by Ellen Wallace, GL editor
Pumpkins love our garden and we love pumpkins: this weekend the season for cooking pumpkin kicked in seriously. We have some 60 small ones. The larger ones are fun when kids are little, but the small varieties tend to have more flavour and they are more manageable in the kitchen. I brought one in from the veranda, where they are drying: the shells harden, to protect them during 3-4 months storage.
We take a cleaver and chop them in half or quarters, scrape out the stringy bits, quite a lot of it, then give them 20 minutes in the pressure cooker, with the pumpkin left in the pot another 15 minutes. This gives me a wonderfully textured and delicious vegetable. I scrape the insides into a bowl and the outer bits go into the compost.
The easier solution is, of course, to buy it pre-sliced at the supermarket, but the taste is a pale shadow of what our garden pumpkins give us. Farmers markets sell whole pumpkins and the extra flavour makes them worth the trouble.
We bake them as open halves (often with a spoonful of homemade jam in the centre) or eat the pulp warmed with a little butter and salt and pepper, sometimes with a bit of creamy goat cheese added. The family favourite is pumpkin pie. A close second to pie is pumpkin bread, in this family.
Here’s the recipe, an American one for zucchini nut bread, adapted and with less sugar for European tastes, but with US measures. It’s quick and easy.
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup oil – I use colza/canola
- 3 eggs, but I sometimes use 2 and get a slightly denser loaf
- 1 tsp orange peel or candied orange (if the latter, I reduce the sugar slightly)
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg; I love freshly grated nutmeg which has a stronger flavour so use a bit less
- 1 generous cup cooked and cooled pumpkin
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, pecans or toasted almonds
Beat sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, orange, mix well. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl into a bowl. Alternately add sifted mixture and pumpkin to sugar mixture. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour into 2 small greased loaf pans.
Bake at 195C in traditional oven for 40-45 minutes, testing that toothpick in centre comes clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then loosen around the edges and gently remove from pan.
Stores well, freezes well.
More pumpkin photos in GenevaLunch album: October 2009 pumpkin bonanza