It is a little bit grim what happens to pumpkins. The seeds are planted, they spend all summer collecting energy from the sun, and nutrients from the soil and water, and then we eat them. Scrub, de-stem, seed, and bake in the oven in a tray of boiling water. Jay took the picture above in the oven with his camera that can capture lovely dark images!

I love my pumpkins. Jay came over today to see the harvest (which was rather small…) and we decided to make a pot of pumpkin soup. With a Long Island Cheese variety.

We cut the pumpkin in half, seeded it and saved the seeds. (I do figure that the purpose of the plant is to continue to create offspring, so my meticulously saving and planting the seeds does count for something after I cut open and eat the squash…)

We baked the pumpkin in a 400 degree oven until it was tender, and the top had browned.

(I is important to wait until the pumpkin is well done. The skin just peels off if you do!)

I mashed the pumpkin flesh with a fork, and added it to a mixture of sauteed onions and garlic, parsley, and a little bit of parmesan cheese rind ready on the stove.

After we mixed everything together the soup was pretty much finished. It was bubbling on the stove for five or ten minutes, and then we served it up. We garnished it with fresh parsley, grated parmesan, and toasted pumpkin seed oil (a real treat!).

We managed to find little spots on the table to eat. I was definitely knocking elbows with pumpkins throughout the meal, but it was fun anyways!

Pumpkin Soup (more like guidelines than a recipe!)

Ingredients:

a smallish long island cheese pumpkin (or any pumpkin or winter squash) cut in half and seeded

a small onion

a few cloves of garlic

olive oil

a few sprigs (or more) of parsley

a bit of parmesan cheese rind

some more parsley, cheese, and pumpkin seed oil for garnish

salt and pepper

Directions:

Bake pumpkin cut side down in an inch or so of water in a 400 degree oven.

Meanwhile, chop and sautee onions, and whole clove or two of garlic in olive oil over medium low heat. Add some salt, and then after a few minutes the chopped parsley and parmesan rind. Stir for about a minute or so, then add a tiny bit water and let simmer for a few minutes and then set aside.

The pumpkin should be about done here, and you can scrape it right from the shell and add directly to the soup. I used the water from baking pumpkin for the soup instead of broth or fresh water.

Stir everything well, and blend or put through a food mill if you like. Let the soup simmer for ten or fifteen minutes before serving.

Garnish with extra chopped parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and toasted pumpkin seed oil (all optional).

I ran home this afternoon with a brown paper bag filled with peaches to a fridge filled with blueberries (okay, not filled but containing blueberries). I had a few minutes, and wanted to put the fruits together into a baked something. It is too hot right now for me to bake a pie (my kitchen isn’t air-conditioned, and that makes for a wimpy crust, and lots of frustration), so I went for a cobbler.

It is important to peel peaches, and to do so, I dropped them into boiling water for 30 seconds (as per mother’s instructions!). The peels come off very easily after the quick blanch. Then I sliced the peaches and added the blueberries, sugar, a lot of butter and a squeeze of lime to the pans. I put the pans into the oven and let the fruit cook for about 20 minutes. While the fruit was cooking, I made a biscuit topping with cream, butter, flour, sour milk, etc. I topped the baking fruits with spoonfuls of biscuit batter and popped everything back in the oven to finish cooking.

The finished cobblers were really runny right after I took the out of the oven. I was taking them into town with me, and every curve, pothole, and stop sign made the juices come close to dripping out of the pans. I used pie pans, and I think that it would probably be better to use casserole pans to contain the juices.

After the cobblers sat for a while, the top crust soaked up a lot of the juice, and the desserts were a lovely balance of fruit, crust and juice.


I drove up to visit Swati in Minnesota last night. Just about the first thing we did Saturday morning was go and pick blueberries. We wanted to bake a pie, and figured that we should use what was fresh and pick-able.

We got to the berry patch around ten, and apparently it was a busy day, and we were late! Fortunately they found us a row to pick berries, and we got going. We noticed that there were more berries on the bushes to either side of us. After we finished our row, we went back to the house to ask for another one, and they said there weren’t any, and to look in our row for more berries…we took the opportunity to jump a few rows over and RAID.

We got a lot more berries that way, browsing the vacant rows.

When we got home, we promptly ate berries with cream. Then we baked a pie.

We ate pie for dessert, then for breakfast. With vanilla ice cream.


roasted vegetable tart

July 13, 2010

A customer has been telling me about this tart for a while. She was in the store this morning, and we talked about it again. The basic directions are to make a tart with a cheese layer, then top it with roasted vegetables.

On the way home from work I picked up a package of feta cheese, a tub of ricotta cheese, and a box of butter.


I raided my fridge, my mom’s fridge, and the garden for fresh vegetables and herbs. Beets, basil, eggplant, zucchini, leeks, thyme, corn, and tomatoes. All from the garden, market, or csa. We were loaded with stuff. I washed and chopped up the beets and leeks and put them in my cast iron casserole and started roasting them. Then I made the dough for the crust. It needed to chill in the fridge for a while, so meanwhile, I peeled and chopped the eggplant and zucchini, and added them to the roasting vegetables, one at a time.

Next I mixed up the base layer of the tart. A package of feta cheese, 3/4 of a tub of ricotta cheese, and a little bit of prairie breeze cheese. To this mixture I added some chopped pickled pimentos, a handful of chopped basil, and some black pepper.

Time to roll out the dough and prebake the crusts.

I made two crusts, and put them in the oven for a little while first to bake so that they were nice and crispy when I was finished. While they were baking, I chopped some tomatoes, and cut the kernels off of a few ears of corn. I sauteed this in butter, with fresh basil and salt.

When the crusts were finished baking, I took them out and layered the filling. The cheese mixture first, then the roasted vegetables, finishing with the corn and tomatoes for color.

I put the tarts back in the oven, and baked them for about an hour (I think..). I took them out and served them right away..they probably should have sat for a few minutes to settle first, but I was a little behind schedule…

Just a little note: I had a few pieces of tart left and put them in the fridge overnight. They tasted way better cold and the next day!!


first place bread…

June 20, 2010

This year started out with bread. Plain and simple. 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon yeast. Mix the ingredients together. No kneading necessary. Let the bread rise for a long time (about 18 hours) and then bake in a hot hot hot dutch oven.

If you use the same sized dutch oven that we used, beware of your bread sticking to the top and burning. Like ours did.

My mom went to check on the bread, opened the lid, and couldn’t find the bread. She thought that I had taken it out, but wasn’t sure why. Then Kathy saw it hanging for dear life from the bottom of the lid. It was probably the best part of my day. So funny.

I was ready at this point to throw the bread away. Not particularly disappointed, mostly because I got such a good laugh out of the whole thing. My mom however, set to diligently scraping off every bit of charred black. We entered the bread, and to my complete surprise won first place for it…

Go figure. I guess that it must have tasted a lot better than it looked.

enchilada bake

June 20, 2010

I love recipes that have the word bake in the title. It implies something hearty, and, well, baked. For our main course entry in the dutch oven competition, we made an enchilada bake. I should really say, my mom made and enchilada bake.

For the layers, she included tortillas,

a delicious home made tomato sauce with fresh bell peppers, a mixture of sour cream and ricotta cheese, grated prairie breeze cheese, and black olives.

Simple simple simple. And then on with the coals.

Coals on top, coals on bottom. There is a specific number that you are supposed to put on for the different sizes of dutch ovens, and for different baking temperatures.

And the result was delicious. Hot and bubbly. To top off the dish she made a fresh salsa of tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro from the garden, and a touch of green onion.

Note the extensive use of oil cloth…

For the dutch oven cookoff we made a whiskey sour cherry spoon bread. A not too sweet cake, rich with butter, and filled with fruit. Cherries soaked for a few days in whiskey and sugar.

We preheated the dutch oven, melted the butter, and then added the cake batter. Then we carefully spooned in the sour cherries.

Then lidded the dish, making sure not to get any ashes in the cake, and set it aside to cook.

We whipped cream with vanilla and powdered sugar to serve with the spoon bread.

A simple and satisfying dessert.