Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It’s that time of year again when the days become shorter and the nights become longer. The time has long passed when wearing shorts and flip-flops was socially acceptable along the North Sea coast. And now it is important not just to layer up with scarves and sweaters but also to fill our stomachs and warm our bones. As we approach Halloween, what better item of food is there to use than a pumpkin.

As a fruit coming from the same family as squash, cucumbers and melons, pumpkin is an extremely versatile ingredient. From Aladdin to Big Max, Cinderella to Sugar Pie, there are hundreds of varieties; thus there will be a perfect variation for whatever dish you make. Read on to learn how to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter
and pumpkin ice cream as well as what to do with all of those leftover seeds.

Pumpkin Soup
Serve 4 as a main course

Ingredients:
1 large pumpkin
olive oil
juice of half an orange
4 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
soured cream, for serving

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Cut a pumpkin in half and de-seed.
Cut the pumpkin into large pieces, and deeply score them.
Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar over the pumpkin, and then generously season with pepper and salt.
Drizzle the pumpkin with olive oil.
Bake in the oven until the pumpkin flesh is soft – this should take about 30-40 minutes. The top of the pumpkins should caramelize a little.
Once cooked, scoop out the pumpkin flesh. Blend with the orange juice.
Serve with a dollop of soured cream and a hunk of bread.

Notes:
When baking the pumpkins in the oven, dot them with butter for a richer, creamier flavour.
Use ginger instead of cinnamon and nutmeg for a spicier kick.
Add a steamed carrot or boiled potato to make the soup go further.
If the soup is too chunky for your liking, thin with stock or stout for a strong, meaty flavour.
For more recipes like this one, look to: www.futurefoodieblog.blogspot.co.uk

Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients:
1 pumpkin, de-seeded and chopped into small pieces
50g demerara sugar
100g soft brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt

Instructions:
In a pan, simmer all the ingredients until the pumpkin pieces are soft and the mixture has thickened (usually 30 minutes).
Take the pumpkin mixture off the heat and blend until smooth.
Reheat the purée over a low heat for 15 minutes so that it thickens.
Eat slathered on pumpernickel bread.

Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Pumpkin Ice Cream
Serves 6

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
300ml double cream
200g light muscovado sugar
1 roasted Sugar Pie pumpkin, puréed and sieved
seeds of one vanilla pod
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
60ml whisky

Instructions:
Beat the egg yolks.
Whisk half of the sugar, along with the cinnamon and ground ginger into the yolks until the mixture has doubled in size.
Over a medium heat, warm the cream in a saucepan until it begins to bubble.
As soon as it starts to bubble, take the cream off the heat, and pour half of it slowly into the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
Whisk the pumpkin purée with the rest of the sugar, and then add to the egg mixture.
Pour the pumpkin-egg mixture into the cream, and put back onto the stove.
Over a low-medium heat, whilst continually stirring, simmer the pumpkin custard for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
To ensure that the ice cream is silky smooth, sieve the custard.
Pour into an ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Notes:
You can purchase pumpkin purée, sweetened or unsweetened, at some supermarkets, which will help cut down on prep time.
Don’t add too much whisky, or the ice cream won’t set.

Ways to use pumpkin seeds:
Toasted and tossed in vanilla sugar or sprinkled with paprika
Added to cereals or trail mixes
Roasted and used as a crunchy topping for soups and salads

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