Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Day of the Pumpkins

“To dream of pumpkins is a very bad omen.”
(Richard Folkard in 'Plant Lore' (1884))

I have been dreaming of pumpkins. I'm not sure what Freud would have to say. As with the Daikon, the giant radish, I feel at this time of year that there is a never-ending supply of pumpkin flesh to consume. Fortunately, Freddie sees the pumpkin as a friendly vegetable and is willing to try out different dishes. Even with a modest-sized pumpkin you need several recipes up your sleeve. So I have teamed up with some good friends and we are all posting on pumpkins today. Do pay a visit to our good friend David Hall at Book the Cook who is offering an irresistible and delicious Spiced Pumpkin, Bacon and Mussel Conchiglie. David has a wonderful taster in chief at home, his little girl Cerys. Now if you want to learn how to cook a WHOLE pumpkin then you have to visit our friend-in-vegetables, the wonderful Alanna Kellogg in Missouri with her pumpkin recipe at A Veggie Venture. For a beautifully sweet and indulgent pumpkin cake recipe, try Hannah at Hannah's Country Kitchen who has baked some exquisite Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins. And then to top it all you cannot miss the talented chef Amanda Darrach who lives in New York and who blogs at Figs Olives Wine . She has made a Provencal Pumpkin dish which looks like a work of art and I can only imagine tastes superb. Please visit my pumpkin pals across the globe and leave your comments.

As for Freddie, well he wants you all to try this dish. My stepson Leo came over for the night and we had a pumpkin feast. The main course was Pumpkin and Smoky Bacon Risotto. The combination of flavours is delicious. We sprinkled roasted spiced pumpkin seeds on top. Freddie gave it 9 out of 10. Maybe because he knows it is just a few days away from Halloween but he is being generous with his scores. How do you all like to cook Pumpkin?

Pumpkin and smoky bacon risotto
Serves 4
320g Arborio rice
2 onions, chopped
400g pumpkin flesh, skinned
150g /12 thin rashes of smoky bacon
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 tbsp oil
Freshly grated Parmesan

Peel and finely dice the pumpkin flesh into small cubes. Bring a pan of water to boil and steam the diced pumpkin for about 10-15 minutes, until it is softened. Chop the bacon and onion into small pieces. In a large pan, heat up the olive oil on a gentle heat and sauté the onion and bacon for about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir round until the grains are transparent. Stir in the pumpkin. Then add the stock, one ladle at a time. As it is absorbed, gently stir and add more stock. This should take about 20 minutes. The rice should be creamy in texture but not sticky. Stir in some freshly grated parmesan, season with salt and pepper and serve

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  1. I knew Freddie would have no fear of pumpkins - they're round and bright like the sun and they're sweet too! I grow squash - but I guess my squash recipes could be used for pumpkins too:

    I'm with you - Pumpkin & Bacon Risotto is delicious. I also add diced (English) celery and flavour with a little chopped sage.

    I recommend baking the pumpkin - cut in half, lay cut side down on a baking tray (it's up to you whether you deseed now or after cooking), bake until tender. Skin and deseed - can be frozen at this stage. Use in soups or mashed as a side dish with sausages or stews. We like to add some cooked pumpkin/squash to potato before mashing - Squash-Mash is a winner on top of Shepherd's Pie.

    As a snack - add some cheese to some cooked pumpkin, microwave or warm in a pan. Add some sunflower seeds or pinenuts and season with black pepper or cayenne or chilli (I love Japanese Shichimi) and fill warmed pittas with it. Yummy!

  2. Billie12:17 PM

    Yummo, that risotto looks great. My partner and I like to have roasted pumpkin in salads. Basically, you cut the pumpkin into small chunks, roast it, and add it to a salad with baby spinach and other greens, walnuts, fetta cheese and whatever else you fancy. The salty cheese goes nicely against the crunch of the nuts and sweet pumpkin. Roasted beetroot is nice this way as well, or you can have both together. You can dress it with a creamy dressing or a sticky balsamic.

  3. I would love to try this dish. I was going to make a lovely pumpkin, mushroom risotto for the "In the Bag" event this month. I don't think I will get around to it since we are all heading to the Spa for the weekend. My sad and lonely pie pumpkin will continue to sit out on the deck for now.

  4. Dreaming of pumpkins...I wonder what that means! But I very much doubt it's dangerous. In fact, I think it could be a very good thing! This risotto is incredible! What a great idea, Charlotte, and I'm so pleased Freddie approves. Halloween does put you in a good mood, after all. Thanks again for inviting me to join in your pumpkin extravaganza!

  5. What you're doing is really fantastic. What a wonderful idea, congratulations! (and I will definetly try that yummy looking risotto)

  6. Pumpkin roasted in a tagine with raisins and caramelized sweet red onions. YUM.

  7. Sarah in Indiana7:57 PM

    Risotto is a wonderful vehicle for vegetables of all sorts. We had a sweet potato risotto last night, and I sometimes substitute pumpkin in that recipe.

    I like to make this soup for Halloween: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_21825,00.html

  8. Magic Cochin, I love the idea of filling pitta breads with warm spiced roasted pumpkin. We will try that.

    Sarah - you are right. Risotto is a great vehicle for vegetables of all kinds and I find Freddie and Alex love them. Its the creaminess and you can always spice it up.

    Garrett. A tangine - I haven't tried that yet. Great idea. Thanks for that..with the raisins and the onions..my mouth is watering already.

    k - Thank you for coming by. I am glad you are enjoying the blog. Keep visiting!

    Figs Olives Wine - we had a bit of a bacon thing going with our recipes. Perfect taste conmbinations.

    Valli, I feel for the lonely pumpkin outside on the porch. Make its life have meaning and chop it up in a risotto forthwith!!

    Billi - Roasted Beetroot I havent done yet. It would be nice as a combination in a mash withthe pumpkin and stuffed in Magic Cochin's pitta breads. This is giving me LOADS of ideas. Thank you.

  9. Hello,

    I've got an interesting pumpkin dish for you to try. I went to an Afghani restaurant and tried a dish called Kaddo Bournai. It's basically baked pumpkin slices with yogurt and meat sauce drizzled over. The combination sweet/savory is truly amazing.

    I found the recipe online - if you're interested, I've got it downloaded onto a word document and can send to you

  10. Ana,
    Yes please I would love to try that. Can you send me the document - my email ius in my profile.

  11. Anonymous11:47 PM

    I love roaster or even canned pumpkin made into soup, sometimes with black beans and lots of yummy spices, onions of course and veggie broth or chicken

  12. Anonymous6:35 AM


    I'm addicted to your blog, I think it's great! My two big questions (from a mum of a 5 1/2 year old who won't even TRY anything new. She had a tantrum when I even suggested that we do what Freddy is doing) are:

    1. If he didn't like veg before, how on earth did you get him to try all these wonderful dishes?

    2. You are obviously an accomplished cook, what sort of meals is Freddy eating for the rest of the week? The two days that you're not doing the "challenge". Is it the "staple" chips and burger, chips and nuggets etc etc?

    Keep up the good work!

  13. Nadine,
    Well I suspect Freddie was pretty much like your son or daughter when we started - just a little older. But he would have panicked at the thought of eating vegetables ( other than potatoes and sweetcorn).
    I took a step back and thought - why should I be scared of a child's tantrum? What is the worst that can happen? That he or she makes a fuss and says no to something new. Before I was actually matching Freddie's narrow eating habits by pandering to it and narrowing what I offer. We were going nowhere with that approach. So I said to him - well why don't we try all the vegetables in the world until you find something you really like? I involved him in visiting the local markets and supermarkets, I took him to visit farms when we were lucky enough to be away from London and I invited friends of his round who liked vegetables. (Peer pressure can help) And if he does not like something he can give it a score and we move on to the next recipe. I don't get upset if it fails.
    I think it is about creating a new momentum and being in it for the long haul. Change takes a long long time and I think kids are often good at putting you off creating change. I suppose in one sense Freddie had made me scared of challenging him before. I didn't want the rows at the dinner table.
    The biggest lesson I have learnt is that it is not Freddie who has changed the most - it is me. I have learnt not to get so upset about having a meal rejected, I have had to learn from others to cook vegetables in interesting ways and I have had to spend more time cooking. And I am still learning new tricks every day. I find the school queue is really useful - learning from other parents and grandparents.

    We do the vegetable recipes throughout the week - even when we dont blog them. But they are often really simple things. Because I go to work I can only make quick things, so I do maybe a quesadillas with some grated carrot, or courgette inside. That takes about 5 minutes. Or I make a boiled egg and leave some asparagus for him to dip into them. (That was a surprise hit).
    I use his favourite vegetable, the potato to combine with other new ones. Carrot and potato mash, potato and butternut squash combined. That kind of thing. And that is often served with his two favourite things - Lamb Chops and sausages! What I dont do is to pretend that there is no vegetable in something.
    Thank you so much for leaving a comment. Let me know how you get on and maybe I can point out some things.

  14. funny putting in it pitta bread should b mentioned as thats exactly what i did after making a large batch of soup yesterday.

    in winter when i see cheap veg i buy it, make soup and freeze it. with halloween coming up tescos has large pumpkins for 99p! i'm about blog about it now. but i had a little left over after blending 2 batches so i reheated it for lunch and put it in a pitta bread for lunch!

    can't wait til i do the food shopping on friday, wll be picking up a couple of large pumpkins again, as it is cold in the garage they shold store well.

    i haven't decided what i'm going to do with my little homegrown one, deserves something special i feel.

  15. schmoof11:59 AM

    I've never had pumpkin before (I'm not a great fan of sweet vegetables) and my housemate recently had a risotto for the first time so this seems perfect!

  16. Pumpkin roasted in a tagine with caramelized red onions and currants is a particular favorite of mine. These all look so fantastic Charlotte, Freddie must be thrilled!

  17. I already forgot I commented on this piece. I read it again and just couldn't help but write in my excitement. LOL.

  18. Anonymous1:14 AM

    The fridge!
    Oh, a picture?
    Please a picture??!

    Kim from Sweden

  19. I'm really enjoying the treats you all have put together for pumpkin, especially after the pea-session. What's next I wonder :)

  20. Wow, Freddie liked this one(a nine)!!! Ican see why!

  21. hi, i'm a hungarian blogger, i have a vegetarian blog, and one of my friend's showed me this blog. congratulation!!!! :)

  22. I love your blog! And the risotto looks delicious and creamy.

    I haven't ever cooked a pumpkin myself (though I have one in the kitchen waiting to be cooked on halloween) but I love eating pumpkin soup.

  23. I just discovered your blog and I think it is wonderful. My friend posted a pumpkin waffle receipe on her blog and I thought I would share it with you. http://tammyjarman.typepad.com/color/2007/10/the-great-pumpk.html
    I made them this morning for breakfast and they were great.

  24. It's a shame that here, in the USA, we don't use the same measurements that you do :-) Metric would be so much simpler...

    Luckily your recipes are good enough to be worth the extra step for me to "translate" the measurements into our silly system!

    Keep up the good work!


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