OK OK, I know its a little late, Halloween has been and gone. But that is sort of my point. Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween, their for life.

Well for autumn/winter anyway. A smashing seasonal, healthy and hearty vegetable(although technically its more of a fruit).

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I love using local and home grown. The pumpkin came from The Farm Shop in Stoulton, Worcestershire and the butternut squash was home grown by my green fingered soon to be mother in law.

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Related to and in partnership with squashes of all shapes, colour and sizes, they make excellent soups, pastries pies cakes and can be used for sweet and savoury dishes.
Pumpkins are full of vitamin A and C. All parts cam be used, from flowers to seeds and the  seeds are a great source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc. YUM!

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So here are few recipes for you to try.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie – Savoury
serves 6-8

X 1 pack of puff pastry or make your own
x 1 kg of pumpkin, deskined, cubed- or a mix of half and half butternut squash.
x 1 large onion, chopped
x 2 garlic cloves
x 1 celery stick
x 1 handful of spinach (optional)
x  1 cup ( 150 g) of frozen peas
x 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
x half bulb of fennel
x 150 g of crumbly cheese roughly chopped- I use Cheshire, but any would work well
x salt and pepper to taste
Method.

In a large pan sweat onions, celery and fennel, add the cumin seeds and cook off for 5 minutes. Add all the pumpkin and squash and cook down with about 200 mls of water just to stop the mix burning.
When the mix has softened and the vegetables have gone fibrous, take off heat and add the spinach, peas and cheese. Season to taste and leave to cool completely.

The spinach and peas cook in the residual heat and the cheese melts creating a lovely gooey mix.

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Roll out 2/3 the pastry to a large rectangle and place onto a baking tray. Score round the edge leaving an inch space all the way round. When the pumpkin mix is cool, pile into the middle and up to the score lines.
With the final 1/3 roll out to a rectangle to go over the top to make the lid.
Brush the sides with water and add top layer of pastry.
press edges together to create a pumpkin package.
Milk wash top and edges and put in air scores of top- this will stop the sides splitting when steam and juice is trying to escape.
Cook at a hot 230 degrees for 0 minutes then reduce to 200 for a remaining 20 minutes or until the top is golden and has puffed.
Remove, stand for 15 minutes, then straight away as an alternative dinner.

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TIP- if you wanted to make this a bit more meaty, some smoked bacon would be a really yummy addition. Cook lardons (thin chunks) of bacon in a pan and add when adding the spinach etc.

Pumpkin Pie sweet.
serves 6-8

x 450 g pumpkin or butternut squash-peeled and roasted until soft (20mins)
x 250 g of shortcrust or sweet pastry (see bake love basics)
x 3 eggs
x 100 ml of cream
x 150 g sugar – I used caster, but brown/golden would be great
x 1 good teaspoon of cinnamon
x 1 packet 100 g of pecan nuts- optional but i love them with pumpkin.
x 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
x 2 tablespoons of maple syrup

Method.

Roll out pastry and put in a pie dish, blind bake at 200 for 5 minutes, then remove beans/coins and cook base for a further 5, remove and cool.- see bake love basics for blind baking.
Roast off the cubed pumpkin or squash until tenter- mine took around 20 minutes with a splash of water in the roasting tray.
Purée these with a blender until nice and lump free.
In a large bowl add the eggs, sugar, cream, purée, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon and blitz again until a smooth custard like mix.

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Pour into the pastry pie dish and arrange the pecans. They sort of float on top of the mix.
I add a little extra sugar to the top and a sprinkle of extra cinnamon too.
Bake at 180 for around 30 minutes, You want the mix set but with a slight wobble- the best things in life have a slight wobble…

Cool slightly and enjoy warm with good/home made vanilla ice cream.

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Butternut squash soup.

use all the same ingredients for spiced savoury pumpkin pie but omit the cheese, but after cooking add 1 litre of stock and whizz using a hand blender, but leave some chunks for texture and taste.

Spiced Pumpkin seeds.

Now don’t tell me you threw them away!!!!

x pumpkin seeds
x dash of oil
x pinch of cumin seeds
x smidge of tumeric
x few flakes of chilli
x salt and pepper

wash the seeds which will separate the seeds from fibres.
pat dry and place on a baking try.
Splash with oil and chuck the spices and seasoning over.
mix round and bake at 200 for 15 minutes until golden and crisp.

Serve as a snack or add as a topping to soups, pies and in stir fry.

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And finally. You may remember Bailey my little cat who also enjoys my culinary adventures, especially when I cook a chicken caucus for him!

Well he’s getting a bit old now, so thought I would get a few pics of him before its too late.
He’s such a good cat and sits very patiently while the nephews and nieces run riot. Which normally consists of either riding him, dressing him up or getting him wave them off to school.

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