No, I do not have an identity crisis; I am fully aware that I am not American.

I am also aware that it is not Thanksgiving but what has that got to do with anything? I made pumpkin pie! And I am trilled!

When my mum arrived with a whole host of fruits and vegetables AND a pumpkin in tow I scratched my head; I felt like I was on the set of Food Network’s “Chopped”. Then a tiny voice said, “You can make pumpkin pie”……

After scouring recipes to find one that I could execute I settled for a version that I have explained step by step in this post.

I must stay though that the result was absolutely amazing. I honestly was pleasantly surprised.

So it all started with a pumpkin (obviously 🙂 )


Ingredients for the pumpkin filling
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (I made mine from scratch; the procedure follows below)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9-inch pie crust, follow the recipe in my post Easy as Pie 1

Process for making pumpkin purée.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius.

Take the top off the pumpkin so that you have a flat surface then carefully half the pumpkin using a cleaver knife. Using a metal spoon scoop out the seeds and the stringy membrane of the pumpkin. You may discard the seeds or keep them and roast them later.


Place the cleaned out pumpkins cut side down on foil or parchment paper lined baking tray and cooked them until a fork goes through the flesh easily (about 45 minutes – 60 minutes)


Allow to cool and carefully scoop out the flesh and place in the food processor. Blitz it until you have a smooth paste and then add the other ingredients; mix until well combined.


You may proceed to pour the filling in your chilled pie crust or you may choose to blind bake the pie crust first. I opted to blind bake my crust.

In order to blind bake your pastry simply cover the cover your crust with parchment and carefull place beans or rice in the cavity. I used decorative pebbles and they worked well.

Bake in a 230 degrees Celsius preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the edges of the crust turn a golden brown colour.


Once cool you can pour in your pumpkin puree mix and bake in the oven until a skewer inserted in the middle of the pie comes out clean. It takes about an hour. Start at 175 degrees Celsius for the first 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 150 degrees.



Once baked allow to cool for at least 2 hours before attempting to cut into it.

The waiting period was a little maddening for me but in the end it was well worth it.



I wonder what I will make with the left over pumpking puree………….. 🙂

When Easter Sunday came round, I knew I had to prepare something nice for lunch not only because it was Easter but it also happened to be my mum’s birthday.
A rice based meal would have been very predictable and not to mention tedious; grilled chicken – been there, done that over and over. So after much deliberation with hubby and with Food Network providing bits of inspiration, I settled for a “meat platter” type meal. Of course this was music to hubby’s carnivorous taste buds.
The menu was partly inspired by Sunny Anderson of the Food Network’s “Cooking For Real” and some of my ideas. It consisted of Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Pan grilled Minute Steak on a bed of Mango Salsa, Spicy Meatballs, Potato Mash and a pallet cleansing cucumber and carrot salad all washed down with Sunny Anderson’s refreshing Mean Green Cucumber Juice.

It was sort of an ode to the Afro-Carribean diet with a twist.

I started by marinating the chicken over night, the only ingredient I left out of Sunny’s recipe was the fennel seed and I alternated dry ginger for fresh ginger (which I thought gave the marinade more of a kick). Following her recipe, I baked the chicken for 20 minutes skin-side down, and then made a glaze with some of the left over marinade and then finished it off for another 25 minutes in he oven at a higher temperature. My friend Uzo has a slightly different take on Jerk chicken. Check it out at Uzo’s Food Lab

Glazed Chicken

To make the cucumber juice, I used two large English Cucumbers; available at my local Spar grocery store. I recommend the English Cucumbers over the locally grown ones because the local ones have seeds. It was very easy to make and the result was simply refreshing and delicious.

Cucumber peel in blender and grated flesh prepped and ready for the simple syrup before blitzing

Blitzing cucumber peel and cooked flesh before sieving and chilling

Making the mango salsa was a breeze and I made it extra spicy so that the chopped fresh peppers would counter balance the sweetness of the chopped mango flesh. I also threw in some chopped red onion, chopped spring onions, chopped parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper and some lime juice. The salsa was accompanied with a simple pan seared minute steak which I drizzled with lime juice and set aside to rest.

The potato mash I made slight chunky to add some texture to the dish. I was fairly liberal with the butter and cream and with a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper it was ready in no time. It was the last dish I prepared so that it arrived at the table nice and hot.
The cucumber and carrot salad consisted of cucumber and carrot shavings and halved cherry tomatoes; it doesn’t get easier than that.
The meatballs were made from the classic meatball recipe which you will find in my “Anatomy of Feast” post and my “Back in the Saddle” post.
The dish came together nicely and each part complimented the other well. Not a single plate came back to the kitchen with any food on it. My mum was flattered that I made a special meal on her special day and my husband was pleased with the prominent helping of protein on his plate; all in all a winning menu.

Potato Mash, Caribbean Chicken, Meat balls, Minute Steak and Mango Salsa, Cucumber and Carrot Salad and Mean Green Cucumber Juice.

For me, tucking into the meal transported me to a sunny beach side resort………

TIP OF THE DAY: To make sure that your meals arrive at the table nice and hot or at least warm, put the serving dish/plate in a hot oven minutes before you plate up. NOTE: Ensure that the dishware is oven safe. 🙂

It has been some time since I really got creative in the kitchen and I found myself getting really bored with my everyday meals. Being pregnant for most of last year slowed down my kitchen adventures and my diet also took a hit as I shunned my regular delights.
All that has changed now and I am ready to resume my food creating activities in my “Flab” (food lab).
St. Patrick’s day was this past Saturday and although I am not Irish, I wanted to commemorate the day through food.
A few days ago as I watched the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, Ina Garten made what seemed to be a simple delicious looking Lemon Chicken Breast dish. And I thought to myself “How easy is that?” and decided I would try the recipe at home soon.
I also watched Cooking for Real with Sunny Anderson on the Food Network and she made a fridge brewed Iced tea that looked like it could quench the thirst of the most sun-scorched desert traveller; I also resolved to try to make it.

I happened upon an interesting recipe for shamrock eggs on Twitter, via @BabbleEditors, which looked dead easy to make.

So armed with my need to get creative and these recipes, on St, Patrick’s day, I marched off to the shops to get my ingredients. There was no difficulty in sourcing most of what I needed except that I could not find fresh thyme for the Lemon Chicken dish. I substituted curly leaf parsley for thyme because I figured that parsley had a similar earthy flavour of thyme and would also work well to counterbalance the lemon and garlic in the recipe.
I plan to start a herb garden so that I can always have fresh herbs on hand and put an end to my head scratching escapades in front of the supermarket’s herb aisle. 🙂

I decided that for breakfast, I would try my hands at the Shamrock eggs. Of course no St. Patrick’s day breakfast would be complete without the inclusion of potatoes so I sautéed potato slices in butter, pan grilled some cherry tomatoes and served up the meal with a liberal sprinkling of chopped parsley.

The result waa a meal well received by my hubby and his friend who joined us for breakfast. The success of this dish bolstered my spirits and encouraged me to get cracking with lunch. For lunch I made Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken, served with Tagliatelle and white sauce, honey glazed carrots and steamed string beans. As Ina said, it was quite easy to make; save for cutting myself when I was grating the rind of the lemon, the dish was a delight to put together.
The chicken started out like this

And after about 40 minutes in the oven and resting for another 15 minutes or so, it looked like this

I cooked the Tagliatelle according the instructions on the packet, julliened and steamed the carrots, then glazed them with butter and honey. Steamed the string beans and whipped up some white sauce.

I thought it would be a great idea to accompany the meal with Sunny Anderson’s Iced Tea recipe.

So using 7 tea bags, 600 cl of water, fresh oranges; squeezed, plums; pitted and halved, and lemons. I put them all in the jug let it brew for about 6 hours in the refrigerator before adding sugar.

After all the work I put into preparing the meal I was more than eager to plate up and tuck in.

In the end every bite and every sip was worth the time it took to put it all together.
Oh, and by the way, if you are thinking to yourself that Tagliatelle is not Irish, you would be right but it suited my theme well because of its colour – green. 🙂
So there you have it a St. Patrick’s day inspired feast!!
Look out for my next post about cooking with left overs.