Ways with Pumpkin
November is pumpkin month at our place!
It is mostly due to foreign influence, all these years of travelling abroad meaning we’ve adopted some other countries’ customs.
Starting with Halloween (technically occurring in October, with only one day to spare…) in the USA, then All Saints commemorations in France, the Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico and ending with Thanksgiving, another American tradition. We used to join in the celebrations when we lived there, but now that we’re back in Australia, they are more subdued occasions, mostly marked with the elaboration of a nice dinner at home.
Late last month, as Anne begged me to buy a whole basket of lollies in preparation for Halloween, I came across rows upon rows of carving pumpkins. Normally, I would have walked straight past them, but somehow I thought that if I could distract my daughter from the lolly aisle for one second with the idea of pumpkin carving, it would be worth carrying 10 kilos of pumpkins home!! Believe it or not, it actually worked ( I still ended up buying a few Freddo frogs and snakes, but nowhere near the amount she originally asked for). Since you can’t eat carving pumpkins, I decided to buy a whole edible one (the Kent variety) and do some carving of my own.
The inspiration came from Lorraine and her pumpkin fondue, which consists of a whole Kent pumpkin used as a bowl to bake cheese in. If you like cheese fondue and pumpkin as much as I do, you can’t go past this kind of dish! The recipe is pretty straight forward, and can be found on Lorraine’s blog along with a myriad of fantastic Halloween food ideas. I served it with the obligatory bread cubes ( I always keep stale bread for such occasions!) and because we usually like to have some meat with our vegetables I cooked some pork spare ribs to serve along. That was a big mistake, let me tell you that the combination of melted cheese, bread and roasted pumpkin is so filling there is no need for anything else, except maybe some green salad to cut thru the richness of the fondue.
Another mistake of mine, was skimming thru the list of ingredients and not paying attention to the size of the pumpkin. Lorraine’s was 1.5 kilos, a baby compared to mine which I guessed must have weighed a good 4 kilos. The cheese mixture didn’t quite fill the pumpkin bowl to the top, not that it mattered since we could only eat half of it anyway! But it means that we were left with a whole baked pumpkin and a decent amount of melted cheese at the bottom…
The next few days saw me switching to leftover cooking mode: pumpkin soup, check.
Cheesy pumpkin pie, check.
And this delicious savoury Spiced Pumpkin Lunchbox Bread, which recipe I found in the Australian’s Woman Weekly’s Love to Bake book.
I didn’t come up with the description, they did, and it is quite fitting as this bread livened up the kids lunch boxes for a couple of days as well as pairing with sausages and slaw for a casual dinner. I like how it makes good use of leftover cooked pumpkin and common pantry items. Next time, I think I may try baking individual muffins instead of a loaf…
Spiced Pumpkin Lunchbox Bread
Adapted from the AWW Love to Bake
2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 cup masked cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk
60g butter, melted
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
2 tsp thyme leaves (fresh if possible)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F. Line a 11cmx18cm loaf pan with baking paper
- Combine flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Stir in combined pumpkin, buttermilk, melted butter and eggs until just combined ( do not overtax or the dough will be tough) Spoon the mixture into pan, smooth surface. Sprinkle with combined pepitas, parmesan and herbs.
- Bake the bread for 55 minutes. Leave in the pan for 10 minutes before turning , top side up onto a wire rack. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.