Like clockwork, the temperature has dropped, I finally turned on the heat in the house and now I want pumpkin-flavored everything.
Last week, the pumpkins in the garden were uninteresting and ignored. This week, they’ve moved to the front row of my house, garden and kitchen.
ROASTED WHOLE PUMPKIN
Pumpkin comes in all shapes and sizes. Treat all winter squashes and pumpkins the same when it comes to roasting and extracting the flesh. To give you a sense of yield, one small to medium pumpkin weighing 41/2 pounds yields 41/2 cups of flesh.
1 small whole pumpkin
Salt, pepper and olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half, removing the seeds and pulp. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast for 1 to 11/2 hours or until the center is tender. Larger pumpkins will take longer.
Let cool and remove skin from the flesh, discarding the skin. If the pumpkin is stringy, you can use either a potato masher or a food processor to smooth things out, depending on how you’ll be using the flesh. If you’d like to freeze some, pulse in a food processor briefly to smooth out any lumpy bits.
Use for pumpkin soup, biscuits, cookies and any other goodies for which you may have used canned pumpkin in the past.
PUMPKIN CUMIN AND CARDAMOM SOUP WITH ALMOND MILK
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about one large onion
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups (24 ounces) pureed pumpkin
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup almond milk
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
Garnish with toasted pecans and diced pears
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the onions. Saute the onions for 10 minutes or until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, cardamom and salt. Saute for another 1 to 2 minutes and then add the pumpkin. Saute the pumpkin, stirring frequently until the bottom of the pot begins to brown. Add the stock and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.
At this point, you can chill and reheat the following day or serve immediately with toasted pecans and diced pears as a garnish.
Makes 10 cups.
Kind of like sweet potato biscuits, only Yankee-style.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup milk
1 to 11/2 cups (8 to 12 ounces) pureed pumpkin, depending on how moist the pumpkin is
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible.
Cut the butter in with a pastry knife (or your fingers) until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add milk and pumpkin, stirring until a soft dough forms, adding more pumpkin as needed to pull the mixture into a ball. Do not overmix. This is very important; if you overmix you will probably get hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead 5 times.
Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick. Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter.
Bake on an ungreased cookie pan for 12 to 15 minutes.
Makes 12 biscuits.
PUMPKIN BOURBON BREAD
I often will make this for a special afternoon tea for a friend, and if I’m making it for my girls, I often substitute orange juice for the bourbon. This bread freezes beautifully. Eat one; save one for later!
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened (extra for the pan)
22/3 cups sugar
2 cups (16 ounces) pureed pumpkin
2/3 cup bourbon or bourbon vanilla
31/3 cups all-purpose flour (extra for the pan)
2 teaspoons baking soda
11/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 cup currants or raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, pumpkin, bourbon/juice and mix thoroughly. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and stir until just mixed. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the bread springs back when lightly pressed in the center and a toothpick comes clean when inserted. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan and then turn the pans gently upside down to release the bread from the pans.
Makes 2 loaves.
Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org