Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All things Pumpkin

First off big sigh - I passed my last written Ph.D. exam, oral exams are scheduled for October 27th!

In celebration of that, and of autumn, and because I love all things pumpkin I've been cooking pumpkin inspired treats over the past week and I've found dozens of great ideas I still want to try out.

By the way I've mentioned it before, but if you have never been to http://www.tastingspotting.com/ - you must go. This site has tons of fabulous recipes from bloggers that are way better and more devoted than I could ever dream to be - http://www.foodgawker.com/ is also awesome! I get much of my inspiration from these two sites.

As part of my ongoing crusade to make things from scratch as much as possible, I bought two small pumpkins (pie pumpkins) at the farmers market so that I could make my own pumpkin puree. The lady at the farmer's market assured me that these were pumpkins for cooking/baking, but after taking the time to cut and seed (and de-slime), and roast the pumpkins I was left with a stringy, tasteless yellow mush. So disappointing, but we did get some really tasty toasted pumpkin seeds in the end (just rinse the seeds well, toss with a little salt, let dry, and then toast in a 400 degree oven)!

Luckily, I had also purchased two butternut squash which taste a lot like pumpkin. I already had experience baking with them and it is quite simple to make butternut squash puree you just peel the squash, remove the seeds (much like a pumpkin), cut it into chunks, steam it until it is very tender (fork test!), and then puree it in a food processor or mash it really well.

So far I have made two recipes. The first is a harvest cake, which is basically pumpkin/squash bread, with some chopped apples and raisins in the batter. I also topped it with a cinnamon walnut streusel. This cake was good, but I found it to be a little too dense, maybe the addition of apple along with the squash puree made it too moist. But, I've had great results with this recipe when I've omitted the apples and raisins and baked it in a loaf pan. So, I would suggest that if you add the apples, you might cut back a little on the squash puree and make sure not to over stir it.
Here's the recipe:

Dry Goods:
11/2 c. Flour ( I use half whole wheat, half all purpose)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves

Wet Works:
2 eggs
1/4 c. oil (can sub applesauce)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. pumpkin/squash puree
1t. vanilla
Optional Add-ins:
1 small apple peeled and chopped
1/2 c. raisins or dried cranberries

Optional Streusel:
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. oil
1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the streusel ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. In another separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Stir the wet and dry ingredient together just until combined. Stir in optional add-ins. Pour into a prepared round spring form pan or a loaf pan. Sprinkle with the streusel, bake for 45-55 minutes - use the toothpick test.

Second, I made pumpkin/squash pancakes. I've come across several recipes for these and just had to make them! Here is a link to the recipe I worked from http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/2008/11/pumpkin-pie-pancakes.html
I followed it pretty closely, but I left out the butter (they didn't need it believe me) and I substituted the all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour for healthier whole-grain pancakes. These are great with maple syrup (of course!), but are also good with apple butter or even peanut butter. He also has a lot of other great pancake recipes on this site (along with other great non-pancake recipes), so take a look around!

Tip for keeping leftover pancakes: Alfred doesn't like pancakes (he doesn't like chocolate either, what's wrong with him?), and it's pretty much impossible to make enough batter for just 1 person. So, I always make a big batch. I let the leftover pancakes cool then I wrap them in foil (two at a time), and freeze them. Whenever I want pancakes I just pull them out of the freezer and pop them in the toaster!

Other neat pumpkin ideas:
1) I've seen many a blog post on this one, but I haven't tried it. You can mix a regular (15oz.) can of pumpkin with a box of cake or brownie mix - nothing else just the pumpkin and the mix - spread in a square pan (or muffin tins), bake at 350 for 20ish minutes and you'll have great tasting and very healthy brownies/bar cookies.
2) As a tasty topping for bagels, muffins, or anything really: mix together pumpkin puree, cream cheese, honey or maple syrup to taste, and whatever spices you like - cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc.

Noosh-e-jan (Bon appetite in Farsi!) - Ashlie

1 comment:

  1. FYI I made another pumpkin dish this morning - Pumpkin Oatmeal, so simple: Mix together 1/2 cup each of pumpkin puree, old fashioned oats, and milk/soymilk, to that add 1 T. honey or maple syrup and 1/8-1/4 t. of pumpkin pie spice (or just a little cinnamon and nutmeg). Microwave for 2 minutes - yum! I topped mine with some chopped apple and walnuts.