Quick & Easy|
By Beverly Barbour
You don't have to be a kid to play with pumpkin
Why should kids have all of the fun when we're all kids at heart? True you can't very well walk around the neighborhood asking for treats, unless you walk on your knees and add a high squeak to the vocal cords when you say, "Trick or Treat."
But, you can have a "Trick or Treat" party with your friends providing the Tricks and yourself providing the Treats. It is just amazing how we much we all like to wear masks and pretend we are someone else. The trick can be guessing whom the guests in their costumes are supposed to represent.
There are many varieties of pumpkin bred to be less fibrous and more flavorful, Baby Bear and Sugar Pie are two common varieties. All varieties are members of the squash family and are edible. Here is a selection of pumpkin dishes that grown-up kids like a lot.
Can be made a day ahead. Add sour cream after reheating. Serving this in a big, hollowed-out, pumpkin makes a smashing presentation.
1 large onion, chopped
Heat over together over high heat onion, garlic, and spices with 1/4 cup of the broth until the pan is dry, just a few minutes. In food processor, smoothly puree mixture, adding a little more broth if needed. Return puree to pan; add remaining 3 1/2 cups broth, pumpkin and honey. Place milk in a jar and add cornstarch, shake together until smooth; stir into soup. While stirring, bring to a boil and then add lemon juice and salt. Serve in bowls. Stir sour cream to soften, then drizzle a small amount over each bowl. You can even make a Halloween face, like a cut pumpkin, on each bowl. Makes 8 servings.
If Pumpkin Soup doesn't appeal to the ghoul in you, here are a few alternatives.
Halibut is the fish of choice but if the fisherman in your family has stocked the freezer with another fish, any will do. The saffron is mostly for color.
1 pound fennel (or flavor with any licorice flavored liqueur*)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Trim and discard stalks and root ends of fennel. Chop and reserve green tops. Rinse heads; cut in half lengthwise, then slice. Heat oil and add fennel, onion and garlic; stir often until soft. Add wine; cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add broth, clam juice, and anise flavored liqueur such as *Pernod, Anisette, Ouzo. Also add pumpkin, saffron, bay leaf, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer just until pumpkin is tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes. Add tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Gently stir in fish; simmer until opaque in center (cut to test), 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, Ladle into bowls and top with 1 tablespoon rouille (recipe follows) and fennel tops. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Rouille: Stir together well. Makes about 1/2 cup.
Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin
Balsamic rice flavored with allspice, ginger and saffron stuff a large pumpkin or make individual servings using small edible pumpkins. Serve this with pork or ham or make it the entrée if there are vegetarians in your midst.
6 1/2+ pound eating pumpkin
Heat oven to 400 F. Bring a pot of water to a boil. About an inch below the top of the pumpkin's "shoulders" about where you would cut to carve a jack-o'-lantern, slice a lid from top of pumpkin and set it aside. Remove seeds and fibrous flesh from inside. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the oil and sauté onion until softened. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in cranberries, ginger, allspice, saffron and orange zest. Add rice and stir until glossy. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat as low as possible. Cook 15 minutes. Meanwhile rub inside of pumpkin with cut garlic clove, and with salt. When rice has cooked 15 minutes, it will be damp and not very fluffy. Adjust seasoning to taste and spoon into pumpkin cavity. Press lid firmly on top. It may sit above stuffing a bit like a jaunty cork. Wrap bottom two to three inches of pumpkin in a double layer of heavy foil to protect it from contact with water during baking. Place in a roasting pan, and add about 1-inch of boiling water to pan. Bake the pumpkin until it is tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 1/2 hours. If there is resistance when pumpkin is pierced allow more baking time.) To serve, remove pumpkin from pan, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Discard foil, and place pumpkin on serving platter. Slice into segments like a cake. Place a wedge on each plate and mound with rice stuffing. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater knew a good thing when he tasted it!