Pumpkins are not just for Jack-o’-laterns!

news: Pumpkins are not just for Jack-o’-laterns!

PUMPKINS ARE tasty winter vegetables which can be enjoyed at every course of a meal and, for Americans, no Thanksgiving dinner can be complete without a classic pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin soup

1 lb (1/2kg) pumpkin, peeled and cubed

2 pints (1 litre) chicken stock

1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters

2 – 3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Crème fraîche

Chopped coriander for garnish

Put the first five ingredients into a large cooking pot.You can use chicken stock cubes if you do not have fresh stock on hand, but be careful of the salt content. Boil until the vegetables are soft.Purée this mix and add the spices. Reheat to serve and garnish with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a pinch of coriander. This serves about six people.

Easy pumpkin bread

1 cup (250g) plain flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup (275g) sugar

1/2 cup (125g) butter

2 eggs

1 cup (275g) prepared pumpkin puree, well drained

1/3 cup (90ml) milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Prepare the pumpkin by removing the seeds and string. Bake, shell side up, in a medium oven (350F or 175C) for an hour. When cooked and well drained, the cooked weight is about half the uncooked weight. Scrape the pulp off the shell and purée. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix well.Cream the butter, sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy and combine these two in a large mixing bowl.Beat in the pumpkin purée and the milk and vanilla. Pour all this into a greased loaf pan and bake for one hour in a medium oven (350F or 175C).

This bread is also very tasty spread with cream cheese instead of butter.

Classic pumpkin pie

For the pastry:

2 cups (500g) plain flour

Ice cold water

1/2 cup (125g) butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 – 2 tablespoon sugar

Mix the ingredients listed above together with enough ice cold water to make a workable dough.After letting it stand for at least half an hour (take the time to relax yourself), roll out and line a nine or 10 inch (about 25cm) pie dish.

The filling:

3/4 cup (200g) sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs

2 cups pumpkin, prepared as in the previous recipe

1 can (300g) evaporated milk

Mix the sugar, salt and spices in a small bowl. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the pumpkin and sugar/spice mixture. Gradually add the evaporated milk.Pour into the pastry shell and bake in a very hot oven (425F or 250C) for 15 minutes.Reduce the heat to 350F or 175C and continue baking for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean.

Cool for two hours and serve immediately or refrigerate.Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Finally, for a table centerpiece, cut the top off a fresh, unblemished pumpkin, hollow out a space to completely insert a glass or plastic container and fill this with flowers.