Making the Most of Your Pumpkin

pumpkin

Halloween, the spookiest night of the year is nearly upon us and everyone knows what that means – pumpkins! Pumpkins are rarely utilised to their full potential, but once a year everyone goes wild for this wonderful fruit (yes, it’s actually a fruit!). So, here we’re going to give you some top tips for making the most of this orange delight.

Carving


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First of all, pick your pumpkin wisely. It’s always tempting to pick out the one that is perfectly rotund, but if you opt for a misshapen one it can provide a more interesting canvas.

The next step is to find yourself the ideal template for your terrifying centrepiece. HGTV have a number of templates that most beginners should have no problem carving. However, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a whizz at carving then you might want to check Pumpkin Pile or Zombie Pumpkins for some rather creative designs that include rock stars and movie icons.

All you have to do next is stick your template to your pumpkin and poke holes around the outside of the template. Then you’re ready to carve – but make sure you take your time and use a very sharp knife.

If you’re feeling really creative you can shave your pumpkin rather than cut it all the way through to give it a cool two tone effect.

It’s also well worth keeping in mind that you can carve on the other side of the pumpkin too. This will create some spooky shadows, and you’ll double your fun! It also gives you an opportunity to improve on your previous design.

Consider sprucing up your pumpkin with some leaves and twigs, which can serve as a fashionable hat or hair for your ghoulish friend.

Rather than putting a candle inside your pumpkin, try putting Christmas lights or a red LED light in there to give it a really creepy effect.

Finally, ensure your terrifying creation is well placed for everyone to see!

Pumpkin recipes

Now, most people will simply buy a pumpkin just for carving. However, pumpkins are a very versatile fruit that can be used in all sorts of frighteningly delicious recipes. Here are two of our favourites:

Bacon and Pumpkin Risotto

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  • 300g pumpkin
  • 5 slices of the finest bacon
  • 500ml apple juice
  • 1 litre chicken / vegetable stock
  • 1 leek
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Parsley

Method

Firstly, cube the pumpkin and boil in a lightly salted pan for about 25 minutes until flesh is tender, and then puree in a food processor or by hand, and leave for later.

In a medium sized saucepan combine stock and apple juice over a low heat. In another deep sauté pan fry the bacon until cooked and remove. Add leeks and sauté until tender and caramelised. Add chopped garlic and nutmeg and fry for another 30 seconds. Next add the rice and wine and continue to cook until the wine has boiled off. Gradually add stock to the rice mixture whilst continually stirring until rice is al-dente – you may find that you don’t use all the stock. Mix in the pumpkin puree and maple syrup and stir. Season to taste. Stir in the chopped bacon and serve with a bit of fresh parsley and parmesan.

Pumpkin Cake

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For the cake

  • 300g pumpkin
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon or 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g sultanas
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda


For the frosting

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Grease and line a 23x33cm or similar sized dish.

Grate pumpkin. Beat eggs and melted butter together. In another bowl stir flour, sugar, cinnamon/spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt together before mixing with the butter and eggs. Stir in the grated pumpkin. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes until golden and then leave to cool.

Whilst the cake is baking, put the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese, orange zest and juice in a bowl and whisk until smooth and blended.

Finally, spread the frosting onto the cake and enjoy!

There we have our top guide to making the most of your pumpkin this Halloween. Please share your pumpkin artwork and recipes with us!

Posted on 24 Oct 2014  |  Posted in  'How To' Articles
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