Pumpkin Everywhere But in the Pie

Pumpkin Everywhere But In the Pie

I don’t like pumpkin pie, at least the traditional version. Put mounds of whipped cream and a sprinkle of candied walnuts on it, and I still won’t like it. But oddly enough, I like virtually everything else made with pumpkin. So with Thanksgiving just around the proverbial corner, I’m sharing some of my favorites, along with a few tips.

A Few Tips

Canned pumpkin can be substituted for fresh in dishes made with pumpkin puree. Plan on using  three-quarters of a pound of raw pumpkin per person.  A two-pound slice of pumpkin is roughly equivalent to two pounds of puree. Butternut squash can be used in lieu of pumpkin in many recipes.

Pumpkin should be peeled and seeded before eating, and the stringy fibers should be discarded. If it’s destined for puree, the pumpkin can be cut into wedges and baked at 350-degrees for 30-plus minutes. 

Cooked pumpkin is easier to peel than raw, although it’s best to allow it to cool for a few minutes before peeling. This is also the case for boiled, steamed or microwaved pumpkin. On the other hand, if the pumpkin is to be stewed, fried or served in slices, peeling it raw is the better option. Microwaving the uncut pumpkin on high for five minutes will make it easier to peel.

The Recipes

Thai Pumpkin Soup

8 servings

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

2 shallots, minced

2 teaspoons finely chopped gingerroot

1 to 2 small fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced, or ½ teaspoon crushed dried hot pepper (adjust to taste)

4 cups chicken stock

¾  cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 teaspoons finely chopped lemongrass, or ½ teaspoon dried powdered

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 cups pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

2 to 3 coarsely chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the shallots, ginger root and chiles over moderate heat, stirring until the mixture becomes aromatic.
  2. Add the stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, fish sauce, pumpkin puree and sugar. Bring it to a simmer, then cook- uncovered-over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve the soup hot, and garnish each portion with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

Adapted from a recipe in “Crossroads Cooking (Viking, $27.50) by Elizabeth Rozin.

Golden Pumpkin Corn Pudding

Serves 4

Two tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup chopped onion

3 cups frozen corn kernels or fresh kernels cut from the cob

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1 ½ cups nonfat milk

½ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin

  1. Heat the oven to 325-degrees F. Butter a 1 ½ quart casserole dish.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion in the butter for 3 minutes, or until softened. Turn off the heat and add the corn, sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir to blend flavors. Sprinkle with the flour.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and pumpkin in a large bowl. Scrape the corn mixture out of the skillet and mix everything together.
  4. Pour into the prepared casserole dish and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the center is set, and the edges lightly browned.

Adapted from a recipe “Pumpkin-A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year” (Storey Publishing, $12.95) by DeeDee Stovel

Pumpkin – Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Serves 8

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch nutmeg

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup milk

1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust it with flour.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
  4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Stir in the milk.
  5. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using).
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack, and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely.
  7. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week.

Adapted from a recipe in Cake Keeper Cakes (The Taunton Press, $17.95) by Lauren Chattman

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