-seed pasta sauce

pictures of pumpkin seeds soaking in water, sauce in a saucepan, and a plate of pasta in sauce, peas and coleslaw.

A while back, someone over at the Post Punk Kitchen forums started a thread about iron-rich recipes. Since I’ve been eating a lot of pumpkin over the past few months, including seeds, and because I like to check out the nutritional content of my food, I recently became aware that pumpkin seeds are a really good source of iron, and suggested a variant on the Post Punk Kitchen sunflower macaroni cheese recipe. I was asked if pumpkin seeds got creamy in the sauce and had to confess that I hadn’t tried it. Well, now I have, and they do!

I had to make a couple of subs/omissions due to the challenge: I didn’t have any nutritional yeast, which Isa mentioned in the recipe comments as being necessary for texture. I put a tablespoon of oats in the blender instead of that and hoped for the best. I didn’t have any tomato purée and couldn’t find any very small tins when I went shopping. I wasn’t going to buy a tube because I hardly ever use it, so I put in twice the amount of some jarred pasta sauce. Obviously I omitted the sunflower seeds and used pumpkin seeds instead, and I halved the recipe as I wasn’t sure how well it would work, however I was very pleased with the taste of the final pasta dish, which I served with leftover pumpkin coleslaw and peas.

I had to buy pasta and carrots for the recipe, which I got from Morrisons. I was also after some green veg, but after weighing up my options (literally weighing all the piece-priced items on the in-store scales), I opted for a red cabbage as the best balance between value and nutrient-density.


I bought carrots for 85p, cabbage for 79p, value pasta at 29p and a not-strictly-necessary jar of value marmalade for 27p. I plan on using this last item for some baking experiments and then using the jar for some home-made preserves of some kind. It seems it’s way cheaper to buy jars this way than it would be to buy them empty, unless you’re getting tons of them.

That lot came to £2.20, so I’ve still got bus fare for a journey or two.

Pie! (£100 challenge – day 25)

The pie was pretty tasty! I used the same almond crust as the cherry-almond pie I made for MoFo, but just used whole almonds – if they’re going to get blended anyway there’s no real advantage to using slivered almonds unless those happen to be cheaper. The filling was also from the Post Punk Kitchen/Vegan Pie in the  Sky book, from the pumpkin cheesecake recipe, only I was out of a few ingredients. I had no bananas so left them out. I used about 1 2/3 cups of roasted pumpkin instead of canned, had no coconut oil so I just left that out and put an extra spoon of cornstarch in. I also had no lemons so I put a quarter teaspoon of citric acid and two tablespoons of water in. Oh, and I didn’t have any pecans, so I just left the nut topping off – the filling seemed pretty sweet already, plus it meant we got to see the marbling a bit better ( night-time photo doesn’t quite pick it up).

There was spare piecrust mix, so I popped that in a small oblong dish and topped it with my chestnut truffle recipe, only of course I used the last of my rum the previous time, but fortunately there was just over a tablespoon of brandy left.

Both desserts were really nice, although they didn’t have the several hours of fridge cooling they deserved, so weren’t as firm as they could have been.

For the main course, Rich made delicious panfuls of food. We had cabbage sabzi (not sure of the spelling!), braised kale and chestnuts, roasted butternut squash with whole roasted cloves of garlic, runner beans in tomato sauce, and onion gravy flavoured with juniper. A great meal with lovely people! 🙂

By today, I could be up to a spend of £80.64, but haven’t had to buy anything since Monday so I’m still on a total month’s spend of £67.79. Dare I go into town to buy tissues? Will I be able to just spend that pound or will I suddenly spot loads of things that seem like too good a bargain to pass up?…

almond and cherry custard pie

Welcome to pie-day Friday!


Not sure why, but I’ve been hankering after desserts featuring set custard for a while now.  Possibly my recent talk of jellies has made me think of other smooth yet jiggly puddings, or it could be that there seems to have been a lot of discussion of trifle round and about, perhaps kicked off by this very brave attempt to emulate Rachel from Friends’ tradition trifle/cottage pie recipe – http://www.laughfrodisiac.com/4/post/2013/09/veganmofo-veganizing-friends-rachels-english-trifle.html

Whatever the reason, there was nothing to stop me from making a custard dish of some description, as I had both corn flour and custard powder, along with soya milk, sugar and a variety of flavourings. As usual, I had a good nosey at other people’s ideas and was inspired by Isa’s pastry recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen – http://www.theppk.com/2009/09/press-in-almond-crust/

I made up a batch of that, and since the Pyrex casserole dish I was using as a pie dish only measured 8 inches across I had some pastry left over for making some mini pies too.  Having gone renegade already, I further messed with the recipe by using water instead of almond milk, as I didn’t have any. If it had occurred to me that I would shortly be opening a litre of soya milk I could have used some of that instead, but I’m still a bit ill, so not thinking that logically.

It seems like a long time since I made anything with a press-in crust, have to say I messed around with it a bit, trying to get it evenly spread and I don’t think I did that good a job, although the clear Pyrex was useful for holding it up to the window to see where light came through more.


That was baked for 15 minutes at 180/350, and while that was going on I set about improvising a custard.

Lately my custards haven’t been doing what I want them to. Fairly recently I tried to make a German-style lemon buttercream to go on a carrot cake and ended up with lemon curd instead, and my last attempt at a set custard came nowhere near the sort of jiggly bounce I was after, so I really went to town on the cornflour this time, and added in some firm tofu for good measure.

Although there was a certain charm about the idea of a simple vanilla and almond custard pie, I did think it might be boring to eat a whole one, so I rootled through the cupboards and found a weeny 42g jar of morello cherry jam, and a packet containing about 60g dried sour cherries. I spread the jam around the base of the cooked pie crust and sprinkled the cherries over before embarking on the custard.

Vanilla Almond Custard recipe:

1 pint of soya milk
7 tablespoons cornflour
about 1/3 cup sugar (yeah, I mixed cups with imperial measures. Whatcha gonna do about it??!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
200g firm tofu


put the cornflour, tofu and about 1/5 of the soya milk in a blender and whizz until the tofu is incorporated and you have a thick cream.

Put the rest of the soya milk in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat, and whisk in the tofu-cornflour cream and the vanilla and almond flavourings, and whisk until very thick. It won’t take long, so on no account stop stirring or it will catch and/or go lumpy.

Pour over the pie crust.

At this point there are two choices. You can leave it to set, possibly having sprinkled some toasted flaked almonds over the top for decoration and texture, or you can do what I did, which was stick it, and most of the tiny pies into the oven. I had it on a very low heat, but when I looked after 20 minutes the almonds hadn’t changed colour so I whacked it right up to near the top heat for ten minutes to get them looking a bit more crunchy.

For comparison, I filled one of the tiny pies with just the custard and allowed it to set without baking. It did taste pretty good, I would strongly consider going that route in future, as I’m not sure the baking added anything to this sort of pie. However, an unbaked custard would undoubtedly stop the almonds from being crunchy more quickly, so it might be something that would work best being made and served on the same day, whereas there’s no way I’m going to get through a whole custard pie this weekend… although, having just tasted it, I might do that quite easily after all. Lovely thick vanilla-almond custard, juicy and tart cherries and buttery pastry. I know I shouldn’d say this as I made it but it’s really good!