I have been really distressed to see signs in most of the supermarkets advertising “Carving Pumpkins for Halloween”. Apparently, around 90% of the pumpkins sold in the UK never see a knife and fork or a knob of butter. This profligate waste of food makes me rage, so don’t do it. Carve grotesque and wonderful pumpkin lanterns by all means, but eat the fruit as well. What’s more, I can guide you through a three-course pumpkin dinner! Scoop out all the flesh and chop roughly for all of these.
May I be permitted to say a few words about Halloween? This is the old festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in by the way); the time when the spirit world is closest to the living world, when the nights are dark and we have time to sit and contemplate, to think about our lives. It is also a time to feast and frolic and have a good ghost story by the fire. May I recommend that you have a look at the story on Hooting Yard which gives advice on what to do When Ghouls Attack.
I state now, in a firm steady voice, that I heartily disapprove of Trick or Treating. Sending children out in the dark knocking on people’s doors and demanding money or food with menaces, or worse, some feeble child standing silently in a rubbish costume with their sticky hand out, is not entertaining and should be discouraged. It’s not an English tradition, it’s just another example of English children aping the customs of American children without the slightest idea why they’re doing it. Stay indoors, dress up, play games and tricks together, scare the crap out of them with a good ghost story and share a feast. And make sure you do it by candlelight.
1 x large saucepan
1 x stick blender
1 x grater
2 lb pumpkin.
2 oz of butter
1 medium onion – finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped (to discourage vampyres)
1 pint of chicken stock.
½ tsp turmeric
1 tspn parsley
¼ pint double cream
1 tablespoon of grated cheese.
Melt the butter in the pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until translucent.
Add the pumpkin and garlic and sweat for a couple of minutes
Add the parsley and turmeric and toss around enthusiastically
Add the chicken stock
Cover and simmer for about twenty minutes until the pumpkin is soft
Puree with the blender
Add the cream
Serve sprinkled with grated cheese
Do exactly what you did for Italian Risotto (click on this link to previous blog) except use pumpkin instead of chicken.
Norfolk Million Pie
This pie is an old Norfolk recipe which was taken to America by the Pilgrim Fathers. ‘Million’ is the word for any member of the squash family.
1 x 10″ flan dish
1 x medium saucepan
1 x stick blender
1 x large mixing bowl
1 x rolling pin
1 x jar of baking beans
1 packet of shortcrust pastry
1 lb / 480g pumpkin
6oz / 180g dark brown sugar
3 eggs – beaten
2oz / 60g raisins
1 good pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of apricot jam
Plain flour for rolling out
Pre-heat the oven to 200 / 400 / 6
Grease and flour the flan dish, roll out the pastry and line the dish
But out a circle of greaseproof paper to fit the dish and place on top of the pastry
Cover the greaseproof paper with baking beans and bake for about 15 minutes
Remove the beans and greaseproof paper and leave to cool
Turn the oven down to 180 / 350 / 4
Put the pumpkin into the saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water.
Bring to the boil then simmer gently with the lid on until the pumpkin is really soft.
Transfer to a bowl, draining off any excess water and puree with the stick blender
Add the eggs, sugar, raisins and nutmeg and mix together well. It will be quite runny.
Spread the apricot jam onto the cooked pastry case then pour on the pumpkin mixture.
Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into strips to make a lattice on the top.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, it may take longer, but the top should be a rich brown and the pastry golden.
Serve with cream
Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and should not be wasted either. Wash all the stringy flesh off them and put in a bowl. Warm a tablespoon of honey in a bowl and swish the seeds round in it. Lay them out on a baking tray and bake on a low heat 140 / 275 / 1 for about an hour. They should have browned a little. Leave them to cool. They make great snacks or can be used in lots of ways eg bread, meusli or flapjacks.