Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The March of the Pumpkins!
Please excuse our absence - we have been away on a half term holiday. But we are back in time for Halloween.
I am feeling a little uneasy about our pumpkin, modelled above by Freddie, who wishes you all a very Happy Halloween. He is contemplating a sugar-fuelled romp around the houses of West London. He has already identified a street with the poshest houses, where he hopes to collect industrial quantities of e-numbers. Tonight he will come home, tired but excited, probably floating several feet above his bed,a Happy Halloween Helium boy.
Back to my unease. The mistake I made with this pumpkin was to become too friendly with it. It all started with the March of the Pumpkins. Mr P and a friend of his, were given to me by the school gardening club. I made Pumpkin Soup with Mr P's friend which the children sipped in their vegetable garden one autumn evening before half term. Chris and I carried these huge orange beasts for the mile walk between school and home. Cradled in our arms, we walked alongside the River Thames, crossed over a dual carriage way, down the high street, through the bus station and through the park to our home. Alex gave him a name, Mr Pumpernickel and we saved him for Halloween. For the past ten days he has been sitting happily on a large set of scales, which act as a throne for visiting vegetables. Pumpkins are the Mr Happy of vegetables: curvy, warm-coloured and plump. So when I came to slice off his head, scrape out his innards and pick out the seeds, I felt like I had betrayed my orange friend. Which is why it is even more important that I make something delicious for lunch today. This is our Pumpkin Soup. Not only has it been approved with a 9 out of 10 rating from Freddie. It has also been taste-tested by ten keen young vegetable gardeners from school. What are you all doing with your poor pumpkins?
Roasted Pumpkin Soup with maple syrup
1 medium sized pumpkin
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and finely diced
800ml of vegetable or chicken stock
2 onions, chopped finely
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
1-2 tbsp of maple syrup
2 tbsp of crème-fraiche
1 clove of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Sprig of rosemary
Preheat oven to 200C. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape away the seeds and white pith and rub olive oil over the flesh inside. Season with salt and pepper and then place the two halves of the pumpkin with the cut side facing down, on to a baking tray. Put a sprig of rosemary under each half as it bakes in a preheated oven for 45 minutes, depending on its size, or until the flesh is completely soft. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. In a large pan, sauté the chopped onions, crushed garlic and finely diced potatoes in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin flesh and stock. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to low and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat and when it has cooled a little, pour into all into a food processor and blend until smooth, adding the maple syrup and crème-fraiche.