This time of year pumpkins are everywhere, I would normally buy a pumpkin from the local supermarket and carve it, then place it in the window or in front of the door. This year I wanted to grow my own, I brought some pumpkin seeds not knowing if they would grow or not or how many pumpkins or what size I would get but I did know that if they grew I couldn’t just carve these ones; I wanted to make the most of them.
Growing a Pumpkin
You will need pumpkin seeds and plenty of space for this, I don’t have a lot of garden space so I took my seeds to my father in law who looked after them for me in his garden. We planted each seed in a separate pot and grew them in the greenhouse, giving them plenty of water. When the time was right these were moved outside. The plants get big! As the pumpkins began to grow something soft was placed underneath them to stop any damage.
I ended up with two good sized pumpkins and this is what I did with them …..
Making Pumpkin Pie
This was the obvious choice and having never had pumpkin pie before I wanted to try it, I had to share it as I didn’t know what it was supposed to taste like so having other people try it who did know was useful! It’s quite different and the feedback was good, although there was a request for more cinnamon so bear that in mind with the recipe below!
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Here’s the recipe I used (BBC Good Food)
- 750g/1lb 10oz pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 350g sweet shortcrust pastry
- plain flour, for dusting
- 140g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 25g butter, melted
- 175ml milk
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
- Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.
Making Pumpkin and Bacon Soup
I searched for a second recipe and this one sounded delicious, we love a good soup too, especially at this time of year when you are feeling the cold. I love to make soup and this one didn’t disappoint.
Pumpkin and Bacon Soup Recipe
Here’s the recipe I used (BBC Good Food)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 50g butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 150g maple-cured bacon, cut into small pieces
- ½ Crown Prince pumpkin or onion squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into medium chunks (you need about 500g pumpkin flesh)
- 1l chicken stock
- 100ml double cream
- 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
- maple syrup, for drizzling
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil with 25g butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook on a low heat for 10 mins or until soft. Add 60g bacon and cook for a further 5 mins until the bacon releases its fat. Then increase the heat to medium, add the pumpkin and stock and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for about 40 mins until the pumpkin is soft. Pour in the cream, bring to the boil again and remove from the heat. Set aside some of the liquid, then blend the remaining pumpkin until smooth and velvety, adding liquid back into the pan bit by bit as you go (add more liquid if you like it thinner). Strain through a fine sieve, check the seasoning and set aside.
- Melt the remaining butter in a pan over a high heat and fry the rest of the bacon with black pepper for 5 mins. Divide the bacon between four bowls, reheat the soup and pour over. To serve, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds and drizzle with maple syrup.
Tip for Cooking with Pumpkins
Personally I found it very difficult cutting into the pumpkin and peeling it, maybe this is my embarrassingly blunt knives but if you have the same problem here’s a tip. Cut your pumpkin in half removing the stork and bit at the bottom, scrap out all the seeds and pith then place in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes, take the halves out and allow to cool, the skin should peel off easily and it should make it easier to chop too.
Remember to tag us in your pumpkin pictures, especially if you give either of these recipes a go, we’d love to see the results!