Since my Mum bought a country pub nearly two years ago, Easter hasn't been a huge cooking holiday for my family and I. In fact, we barely cook on any holidays at all anymore. Even at Chrismtas, we usually chow down on a few plates of leftovers and prawns after lunch service. This Easter, I did make a hot cross bun pudding with brown sugar and orange custard but no one ate the damn thing. We ended up selling it to customers by way of the specials board and I was reminded again why we don't cook on holidays. This may sound sad, but there are other advantages to having a Mum with a pub, I promise.
pumpkinroasted2 Because of this little spell over the four day weekend, I came back to the city with a strong desire to cook! And as you can no doubt tell from my photos, its pumpkin that's taken my fancy this week. I've been at it with pumpkin a lot this week, mainly roasted because well, why would mess around with boiled or steamed, really? Pumpkin is the huge, sweet king of vegetables, if you ask me, and roasting brings out all it's glory. I absolutely love it. One thing I am wary of though, is pumpkin dishes ending up too sweet, I'm thinking mainly of a pretty horrific pumpkin pasta I put together last year around this time. God! It was sweeter than a lollipop. Yuck. As such, when I'm making a savoury pumpkin dish, I usually make sure to include lots of lemon, chilli, lime or other spices to make it distinctly savoury. But of course, being the king, pumpkin is great in sweets too and goes brilliantly with autumn friendly spices like cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Here are some things I made with pumpkin this week.
Roast pumpkin with dates and lemon 
I love this dish! Not quite a salad, just a brilliant side, it's adapted from a Suzanne Goin recipe. Lots of lemon juice is required to tone down the sweet dates and pumpkins, but the salty parmesan, the crunchy pepitas and the peppery rocket make this one spectacular thing to eat. Trust me!

Quarter of a large pumpkin(around 350g), chopped into wedges, seeds removed
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided
1/4 cup pepitas
 Juice of one lemon
Handful of parsley leaves
Bunch of rocket
3/4 cup of firm dates
1/2 a cup of shaved parmesan

Turn the oven to 350C. Spread the pepitas out on a large baking tray and bake for 7-8 minutes, or until slightly puffed up. Turn the oven up to 425C and toss the pumpkin pieces in one tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay on a baking tray and bake for around 20-25, moving the pieces around half way through cooking time to make sure they bake evenly. Remove when they pierce easily with a fork. Make the dressing by mixing the rest of the oil, with the lemon juice and seasoning. Place the rocket in a bowl and toss a little of the dressing over, just enough to coat the leaves. Lay them on a platter, place the pumpkin pieces on top. Put the dates and parsley in with the rest of the dressing, then pour over the pumpkin. Finish with the parmesan and pepitas.

kofta Pumpkin kofta curry
I love this too! Little tiny pumpkin and corinader koftas fried then simmered in a tomato/coconut sauce, it's so good. It takes a bit of work, making the kofta and the sauce separately then simmering them together. But it's so worth it and you can do the sauce and make up the balls ahead of time, then fry them off and simmer together for a few minutes. Adapted from a Claudia Roden recipe.

For the kofta
350g chopped pumpkin
1/2 a bunch of coriander, plus more to serve
1 large green chili, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed to a paste
3 cm piece of ginger, grated
75g plain flour(you may need more depending on what type of pumpkin you use)
1/4 cup of oil

For the sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
3 small red chillies
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 a cup of dried coconut, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
1 tsp poppyseeds
3 tbs oil, sunflower or grape seed
1 large onion, chopped
1 can of crushed tomatoes
250ml water
1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 425 and roast the pumpkin on a large tray for around 30 minutes, or until very soft. Set aside to cool. Start on the sauce, blitz the cumin, coriander, chili, tumeric and coconut together until a fine paste forms. Fry the onion for around 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the paste and fry until it starts to brown. Add the tomatoes, water, salt and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the skins and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the rest of the kofta ingredients (except the oil), mixing with your hands. You may need to add more flour than I've specified. the mixture needs to be firm enough roll into balls and fry off but not dry. Form the kofta into balls, I made mine about 3/4 tablespoon size.(I found that making large once resulted in doughy middles.) In a large frypan, fry the kofta, in a little oil until browned. When they are all done, add to the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. Serve with the rest of the chopped coriander and rice.
pumpkinloaf Pumpkin loaf with brown butter and rum 
Sometime last year, Melissa Clark posted a recipe for a pumpkin loaf and I've been wanting to make it for ages. I made it this week as part of my pumpkin cook up but to be honest, I was unmoved by it. It was probably my fault, or my oven's, it was too squidgy and I used Stroh rum, instead of bourbon! A rum favoured for high alcohol content, not flavour. Anyway, the real recipe is here and is probably a lot better than my version.

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