Featured Food: Pumpkins


A Pumpkin for All Seasons

Carving a jack-o’-lantern is an Irish tradition for celebrating Hallowe’en.

Pumpkin, however, is native to America, and was used here for this imported holiday. Vegetables like turnips and gourds, however, have been carved for 10,000 years. I prefer to decorate my pumpkin so that it will be preserved for baking in mid-November; I simply draw the face with crayon or non-toxic marker.

Cutting up a pumpkin to prepare for cooking is difficult and sometimes dangerous. Being round and hard, a pumpkin can make the knife slip. I’ve found a simple way to prepare pumpkin for use later in pies and other recipes. It is embarrassingly simple.

Turn your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the outside of your pumpkin, and dry its surface. Cut a triangle out of the top like this pumpkin’s nose. Lift the triangle halfway out. The triangular hole will serve as a pressure relief valve during baking.

Place the pumpkin in the middle of your oven. Allow an hour before testing for softness: it should be fork tender. Turn off your oven, and let it cool. Remove the pumpkin to slice in half. Remove the seeds and stringy center. Slice the flesh into wedges, and peel off the skin. Place the flesh in a bowl, and mash with a potato masher.

Measure two cups of mashed pumpkin into separate little freezer baggies, and freeze. Now you have pre-measured pumpkin to use all year in your favorite recipes. Two cups makes the filling for one pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie

Defrost one bag (2 cups) of frozen pumpkin.
Place in a blender.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare a single pie shell (or pre-made pie shell).

To the blender, add 3 whole eggs and 1 cup of evaporated milk. Add 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 tsp. powdered cloves, 3 tsp. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. ginger. Blend.

Pour the blended mix into the pie shell. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350, and bake for another 40 minutes. Test with knife until it comes out clean. Set out to cool (usually 1–2 hours).

Pumpkin Cake

Defrost one bag (2 cups) of frozen pumpkin.
Place in a bowl.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare a Bundt pan by rubbing with corn oil and dusting with unbleached bread flour (high protein).

In one bowl, place 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, and 2 cups pumpkin mash. (Raisins and nuts are optional.) Mix together.

In another bowl, place 2 cups unbleached bread flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Blend.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gradually.
Pour the mixture into a greased and dusted Bundt pan, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes before inverting to release onto a serving dish. May be glazed or dusted with powdered sugar.

Recipes by Diane Masura