How to roast a whole pumpkin

12 October 2014

A lot of American recipes call for canned pumpkin. I don't know if you can actually buy it here, I haven't checked, but it's certainly not an everyday pantry item. Besides, I like to avoid cans, because waste and expense.

Since roast pumpkin tastes so much better than boiled or microwaved, roast pumpkin puree is obviously the way to go, so I've always chopped up my pumpkin and roasted it to use in recipes that call for canned pumpkin. However, I recently tried a method with less prep work, and I don't think I’ll ever go back.

Roast pumpkin (whole)

  • 1 whole smallish pumpkin
  • Olive oil for brushing

  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Wash and dry the pumpkin, any dust left on the skin can cause problems as it collapses with cooking.
  3. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bis.
  4. Brush cut face with olive oil and place face down on a rimmed baking tray. If there's no lip, you will end up having to clean pumpkin juice off the bottom of your oven. Don't ask me how I know.
  5. Put the tray in the oven, and cook until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork. This will vary depending on the size of your pumpkin, but it will probably take around 1.5 hours, start checking earlier if your pumpkin is on the smaller side.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can safely touch it.
  7. Flip the pumpkin over, and scoop the flesh out. I transfer it to a bowl and roughly mash it. If you need it to be sans any stringy bits for a more fancy dish (such as scones), then you can either push it through a mesh sieve, or attack it with a stick mixer or blender. If you're baking with it, you may also wish to drain it through a strainer to get rid of the excess water.
Pumpkin-based recipes coming soon (I hope!).

Almond and cranberry muesli bars (vegan)

01 October 2014

I've eaten a lot of muesli bars in my life. Most commercial muesli bars are not vegan. The ones that are (I'm talking to you Be Natural) taste rather crap. My favourites as a kid were the Uncle Toby's yoghurt topped ones, something I haven't figured out how to reproduce yet, although I believe it could be done at home with the help of a dehydrator. So, yoghurt topped these are not, but delicious they are, and pretty healthy too. Chewy, hearty, and not too sweet.

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

I've been cycling a lot lately, a long ride every weekend on top of my usual commuting, and find that one of these makes a great mid-ride pick-me-up. They also make good study food. I eat too much study food...

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

Almond and cranberry muesli bars

Makes: about 18 bars, depending on how you cut them

  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup agave or maple syrup (or honey, if you're ok with that)
  • ¾ cup smooth peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅔ cup sweetened dried cranberries (craisins)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 and toast the oats in a brownie tin for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crispy, then transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Now roast the almonds for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant, then transfer to the bowl.
  3. Turn off oven, then toast the coconut in the still warm oven for about 5 minutes, until golden. Watch closely, as coconut burns quickly.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the agave and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat until combined.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl, including the peanut butter mixture, and mix thoroughly.
  6. Once the brownie tin is cool enough, wipe it out, and line the bottom and sides with cling wrap. Fill with muesli bar mixture, and use the back of a spoon to distribute evenly, packing it down firmly to help it hold together.
  7. Cover with another layer of cling wrap,and transfer to the freezer for about 1 hour, or until solid.
  8. Remove all the cling wrap, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into bars, squares, or whatever you prefer. I cut mine in half lengthways, and then into small bars.
  9. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Almond and cranberry muesli bars