Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
5 Other Things You Can Do with a Pumpkin
Halloween is nearly upon us and that means the shops will be full of pumpkins. I’m a big fan of carving pumpkins with the kids, it’s lots of fun and it’s a nice way to let people know you’re open to trick or treaters. I wish I could say I could come up with super artistic creations but you need to see my brother in law Stew for that, he’s a real whizz. I just stick to monster faces with chunky mis-shape teeth. But there are other things that can be done with pumpkins. They’re not just fun decorative items, pumpkins may not be common over here but in the US they are well known as a winter treat. In this post I’m going to pick out some stuff you can do with pumpkins besides the obvious.
1. Roast Them
It’s game season. My lovely wife has reminded me that I mention game in every 3rd or 4th sentence at this time of year. She’s right of course, I love game and so I mention it a lot. Game is typified by strong meaty flavours and so it does well with roasted vegetables, particularly if they can impart a sweetness to the dish. Take the flesh of the pumpkin, peel it, toss it in oil, salt it and then roast at gas mark 4 until it’s nice and tender. Serve with any game you like, grouse is good, partridge would work, even a nice breast or leg of duck. I would probably avoid serving with venison but really, anything goes. Don’t put gravy on pumpkin, it’ll mask the lovely sweetness but feel free to serve with a nicely reduced jus.
2. Make Soup Out of Them
Take your favourite recipe for roasted butternut squash soup, substitute pumpkin instead, et voila. They are both members of the squash family so you can swap pumpkin straight in there. I think pumpkin is a slightly more interesting taste. Fry the meat of a large pumpkin with a couple of onions and a clove or two of garlic. Once the onions have started to caramelise dump in a litre of nice stock and leave to simmer for an hour. Blend the soup smooth and add cream if you are partial.
3. Make Pumpkin Pie
The Americans know a thing or two about food and for them, pumpkin pie is a ‘must have’ at thanksgiving (mid / end November). Get some ready made shortcrust pastry, put into a tart dish, blind bake for about 20 mins at Gas 6 and allow to cool. Take the meat from a medium pumpkin mix with 50g dark muscovado sugar in a bowl, tip onto a tray and bake for 40 mins or until really tender at gas 6. Put 140ml of cream, a dollop of honey, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of allspice and a little grate of nutmeg into a heavy bottomed saucepan and put on a low heat until just below boiling (don’t let it boil). Beat 2 eggs and then slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Blitz the roasted pumpkin smooth and then mix into the cream and eggs. Cool the oven to gas 4, put the filling in the pie and bake until the filling has set, about 35 minutes.
4. Pumpkin Cake
As a member of the squash family, pumpkins can make a nice addition to cake to give a moist, substantial feel without making it super calorific. Sift 300g self raising flour and mix with a pinch of mixed spice, 300g muscovedo sugar, a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. Melt 200g of butter, allow to cool and mix into 2 beaten eggs. Add some orange (not lemon) zest and juice if you like. Mix that into the dry ingredients and then add 500g of finely grated pumpkin meat, you can dump in some mixed fruit if you like too. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 30 mins at gas mark 4.
5. Fix Your Dog
Dogs are lovely joyous creatures and I would not be without my Rhodesian Ridgeback, Florence, however, they are also pretty gross in their habits. It’s not unusual for the dogs, as a result of eating things they shouldn’t, to get a bit of a bad tummy. Pumpkin can be a Godsend for this. If your dog has a bad tummy, give them pumpkin for a day (blitzed or from a can) and you may well be surprised at the results. If the dog in question worsens or if a day of pumpkin does not do the trick, seek veterinary advice, but I keep a can of pumpkin in the cupboard year round ‘just in case’.
Enjoy Halloween and enjoy your pumpkins. If you see any bargains on November 1st you know how put them to good use. It probably doesn’t need to be said but do remember that pumpkins that have been carved and displayed are really only good for the compost heap and should not be eaten.