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All things pumpkin.....



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

Ingredients


500 grams pumpkin puree - see instructions above

150 grams ricotta

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

1 egg

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

125mL cream

Salt and pepper

300 grams pumpkin gnocchi

50 grams tasty cheese

50 grams Parmesan


Gnocchi Method

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


Ingredients

5 fresh soft dates, pitted & chopped

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup boiling water

125 grams unsalted butter

2 eggs

160 grams caster sugar

165 grams self - raising flour

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp pumpkin spice or pain d'epices spice mix


Spiced Sugar

1/3 cup castor sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix all of the above


Filling

500 grams mascarpone

1 tbsp icing