I honestly don’t know where the time goes, it’s already mid-July and the year is absolutely flying past. I can’t believe it was one whole year ago that I sat down to write the very first post here on Spicy Icecream. Inspired by blogs like La Tartine Gourmande and Delicious Days, I decided to start my own little blog to share my cooking adventures and keep track of all the different recipes I tried. I would often snap a photo of my dinner before I started eating, so writing about it naturally seemed like the next step. And so, with nary an introduction, I launched into an essay about meat pies.
My first year of food blogging has been quite a journey, but I have enjoyed it immensely. I’ve learned so many new skills, tried cooking with new ingredients, and overcome food dislikes that I’d harboured for years, though there are a few I’m still working on. And, as expected, my collection of kitchen gadgetry and cookbooks has expanded significantly, though my waistline hasn’t, luckily! So many memorable moments in the last year have revolved around food, whether I cooked it myself or I shared it with someone else. It’s a huge part of my life, and I want to keep it that way.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that cooking is not just about eating for survival, it’s also about sharing, and I think that is one of the things I like the most. I love to sit down with my family to a meal I’ve prepared, I love to plan menus, and I love to surprise my friends with cookies or cupcakes I’ve baked. In the next year I want to have more dinner parties, try new things – cuisines, dishes, techniques, ingredients – to expand on my knowledge, skill and experience in the kitchen, and to make the time occasionally to cook purely for pleasure.
A quick word about the cupcakes… I love pumpkin. I just don’t understand how people can dislike it – yes, I’m looking at you Steve! I loved the idea of using pumpkin in a cake and I have wanted to make these since I saw Fanny’s post about them, and the episode of Jamie At Home about squash, within days of each other late last year. They are so easy to put together in a food processor! I used my favourite cream cheese icing with them and they were very nice. They sort of reminded me of a carrot cake, though I think in a blind taste off, my delicious carrot cake recipe would win.
Butternut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Adapted from Jamie At Home by Jamie Oliver
• 400g butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 350g brown sugar
• 4 eggs
• Pinch salt
• 300g plain flour
• 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
• Handful of walnuts
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 175mL extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Icing
• 250g cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup icing sugar
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Whiz the pumpkin in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar and eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon, olive oil and vanilla extract. Whiz together until well beaten. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
3. Fill the paper cases three quarters full with the cake mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.
4. To make the cream cheese icing, combine ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Smooth onto the cooled cakes.