Tag Archives: pumpkin

Stuff it…

It’s funny what subjects get under a persons skin (pun intended), and one of those for me is stuffing.

I love stuffing. As an economical side dish for a deliciously roasted fowl, there isn’t much that can top the humble stuffing.

Unfortunately, it can be fraught with danger.

Cooked inside your bird of choice, you need to over-cook the poultry if you want to cook the stuffing buried deep within the cavity sufficiently to avoid a cross contamination bacterial explosion, and I don’t need to paint that picture for you. The problem with that, is you risk ruining your roast.

So, what is the solution?

Don’t cook your stuffing inside the bird.

Normally, I would cook the stuffing separately in a small roasting dish and serve it with the meal fresh from the oven, however this past Christmas, I had a light bulb moment.

COOK AND SERVE THE STUFFING INSIDE A WHOLE PUMPKIN!

Safer than cooking stuffing in a bird, and easy to turn into a vegetarian delight

Safer than cooking stuffing in a bird, and easy to turn into a vegetarian delight

First, select the pumpkin. I suggest a Kent, or a Jap pumpkin for up to 8 people. Using a sharp thin bladed knife, cut the top off of the pumpkin and mark a notch to help align the lid and base later. Now clean out all of the seeds and fiber…don’t forget the lid. At this time you can choose to scrape flesh out to make more room for stuffing, but don’t make the walls to thin.

Fill with your favorite stuffing, bake, and serve!

What’s that? You don’t have a favorite stuffing recipe?

Well here’s one I prepared earlier…

A good stuffing starts with good bread. Use a nice heavy loaf, like a genuine sourdough or Rye.

Cube it up and toss with oil and salt. I also like to add fresh garlic and fresh rosemary, if I have it on hand.

Cook in a moderate oven until golden brown. congratulations, you just made the best croutons you’ve ever eaten. Put them aside, those you don’t eat immediately anyway, and remember this technique for the next salad you make.

Cook some wild rice, per the directions. You won’t need more than 1/4cup uncooked.

Fry some mushrooms in olive oil, with something porky (chorizo, bacon, etc) and a couple of anchovies. You won’t taste the anchovies, just the seasoning they provide. If you don’t want to, skip it…but add some worcestershire sauce later.

Add some diced onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is translucent. At this point, I also like to add some slivered almonds or Pine nuts.

Add in some rosemary, thyme (not much, it can overpower), and some ground pepper.

Deglaze the pan with a little red wine, Port, or Brandy, and cook it down so there is barely any liquid left.

Now add the rice and mix together.

Take the pan off of the heat, and mix in the croutons.

In another pan, or microwave oven, heat up about half a litre of chicken stock until almost boiling. Pour enough into the mix to make it moist, but not sloppy. Taste and season.

Then bake it in a dish, or a pumpkin like above.

Serve it next to a roast chook or turkey, and lap up the accolades (as well as enjoy the stuffing with the generous scoop of pumpkin).

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Why did the pumpkin cross the road?

Because it wanted to play squash!

Ok, so that’s a bad pun joke based on a bit of botanical confusion.  It seems as though the humble pumpkin is leading a double life as a squash…or a winter squash to be more precise.

It's a Butternut...erm...Pumpkin....or Squash...or Gourd!

Throughout the world, regional nomenclature will call this gourd like fruit either name (or gourd too, for that matter), and there really does not seem to be any rules for how the name is used.  So, at the risk of sounding egotistical, I’m going to state the Pumpkin/Squash rules as I see them:

  • If you cannot eat the fruit, but rather use it as a decoration or vessel: it’s a gourd.
  • If you can eat it, and cut it open to reveal a cavity holding the seeds: it’s a pumpkin.
  • If it’s edible, and you cut it open to reveal seeds distributed throughout the flesh, without a cavity, it’s a squash.

Regardless of what you call it, the pumpkin is a delicious and versatile fruit that packs a wallop of vitamins and minerals into a sweet and tasty package.  It can be served roasted, a mouth watering side to a delicious Sunday Roast.  It can be covered in brown sugar and marshmallows, and accompany Turkey on Thanksgiving.  You can even make a heavy custard with the flesh, mixed with eggs and a bit of sugar, and serve it as a deliciously spiced pie, paired with a scoop of ice cream.  Or, as is my personal favourite, you can turn it into a soup which served hot will warm you on the coldest of winter days, or served chilled will satisfy you during the most oppressive of hot summer days.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (just over 2lbs) of pumpkin; peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 250g Carrots; peeled and cut into chunks
  • 250g Onions; peeled and diced
  • 3-4 cups Chicken Stock (use Veggie Stock to make this dish vegetarian)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic
  • 250ml Sour Cream (or 300ml cream plus 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice)
  • Up to 250ml Milk
  • Up to 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • Extra sour cream (or natural yoghurt) for serving

I almost always use Butternut Pumpkin for this recipe.  Jap pumpkins are also delicious here.  Given the difference in sweetness and water content between different types of pumpkins, and indeed different pumpkins of the same type, I have included milk and sugar as a variable quantity ingredient.

Ok, so I copied this photo from the Internet. I have to get myself a light box.

Add the first 7 ingredients to a soup or stock-pot.  Make sure it’s enough liquid to just cover the fruit/veggies.  If not, add more water, but note that you will need to evaporate some of it out later, or it may be a bit watery.

Simmer for about 2 hours, or until the carrots are very tender.  The pumpkin will be well cooked by then, and even be breaking down a little turning the liquid a light shade of orange.

Using a stick blender (or food processor) blend until it is all smooth.  At this point you can pass it through a sieve, which I would if I were using a more fibrous version of pumpkin, or I was serving it during a particularly swanky dinner party.

Add the sour cream, and blend some more.  Now check the consistency and taste it.  If it is too thick, more like baby food than soup, add the milk.  Season it, if it needs.  Finally, add some brown sugar, if it is not quite sweet enough.

Serve in a nice bowl, with a toasted crouton, and a dollop of sour cream (or yoghurt) in the middle.

Pumpkin soup in all it's glory

Certainly this is not the most complicated pumpkin soup recipe out there, but it will provide you with delicious consistent results every time.  Sure, you can roast the veggies first, before turning them into a soup…the result will be richer and probably sweeter…or you can add other spices to jazz up the flavour profile, but there is only one “variation” that I might truly recommend.

Boil some ravioli until al dente (large fresh or frozen ones are best).  Toss the pumpkin soup with the cooked cheese ravioli .  Fry up some prosciutto or chorizo sausage in olive oil and garlic, until nice and crispy.  Scoop out the prosciutto or chorizo and scatter around the top of the dressed ravioli.  Drizzle the pan oil over it all, and enjoy.

So I haven't made the ravioli...YET...but here is a photo of something very similar. Ditch the nuts, and add the pork product, and...well, you get the idea.