Pumpkin season is here, meaning my front and back steps will be lined with plenty of pie pumpkins that decorate today and satiate tomorrow.
Since pumpkin is my husband's favorite pie flavor, about once a week I cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it upside down to get what's needed for filling. I've even gotten my guy to enjoy just the custard filling without the less healthy crust.
To pick the best pumpkins for pie, choose from those 6 to 10 inches across. Multicolored beauties like the green Cinderella-shaped ones also roast beautifully and have thick meaty flesh to make pies, soups, breads and other pumpkin treats.
Roasted pumpkin pulp also freezes beautifully. When I have plenty of pumpkins from the garden, I try to roast them and harvest the pulp to have on hand in the freezer to satisfy our pumpkin cravings through the winter. Simply scoop out the pulp and fill freezer bags with it.
I put a generous 2 to 3 cups into quart-size freezer bags as this amount is just right for most recipes. Some water in the flesh comes out as the pulp thaws. This concentrates the pulp and makes it even better. The bags should be sealed removing as much air as possible. The filled bags are placed flat on a baking sheet and frozen. Each bag flattened and full of filling is about ¾-inch thick. They fit in the freezer easily stacked together.
Recently, when I had about a half cup of pulp left over, I added it to our favorite pancake recipe with a handful of chopped pecans. I've read about pumpkin pancakes often, but this year is the first time I actually made them, and they were a hit.
As for using those Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins for pie, I find the pulp to be a little less meaty. If you carved it early on or burned a candle inside, it might not be the best choice for harvesting the pulp. I rarely save pumpkin seeds for roasting now that our children are out of the nest, but I do love to use pumpkin seeds with their hulls already removed in salads, baked breads, trail-mix and as a garnish for pumpkin soup.
There are plenty of ways to use and enjoy the season's best pumpkins. They will last beautifully through Thanksgiving. If you live in the country as we do, it might be wise to pick up a few extra in case the deer and raccoons decide to trick you and treat themselves to fresh seasonal pumpkin.
These little cookies are yummy and easy to make with fresh or canned pumpkin. This recipe makes about 50 cookies.
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 to 8 Tablespoons water
Cooking notes: If using fresh pumpkin, allow pumpkin flesh to drain between several layers of paper toweling to remove excess water before measuring and using. I use a small cookie scoop for consistency when placing dough on baking sheet. Place a baking sheet under cooling rack to catch any excess icing that may drip off cookies. Incorporate ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans into dough for a little extra crunch.
Pumpkin Soup Umbrian Style ‘Cinderella Soup'
Makes 7 to 8 cups of soup.
This wonderful soup brings back lovely memories of an autumn stay in Umbria, Italy. A small group of food writers and writing coaches rented a wonderful stone home on an Umbrian hillside. This soup is wonderful. Make it as thick or thin as you like by adjusting the amount of chicken or vegetable stock. The blender does most of the work for this lovely soup. Pumpkins remind me of Cinderella almost as much as Halloween.
Prepare 3 to 4 cups pumpkin
3 to 4 pumpkins (yellow or white, sugar or pie pumpkin) split in half, seeds removed.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 generous cup chopped onion
3 chopped sage leaves
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup Marsala wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream or half and half
fresh grated nutmeg