Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Fest: Fiery Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted Pumpkin, Pureed Vegetable Soup without Cream

It's pumpkin season.


Claire really wanted to come over and make pumpkin seeds. They're a lot of work but they're delicious. We got two huge pumpkins and scooped the seeds out, rinsed them, and roasted them. Pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite snacks, and one of the first things I ever made from my mother's copy of the original How to Cook Everything. The Fiery Pumpkin Seeds was cut from the book in the 10th anniversary edition, but it's pretty simple: cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. I add chipotle chili powder, and you can add whatever spices you like, but the cumin-cayenne mix is really addictive. Roast 'til golden brown, and keep an eye on them, because they go from perfect to burnt really quickly.


Later that night, it was suggested by Eva that I could roast the rest of the pumpkin. I started hacking away the skin with a knife like the green pumpkin I cooked in Philly and sliced it up into oven fry size. I tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them at 450 until they were turning brown. They were pretty tasty, especially with the mayo-mustard-sriracha dip. That stuff is so good I'm not even telling you the recipe.* The roasted pumpkin was delicious. There are no pictures of the finished product, but here's some of the raw pumpkin on the baking sheet.


But these pumpkins were so huge, I couldn't even fit a whole half of one on my largest baking sheet. The next day, the other pumpkin was just sitting on the table, staring at me, so I peeled it (by far the worst part of making winter squash, particularly the pumpkinlike varieties), cut it up into smaller pieces and turned to the Pureed Vegetable Soup without Cream recipe. Seriously, this book has everything. Even the cut Fiery Pumpkin Seeds recipe is replaced with Roasted Nuts with Oil and its Pumpkin Seed variation. The recipe, which is Bittman assures us can be made with any winter squash, is made with carrots in the main version. You cook your veggies in butter or oil with some onions and whatever vegetables you have laying around (I just had onions and the pumpkin) until they soften, then add water or stock and cook until the vegetables are really tender. Then, you can puree however you like: blender, food processor, masher, ricer, food mill, back of a spoon, whatever. I used my brand new hand blender. I love it--it's probably the most fun thing to use in my whole kitchen, and way easier to use and clean than the food processor, which is how I would have done this before. (Thanks, Mom!)


The soup is pretty good. It's not my favorite, but I'm glad that I now have this technique because it's promising--I want any excuse to use the stick blender and it's soup weather.

*OK, fine. The recipe is mayonnaise, mustard, and--wait for it--sriracha.
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