Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Great Pumpkin Waltz

Fall is one of my favorite times of year and although I now live in Southern California and miss the the changing of the leaves and the amazing fashionable cold weather clothes, I still love to get in the spirit of the harvest season.

As Thanksgiving is nearing I thought it would only be appropriate to write about pumpkins.  My Mom's pumpkin pie has been a tradition in my family on Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember.  I even think some of us look forward to it more than the turkey.  The smell of pumpkin roasting in the oven and then baking into a pie brings back so many memories of holidays at home with my family.

When I was a kid growing up I guess I only thought pumpkins were for carving and for pie, however as an adult who now loves looking for new and interesting ways to use ingredients I have found many wonderful recipes.  But before I share these with you we need to start at the beginning, baking the pumpkin and creating the puree.  I use a sugar pie pumpkin but if you live on the east coast I suggest trying to seek out a neck pumpkin or have your Mom overnight you one already baked, pureed, and ready for your pie.

Pumpkin Puree

What you will need:
1 sugar pie pumpkin (mine is from Trader Joe's)
Baking sheet
Food processor 
Medium bowl 
Medium fine mesh strainer
Serrated and non-serrated knifes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Begin by carefully cutting off the stem of the pumpkin with a large serrated knife. Next, cut the pumpkin into quarters and scrape the seeds into a bowl while discarding the stringy flesh.  Save the seeds for roasting later.

Place the pumpkin quarters on a foil lined baking sheet and cover the pumpkin with foil.  Bake the pumpkin for 1-1/2 hours until tender. To test, poke the rind with a fork.  When it slides through easily the pumpkin is done.
Remove from oven and let cool. Scrape out 2 quarters of the pumpkin into the food processor and puree until smooth.  Place pureed pumpkin in the mesh strainer over a bowl to catch the watery liquid.  The smoother and thicker the puree the better.  Repeat this process with the other half. 

Use pumpkin immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to 1 year.  

Note: one sugar pie pumpkin makes about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of puree.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you have saved your pumpkin seeds here is my favorite recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. I have tried many variations with different spices but I have decided my Mom's original recipe is my favorite...and my husband's too. 

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Wash the pumpkin seeds and let them dry on a baking sheet. It may take up to a whole day for them to dry.  

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat.  Add the seeds to the sauce pan and mix until the seeds are completely coated with butter.  Spread the seeds on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt to taste.  Bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until crisp and slightly brown.  Remove from the oven and let them cool.  Serve and enjoy!