First lets learn a bit more about the humble pumpkin…..
1. The word ‘pumpkin’ comes from the Greek word, pepon, which means large melon
2. Pumpkins originated in Central America and are actually a fruit
3. Native Americans grew and ate pumpkins long before the pilgrims arrived and taught the pilgrims how to grow and prepare them
4. Pumpkins grow everywhere except Antarctica
5. They are nutrient rich, low calorie and contain lots of anti-oxidants
6. The yellow-orange pumpkin flowers are edible – like zucchini flowers
7. Pumpkins were once considered a remedy for freckles and snakebite
8. No matter what type you grow they will never ever turn into a Cinderella coach
We had pumpkin plants dotted around everywhere this year at the chateau which resulted in a bumper crop of all shapes and sizes. There are big ugly warty looking ones, smooth green skinned ones and cheery orange ones and I’m still working out whether it makes a difference which type of pumpkin you use for a particular recipe.
Many pumpkin recipes use canned pumpkin which is often made with squash but its not hard to make your own delicious pumpkin puree. The secret is to extract as much water as possible. First wash and cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and roast in the oven @ 180oC until the flesh is soft. Then remove the cooked flesh from the skin and drain it in a colander overnight. You will be amazed at how much liquid comes out. If it still looks a bit watery or runny you can put the puree into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until you get the consistency you want.
-- FINISHED PUMPKIN GNOCCHI WITH TOMATO SAUCE --
Whilst I love roast pumpkin and pumpkin soup, one of my favourite things is pumpkin gnocchi. It’s easy to make and freezes well. One of those fab things to have in the freezer as you can cook it straight from the freeze and make a sauce with whatever you happen to have on hand.
With Thanksgiving around the corner we also thought it might be fun to experiment with some fun dessert options. So whether you have a plethora of pumpkins or a single one hiding in the vegetable drawer here are some delicious recipes to try. Don't forget to share some pics of your pumpkin creations. Bon Appetit!!!
PUMPKIN GNOCCHI RECIPE
500 grams pumpkin puree - see instructions above
150 grams ricotta
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 big pinch of salt & pepper
250 grams fine semolina
You will end up with about a kilo of finished gnocchi so just halve the quantities if you want to make less or freeze what you don't use. It's actually easier to cook frozen than fresh so I just tend to make a batch when I have time. Freeze it all on trays, bag and store in the freezer until needed.
Creamy tomato sauce
120grams lardons or pancetta, rind removed and sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
250 grams cherry tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
300 grams pumpkin gnocchi
50 grams tasty cheese
50 grams Parmesan
Mix together the pumpkin puree, ricotta, Parmesan, egg and salt + pepper in a large bowl. Once combined, fold through the semolina. Leave to sit overnight in the fridge, uncovered, for a better dough. This gives the flour time to soak up the liquid and makes it easier to roll.
Once rested for at least 12 hours, divide the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls, rolling with your hands until smooth. Mark with a gnocchi board or fork. Place onto a tray lined with baking paper and a dusting of fine semolina.
Cook in a pot of rolling salted boiling water for 1-2 minuets or until they rise to the surface. Don't be tempted to overcook them or you are likely to end up with a soggy mess. You are just trying to hydrate then and get them ready to soak up the sauce when they bake.
The sauce options are endless, think cheese, onion, sage, fresh herbs, tomatoes - anything that goes with pumpkin or even you favourite pasta sauce. These pumpkin gnocchi will snuggle into any sauce to create a delicious meal. So just use the following as a suggestion and feel free to add your own twist.
Creamy Tomato Sauce (Make the sauce before you cook the gnocchi)
In a pan, heat olive oil. Add pancetta and then the onion. Cook for 4-5 minuets or until the onions have softened. then add salt, pepper and tomatoes. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the cream, mix to combine and bring to a gentle boil. Pour into an ovenproof dish, set aside.
Boil the gnocchi in salted boiling water. as per instructions above. Carefully scoop out with a slotted spoon and place into the sauce. Reserve all cooking water.
Pour 300mL of the reserved cooking water over the gnocchi and sauce. Give the dish a little shake to meld the water into the sauce but do not stir or you risk breaking up the gnocchi. At this point it will look like very watery soup but do not worry! The water will be absorbed and make the gnocchi creamy, saucy and delicious.
Sprinkle the grated cheeses over the top and bake for 1 hour in a 170℃ oven. Serve hot with fresh parsley if desired.
Watch the video ---
SPICED PUMPKIN AND DATE SWISS ROLL
5 fresh soft dates, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup boiling water
125 grams unsalted butter
160 grams caster sugar
165 grams self - raising flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp pumpkin spice or pain d'epices spice mix
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Mix all of the above
500 grams mascarpone
1 tbsp icing
This is one those things that looks harder to make than it actually is. The only technical part is rolling the sponge whilst it is still warm so its easier to roll after you put the filling in. Don't stress if you get a few cracks as you roll as it will still taste delicious. This cake also keeps well so you can make it the day before and store it in the fridge but be sure to take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you want to serve it. You could also skip the rolling all together and simply cut it in half and sandwich it with the mascarpone filling.
In a medium size saucepan ( I actually make the whole thing in a saucepan) cook the dates and water until they are very soft and turn into a paste (about 5 minutes) Add butter and stir until melted and then the pumpkin puree. You want a soft squishy paste texture.
Add the milk and eggs together and whisk until combined. Add the sugar, flour and pumpkin spice, folding to incorporate.
Line a baking tray with baking paper, pour the batter onto the baking paper and level out. Try and get it evenly into the corners. Bang slightly on a hard surface to level out and remove any air bubbles.
Bake at 170℃ for 10-12 minutes or until risen slightly and golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with half the spiced sugar (blend of caster sugar, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg).
Now we move onto the tricky rolling the sponge part but don't worry there is a video below to show you exactly how it is done. Place a tea towel over the sugared side and tip upside down then gently peel back the baking paper. Sprinkle the other half of the sugar mix.
At the short side of the roll, grab the tea towel, gently but firmly easing the roll over to press the flat part into the part running parallel to the table. Continue holding the tea towel, wrapping it as you go. You should finish with a log, seam at the bottom. Leave to cool.
Once cool, unroll the tea towel in the sponge. Whip together the mascarpone and icing sugar and spread it evenly over the sponge. Once again, roll, ensuring a tight and even movement.
Sprinkle with extra cinnamon sugar is desired and serve with dehydrated orange wheel or whatever other decoration takes your fancy.
watch the video --
And last but not least.. here a fabulous pumpkin donut recipe - provided by the lovely Cecile who popped into the chateau for a couple of weeks. I mean who doesn't love a good donut and when its baked and make with pumpkin it surely must be a health food😂
Recipe by Cecile Vadas
Pumpkin Doughnuts with cinnamon sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (I blitzed a roasted pumpkin in a blender with 1/2 cup water for 4-5 minutes)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Grease a small muffin tin with butter and then flour. Preheat the oven to 170℃.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, sugar and pumpkin spice. Make a well and add the oil, egg, milk and vanilla.
Gently fold and cut until the ingredients are incorporated and a smooth batter forms. Folding and cutting means you are not vigorously stirring so you are left with a smoother, fluffier batter and thus doughnuts.
Pour the batter into the tin (if you do have a proper doughnuts tin, go ahead and use this). I use only about 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter for this recipe unlike a muffin or cupcake. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set and risen.
Remove from the oven, leave too cool before removing the doughnuts from the tin.
On a small plate, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Once cool enough to touch, roll the doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar and plate. Enjoy warm or keep in an air tight container for up to 5 days.
Photography & recipe write ups by Cecile Vadas (@cecilevadas // cecilevadas.com)