Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baking Pumpkin

Fall is in the air, and that means everybody is running down to their local coffee house to enjoy a delicious pumpkin-flavored beverage. Here at In the Kitchen with Harry Potter, we are perfectly in season for our next delicious delicacy:

"On Halloween morning they awoke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting through the corridors" (Sorcerer's Stone 170).

Ms. Rowling does not say what sort of pumpkin deliciousness the House Elves create for the Halloween feast. This means I get to decide! Hooray! Since I'm still feeling rather sugared up from from all the desserts to appear here recently, I will be making Pumpkin Spice Muffins and Spicy Pumpkin Soup! But first, we have to bake a pumpkin!

For Baking a Pumpkin, You Will Need:
a sugar pumpkin (also called a winter squash)
a large baking dish

1. Cut the top off the pumpkin like you do when beginning to make a jack-o-lantern.

2. Scoop out the yucky insides (the seeds of a sugar pumpkin aren't usually worth keeping to roast; they're too small) and discard the pulpy gross stuff.
3. Cut the pumpkin into chunks (at least into quarters), and scrape off any slimy strings you may have missed.
4. Lay the pumpkin pieces in the baking dish, flesh side down, and cover with about 2-3" of water.

5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until soft (I cooked mine for 90 minutes or so I think).
6. Remove from the oven and use tongs to place he pumpkin chunks on a plate to cool.

7. When cool enough, peel the skins off/scoop the flesh off the skins, and discard the skins.

Now you're ready to make something!

First up, is the pumpkin soup, for which I had excellent help from one of my faithful readers and a Harry Potter nut life myself (and also my best friend!).

For Spicy Pumpkin Soup, You Will Need:
Chopped chives, for garnish
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
nutmeg to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
6.75 cups pumpkin (pureed in a food processor)
1 dried red chili (I didn't have one, so I used a bit of cayenne pepper)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup skim milk
2.5 cups vegetable stock
a bit of oil

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook with the cumin and coriander until the onion is softened.
2. Add the pumpkin and cook a few minutes. Add the stock.
3. Add the nutmeg and chili, and stir well.
4. Stir in the milk and transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth.

5. Return the soup to the pan and heat again until hot through. Adjust seasonings and thickness as necessary.
6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives!

yes, this picture is upside down.
This pumpkin soup is really delicious and filling, but also super healthy! Hooray!

Our next delicious recipe comes from a cookbook I got from Barnes and Noble for about a dollar. I think it was called Comfort Food for the Cold.... something like that. I gave it away to a friend who lives in the cold. But not until I copied this excellent recipe for Pumpkin Muffins!

For Pumpkin Spice Muffins, You Will Need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned (or pureed fresh) pumpkin
1/2 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1 tsp finely chopped orange zest
1/2 cup golden raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Add paper muffin liners.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and salt, and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy using an electric mixer (it doesn't really get "creamy," so much as well-combined).

4. Reduce the speed to low and blend in the pumpkin, orange juice, eggs, and zest. Beat until well blended.

5. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until just combined. Do not over-mix.

6. Add raisins and mix until just combined.

7. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean.

8. Let the muffins cool 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

These muffins are so autumnal and delicious!! So enjoy the smell of baking pumpkin pervading the halls, curl up with a muffin, and enjoy!

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