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Cucurbit love!

Okay so cucurbit for us simple folk is another name for the beloved pumpkin. At least pumpkins are beloved at my house. I absolutely love pumpkins. Actually, this is the first year of my love affair with pumpkins. Where have they been all my life, how blind could I have been? Anyhoo, it's better late than never and I'm gonna get my fair share this year, with some luck!

The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word Pepõn which means large melon. The word gradually morphed by the French, English and then Americans into the word "pumpkin." Pumpkins and squash are believed to have originated in the ancient Americas. It's said that the words; pumpkins, squash and gourds are all interchangeable.

Not only are pumpkins great for making yummy, fall treats but they're so pretty too. Look at all the great Fall decorating you can do with a pumpkin and even better lots of pumpkins!



above photo take from Country Home





above photos take from Better Homes and Gardens

reposted from October 08.
Here in Croatia it's almost impossible to find good cooking pumpkins because in this part of Europe black pumpkin seed oil is tradition and everyone loves it. Actually in the fall it's totally normal to see fields lined with big, orange pumpkins ready for the pickin', but then it happens. Every year I'll see a field over flowing with pumpkins and then the same field will the lying with the wasted shells of the same pumpkins. As soon as the pumpkins are ready the women come out to the field, cleave the pumpkins into, scoop out the insides and leave the rest to rot! Can you believe that such waste is going on in a civilized country? It is, right here in Croatia and this whole part of Europe.

Anyhoo, here is a picture tutorial on how to cook a fresh pumpkin:

First, get your pumpkin. There are many varieties out there but since I didn't really know I settled for the average orange one.
Cut the pumpkin into and then scoop out the innards! These can be retained and then separated to make toasted pumpkin seeds.
Scooped out!
Then there are several ways to cook the pumpkin. You can add them to a large baking pan like the above one, face down and fill with 1 inch water or you can even cook it in the microwave if it's large enough to accomodate the pumpkin. (BTW, my kids drew on the outside before I cut it open, see the funny faces, that's about as close to a jack o lantern they have ever been.)
My daughter, Hannah wanted you to see the pumpkin in the over, don't ask why! I cooked the pumpkin on 325 for about an hour or a little less. The whole purpose is to get the flesh nice and soft, soft enough to be pureed in the food processor.
After the pumpkin is finished cooking take it out and let it cool completely. When it's cool enough to handle take a knife and clean all the skin off of the flesh of the pumpkin. We want only good clean flesh, then I chopped it up in 2 in cubes so it would be easier for my food processor to puree.


Ta-da! Pumkin puree! You may want to put it into a fine colander to strain some of the water off. I set it in the colander over a bowl and let it strain for 15 minutes and there was really alot of liquid that ran off.

Have more pumpkin than you can use at the moment, then freeze it! Look what a great idea I found! Process the fresh pumpkin as above and then freeze it in 1/2 C portions in a flexible muffin pan. Freeze it this was can allow specific amounts to be taken out of the frozen without thawing all of it. This works great! Now I have a huge bag of pumpkin puree muffins. Try it!


After the pumpkin is all finished you may use it exactly like you would for can pumpkin. From one medium sized pumpkin I got about 6 cups of puree. I made 4 loaves of pumpkin bread and 12 muffins and they were delish! So fresh! Here's the super-easy, super-yummy Pumpkin Bread recipe I used, sure to be a hit no matter where!

Pumpkin Bread


1 C all purpose flour
1 C packed brown sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1/4 TSP salt
1/4 TSP baking soda
1/4 TSP ground nutmeg
1/8 TSP ground ginger or cloves
1 C canned pumpkin or fresh
1/2 C milk or buttermilk
2 eggs
1/3 C shortning
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 raisins (optional)


1. Grease the bottom and half way up the sides of a 9x5x3 in. loaf pan; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine 1 C flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger or cloves. Add pumpkin, milk, eggs, and shortning. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till blended. Beat on medium to high speed for 2 minutes. Add the 1 C of flour and beat until blended. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.
*** I used a wooden spoon and mixed just until blended and it was wonderful!
3. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in a 350° oven 60 to 65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
*** I only baked it for about 40 minutes and it was good but I have a confection over so it works different. Use the toothpick method and when it's almost dry it's ready, don't over cook!
Cool completely on a wire rack.


I made this bread for church this morning and out Croats loved this bread. They are super slow to try anythign and since they don't eat the pumpkin I didn't tell them what was in the bread until they all said how good the bread was, then I broke the big news, IT'S PUMPKIN!!

Also my husband doesn't like pumpkin and he loved this bread, yummy! Make sure to let me know if you cook your own pumpkin and share your culinary creations!

I also found this great recipe at Martha Stewart, it's next on my list of recipes to try.

FOR THE PUMPKIN WHOOPIE COOKIES

Photo credit: "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, coauthored with Renato Poliafito, October 2008)

Ingredients

Makes 12 whoopie pies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • FOR THE CREAM-CHEESE FILLING
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
  4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
  5. Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.
some info. was taken from All About Pumpkins.

Anyhoo, it's pumpkin season, enjoy!
Tori

6 comments:

  1. How much fun! I am going to look for those little ones here...don't know if Russia sells them!
    Thanks for the great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing the pics for decorating! And the reminder of the recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved the pic of the glass upside down with the pumpkin underneath and candle on top!!!

    Might try that one for the dining table!

    Looks yummy..thanks for the tute!

    HOPE~

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved this post. All the pretty pictures and the pumpkins, the recipes, it was a delight to read and made me want to make some pumpkin bread. Thank you, just what I needed to get in the mood for fall. love you, Tori, connie

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the smell of pumpkin! Here in SA, when I make pumpkin pie, I use squash because it tastes more like the pumpkin I know in the states.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I LOVE PUMPKINS, TOO! We got some seeds from U.S. pumpkins, and are trying to grow some in our garden. I pray that they make it - they don't seem to like the climate here. :o/

    ...Great decorating ideas, and recipes, Tori!

    ReplyDelete

Hey thanks in advance for leaving a comment, sure do appreciate it!!

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