Life

Niall McKenna recipes: It's pumpkin party time

PUMPKINS, pumpkins everywhere!

It's that time of the year when our brown bins weigh a tonne and we have to think of ever more creative ideas of what to do with leftover pumpkin flesh.

All the carving of spooky faces in various vegetables, this week has resulted in a bumper supply of delicious pumpkin - providing you bought the edible kind, as some are simply meant to be carved, so be sure to check the label.

In most good restaurants you will find a warming pumpkin soup or a pumpkin risotto as this is the best time of year for picking them and enjoying the spoils of harvest.

Both of these recipes are quick and easy and most of us have parties in the house at this time of year so having a few recipes up your sleeve that can be prepared with minimal fuss, yet which can satisfy the hungriest trick-or-treater is always a good thing.

Pumpkin Risotto

Ingredients:

Contents of large pumpkin or two small ones cubed, discard the seeds

Olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

350g Arborio rice

1.5 litres of vegetable stock

1 glass white wine

90g parmesan

50g butter

Salt and pepper

Handful of mixed seeds, e.g. poppy, pumpkin and sesame

For this recipe I am using vegetable stock ensuring the dish is suitable for vegetarians, however chicken stock can be used.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C and place your cubed pumpkin in a roasting tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Whilst the pumpkin is roasting you can start making the risotto.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed pot and gently cook off the shallots and garlic. Once soft add in all the rice and cook for a further two minutes, while stirring. Add in the glass of wine until it has evaporated, then start ladling in the vegetable stock, two ladle-fulls at a time and keep stirring. Once all stock has been ladled in and the rice is soft but with a slight bite (‘al dente'), remove your pumpkin from the oven.

Remove the pumpkin from the roasting tray, and since it should be very soft, you can either mash with the back of a fork or blitz with a hand held stick blender. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and cover for up to five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a hot, dry pan gently toast off your seeds for 15 seconds. Dust these over your risotto when serving.

***

Chocolate Brownie

125g unsalted butter

250g dark chocolate 70 per cent coco

200g light brown sugar

4 large eggs

150g plain flour, sieved

50g Chilean raisins

50g dates, stoned and chopped.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Place chocolate in heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water until chocolate is melted. Remove bowl from the heat. In a separate bowl beat in the butter and sugar until smooth and add one egg at a time and mix until all eggs are in, the mix may look slightly split but when you add in the flour, the mix will come together. Add in the chocolate, raisins and dates and mix thoroughly.

Grease a baking tray or line a 1 inch deep tray with grease proof paper. Cover with the mix and place in oven and cook for approx. 10 minutes. This will be a gooey mix but if you prefer a firmer brownie cook for a further five minutes.

Remove from oven and let it cool, once cooled, place in fridge. Once cooled, slice and place in an airtight container. These will keep for two days.

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