As promised, here is the third instalment of my pumpkin bonanza. I really enjoyed making (and eating) this autumnal take on pork meatballs. The pumpkin makes your meat go a bit further and because they are baked in the oven, rather than fried, just that little bit healthier. You could also use a lean mince to really up the health credentials. The chèvre cream is one of my favourite things in the world- it works as a dip, a sauce with pasta (see serving suggestion below in step 3) or just as an accompaniment to some grilled meat.
As I’ve mentioned before, I do love a pumpkin. Few vegetables signify a season quite as well. And, yes, I know this may in part be to our ever-expanding americanization, but I don’t mind so much in this instance. I know that the Yankee abduction of our seasons and traditions over here in Europe is often no more than a marketing ploy, but I’ll happily buy into a pumpkin fad. And anyway, they are the ultimate frugal veg because you can get so much out of them- a bargain rather than a frivolous, unnecessary splurge. So take that, Hollywood.
So every year, I buy a pumpkin and I cook with it. This year, I managed to get three decent recipes and meals from 1 medium sized pumpkin. Here are two with the final one to follow.
It may well be the case that every shop in town thinks it’s Christmas Eve already, judging by the abundance of glitter and flashing lights. And yes, most pubs, restaurants and cafés have been touting for your staff do business since July. Sure, John Lewis has started screening it’s Yule-themed advert (not a patch on last year’s, by the way). But, in my rather stubborn book, it’s still very much autumn. After all, the yanks have only just celebrated Thanksgiving and that’s the most autumnal holiday there is (apart from Halloween, of course).
So I’m still stuck on root vegetables and making the most of them. Pumpkin in particular, at the moment, as I managed to track down a can of pumpkin puree (not as widely available here as it is in the States). I wanted to make the most of it, without resorting to making a whole pie, so did a bit of experimenting.
I’ve also recently made some celeriac soup with chestnut and sage gnocchi and scones with parsnip, cheddar and cracked black pepper. Proof if you ever needed it that these knobbly, rather ugly looking vegetables are capable of beautiful things.
Cheddar, Parsnip and Black Pepper Scones
(adapted from the Leith’s Cookery Bible’s classic scone recipe)
You will need:
225g Self raising flour
pinch of salt
30g butter, diced
1 large parsnip, coarsely grated
60g strong cheddar cheese, grated
150ml + 2 tbsp milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200C
2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
3. Rub in the cold butter until the mixture is breadcrumb-like.
4. Add the grated parsnip, 50g of the grated cheddar and a good deal of ground pepper.
5. Make a well in the mixture and add 150ml of the milk, stirring to form a sticky dough.
6. Turn onto a floured work and knead until just smooth. Form/cut about 10 mini scones or 6 large ones, using a cutter, ramekin or glass (whatever you have to hand).
7. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and brush with the remaining milk. Sprinkle with a bit more of the grated cheese and a little cracked black pepper.
8. Bake in the top section of the oven for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden. Serve immediately with lots of butter.
Celeriac Soup with Chestnut and Sage Gnocchi
You will need:
For the soup:
1 onion, sliced
1/2 celeriac, peel and chopped roughly
1 clove garlic, minced
some torn sage leaves, to serve
For the gnocchi
500g spuds, peeled and cut into chunks
1 egg yolk
15 g Parmesan
100g plain flour
20 g butter, softened
100g chopped chestnuts
handful sage leaves
1. Add the chunks of potato to a large pan and cover with water. Add a bit of salt to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the chunks are completely cooked through and mushy.
2. Meanwhile, slice the onion and fry in a little oil over a low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Once the onion is cooked and slightly translucent, add the chunks of celeriac and minced garlic. Cook for a further minute or two, stirring constantly.
3. Add enough stock to the pan to cover the vegetables. Simmer over a low heat until the celeriac is just tender.
4. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and return them immediately to the dry pan. Put back onto a low heat to completely dry them out, taking care not to burn them. Remove from the heat and mash thoroughly or add to a food processor and blitz until smooth.
5. Mix in the egg yolk, cheese, butter and chopped chestnuts (if you are using a food processor you can add them whole) until thoroughly incorporated. Season liberally with salt, pepper and chopped sage leaves.
6. You should now have a sticky dough. On a floured work surface, roll out sections of this dough into long sausages, about 2cm in diameter.
7. Using a kitchen knife, cut off small chunks of the sausage so that you have little oblong gnocchi shapes.
8. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the gnocchi in batches. Once they float to the top of the pan, they are done- this should only take a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to some kitchen roll to dry. You can use the gnocchi straight away or cool and freeze for later.
9. To serve, drain the celeriac, but hang on to the stock. Puree the vegetables with a stick blender and return to the pan, adding in the reserved stock until the soup reaches your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
10. Heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan and fry 3-4 gnocchi per serving, flipping and moving them around the pan constantly. They should begin to colour a bit and form a slight crust.
11. Serve the soup in hearty bowls and top with the gnocchi, some torn sage leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. The gnocchi are also delicious served on their own with a bit of sage flavoured butter and lots of Parmesan.
Pumpkin Garlic Knots
(Recipe from the Handle the Heat blog)
You will need:
230ml warm water
1 sachet (7g) fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp honey
100g pureed pumpkin (from a tin)
2 tbsp + 70 ml olive oil
1 tsp salt
525g strong white bread flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano (or chopped fresh, if you have it)
1. In a small bowl, add the warm water and top with the dried yeast. Allow to sit for a few minutes, until slightly frothy, active and smelly.
2. Mix in the honey, 2 tbsp of the olive oil and pumpkin.
3 Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients then pour in your wet ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until the ingredients start to come together.
5. At this stage, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
6. Lightly oil the large bowl and place the dough into it with a sprinkling of flour. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warmish place until it has doubled in size- this may take a couple of hours- be patient and try not to keep checking it as that is sure to drive you potty.
7. Preheat the oven to 220 C. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knock back slightly. Tear off small sections of the dough- about 2 tbsps worth each. Roll each section into a long sausage shape and tie into a knot. Place onto an oiled baking sheet and continue to work your way through the dough. You should get about 30 small knots.
8. Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until golden. Meanwhile, combine the remaining olive oil with the oregano, sea salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Once the knots have come out of the oven and cooled slightly, toss them in this dressing mixture to coat. Leave to dry out a bit before serving. These are best when still slightly warm.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Pancakes
You will need:
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
150g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
grating of nutmeg
200 ml milk
100 g ricotta
100g pumpkin puree (from a tin)
1. Combine the baking powder, salt, flour and spices in a large bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, ricotta, puree and eggs until smooth and a bit frothy.
3. Make a well in the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients, beating to incorporate fully. It will make for quite a thick batter.
4. Heat a large frying pan with a little bit of oil. Add a wooden spoon-full of batter to the pan, swirling to flatten a bit. Once small bubbles begin to form on the tops of the uncooked side of the pancake, flip and cook for a further 30 seconds- 1 minute.
5. Keep warm whilst you make the remaining pancakes. Serve with lashings of maple or golden syrup.
Having said that, one pumpkin can go a really long way in terms of feeding the masses, so it gets bonus points on that front. And there are ways to use it that work really well, either with other ingredients to lift and bring out its sweetness or as a way to add moisture and texture. And don’t forget that the seeds are edible too and make for a great snack.
Here are some ideas to make your pumpkin go further. These three dishes all came from one medium sized pumpkin.
To enhance the flavour:
Roast pumpkin, lemon and sage risotto.
You will need:
To serve 4
300 g pumpkin, cut into wedges, skin on
sea salt, pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 lemons, zested and juiced
200g risotto rice- arborio or carnaroli
100 ml white wine or dry vermouth
1 L good quality chicken or vegetable stock
A bunch of sage leaves, torn
1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Lay the pumpkin wedges on an oven proof tray and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Scatter with salt an pepper and bake until just tender, about 40 mins.
2. Chop the onion and mince the garlic. In a large, heavy-based pan, sweat the onions in some olive oil over a medium heat. Add the minced garlic, the zest of one lemon, a few torn sage leaves and the rice and mix well. Fry these for a minute or so, allowing the rice to absorb some of the fragrant oils in the pan.
3. Add the white wine and vermouth and allow to bubble away. Once reduced, begin adding the stock, about a fourth at a time.
4. Cook until the rice is just tender with a bit of bite to it and the liquid has been absorbed and you have a creamy consistency.
5. Add the chopped pumpkin and lemon juice/zest to taste as well as a good grating of Parmesan. Allow to come together for a minute or two. Serve in hearty bowls with a grating of cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and some more sage.
To add umph to a cake- This recipe is adapted from this one I found on the BBC Good Food website. I had some leftover coconut milk kicking about, so I used this for sweetness instead and reduced the amounts of honey and sugar. To add more coconut flavour, add some essence or replace 50g of the flour with 50g of dessicated coconut.
Pumpkin, Ginger and Coconut loaf
You will need:
50g cooled melted butter
75 g honey
1 large egg
150 ml coconut milk
1 tsp coconut essence (optional)
250g grated pumpkin
100g light muscovado sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp demerara or light muscovado sugar
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Butter and line a loaf tin.
2. Combine the flour, muscovado and ginger in a small bowl.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, honey, butter, coconut milk, essence and grated pumpkin.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.
5. Pour into your prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
6. Bake for an hour until golden and cooked through when tested with a cake tester. Allow to cool before slicing and spreading liberally with butter.
Waste not want not:
Smoky Pumpkin Seeds
When carving your pumpkin, it is generally assumed that you scoop out the fleshy innards, including the seeds and chuck them in the bin. Don’t. Save the seeds- pop them in a bowl and into the fridge until you have a spare 15 minutes and you’ve got the oven on.
You want it to be set to 200 degrees C and have a large oven tray to hand. Spread your seeds onto this and remove any stringy bits of pumpkin flesh. Sprinkle with lots of sea salt, more than you think you’ll need, pepper and some paprika. Drizzle with a good slug of oil- olive if you have it, but plain will do too. Roast in the oven, giving the seeds the occasional shuffle about, until golden and toasted. They’ll keep for about a week and make for an irresistible nibble.
Pickles, Pumpkins and Pigs.
- Roughly chop the onion, celery and pumpkin flesh and put in a heavy pan.
- Add chili, garlic, spices salt and pepper and the chicken stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before stirring in the peanutbutter. Blend with a stick blender or in food processor.
- When you want to serve it, dice the chicken into neat cubes and add to the soup. Gently reheat and taste to season when hot. Do not let boil.
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F or Gas mark 4)
- Heat about half the butter in a large casserole dish and fry the sausage pieces until brown and caramelised
- Add the rest of the butter and the chopped onions. Fry until softened before adding the minced garlic and chopped sage.
- Add the pumpkin and stir well until combined. Increase the heat and add the vinegar, let it bubble and evaporate.
- Add the tomatoes, beans and stock before seasoning.
- Bring this to the boil and then transfer to the oven for up to one hour, until the sausages are cooked through and the pumpkin is tender.
- Serve in hearty bowls, scatter with parsley. Enjoy next to a roaring fire.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and celery and cook until softened. Remove from the pan and put in a large casserole dish or large pot. Add the lardoons to the pan and cook until golden. Add to the pot.
- Add a little extra oil (or butter if you prefer), to the pan and brown the chicken pieces all over, seasoning as you go.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and pour in the cider, scraping any crispy bits that have stuck to the pan.
- Arrange the chicken pieces in the pot, so they sit on top of the onions, celery and lardoons. Add the cider juices and the chicken stock and sprinkle with half the chopped sage. Cover with a lid and bake for 50 minutes.
- Add the apple slices, rest of the sage and stir in the crème fraiche. Cook uncovered for another 20 or so minutes, until the juices of the chicken run clear.
- To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with rice or mash and a simple green salad or perhaps some tenderstem broccoli.
- Preheat your oven to 170C or 325F, Gas mark3. Then grease a 20cm (8in) spring-form cake tin (or the closest thing you have) with about 20 g of the softened butter. Also add a dusting of flour (40g)
- First off, make your crumble topping. Sift 70g of the flour with the cinnamon before adding 40g of the cold, diced butter. Use your fingertips to rub the ingredients together until you’ve got a breadcrumb-like mixture. Stir in the light brown sugar and then set to one side.
- Use an electric whisk to cream the remaining 60g of softened butter and the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.
- Sift together140g of flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add about half of this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, followed by half the milk. Mix well with your electric whisk, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles ontop of the batter, then sprinkle with the crumb topping to form an even layer.
- Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 min, until it is golden brown on top and a skewer or knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Set aside to cool before removing from the tin. Can be enjoyed warm or cold, with crème fraiche, whipped cream, ice cream or custard. Or all of the above.