7 November 2011

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

It's raining! That might not be a big deal where you live, but here in Doha it's an annual event for a few days at most, and today is the first day it is bucketing down. I may not be so excited about it in a few days time when the sandpit turns into a mudbath, but right not - having splashed and danced in the puddles with the little chefs, I'm feeling refreshed and happy.

It also gives me a good excuse to make my favourite spicy soup...

rain  =  winter  =  soup

I've had a pumpkin sitting in the fridge for a couple of weeks waiting patiently for someone to come and fix my oven. I'm giving up on that for now, and taking to the stove-top to turn this...

into this...

it's creamy and delicious with a refreshing hint of south east asia from the ginger and lemongrass, an earthiness from the ground coriander, a robust richness from the coconut milk, and a smidge of heat from the chilli. This is my idea of heaven in a bowl.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup
  • 1 small fresh red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 stem of lemongrass, center white part only, finely chopped
  • 3cm of ginger, finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 800 grams of chopped pumpkin flesh (about 1.5kgs pumpkin with skin and seeds)
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon chopped palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander


  1. Put the chilli, lemon grass, ground coriander, ginger, garlic and a little stock into a blender and blitz into a paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over medium eat for 5 minutesAdd the spice paste and stirfry for another minute.
  3. Add the pumpkin and stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until pumpkin is tender.
  4. Cool slightly, pop batches into a food processer or blender and blitz until smooth (I often freeze this mixture in 2 cup batches, ready to defrost, reheat and add other ingredients).
  5. Rinse out the pan, put the pumpkin puree back in, add the coconut milk, palm sugar and chopped coriander and reheat. Serve garnished with coriander (if the pumpkin is really sweet, leave out the sugar and squeeze in some lime to liven it up).
By the way the photos are before the coconut milk was added. I didn't have any in the pantry, so will reheat the soup later with the coconut milk and coriander.

4 November 2011

Baked Cheesecake

Where did October go? What a fun month, with Halloween and two birthdays it's always busy and I don't get much chance to get in the kitchen. I did make two cakes though - a moist vanilla cake for little chef number two, who doesn't like chocolate cake (or icing either), and a rich creamy baked cheesecake for the biggest cheesecake fan ever, hubby. I'll share the vanilla cake another time though do check out the photo, he is a huge Star Wars fan and I loved being able to put this together for him.

And here's the recipe for the cheesecake.

Baked Cheesecake with Berry Topping

For the base
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 140 grams digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar 
For the filling
  • 900 grams of cream cheese
  • 250 grams caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200 mls sour cream
For the topping
  • 500 grams frozen berries (I used cherries and strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
Combine the digestive crumbs, butter and sugar and press firmly into the base of a 20 inch springform tin, bake for 10 minutes at 180 degrees celsius (350 degrees fahrenheit) to set.

Beat the cream cheese with the sugar for 5 minutes until cream cheese is soft and sugar incorporated. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add  the lemon juice, sour cream, vanilla essence and flour and beat briefly until combined and creamy.

Pour the filling into the well greased springform tin, and bake at 180 degrees celsius (350 degrees fahrenheit) for 20 - 25 minutes. Check it for wobble'ness (I'm sure that's a real word, I think.) What you're looking for is a cheesecake that is set around the edges and still a little wobbly in the center. Turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven until the oven cools.

Pop the berries into a pan, add the sugar, bring it to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Cool completely and add some cointreau or brandy if you fancy.

Take the cheesecake out of the pan and smother with the berries. YUM!!!!