Reading over my last few posts, you really cannot miss my fondness for the culinary uses for pumpkins! Yesterday being Halloween itself, I had a small gathering of friends round for dinner, and of course, the theme was Pumpkins!
I made a Thai Green Pumpkin Soup which I served in teacups with crispy croutons as a starter. It was simplicity itself, just roasted pumpkin blended with a tin of coconut milk, some thai green curry paste and a pinch of dried chillies, then heated through to serve.
Next I trotted out my old faithful Pumpkin and Sage Risotto recipe. My secret to a great risotto is to take some of whatever vegetable risotto you are making, blend it with a little cream cheese, stock, cheddar and seasoning, then beat into the risotto at the end. It makes it really creamy and flavourful.
For dessert I was going to make Chocolate Pumpkin Creme Brulees with Salted Caramel, but I watched a snippet of This Morning, and Phil Vickery demonstrated a really easy but heavenly looking pumpkin loaf cake, so I made that instead, and I am really glad I did. As long as you have pumpkin, everything else is store cupboard, and the results are really stunning. I served mine with cream whipped with vanilla and a little sugar, and a pinch of edible glitter!
The recipe can be found here: http://www.itv.com/thismorning/food/pumpkin-cake/
I still have lots of pumpkin recipes I want to try though! In particular, Hugh has a recipe for Pumpkin Fold Overs in his new River Cottage Veg Everyday book….they look like an easy but delicious lunch. Then I found this post http://thequincetree65.blogspot.com/2011/11/pumpkin-recipes.html which has given me more food for thought! Although there is something extra nice about cooking with Pumpkins at Halloween, they really are too good and too versatile not to use throughout the autumn months. While I don’t like to think of carving pumpkins going to waste, I do think it is worth buying culinary pumpkins where you can. They are smaller and more flavourful, and also they are really quite cheap. One medium pumpkin made all the dishes for my Halloween Dinner, which served 5 with leftovers of everything except the soup!
When I left home for a training course this morning, it was very lightly drizzly and grey. I had my big white shawl with me to wrap up and snuggle in, which was nice, but what was really lovely was spotting here and there the carved pumpkins smiling (or frowning, in some cases!) out from windowsills, doorsteps and gardens. I know that a lot of people don’t like trick-or-treating or Halloween in general, but I think that if the former is well supervised it can be really nice, and the latter is what you choose to make it. Sadly we don’t get trick or treaters, but I really wish we did. Mum gets quite a lot, and really enjoys planning her treats. She buys a big tin of Quality Street or similar when they are on offer, perhaps a big bag of marshmallows or other Halloween sweets too, and makes up little crepe or tissue paper bundles to hand out. She gets lovely little children knock on the door, and I think she gets as much pleasure out of it as they do.
I still have not got round to one Halloween craft that I have always wanted to do…somehow, every year, time slips away! I want to take a small pumpkin, remove the seeds and put in a vase filled with bronze and orange and red chrysanthemums, so it looks like the pumpkin is the vase. Maybe next year will finally be the year!
One thing I did do this year which I have not done before is to buy a small selection of Halloween chocolates (including the Cadbury ‘Screme’ Egg which has green goo instead of a yolk in it!) and hide them about the flat for Carl to find, Easter Egg hunt style. That was lots of fun for both of us, so I will be doing that again next year.
So, Halloween is over, but happily Pumpkin season is not. I cannot believe that today is November. Suddenly the year seems nearly over, and Christmas is just around the corner (I do believe I read that it is 54 days!). Autumn is suddenly glorious, the trees are blazing with colour, and the air has that brittle hazy November quality to it.
Wherever you are, I hope you had a spookily perfect Halloween, and enjoy the many delights that November has to bring.