All Things Pumpkin

I don’t think I’ve ever met a recipe containing pumpkin that I didn’t like! Be it sweet or savory, from pumpkin pie to pumpkin soup, I’m immediately attracted to dishes of this sort.  Here are three varied uses of canned pumpkin that our family has enjoyed over the years.

The first, Pumpkin Muffins, I adapted from a November 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine. I love many things about this recipe: it’s easy to make, has no yucky ingredients (like Crisco) in it, and tastes great. You take 1½ cups of flour and mix with 1 teaspoon baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk
together 1 cup of pumpkin purée, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1¼ cups of sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt. Then stir the ingredients of both bowls together just until combined. Put the mixture into muffin tins (it makes about a dozen), about ¾ full, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness. These moist cake-like muffins are great for breakfast or a snack. Kids love them as much as adults!

Another fall and winter favorite is Zesty Pumpkin Soup, which is also a simple recipe. Sauté one cup chopped onion and one minced garlic clove in two tablespoons of butter and a little oil. Put in a dash of salt, about a teaspoon of curry (optional), ½ teaspoon ground coriander, and some crushed red pepper. Then pour in three cups of chicken broth and cook for 15-20 minutes. Finally, add in one can of pumpkin and about a cup of half & half, heating it for 5 minutes. Garnish with pumpkin seeds or sour cream and chives, if desired.

My husband is the family baker—and a very good one at that. In fact, for my birthday it’s a given that I prefer his pumpkin pie to just about any cake anywhere out there. But if I need to supply a quick and easy, as well as delicious dessert, I often turn to a recipe given to me by a friend years ago: Cinnamon Pumpkin Flan. No need to struggle with pie crust, of course, and the end result is as impressive as it is flavorful. You start out by melting ½ cup of sugar over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until it forms
a caramel-colored liquid. Immediately pour the golden syrup into the bottom of an 8X8X2” (or so) pre-heated cake pan; I use Pyrex or CorningWare. Turn and roll the pan to coat the bottom as evenly as possible. Combine ¾ cup sugar with ½ teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add in one cup of pumpkin purée with five eggs, beating well. After putting in 1½ cups of evaporated milk, 1/3 cup water, and 1½ teaspoon vanilla, you’re ready to pour the mixture into the caramel-coated pan. Set the pan into a larger container of hot water and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and then refrigerate. To serve, run a knife around the sides of the pan, place a serving dish on top, and carefully flip the flan over to unmold it.

Pumpkin really is very versatile, as you can see from the variety of recipes listed here. I'm wondering what other ways people have of using the vegetable, especially in foreign countries. Looking forward to any and all comments from my readers!

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