Ver­sa­tile pump­kin can be used in myr­iad ways

Ver­sa­tile in­gre­di­ent can be used in myr­iad ways

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Stephen Fries

I was re­minded too soon fall was on its way when pump­kin or­na­ments were dis­played in the stores and the back-to-school ads blan­keted tele­vi­sion screens in July. In Au­gust, dis­plays of pump­kin spice cof­fee beans were plen­ti­ful in cof­fee shops and su­per­mar­kets. Don’t you wish re­tail­ers would let us en­joy the sea­son at hand with­out the re­minder of fall and the long and cold win­ter we ex­pe­ri­ence here?

Last week, at the farm­ers mar­ket I fi­nally gave in and pur­chased the minipump­kins I give to a few friends and some that adorn the man­tle each year. I guess the chang­ing col­ors of the trees put me in the au­tumn spirit. Along with the chang­ing leaves and the colder weather to come, au­tumn brings us some of the year’s most de­li­cious food. Ap­ples were “cen­ter stage” a cou­ple of weeks ago. Cran­ber­ries and sweet pota­toes, other fall fa­vorites are on the docket as well.

Pump­kin bread and muffins, pump­kin spice lat­tes and, of course, the quin­tes­sen­tial pump­kin pie are com­mon treats this time of year. Has the ex­ten­sion of the use of the gourd and pump­kin spice gone too far with potato chips, gum, yo­gurt, pro­tein pow­der, tor­tilla chips, beer, cream cheese and bagels? How about body pow­der and air fresh­ener? For the ob­sessed, there is a wooden sign to hang that says “I Love Ev­ery­thing Pump­kin Spice.” Why not let the world know?

With its sub­tle taste, pump­kin is a blank can­vas and is such a ver­sa­tile in­gre­di­ent, be­cause it can be baked, boiled, steamed, fried and roasted. The seeds are a health­ful snack. Pump­kin­seed oil is used to make salad dress­ing. The clas­sic sym­bol of fall means so much more than jack-o-lanterns.

“The Pump­kin Cook­book: 139 Recipes Cel­e­brat­ing the Ver­sa­til­ity of Pump­kin and Other Win­ter Squash,” by Deedee Stovel (2017, Storey Pub­lish­ing, $16.95) of­fers di­verse op­tions for en­joy­ing the icon of fall year-round.

The first chap­ter dis­cusses types of pump­kins and how to store, pre­pare and cook fresh pump­kins; and for those who find it a chal­lenge to cut and peel the gourd, fear no more. Be cre­ative with us­ing the gourd as a serv­ing bowl; Stovel will show you how. Baked or roasted, steamed or mi­crowaved, canned unsweet­ened, puree, or pepi­tas, there are recipes for many styles and parts of this orange trea­sure. Here are two of Stovel’s recipes to try. For the recipe for pump­kin corn bread visit http://bit.ly/2yuXIyz

Au­tumn toasted cous­cous salad

The au­thor writes, “Is­raeli cous­cous, a larger ver­sion of Moroc­can cous­cous, is the size of pep­per­corns, has a nutty fla­vor, and is ideal for sal­ads. Toast­ing the cous­cous deep­ens its fla­vor and en­hances this sa­vory and col­or­ful mix of pump­kin, fen­nel, and cran­ber­ries, bright­ened with specks of pars­ley.”

1 ½ pounds fresh pump­kin, seeds and fibers re­moved, cut into chunks

1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil 8 ounces Is­raeli cous­cous (about 1 ¼ cups)

1 ½ cups ap­ple juice ½ tea­spoon sea salt, plus more to taste ½ cup finely minced fresh pars­ley

1/3 cup dried cran­ber­ries,

chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped -fen­nel root

¼ cup minced red onion

2 ta­ble­spoons grape­seed oil or olive oil

2 ta­ble­spoons red wine

vine­gar Freshly ground black pep­per

Mi­crowave the chunks of pump­kin on high for 5 min­utes, or un­til al­most ten­der. When cool enough to han­dle, peel the pump­kin, and coarsely chop enough to make 2 cups. Store the re­main­der in the re­frig­er­a­tor for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Heat the olive oil in a large skil­let over medium heat. Add the cous­cous and cook for 2 to 3 min­utes, un­til the cous­cous browns a bit. Add the ap­ple juice, re­duce the heat, and sim­mer, cov­ered, for 15 to 20 min­utes, un­til the liq­uid is ab­sorbed and the cous­cous is al­most ten­der, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally. Add the pump­kin and cook for 1 to 2 min­utes longer, stir­ring to blend the fla­vors and color.

Trans­fer the cous­cous to a large bowl, sprin­kle with the salt, and cool slightly. Toss with the pars­ley, cran­ber­ries, fen­nel, and onion. Stir in the grape­seed oil and vine­gar. Sea­son with a few grinds of pep­per. Taste and add more salt, if de­sired. Serve at room tem­per­a­ture. Serves 6.

Thai Pump­kin Soup

The head­note says, “The won­der­ful thing about Thai curry is the heat you feel at the back of your throat while en­joy­ing the smooth co­conut, gin­ger, and pump­kin fla­vors in your mouth. This vel­vety soup makes a lovely light lunch with crunchy crack­ers, pita bread, or naan. Thai green curry paste is avail­able in the Asian sec­tion of the su­per­mar­ket, or in Asian or gourmet food stores.”

1 ta­ble­spoon un­salted but­ter 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 ta­ble­spoon peeled and

minced fresh gin­ger

1 clove gar­lic, minced

2 cups canned unsweet­ened pump­kin

1 ½ cups co­conut milk

1 ½ cups milk

½ Thai green curry paste Pinch of dried thyme

1 tea­spoon freshly squeezed lime juice

½ tea­spoon salt Freshly ground black pep­per

1 ta­ble­spoon minced fresh cilantro

1/3 cup chopped peanuts (op­tional)

Melt the but­ter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion, gin­ger, and gar­lic in the but­ter, about 3 min­utes, un­til the onion is soft. Place half of the pump­kin, the co­conut milk, milk, curry paste, and thyme into a blender. Add the onion mix­ture and purée un­til smooth. Pour the soup back into the pot, add the re­main­ing pump­kin, and con­tinue to cook over medium heat, about 3 min­utes, un­til it is heated through but not boil­ing. Sea­son with the lime juice, salt, and pep­per to taste. Ad­just the sea­son­ings. Serve hot. Scat­ter a bit of the cilantro on each serv­ing. Add a few chopped peanuts, if us­ing, over each serv­ing. Serves 4. Pick your own pump­kins (Call for crop avail­abil­ity) Bishop’s Or­chards, 1355 Bos­ton Post Rd., Guil­ford 203-453-2338

Ly­man Or­chards, 32 Reeds Gap Rd., Mid­dle­field, 860-349-1793

Clover Nook Farm, 50 Fair­wood Rd., Bethany, 203-393-2929

Des­per­ately seek­ing

Pa­tri­cia Garcia, of New Haven wrote, I would love to have the recipe for the un­be­liev­able lob­ster risotto from As­sag­gio restau­rant in Bran­ford. Their sig­na­ture dish is black­ened sea bass ac­com­pa­nied by the risotto. I would be happy to just know what the “base” of it is. It is orang-ey in color, but with­out any no­tice­able tomato fla­vor…it keeps me awake at night. We have been there sev­eral times over the sum­mer and I have to have it each time…it is in­cred­i­bly unc­tu­ous! I keep try­ing to tease out the fla­vors of it, but alas, I can’t. I would love it, if they would share it.”

Pa­tri­cia, Wow!…you made me very cu­ri­ous about this dish with your de­scrip­tion. I will see if the chef will share the recipe. Send us your re­quests

Which restau­rant recipes or other recipes would you like to have?

Which food prod­ucts are you hav­ing dif­fi­culty find­ing? Do you have cook­ing ques­tions? Send them to me.

Con­tact Stephen Fries, pro­fes­sor and co­or­di­na­tor of the Hospi­tal­ity Man­age­ment Pro­grams at Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, at gw-stephen.fries@gwcc.comm net.edu or Dept. FC, Gate­way Com­mu­nity Col­lege, 20 Church St., New Haven 06510. In­clude your full name, ad­dress and phone num­ber. Due to vol­ume, I might not be able to pub­lish ev­ery re­quest. For more, go to stephen­fries.com.

Clare Bar­boza/Storey Pub­lish­ing

Slices of the sea­son: pump­kin corn bread.

Pump­kin soup adorns a fall ta­ble.

“The Pump­kin Cook­book”

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