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October Harvest Time and Pumpkin Delights

By Ann Hattes
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Peeling raw pumpkin is not easy; cooked pumpkin is much simpler to peel so scrub the outside before cooking. Except for roasting whole or miniature pumpkins, pumpkins should be cut in half and the seeds and fibers scraped out with a large metal spoon.

Along with the changing leaves and the cold weather, autumn brings some of the year's most delicious foods. Ken Haedrich's The Harvest Baker (Storey Publishing) shows how to include fresh garden produce into your baking. The 150 recipes include savory tarts, pot pies and calzones, buns, and scones, to sweet cakes, pies, cookies and bars. Discover how to make roasted winter squash pizza, parsnip cake, cabbage and sausage shortbread, even ratatouille cobbler.

The Pumpkin Cookbook (Storey Publishing) reminds us that this classic symbol of fall means more than jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin spice lattes. There are recipes for many forms of pumpkin – raw, roasted, or steamed fresh pumpkin, plus canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin seeds. Choose from recipes like Ham and Cheese Pumpkin Soufflé, Ginger-Pumpkin ice cream, Pumpkin-filled Ravioli with Fried Sage, or Pumpkin Fudge. Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, pumpkin is a readily available and inexpensive super food, a healthy option for every meal of the day. In general, one pound fresh pumpkin equals 2 cups peeled, cooked; 2 cups cubed; and 3 - 4 cups grated.

 

Cutting and Peeling

Peeling raw pumpkin is not easy; cooked pumpkin is much simpler to peel so scrub the outside before cooking. Except for roasting whole or miniature pumpkins, pumpkins should be cut in half and the seeds and fibers scraped out with a large metal spoon. Cut into wedges.

Small sugar pumpkins are the easiest to cut. For large pumpkins like the Long Island Cheese pumpkin, cookbook author Deedee Stovel advises using a large, sharp chef's knife with a stable cutting board and a damp paper towel under the board to hold it in place. Slice a small amount from the bottom so the pumpkin won't wiggle. Cut in half from top to bottom. For very hard pumpkins, if necessary, throw the pumpkin on a concrete surface to smash it or at least crack it open, then use the knife.

 

Cooking Pumpkin

For all methods, pumpkin is done when the flesh is easily pierced with a fork.

  • Boil: Boil pumpkin wedges 20 minutes in salted water over medium heat in a 4-quart saucepan with cover.
  • Steam: In a 4-quart saucepan with steamer basket, steam pumpkin wedges 25- 30 minutes with 1 inch of water boiling on high heat.
  • Microwave: Place in 2-quart covered dish, microwaving pumpkin wedges on high in increments of 5 minutes, until done.
  • Roast: Rub the large chunks with oil. Whole: cut off top; Mini: leave whole. Roast at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes in a lightly greased roasting pan.

Here some lovely recipes to try from The Pumpkin Cookbook by Edith Stovel, used with permission from Storey Publishing.


 

Roasted Ginger Pumpkin-Pear Soup

Without the addition of half-and-half, the soup is smooth and tasty. The cream adds a richness but is not necessary. Apple can be substituted for the pear. Serves 6.

 

1 & ½ pounds fresh pumpkin, seeds and fibers removed, cut into big chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing on the pumpkin

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 -2 red or green ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade

½ cup half-and-half (optional)

 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C). Brush each pumpkin chunk with oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.

When cool enough to handle, peel, mash, and measure 3 cups. Store the rest in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Heat the oil and butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion and shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon of the ginger, the salt, and the pumpkin. Cook for another minute until warm. Add the pear and broth and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pear is easily pierced with a fork. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of ginger.

In small batches, puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender in the saucepan, until the consistency is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the saucepan and add the half-and-half, if desired. Gently heat, but do not boil. Serve hot.


 

Punkin' Joes

Serves 6.

 

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 & ½ cups)

1 & ½ pounds lean ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin

1 can (8 ounces) whole tomatoes and juice

1/4 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (if desired)

6 whole-wheat hamburger buns

 

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the onion for 2 minutes, until soft. Add the ground beef and cook it until it loses its red color, stirring and breaking it into small pieces as you cook. Add the salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Stir in the pumpkin, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili sauce, molasses, vinegar, chili powder, cumin, and if desired, the hot sauce.

Bring to boil, reduce the heat, partially cover, and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens. If it gets too thick, add a few tablespoons of water. Stir occasionally.

Just before serving, lightly toast the buns. Fill each bun with a generous scoop of Punkin' Joe.


 

Pumpkin Cornbread

Makes 1 loaf.

 

1 & 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup ground cornmeal

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin

4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

½ cup milk

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon honey mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional to brush on baked loaf)

 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Grease a 9 - by 5-inch loaf pan with oil.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, until thoroughly mixed.

Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, butter, and milk in a smaller bowl. Quickly mix this into the flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and slightly separated from the edge of the pan, and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and brush with the glaze, if using. Cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.

 

Ann Hattes has over 25 years experience writing about both travel and food for publications both in the US and internationally. A senior living in Wisconsin, she’s a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the Midwest Travel Writers Association.

Meet Ann