Post Halloween Pumpkin Feasts

However you spent halloween, at a fancy dress party, shepherding little ghosts and ghouls round on the trick or treat circuit or staying up to scare yourself to death on fright films, now that it is over let’s get down to the serious stuff – cooking with pumpkins.

I did a quick run through the books on my shelves and pumpkin recipes on line and came to the conclusion that there is no excuse for not using the flesh from the pumpkins used to decorate the porch for the ghostly evening. I try not to get on my high horse in these blogs but the waste of food in the form of pumpkins really upsets me.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1.91 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the U.S. in 2014 were only used for lanterns before being trashed and in the UK we are no better. The UK buys over one million pumpkins during October – around 90% of annual pumpkin sales. Once carved, the majority are thrown away with around 18,000 tonnes ending up in landfill according to the North London Waste Authority (NLWA).

Don’t give me the stories about nobody in the house liking pumpkin – would they be able to identify it in a lovely vegetable stew? or not knowing what to do? – I found 20 pages of recipes from all over the world in my Ecosia search. Let’s aim to reduce the figure of pumpkin waste by next halloween.

So how about it?  Send me your favourite pumpkin recipes. The three best will win a copy of Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen and I’ll publish them in future blogs.

For more information on what you can do with scooped out pumpkins this Halloween, a selection of handy recipes can be found on the Love Food Hate Waste website 

One of my favourites is Pumpkin Bread from Flavoured Breads by Linda Collister

Ingredients

700g pumpkin or winter squash, 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (don’t be tempted to reduce this), 2 teaspoons of golden caster sugar, 15g fresh yeast*, 350g strong white bread flour, extra flour for dusting, 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt to glaze.

* or use 7g sachet of dried yeast, mix with the flour before adding the pumpkin puree.

Method

Peel, remove seeds and dice the pumpkin into 1cm cubes, you need 400g. Cook this without water, either roast or steam. Put in a processor with the oil and puree until smooth. Then allow to cool until just luke warm add the salt and sugar.

If you are using freash yeast mix in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Mix the paste into the puree.

Measure the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Spoon in the puree then mix in the flour to make a soft dough. Turn our onto a floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 5 – 10 mins (or 5mins in a mixer on a dough hook.

Shape into a round loaf and put on a baking sheet covered to rise until doubled – about 1 1/2 hours.

Press your thumb into the middle to make small hollow and brush with the egg glaze. Score into segments with a sharp knife then bake in a preheated oven at 200c, 400F or gas 6 for 30 mins, until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack if you can without eating it before it cools (very difficult). It makes a lovely bright orange loaf that looks and taste great.

What to do with pumpkins now that halloween has gone

I love pumpkins but they can be so big it is sometimes hard to know how to use them all. One of my favourites is pumpkin bread. This recipe is from Flavoured Breads by Linda Collister and it is both easy and tasty.

Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

700g pumpkin – peel and chop this into 1cm cubes so that you end up with 400g of flesh, 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, 2 teaspoons golden castor sugar, 15g of fresh yeast (or 1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast), 350g of strong white bread flour, extra flour for dusting, 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt for glazing.

Method

Without adding water cook the pumpkin by steaming or microwave until it is soft. Put it in a processor with the olive oil and puree until smooth, then cool until just warm and mix in the salt and sugar. Cream the fresh yeast into a smooth paste and add to the puree, if you are using dried yeast add that to the flour. Put the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle.  Spoon the puree into the the well then mix to make a soft but not sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and kneed thoroughly for about 5 minutes (or 3 minutes at a slow speed in a mixer with a dough hook). Shape the dough into a round loaf about 18cm across and put on a floured baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Press your thumb in the middle of the risen loaf, then carefully brush with the egg glaze. Score the loaf into segments with a sharp knife and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas mark 6 for about 30 minutes until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

This is such a great bread to have with soup, with cheese toasted, or just with butter.