Has anyone else started dreaming about pumpkins? They are EVERYWHERE: in the markets, food stores, on people’s doorways. Love them or loathe them, they and their close relations, squashes, are definitely here to stay during the autumn months. I think we should embrace them and besides carving and sculpting, they taste pretty good and even their seeds can be made into a delicious snack to feast on with a glass of mulled wine.
So when I recently spotted a pumpkin recipe in the November issue of ‘Country and Town House’ I thought I would give is a shot. It had the rather grand name of ‘veloute of potimarron pumpkin with roast chestnuts and ceps’. It was a recipe from Michelin starred brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin’s new cookbook, ‘Galvin a Cookbook de Luxe’. Whilst my intention was to stick close to the recipe, the truth is I deviated from it a lot.
Apparently potimarron pumpkins are starting to become readily available in the UK. They have a nuttier undertone than your standard pumpkins. So I bounded off in search of one and was confronted with a number of blank looks when I asked for help in the various food stores. I even searched in the mecca of food store, ‘Wholefoods’, and the shop assistant sweetly went and googled (how did we operate before google – encyclopedia britannica maybe?) potimarron pumpkins and came back a little confused and said that basically a regular pumpkin would do. Not quite what I was hoping for, but at least he had made the effort to try to investigate. The shop assistant in Daylesford Organic, said that potimarron, was more of a generic term for pumpkin. I then stumbled across blogger, David Lebovitz ‘potimarron (Roasted Pumpkin)’ recipe. He explained they are also called Hokkaido or Kuri Squash. Chez Pim also has a great looking potimarron recipe on her site and the photo she has of the ‘potimarron’ definitely looks smaller than your average pumpkin.
So you can see that I did not really start off too well with regards to sourcing the main ingredient. In the end I bought a high end pumpkin from ‘Wholefoods’, hoping that it would come up trumps. It wasn’t as small as Pim’s but I had a good feeling about it.
Now the Galvin recipe for 6 people states 400g of pumpkin, but this is a really small amount and I hate to waste the rest of the pumpkin so I used the lot and after roasting the pumpkin for an hour the pumpkin weighed in at 900g. I also decided to use all the seeds and create my own little snack to feast upon. They taste great and require very little effort, other than cleaning with water so that they are completely separated from the pumpkin pith, then a liberal coating of hot paprika and rock salt. When you are roasting the pumpkin, the seeds can go along for the ride, although they will be ready in under 40 minutes. They taste delicious with a good crunch to them.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Paprika and Rock Salt
pumpkin seeds from 1 pumpkin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp rock salt
1. Scoop out all of the seeds from the pumpkin and separate the pumpkin pith from the seeds.
You may find the easiest way to do this is to place the seeds in a sieve and let water soak over the seeds. By using your other hand you can then pick out the orange pith and discard.
2. Dry the seeds with a kitchen towel and then place in a bowl and add the paprika and rock salt. Mix thoroughly with your hand.
3. Place in an oven proof dish at 160 C/Gas Mark 3 and bake for 40 minutes.
They are more-ish warm but taste equally good cooled. Keep in an air tight container if wanting to use over the following couple of days.
Pumpkin Soup with Ceps and Truffle Oil
Adapted from Chris and Jeff Galvin’s book ‘Galvin a Cookbook de Luxe’
1 potimarron pumpkin (ideally) or a small/medium sized standard pumpkin, chopped into cubes (will be circa 900g or less after baking)
half a white onion, chopped
800 ml of chicken stock
200 ml milk
100 ml of olive oil
50 g butter
ceps, handful ( I used dried)
truffle oil, a few drops per serving
1. Peel the pumpkin so the firm outer skin is removed. Apparently you can eat the portmarron outer skin, but I will leave it to your discretion if you wish to. Dice the pumpkin and pour 100ml of olive oil over the pumpkin using your hands so as to coat all the pumpkin cubes. Place in a preheated oven 160 C degrees/gas mark 6 and bake for 1 hour until softened.
The above photo was one of two trays of diced pumpkin !
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the chopped onion and gently fry for 5 minutes so that the onion is softened and translucent. Add the baked pumpkin and stir into the onions. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. You may find at this stage that you prefer the consistency weaker, in which case add a little more stock.
3. Using a hand blender or food processor, blend the soup together so that is completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. If using dried ceps, place them in a bowl with warm water covering them. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Then drain off the liquid into the soup and pat the ceps dry. If you are using fresh ceps, simply clean them with water then pat them dry. In a separate pan add 1 tsp of olive oil and gently saute the ceps over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and spoon on a few ceps per serving and a drizzle of truffle oil. I did try as a tester what the Galvin brothers suggested, which was pumpkin seed oil, however, the truffle oil tasted so much nicer. I think you will agree with me if you do the ‘oil’ test on the pumpkin soup.
Serve piping hot with fresh bread. Hearty and definitely an Autumn warmer.