020: Pumpkin

Pumpkins aren’t really for eating. Like pretty much the only time you’ll eat pumpkin is in a pie. And that’s too bad! It’s really a good vegetable. While I was looking up how to choose a good pumpkin, it listed like every other winter squash as well? So maybe “pumpkin” is just a blanket term for winter squash or something, in which case I guess we eat pumpkin a lot more than I thought.
Semantics aside, orange Halloween-y pumpkins aren’t really for eating. They also have a weird size perception thing going on, where you’ll pick one up and it’ll be pretty heavy (in fact, the way you pick one is, as with basically any melon-like fruit, to get one that feels heavy for its size) but you’ll still have the feeling that it’s not big enough. I bought three sugar pie pumpkins, and only used one and a half.

Menu (serves 3)
Hogwarts Pumpkin Juice
Kaddo Bourani
Pear and Pumpkin Slaw
Pumpkin Risotto
Hoshaf ‘ar’ ‘asali (Egyptian Pumpkin Pudding)

The juice and pudding both use cooked, pureed pumpkin, so I set about 4 cups of diced pumpkin to simmer in a pot on low with a cup or so of apple juice. Let it go until the pumpkin is mushy.

Hogwarts Pumpkin Juice
-2c soft simmered pumpkin
-2c apple juice
-1/2c pineapple juice (I didn’t have this)
-1t honey
-cloves
-cinnamon

Basically just put all the ingredients in a blender, blend, adjust the flavors. Pour the puree into a strainer over a big pitcher or measuring cup. Use a wooden spoon to press it all through. It’ll be way too thick, but this will get the texture smoother. Pour it back through the strainer into the blender cup. Just let it strain; don’t push the puree at all. I ended up with about 3 cups of liquid. Return the juice to the pitcher or whatever, and put it in the fridge to cool. Put the “solids” in the blender.

Kaddo Bourani
-1/2 pumpkin (about 1.5lb)
-1/2c sugar
-1c yogurt
-2 cloves garlic
-1T fresh mint
-1/2lb ground lamb
-2T tomato sauce
-1/4c cream
-salt

Preheat the oven to 300. Cut the pumpkin into wedges, at least three. Skin the wedges with a vegetable peeler. Put the pumpkin into a glass baking dish, and drizzle with oil. Use your hands to get the pumpkin coated. Starting with the half cup of sugar, heavily dust the pumpkin. Get an amount of sugar on the pumpkin that seems like too much. Use more sugar if necessary.
Put the dish into the oven for two and a half hours. Baste the pumpkin with any juices that accumulate, then put it back in for another 45 minutes. Remove. You can warm it up later if necessary by heating the oven to 200 and putting it in for 10 minutes or so.

Put the yogurt, garlic, and mint in a food processor. Grind it together, and adjust the ratios and salt.
Heat some oil in a pan. Cook the lamb and break it up into little pieces. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cream and tomato sauce, and stir it together into a thick creamy sauce.
Serve each pumpkin wedge with a few spoonfuls of yogurt sauce, and some of the lamb sauce.

Pear and Pumpkin Slaw
-1/4 pumpkin
-1 large pear or 2 small pears
-juice of 1 lemon
-1/2t red wine vinegar
-1t dijon mustard
-salt
-pepper
-olive oil
-fresh mint

You’re going to be grating the pumpkin, so cut it into manageable chunks and skin it with the vegetable peeler. Grate it on a cheese grater. Alternately, just cut the pumpkin into very thin sticks. I used a mix of cut and grated. Cut the pear into thin sticks. Chiffonade the mint. Toss the pumpkin and pear together with the lemon juice, mint, vinegar, mustard. Add enough olive oil to make the salad smooth; really not a large amount. Just a little drizzle. Season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin Risotto
-1.5c arborio rice
-1/4 pumpkin
-4c chicken stock
-1 onion
-4 cloves garlic
-6-8 button or crimini mushrooms
-1t curry powder
-1/2t rosemary
-1c grated parmesan
-3T butter
-cream
-salt
-pepper

Heat the oven to 300 again. Skin the pumpkin, and cut it to a small dice. Toss it with some oil, then put it in the oven for half an hour, until the pumpkin is softened. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, dice the mushrooms. Melt the butter in a heavy pot, or a large heavy pan, over medium heat. When it’s melted, saute the onion and garlic with the rosemary, and some salt and pepper. When the onion is starting to brown, add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have a nice sear. Add the pumpkin. Add the rice. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t burn. You’re just toasting it.
Add about a cup of stock. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir the risotto frequently. It doesn’t have to be constant, but definitely make sure it’s not sticking to the pan.

Add the curry powder. Keep stirring, and adding stock as it’s absorbed. This stir-and-replenish process should take about half an hour. If the risotto doesn’t look creamy and delicious by the time the stock is gone, add some more! You can also add a bit of cream to get it even creamier. Just a little splash. When the risotto is just about done, add the cheese. Fold it into the risotto. And you’re done!

Hoshaf ‘ar’ ‘asali
-2 cups soft simmered pumpkin
-cinnamon
-1/2c sugar

This is super simple. Blend together the pumpkin, the pumpkin solids from the juice, the sugar, and the cinnamon. Taste test to adjust the sugar and spices. I don’t remember how much sugar I used, so just do some testing. The end!

Report

I was very excited for this menu, mainly for the bourani. I’d made it about three times before, and even though I only got it right once, it was incredibly good the first time. I was confident I’d get it right again this time. Here we go–

Pumpkin Juice: This was okay. It was definitely hurting for the pineapple juice. It also definitely tasted like its components. Apple juice with pumpkin puree, cloves and cinnamon. Which was good! It tastes nice. And it’s worth making if you want an interesting drink. A major problem I had with it was that the pumpkin kind of settled at the bottom over time. It wasn’t a visual distraction, but it was kind of unpleasant to finish a glass. I enjoyed it. I want to fix the sediment problem. I don’t know how the kitchen elves dealt with it. Probably magic!

Bourani: Dang it! I used way too much garlic again. Literally the only problem, but completely fatal. The yogurt sauce even tasted good, but like the beet-garlic salad, the garlic’s chemical properties overpowered everything. Underneath all that, the dish was SO GOOD. I am pretty bummed over here. The pumpkin had a great texture, kind of tough on the outside but creamy and custardy on the inside. The yogurt sauce, if it didn’t burn one’s mouth, would be nice and fresh, with a pleasant saltiness. This yogurt sauce is great when you do it right. It tastes like it’s INCREDIBLY BAD FOR YOU, but it’s basically just savory yogurt! So you can eat huge heaping spoonfuls of it if you really want. The meat sauce is something I’d never done for this dish, and that came out well, too. Make this dish exactly how I wrote, and keep an eye on the garlic, and you’ll totally love it.

Slaw: Pretty nice. Crunchy, tart and fresh. Raw pumpkin has kind of a weird flavor that I wouldn’t want to eat, but in this salad, the mouth-drying weirdness of pumpkin disappears. It’s good, but a little too light. It really is a slaw. A good slaw, though! It’d be good with a sandwich or something, or maybe INSIDE a sandwich. I originally meant to serve it with the risotto, but realized how stupid it would look. It doesn’t stand on its own. A suggestion was gorgonzola cheese, which I think would be good.  It needed more “meat” to it.

Risotto: OOOH. OH DAMN. Extreme aroma. It was so extreme that lifting a fork of it to my face and smelling it filled the inside of my face with a cloud of richness so thick that my brain got confused and I put the risotto in my mouth just to actually have something there and not just a puff of air that seemed to weigh several pounds and then it was in my mouth and it was pretty tasty. Just kidding it was delicious! The aroma was definitely remarkable, though. This was really, really good. The pumpkin was sweet, but still added a savory touch. The mushrooms did just what I wanted, added their texture and acted kind of as flavor hot spots. I put in enough parmesan that loose clumps of risotto would, instead of falling, bungee-cord off the fork on a string of cheese. Definitely one of the best dishes of the blog. I couldn’t stop eating it, and I mean that pretty much literally; I didn’t try too hard to stop, but I have serious questions about what would have happened to me if I had. The aroma really added so much. Smelling it basically dragged it into your mouth.

Pudding: Well, this was basically just the juice, except thicker and more pumpkin-y. And like the juice, it tasted exactly like what it was, which whereas with the juice I think it kind of added to it, for the pudding it just exposes it as a very simple dish.
It tastes good. It’s softly sweet, with the flavor of whatever spices you put in there. It has the texture of baby food. Smooth and fluid and vaguely grainy.
I wanted to avoid using canned pumpkin, and I definitely could have managed without, but I was worried about not having ratios right if i substituted fresh for canned in the various other recipes I found. Another thing is that while I found a lot of desserts that looked delicious, most of them didn’t fit into my perception of what a dessert on this blog should be. I think I made the recipe right, and it wasn’t bad, but I definitely messed myself up here and ended up with an underwhelming dessert.

I was hoping this menu would redeem the past couple weeks and be totally perfect, but I guess I’ll settle for a good one. I’m satisfied with the concepts, for the most part. I should have done a different dessert, but the rest of the dishes were interesting, unusual, and overall, good. The risotto was obviously a standout dish. I was able to recreate the bourani the way I like it, minus the crazy garlic, so I’m looking forward to making that some more, before pumpkins get too ripe.

Next Week: Cauliflower

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

     /  October 16, 2012

    Oh, that risotto was something. Delicious!

    Reply

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