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gardening-group  It may be getting colder and darker but that hasn’t stopped our volunteer gardeners coming each Thursday to help with tidying up the garden, mowing the lawn, sweeping the leaves and still doing some planting. We thought we would have to put the compost bag away until spring however there are still certain plants and herbs that can be planted in autumn time. This Thursday saw us plant some broad beans, garlic, red onions and tulips.

We took some useful tips from James Wong’s guardian article on ways to boost our garlic where we learnt that we needed to ‘Pick the sunniest spot  and plant individual cloves 15cm apart any time between now and late January, and water in well. Scattering a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts over each square metre of planting bed can up the strength of your garlic.’

As it is the week before Halloween we also thought it would be the perfect time to have some pumpkin pie! Pumpkins are great fun to grow. They are easy to cultivate, but need a sunny position, plenty of water and shelter from cold winds. Once harvested, pumpkins can be used for delicious soup, pies and for roasting.

After an hour’s work of gardening we sat down for our cup of tea and slice of pumpkin pie and talked about plans for the gardening project over the next few weeks.

We found out this week that our gardening group have been shortlisted for the Volunteer of the Year awards with Voluntary Action Islington which we were very pleased about! We are looking forward to attending the ceremony on Wednesday 2nd November 2016 and will keep you posted on how we get on!

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Wanting to make pumpkin pie? Here’s how:

Sweet short crust pastry

Ingredients

  • 500 g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 100 g icing sugar , sifted
  • 250 g good-quality butter , cut into small cubes
  • 1 lemon , zest of
  • 2 large free-range eggs , beaten
  • 1 splash milk

Method

  1. Sieve the flour from a height on to a clean work surface and sieve the icing sugar over the top. Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture.
  2. Add the eggs, lemon zest and milk to the mixture and gently work it together till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Don’t work the pastry too much at this stage or it will become elastic and chewy. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

pie_pumpkin

Pumpkin Pie

750g/1lb 10oz pumpkin peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks

Sweet short crust pastry

Plain flour, for dusting

140g caster sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs beaten

25g butter melted

175ml milk

1 tbsp icing sugar

Method

  1. Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
  4. Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.
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