Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Show Recipes

Had a great time doing the show today. Halloween and fall always evoke wonderful images of growing up in the midwest. The colors red, yellow and orange bring with them memories of leaves turning colors, gourds, apples and pumpkins (the star fruit of the season!)
As a midwesterner, I was brought up to think of pumpkins as a vehicle for pies, cookies and quick breads. The idea of this symbol of Fall being used for anything savory was foreign to me as I'm sure it was to others those around me. The first thing I remember having in Michigan with pumpkin in it that didn't fall into the aforementioned categories was pumpkin empanadas, a treat I discovered while delivering produce to a Mexican market in Lansing during my short stint as a truck driver, and also one which I have included in the recipes from the show.
But I think since I have an entire Autumnal meal laid out for you, I think I should start with the soup course by sharing a Pumpkin Soup recipe by Chef David Barker, a fellow forum member at Jamie Oliver's website.

Pumpkin Soup

50g (3.5 tablespoons) butter
1 onion, chopped
1kg (2 lbs) pumpkin,de-seeded and cubed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves (from my garden)
a glass of white wine
2 tablespoons double cream
900ml(3.5 cups) fresh organic chicken stock,hot
an old parmesan cheese rind! plus extra for shavings for garnish!


First, melt the butter on a med-low heat, add the onion and pumpkin and cook for about 5 mins. Then add the garlic and the bay leaves and cook again, for another 5 mins.

Add the wine and let it bubble for a couple of mins to evaporate off the alcohol a bit!!! then add the stock and the parmesan rind (this is a good way to get some great flavour from a thing that you normally throw away)

Now increase the heat and boil the soup for 10 mins, or until the pumpkin is nice and soft. Then set aside to cool down slightly. When it has, remove the bay and rind...

Puree with a stick blender until really smooth. At his point you can loosen the soup up a little with water if it is too thick!

Stir in the cream and season well with salt and pepper, transfer the soup to a clean pan and heat til hot.

Ladle into warm bowls. Top each with a few thin shavings of parmesan and a good drizzle of a great, grassy, peppery good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Coming back to this part of the world, I have a rather interesting salad from the Cerrado area of Brazil, a massive area that covers several regions. I thought this was such an interesting use of pumpkin. Feel free to cut back on the amount of cinnamon if you wish. It does seem to dominate somewhat. But do try this interesting juxtaposition of fried balls of pumpkin with the coolness of the salad greens.

Savannah Salad with Fried Pumpkin

3 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
1 stick cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin balls (cut with a melon baller)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 cups Boston lettuce
1 cup watercress
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashew nuts, crushed


2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a medium-size pan, boil water with salt and the cinnamon stick.
2. Cook 1/3 of the pumpkin balls at a time for 3 minutes. Strain and place them in a bowl of ice water. Strain again and allow the balls to dry. Repeat process with remaining pumpkin balls. Heal the olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the cinnamon and fry the pumpkin balls shaking the pan to see they don't stick. Remove and reserve.
3. For the vinaigrette, add the cinnamon to the warm skillet scraping the bottom. Add vinegar and salt and whisk in olive oil.
4. Toss the greens with half the dressing. Toss the pumpkin with 5 tablespoons of the dressing. Finally, mound the greens on a platter placing the pumpkins balls around and sprinkling with the crushed cashews.
Drizzle any remaining dressing on top and serve.

With the exception of Chef Suvir Saran's Pork Vindaloo from his first book, Indian Home Cooking, my favorite way to enjoy a long braising of pork comes from the Latin American kitchen and few are better than Pork and Pumpkin stew. Severed with warm tortillas and boiled rice, this is the ultimate Autumn comfort food!

Pork and Pumpkin Stew

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
a 14-ounce can tomatoes, including the juice
2 teaspoons dried sage
4 potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 pounds sugar pumpkin cut into 1-inch pieces

In a heavy pot, heat oil and sear pork in batches until nicely caramelized. Remove to a plate and reserve. Add onion, saute until soft and add garlic stirring just until golden. Add tomatoes, breaking them up and return pork and simmer covered for 1 hour adding water if liquid if not sufficient.
Add potatoes and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add the kale and pumpkin and cooked covered stirring occasionally until pumpkin is tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice with warm tortillas.

When I was in my early 20's, I drove a produce truck delivering fruits and vegetables to little markets around Michigan. One such market was a Latin American market in Lansing. It was there that I discovered Pumpkin Empanadas, a sort of turnover affair filled with sweetened spiced pumpkin. I believe there were 6 to a package and none to a package by the time I returned the truck to Battle Creek. I requested that particular route every week. I was so pleased when I found a recipe that rivaled those wonderful Mexican pastries I used to enjoy back in Michigan. Try these soon. They are just the thing to include in a Sunday brunch and just beg to be washed down with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

Pumpkin Empanadas

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cups cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup ice water
Pumpkin filling

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Stir together flour and sugar and work in butter with a pastry blender. Beat together egg yolk and the water add gradually to flour mixture and mix well.
3. Divide dough in half for easier handling and turn onto a lightly floured board. Roll each ball of dough out thin. Cut dough into 4-inch circles.
4. Fill each circle with approximately 1 tablespoon filling, fold in half, and pinch edges to seal; then flute the edges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, brush the tops with the slightly beaten egg white, and bake for 15 minutes.

Pumpkin Filling

2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise seed or ground nutmeg

1. Place pumpkin, sugar and anise seed (or nutmeg)Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Cool.

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