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“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Friday, October 30, 2015

Just Punkin' Around

Well folks, tomorrow being Halloween I suspect that those of you who participate in the annual candy overload fest will have already carved your pumpkins and put your decorations out. Me, I'm doing mine tonight. We popped over to a local pumpkin patch last week and found our pumpkins - we got five (one for Laura and myself, one for Josh, one for Ewan, one for Rosie and one to turn into a pie). I've seen some pretty creative carvings via the internet - here's my personal favorite...

Simple yet effective.
 One of the questions that always arises when it's time to carve pumpkins is - what can I do with the guts? I always separate the seeds and then roast them with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil - but the squishy guts always gets binned. Being a person who loathes waste, I always wondered what I could do with the squishy bits instead of just chucking them.

Well, the other day I was wandering around on the Instructables website looking for recipes for homemade liqueurs - sloe gin and suchlike. What I found was an amazing-looking recipe for a pumpkin liqueur using the pumpkin guts. Put simply it just involves separating the seeds out, placing the squishy stuff into a bowl and microwaving to extract more of the moisture, putting in a blender and whizzing until smooth, then simmering the resulting juice over a low/medium heat with appropriate spices added (cinnamon, clove etc.), reducing the mixture by half, then when it's cooled,  adding vodka and water. Here's the link to the full instructions...

http://www.instructables.com/id/Pumpkin-Liqueur/

And here's the full gen on how to juice the pumpkin innards.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Juicing-a-Pumpkin/


What could be interesting is trying with one of the different coloured varieties of pumpkin and seeing what that does to the coulour and taste.


And of course, here's a recipe for that fabulous pie we love so much.

For a 20cm tart tin

For the pastry:

170g plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g cold butter
2tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk

For the pie filling:

1 small culinary pumpkin or medium butternut squash
145g maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves (or 5 cloves, ground)
3 tbsp golden rum (optional)
2 large eggs, beaten
150ml evaporated milk

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Cut pumpkin or squash in half or quarters depending on the size, and scoop out the seeds and fibres inside. Place skin-side up in a roasting dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Roast for about half an hour, until tender.


2. Keeping the oven on, take the pumpkin out and leave to cool slightly, then peel off the skin, and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Whizz until smooth, then put into a fine sieve or piece of muslin suspended over a bowl and drain for at least an hour.

3. Meanwhile, make your pastry. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, stir in the salt, then grate in the butter. Rub in using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp iced water, and sprinkle half over the mixture, then stir together with a knife until it comes together in a paste – add a little more liquid if necessary.

4. Bring the mixture together with your fingertips, and then roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use it to line a 20cm tart tin. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

5. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans, and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the base is pale golden. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 180C.

6. Meanwhile, put 250g pumpkin purée in a large bowl, discarding the excess liquid, and stir in the maple syrup, rum if using, and spices. Taste for sweetness, then mix in the eggs. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk until you have a thick, creamy consistency – you may not need it all. Pour into the pastry case.

7. Bake for about 40 minutes, checking from half an hour onwards, until the filling is set, but still slightly wobbly in the centre. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.




Happy Halloween!


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