Project Food Blog

Cheat's Pumpkin Ravioli


1 sheet of fresh lasagne per 4 ravioli
1 large pumpkin
4 shallots
2 cloves  garlic
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons cream
4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the filling, deseed and slice the pumpkin into large chunks and roast for 40 minutes until the inside is soft. I did this in October and froze the flesh.
(Hence the cheatin’ and references.)

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic and sauté in the butter and olive oil until tender.

When cool, spoon out the pumpkin flesh and discard the seeds and the tough fibre in the centre. Place the pulp in a mixing bowl.

Stir in the shallot and garlic mixture, the cream, grated Parmesan cheese, and white wine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Lightly flour a flat surface and lay out a few sheets of the fresh lasagne. 
Using a square cutter, cut out squares of lasagne to form the ravioli.
Place 1 heaped teaspoon of the pumpkin filling in the centre of half of the squares.

Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush around the sides of every square. Cover each pumpkin-filled square with an empty square, pressing all four sides down to seal the ravioli, and allow to dry for at least 10 minutes.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add a slug of olive oil to prevent the ravioli from sticking.
Using a flat spatula, ease the ravioli into the water and cook very gently for 12 minutes. Do not allow to boil vigorously or the ravioli will break open. Remove and drain.

Serve immediately with the blanched broad beans, a sprinkle of parmesan, a splodge of Speedy Pasta Sauce and a generous helping of freshly ground black pepper.

Lavender Cupcakes

These unusual lavender-infused cakes are a popular flavour in the summer. Try making them with essential oils rather than dried lavender. About 4 or 5 drops should be sufficient to flavour this amount of mixture.

Infusing the milk with lavender oil or flowers makes the flavour subtle. The icing can be left plain, or you can use a bit of food colouring to give it a light lavender colour (makes 12.)
photograph © Peter Cassidy


120 ml whole milk
3 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
12 small sprigs of lavender (optional)
25ml whole milk
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
A couple of drops of purple food colouring (optional)
A 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases


Put the milk and dry lavender flowers in a jug, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible. Do the same with the milk and lavender flowers for the frosting, in a separate jug.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark three.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Strain the lavender-infused milk (for the cupcake) and slowly pour into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed.

Add the egg and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely
Lavender frosting
Beat together the icing sugar, butter and food colouring, if using, in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

Turn the mixer down to a slow speed. Strain the lavender-infused milk and slowly pour into the butter mixture. Once all the milk is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.

Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy (at least five minutes.) The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the lavender frosting on top and decorate with a sprig of lavender, if using.

Special offer: £2 off The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook You can buy the book at the special price of £14.99 with free p&p (rrp £16.99) by calling Macmillan Direct on 01256 302 699 and quoting the reference code GLR1KP.

Recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
By Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird Bakers
Photography by Peter Cassidy
Published by Ryland Peters & Small

Beetroot and Orange Soup


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 kg fresh beetroot
4 litres vegetable stock
Juice and grated rind of 8 fresh orange (or 800ml fresh orange juice)
4 teaspoons ground coriander
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste


Scrub the beetroot and chop off the roots and stalks.
Either chop the beetroot finely or grate it. A food processor is a lovely way of doing this, without covering everything in purple splatters!
Fry the chopped onion until translucent. Place in large soup pan. 
Add the beetroot and the vegetable stock, orange rind (if using) and bay leaves. Simmer gently for 45 minutes, until the beetroot is soft.
Add the spices and orange juice. Remove the bay leaves.
Liquidise until smooth.
Either serve warm with sourdough bread, or chill and serve with a swirl of cream, a drizzle of honey and some orange rind curls, as a perfect Summer Starter.

Best Pamper Day


1 egg
240 ml milk
dash of vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon powder
1 tbsp butter
splash of vegetable oil
2 slices of slightly dry bread
icing sugar to dust after cooking


Crack the egg into a medium-size bowl and beat well. Then mix in the milk and vanilla extract.
Put the butter and oil in a frying pan. Heat the pan on a medium heat. It's hot enough when the butter begins to foam. The oil will stop the butter from burning.
Dunk each piece of bread in the egg & milk mixture. Make sure the bread is totally covered.
Cook the bread in the frying pan on low heat until the underside is light brown (about 5 minutes).
Use a spatula to flip the bread over, and cook again for another 5 minutes.
Use the spatula to transfer the French toast to a plate. Sprinkle with the icing sugar et voila!

Serve with a few mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes) to make it extra special.

Chicken and Coca Cola® Curry

1 kg diced chicken
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 tbsp cumin powder
2 tbsp coriander powder
2 tbsp tamarind paste
4 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
2 tsp smoked paprika
200 ml coca cola®
6 tbsp vegetable oil
300 ml single cream
1kg natural yoghurt (large tub)
pinch of salt
fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the cinnamon stick and cloves.
Next add the onion, together with the ginger, garlic and tamarind paste, and fry until the onion is golden brown.
Then add the cumin, smoked paprika and coriander powder, and reduce the heat.
Add the chicken and keep stirring until all the chicken has browned.
Add the coca cola® and a pinch of salt. Simmer on a low heat till the chicken becomes tender.
When all the ingredients are cooked, turn off the heat; add the yoghurt and the cream and finally the chopped coriander. Serve with cardamom rice and other Indian condiments such as mango chutney.
I made this for the first time last night and it was delicious. No left overs!