Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin and Snow

Apparently there has been a significant change in the weather, since I woke up this morning to SNOW. October has yet to come to a close but now the only thing I can think of is CHRISTMAS. In order to keep myself in the present, I needed a reminder that HALLOWEEN is in two days! And what says Halloween better than PUMPKIN! These next few days I am going to be posting a few seasonal recipes including pumpkin cranberry jam! [which i am super stoked to test out!]
So to prepare for these pumpkin treats I decided to make my own pumpkin puree from scratch instead of buying it. It's very simple, and I felt so accomplished [kind of lame, yes, but it's something I've never done before so its a satisfying feeling]
You can use this puree for anything: pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, muffins, pancakes, cookies. anything that you used canned pumpkin for can be replaced with your own puree! Making your own puree also gives you the freedom to flavor it with any spices/herbs from the beginning of the process, to make a unique flavor in your dishes!

1 medium sized pumpkin [not one you want to use for carving]
Carefully trim off the outer skin of the pumpkin [I suggest using a sharp Chef Knife and then a pairing knife for smaller areas]

Cut as close to the stem as you can [you want to keep as much pumpkin as possible]
Slice the pumpkin in half, and remove all of the pulp and seeds [ust as you would do if carving a jack'o'lantern]
If you want, you can save the seeds and eat them as a snack [just like sunflower seeds] - I am saving mine to use in an upcoming recipe... :D
Now cut your pumpkin into equal sizes so that they will all cook at the same time. you are going to boil the pumpkin, same way you would boil potatoes for mashed potatoes! [easy? YES!]
Have a large pot of water boiling on the stove, add your pumpkin pieces to the pot and cook the pumpkin for about 10-15 minutes - you want the pumpkin to be very soft and "fork tender" which simple means that if you were to place a fork or knife through the pumpkin, it would easily slide through without much pressure from you. If you find yourself pushing down forcefully to try to cut the pumpkin, it is not ready yet.
Once the pumpkin is completely cooked, strain the water out and process into a puree. There are many ways to do this. Ideally, you should used a food processor or a blender, it will quickly puree the pieces up together and break down the fibers to make it smooth. If you don't have either of those things [like me] then the next best thing would be an electric mixer [hand or stand] and mix the pumpkin into a puree with that. If you don't have an electric mixer- its ok, you are just going to build more muscle while you mash and WISK your puree together
When you're done, it should look like...pumpkin puree :D
The pumpkin I used yielded about 2 Qts of puree, not too bad.

 Now that you have made your very own pumpkin puree- GO MAKE SOMETHING DELICIOUS WITH IT!!.....I am going to make some pumpkin truffles :] The recipe will be up tomorrow!

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