We started with a little chat about which pumpkins worked best for different recipes. Essentially, there are more watery-fleshed ones (usually with a lighter orange, pink or yellow skin), and drier-fleshed ones which tend to either be darker skinned, green skinned, striped or white). They all taste good, but the drier fleshed ones work better in pumpkin pie, cakes and pumpkin gnocchi.
If you bake either type, they will loose water, and if you mash the wetter types, then put them in a sieve, you can reduce the amount of water. Happily, if you use the water, you can make a rather nice pumpkin-juice lemonade, which is how we started the cooking preparation, and seemed to go down very well (if fighting over seconds is any indication!).
Next on the menu was pumpkin gnocchi made using a Crown Prince squash with its lovely dry dark-orange flesh that contrasts with the characteristic grey-green skin. Tracey had prepared the pumpkin in advance by baking it whole in the oven - much less effort than cutting it up, as it cuts like butter when cooked. You just slice off the top, scoop out the seeds and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. The texture is so smooth, you can just mash it like potato. The recipe below is useful, but you need to allow for different levels of moisture in different pumpkins, so Tracey actually made the gnocchi by estimating. The great thing about these little pillows of pumpkin and flour is that they are great to make in a group - many hands definitely make light work. And they have loads of pumpkin in them and they work really well with sage and garlic butter and parmesan. It's also possible to make them vegan if you leave out the egg.
|Gnocchi going down very well with the willing workers.|
After our gnocchi snack, we then went on to make pumpkin pancakes with toffee sauce, which were a really big hit with the children especially - most of them asking for their own personal "stack"!
Thanks to all who attended, and we hope you've taken away some new ideas.
The "how to" photos below are from another session some years ago now.
Pureed pumpkin flesh, with as little moisture as possible
Plain or self-raising flour
|Add 1 egg for every 1/2 pint / 280ml of pumpkin and whisk|
(We had 1 1/2 pints)
|Then start to add flour.|
|You can also tell if the mix is right when the gnocchi |
can hold the indentation of the prongs of a fork.
|Gnocchi ready to cook. The traditional shape comes from|
squeezing in the sides of the circle.
|Boil the gnocchi in batches. If made with plain flour, they|
will be done as soon as they rise to the surface of the water.
We served the gnocchi with garlic and sage butter - essentially just 2 cloves of garlic gently heated in the butter with about 15 sage leaves chopped finely, and finely grated strong cheese. They were a big hit!
Pumpkin Pancakes with Toffee Sauce
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
Up to 200ml milk
2 medium eggs
500g pumpkin puree (roast pumpkin until soft, blend then rest in a sieve
until most of the liquid has gone)
1 tsp cinnamon
For the toffee sauce – it’s easy to make your own
50g unsalted butter
50g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp double cream
Make the toffee sauce. Put ingredients into a heavy bottomed pan and bring slowly to the boil then turn down the heat for another 3 – 5 minutes. Stir frequently during cooking.
Put flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar into a bowl and stir to blend. Add eggs, pumpkin and half the milk if pumpkin is one of the drier types. Whisk until smooth and thick, adding more milk as necessary to give a thick batter. You are looking for something that spreads to a ½ cm thickness in the pan.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan. Put a knob of butter in the pan and melt ensuring it doesn’t reach smoking heat. Add 4 tablespoonfuls of the batter, spaced well apart, and cook for bout 2 minutes until they are slightly brown on the bottom. Flip and cook for another minute. Transfer to a metal or china plate and keep warm by keeping a cloth over them, or eat as soon as they are cool enough.
Serve with toffee sauce if liked (many types are on sale if you don’t fancy making it, but give it a try – it’s really easy).