Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
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October 25, 2012
Pumped Up for Pumpkin

Five recipes that offer both savory and sweet ways to use fall's favorite squash 

As the cool weather settles in, the kitchen and the prospect of cooking become considerably more attractive than during the warmer months. Of all the seasonal foods, few say “autumn” quite like pumpkin.

Though most often seen in the form of pie or bread (or as jack-o’-lanterns), pumpkin is also very versatile and can shine in a number of forms. All recipes using pureed pumpkin were tested using Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin.

 

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

This rich hot chocolate tastes a bit like a pumpkin chocolate-chip cookie in liquid form. If you’d rather not start totally from scratch, omit the first four ingredients and melt 2 oz. of chopped semi-sweet chocolate instead, then proceed as directed.

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup sugar

dash salt

2 cups milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, cocoa, sugar and salt. Boil two minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk, then puree. Add vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Adjust seasonings and milk to taste. Heat through. Serves 6.

 

Pumpkin Butter

A simple compound butter, this can be used for savory and sweet dishes. Toss with hot, drained pasta and top with grated parmesan cheese, or spread on pancakes, waffles or French toast for a seasonal twist. Instead of rolling it in plastic wrap, you can also place in molds for shaped butter servings.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons pumpkin

dash cinnamon

Soften butter but do not melt. Mix thoroughly with pumpkin and cinnamon. Transfer to plastic wrap, shaping it into a log-like shape as you roll it in the wrap. Chill.

 

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Curry is just about as savory as you can get, and it and pumpkin gets along well in this comforting dish. The soup is thick and creamy, but most of that creaminess comes from the pumpkin, meaning that it is a pretty low-fat and healthy dish. Add the curry a little at a time, though, according to your tastes — a little can go a long way.

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, chopped finely

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

1/2 cup cream or unsweetened coconut milk (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion until almost tender, then add garlic and continue cooking until both are tender and fragrant. Add broth, pumpkin, lemon juice, curry, ginger, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in cream if using and heat through. Yield: 4 large or 6 small servings.

 

Pumpkin Pie Bars

This simple bar recipe tastes a lot like traditional pumpkin pie, but takes a lot less time and effort. For a variation, substitute the pie crust with a graham cracker crust. The optional topping will sink somewhat into the batter, giving it a caramelized upper layer.

For crust:

6 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 1/2 tablespoon ice-cold water

For filling:

1 8-ounce package neufchatel or reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

For optional topping:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons flour

2 to 3 tablespoons crushed pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cut butter into flour and salt, then combine with water, adding more water or flour as needed to form a ball. Press into the bottom of an 8 x 11 pan. In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients, beating until smooth. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with topping if using. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 35 minutes or until just firm. Cool and serve.

 

Pumpkin Oven Fries

Sugar pumpkins are smaller than their more well-known counterparts and grown specifically for eating, not carving. Look for pumpkins with firm flesh. Cut off the top and remove the seeds just as you would with an ordinary pumpkin. They can be kind of tricky to peel. The method I found that worked best and fastest was to cut them into wedges and then cut off the skin in small strips on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Be careful when cutting the pumpkin into strips, too, as it has a tendency to break.

Oven fries are most easily made with root vegetables, but pumpkin is a fun, seasonal variation. The seasonings for these are very flexible, and you can experiment with different flavors and combinations. This recipe is for savory fries. For sweet roasted pumpkin, substitute the same amount of brown sugar for the salt and pepper.

1 sugar pumpkin, about 2 pounds

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground if possible)

1 teaspoon paprika (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Seed, skin and slice the pumpkin into french fry-sized strips. Drizzle about two-thirds of the olive oil on a foil-lined jellyroll pan (or other baking sheet with raised sides), or however much is needed to create a thin layer of oil. Lay down the strips on the pan in a single layer. Drizzle more oil over the top of them, then add salt, pepper and paprika or cinnamon if using. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to 12 minutes, or until tender. Serve.

Lisa Christensen

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Lisa covers primarily crime and courts, military affairs, Stansbury Park government and transportation issues. She is a graduate of Utah State University, where she double-majored in journalism and music, and Grantsville High School.

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