Archive for the ‘Pumpkin’ Category

Cooking with My Son, Caston

I await autumn each year not only for the cooler weather and fall color, but the food. Pumpkin tops the list of some of my favorites: pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cake…you get the idea.

And, no recipe that calls for pumpkin is complete unless it’s homemade pumpkin puree.  Making your own puree is very simple and freezer bags help you store the puree very easily.  Here is my method for processing pumpkins this fall.  And, I’ve got a special recipe that I made with my son this morning- Pumpkin Cake with a rich and buttery dark brown sugar glaze.  You never know what a little experimenting in the kitchen will bring…

How to Process Pumpkins
Split the pumpkin in half, remove all seeds and strings. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take pumpkin and place in a large cake pan. Place pumpkin pulp-side down into the pan. Add 3 cups of water to pan. Bake the pumpkin for about 1 hour in the oven. You will know when the pumpkin is ready by pushing on the skin and it feels soft to the touch. If the pumpkin is still hard, let it remain in the oven for another 20 minutes.  You may have to add more water throughout the cooking process, so be sure to check on the level throughout.

After you have your pumpkin cooked, remove all the pulp and place in large bowl. I remove the pulp with a large metal spoon and scoop it out.  With a blender add 1 cup of pulp at a time, along with 1/4 cup of water. Blend together.

Let pumpkin cool, add to freezer bags and freeze flat. I like to place 2 cups or 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin in each bag, for cooking purposes.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Pumpkin Cake with a Buttery Sugar Glaze
⅓ cups Water
2 ½ cups pumpkin puree
2 Large Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 box French Vanilla or Golden Butter Cake Mix(18 Ounce Box and I always use Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, Divided
½ cups Flour
½ cups Walnuts, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ cups Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 Tablespoon of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until well combined. Next add the cake mix and baking soda and mix well.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Then, in a small mixing bowl make your crumbled topping.  Mix together ½ dark brown sugar, ½ cup flour, toasted walnuts and melted butter and mix until the topping resembles chunky cornmeal.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking make your rich glaze.  Combine ½ cup dark brown sugar, ¼ cups granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons of butter and ¼ cup heavy cream.  Bring mixture to a light simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.

When cake comes out of oven, take a knife and poke holes in the top of the cake.  Pour the glaze over the entire cake and let cake sit for at least 30 minutes.


Read Full Post »

French Pumpkins at the farmers market

The nip in the air is intoxicating!  Fall is trying to make an appearance and I welcomed it wholeheartedly.

With fall brings a new array of garden vegetables to the farmers markets, things such as butternut squash, pumpkins, acorn squash, apples and a lot of the same items you see pop up in the spring like spinach, broccoli, cauliflowers, kale and others.

I always welcome fall with open arms and embrace the new season of foods that my local farmers provide.  But, remember each market is different so don’t go to your local market and expect to find all of these goodies.  What will be available at your market depends on the farmers that planted fall gardens this summer or have access to grow in high tunnels.

When I think of fall, I am reminded of the smell of pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven.  My mother taught me to make homemade pumpkin puree from the French pumpkins my father grew in his garden.  I can honestly say that I’ve never bought canned pumpkin and plan on never having to.  Making puree is simple and stores perfectly in the freezer.

If you are a new mom, be sure and make extra pumpkin puree for your little one.  Pumpkin will taste similar to squash.  I would add a little cinnamon to my son’s pumpkin puree to make it even more special.

Making Your Own Pumpkin Puree
I grew up in a family where we grew our own pumpkins in the garden. My dad always bought heirloom seed and planted a French variety pumpkin that made the BEST pumpkin pie.

We would grow our pumpkins, puree them and measure out a specific measurement of puree then place in freezer bags and freeze the puree until we were ready to use it. That way all we would have to do is go the freezer, thaw the pre-measured pumpkin and add it to our recipe.

Personally, I do not like ANY canned pumpkin. I tasted others pumpkins pies made with the canned stuff- and I will pass on dessert!  Maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment eating my own processed pumpkin, I don’t’ know. But I know there is a major taste difference in canned vs. processed. It’s a fairly simple process to actually process your own pumpkin puree also. I think many folks think it’s a very complicated and time consuming process – not so!

First, pick out a small sugar pumpkin. Not the large Jack-o-Laterns you see in fields or for decoration. Those types of pumpkins have a very fibrous flesh and are not as sweet tasting as the smaller varieties. The smaller variety only weighs about 4-8 lbs, has a good stem intact and needs to have no soft spots of blemishes.

You can find these smaller cooking pumpkins at farmers markets, specialty stores and sometimes even grocery stores.

To make your puree:
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds (but save them, they make excellent garnishes for dishes and are great toasted) and stringy fibers, and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Add about 2 cups of water to the baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pumpkin is soft to the touch. You may have to add a bit of water throughout the cooking process.

Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You may have to add a little bit of water in the food processor or blender to get the mixture to puree smoothly. Cool before using or storing in freezer bags.

I like to pre-measure all my puree in freezer bags. This way it’s very easy to go to the deep freeze and pick out 1 cup 2 cups, ect of measured pumpkin puree.

To celebrate the turning of the season here’s a simple soup that will warm your soul this winter!

Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup
2 tbs. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
3-4 cups sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced (or 1 whole butternut squash)
3 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth
½ c. honey
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp. pepper

In large pot, melt butter, stir in onions and garlic. Cook and stir until browned (5 minutes). Stir in carrots and celery and cook until tender (5 minutes.) Stir in potatoes, squash, chicken broth, honey, and thyme. Bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place mixture into a food processor and mix till smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and season with salt and pepper.

Read Full Post »