Thanksgiving Pumpkin

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Although technically not celebrated in this country, it’s true that turkey day has gained some popularity in recent years even on this side of the pond.  Perhaps partly due to our fascination with all things American and partly out of jealousy for those two whole days extra holiday that they get stateside.  We could really do with a bank holiday in the autumn months! 

I don’t doubt that part of it is to do with the dreaded (or anticipated?) Black Friday sales, an American import I’m particularly grateful for this year as we’ve recently received keys to our new place.  We don’t have a washing machine or a hoover, so the discounts will come in handy, even if it means stepping off the high ground and begrudgingly taking part in the frenzy this year (albeit online). 

There’s also been an uprise in the fascination for all things pumpkin – spiced lattes made a comeback around halloween this year and I’ve also seen recipes for soups and pies floating about.  So while few over here will want to go the whole hog and have turkey in November (the brits save that for Christmas day), pumpkins are a different matter.  Here are a few of my favourite ways to use up the popular squash and I should mention too that all of these would work equally well with the Butternut, Harlequin and Kaboucha varieties too.

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Cheesy Pumpkin Scones
Makes 6

You will need:
175g peeled pumpkin, coarsely grated
120g strong hard cheese, like cheddar or Wensleydale
200g self raising flour, sifted
5 spring onions, chopped
1/4tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp milk

Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5 and lightly oil a baking sheet.  Place the grated pumpkin into a bowl with 80g of the cheese.  Add the flour, spring onions, paprika and salt and stir to combine.

2. Briefly whisk the egg and milk together in a measuring jug and then slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing all the while.  You should end up with a sticky dough.  Tip this out onto a floured work surface and use the palms of your hands to bring it to gather to form a smooth round.

3. Transfer to the baking sheet and reshape a little if necessary.  Using the back of a knife, press into the dough, creating the indents of six triangles.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dust with a little extra flour.

4.  Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.  Repeat the indenting process if necessary, then leave to cool on a wire rack.  Serve as they are, with plenty of butter or use to dip into a bowl of soup.

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Roasted Pumpkin with Kale, Burrata and Sumac
Serves 4

You will need:
750g pumpkin, cut into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
150g kale, roughly chopped
150g burrata
1 small bunch mint, leaves picked and torn

 Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.  Place the cubes of pumpkin onto a large oven tray and drizzle liberally with oil.  Sprinkle over the sesame seeds, sumac and chilli flakes and season generously with sea salt and black pepper.  Use your hands to mix everything together to coat the pumpkin cubes evenly with all the ingredients.

2.  Place the pumpkin in the oven and roast for 25-30 mins, until golden and cooked through.  Meanwhile, blanch or steam the kale until just tender.  Drain completely and pat dry, then drizzle with a tsp of olive oil and toss to coat.

3.  Add the pumpkin to the oven tray for the final 10 minutes of cooking, just to allow it to crisp up a little.  To serve, transfer the pumpkin and kale to a plate and tear or spoon over bits of the burrata (depending on how soft).  Drizzle with a little extra olive oil, scatter with the mint and serve immediately.

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Honeyed pumpkin and ricotta loaf cake with muesli streusel

You will need:
For the streusel
75g butter, softened
50g light muscovado sugar
25g oats
1 tbsp plain flour
3-4 tbsp mixed nuts and seeds, like peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds

For the cake
350g self-raising flour
100g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
50g cooled melted butter
75g honey
1 large egg, beaten
150g ricotta
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
250g grated pumpkin

Method:

1 . Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 5.  Butter and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin.  Start by making the streusel.  Beat the butter and sugar tougher, then add the oats and flour mixing to combine.  Finally, add the nuts and stir to form a crumbly consistency.  Set aside.

2. To make the cake, combine the flour, muscovado and ginger in a small bowl.

3.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter, egg, honey, ricotta and vanilla essence (if using).

4.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined, then fold through the grated pumpkin.  

5.  Pour into your prepared loaf tin and scatter over the streusel mixture, pressing a few of the nuts into the batter.  

6.  Bake for an hour until golden and cooked through when tested with a cake tester.  If the nuts are going very brown towards the end of the cooking time, cover with tinfoil and continue baking.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and spreading with plenty of butter.

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Of course, you don’t have to use fresh pumpkin at all and you certainly don’t have to make your own pumpkin puree to make a decent pumpkin pie.  My local deli has started selling tins of pumpkin puree, once quite difficult to find even in London, so I nabbed a can for these cookies with pecans and brown butter frosting (is there a better kind of frosting?  I’m not convinced there is…).  This recipe is adapted from the second Magnolia Bakery book.  Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, these are super easy.  

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting
Makes about 45 cookies

You will need:
For the cookies
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
4 tbsp vegetable oil
130g dark brown sugar
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
250g pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g chopped pecans

For the frosting
220g icing sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp butter

Pecan halves and cinnamon to decorate (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and line two baking sheets with parchment.  Place the flour, baking powder, salt, spices into a small bowl and mix to combine.  

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar before beating in the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.  Gradually add dry ingredients to the liquid ones, staring constantly to form quite a wet batter.   Finally, stir in the pecans.

3. Drop the dough onto a lined baking tray in rounded spoonfuls and bake for 12-15 min, until golden coloured and risen.

4. To make the frosting, combine sugar, milk and vanilla in small bowl. Cook butter until lightly browned, 3-5 min, making sure not to burn it. Then remove it from heat, add other ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy. Cover until ready to use.

5. When cookies are completely cool, spread or drizzle the frosting onto them. Decorate with the pecans and/or a sprinkle or two of cinnamon, if you like.  Serve with a tall glass of milk.

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