Saturday, 17 October 2009

101 things to do with a pumpkin!

I'm not sure I'll find 101 things to do with a pumpkin but I need to find quite a few; after all, I have 19 of things to use up!

Whilst my yellow tomato and pumpkin chutney was happily bubbling away, I chopped up a fair amount of the remaining pumpkin and put it into the steamer to cook for a while. When soft, I put it into a bowl and mashed it. Once pureed, pumpkin is very versatile and can be used in a number of sweet recipes where its presents can pass unnoticed. Some of these, such as muffins and pancakes, I have made before and have become family favourites. But others remain untried but interesting.

One such untried recipe was pumpkin ice-cream. I saw something written by James Martin in a magazine the other day suggesting stirring pumpkin puree through vanilla ice-cream. I thought for a moment he had lost the plot but on further consideration it sounded like it had potential. I was still surprised, however, when I googled it to discover something like 240,000 hits for pumpkin ice-cream. The one thing about pumpkin is that it goes very well with spices such as ginger and cinnamon. I think vanilla is a bit wish-washy to go with pumpkin so when I saw a recipe with cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin I decided to give it a go.

Pumpkin Ice-cream

450g fresh pumpkin
300ml whipping cream
120g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Peel and chop the pumpkin then steam until soft. Mash until a smooth puree is formed. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about a minute until well mixed. Pour into suitable containers and put in the freezer. Take out of the freezer after 2-3 hours and whip up with a fork to break up the ice crystals before returning to the freezer.

It makes an interesting ice-cream, unlike anything you are likely to find in the shops. As you can imagine, the spices are the dominate flavour with a slight toffee flavour from the sugar. No hint of pumpkin! I think it would go very well dolloped next to a hot winter pudding such as apple pie or sticky toffee pudding.

After that I immediately froze a pound of pumpkin puree to make into pumpkin muffins at a later date. They are a good one to have in the cake tin in the run up to Halloween.

Pumpkin muffins

1 lb (450 g) pumpkin
3¼ oz (90 g) wholemeal flour
6½ oz (180g) self-raising flour
½ teaspoon mixed spice
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
3¾ oz (95g) dark brown sugar
2 oz (55 g) sultanas
2 eggs
4 fl oz (115 ml) sunflower oil
4 fl oz (115 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel, chop and steam the pumpkin for 20 to 30 minutes until very soft. Squash until smooth then allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight if desired. Preheat oven to 210°C, gas 7. Sift the flours and spices into a bowl, adding any bran remaining in the sieve. Whisk the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla together and add to the dry mix then add the pumpkin. Combine until just mixed. Spoon into paper cases in a tin. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

The next day, I grated some of the remaining fresh pumpkin into a recipe to make pumpkin and ginger tea bread. What a delicious recipe this proved to be - a lovely moist cake with a yummy ginger flavour. I had a piece mid afternoon and when my husband had a slice for his dessert after
dinner I couldn't resist having another slice!

Pumpkin and Ginger Tea Bread

175g melted butter
140g clear honey
1 egg, beaten
250g fresh pumpkin
100g light muscovado sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C, gas 4 and line a 2lb load tin. Mix together the butter, honey, egg and pumpkin. Add the muscovado sugar, flour and ginger and stir until well combined. Pour into the tin then sprinkle over the Demerara sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes until risen and golden. Leave in the tin to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

With some of the remaining pumpkin puree I made a batch of pumpkin pancakes. These are similar to Scotch or American-style pancakes. My daughters like to have pancakes for breakfast every now and then so it is nice to be able to make some rather than buy them. They can be frozen, thawed and reheated in the microwave for the ultimate in convenience food. As it happened, my daughters were hugely enthusiastic about them whilst I was making them and they both wanted a freshly cooked one right there and then despite only having just eaten their lunch!

Pumpkin pancakes (makes 16-18)

250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp mixed spice
55g light brown sugar
3 eggs
284 ml carton buttermilk
175 g pumpkin puree
4 teaspoon sunflower oil

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, raising agents and spice. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, milk, pumpkin and oil. Make a well in the centre of the flour and gradually mix in the wet ingredients until a batter forms. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add 60ml (2 tablepoons or 1/4 cup) of batter at a time. Cook until the base is set then flip and cook until the second side has set and browned. Either serve hot or cool on a wire rack and freeze for use later.

After this I still had a bowlful of puree so I weighed it out into bags for other recipes I want to try and put them into the freezer until we have eaten our way through the tea bread and I have stocked up on a few ingredients.

So, how many of my 19 pumpkins have a worked through so far... not quite one! Maybe I will find 101 things to do with them after all!

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