Pumpkin: Roasted, Pureed, Baked

I dream about cooking and baking with real pumpkin. For the past few weeks I've flagged a bunch of pumpkin recipes - but I wanted to try using an actual pumpkin, rather than canned pumpkin. When I was driving back from Santa Monica/SLO two weekends ago, I stopped at Walmart to stock up on food for the day (I was also looking for suspenders - FYI nobody sells FFFing suspenders!)


Right, so the week before I went to London to study abroad I watched Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True:

And I really liked Cinderella's haircut, so I asked my hairdresser to do my hair just like hers...

Cinderella reminds me of pumpkins.
"Impossible, for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage!" 

Sidetracked again.

So there I was standing in Walmart, the carton of pumpkins calling my name... "Cinderella!" (too cheesy?)

It was stashed in my pantry for a week. I could have kept it in there for a month as long as it wasn't bruised (pumpkins grow mold faster when bruised FYI). On Monday I decided to finally transform the fruit (yes, pumpkins fall in the fruit category) into something delicious. Indecision got the better of me, as it usually does, so I decided to try two methods.

Here she is. Preheat your oven to 450.


Cut off the stem. It's the only part you won't be eating.

Cut pumpkin in half crosswise.

Scrape out those seeds!

Try to remove all the stringy bits too.

Pull out your peeler.

Peel the skin off of the side(s) of the pumpkin you want to roast.

One half is naked!

Throw away the scraps.

Start slicing the pumpkin. Looks like cantaloupe?

Cut into 2-inch chunks.

I roasted half the pumpkin with olive oil, cut up shallots, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cayenne.

Before: toss the olive oil, shallots, and herbs directly on the baking sheet (I covered mine in tinfoil)

Roast until the pumpkin is tender, a little over 30 minutes.

My roasted pumpkin went into a bowl with potstickers and veggies, covered in a random satay I whipped up in my food processor. 

MMM tender!

There were enough pumpkin chunks for 4 meals!

What about the other half? Well, I reduced the oven to 350, lined the baking sheet with parchment paper, scraped out the seeds and placed the pumpkin half, flesh side down, on the baking sheet.

I covered the top of the pumpkin with tinfoil and baked it in the oven for an hour. 
You'll know it's done when you can easily pierce it with a knife.

Let it cool and then simply scoop the flesh from the skin. Very easy! 

You can put it immediately into the food processor, but I decided to put mine in a sifter, over a glass bowl, in the fridge, overnight. This helped drain some of the excess water from the flesh.

In the morning I scooped the pumpkin flesh into the food processer and processed until nice and smooth.

1/2 a cup went into the container (back) and into my fridge for later. Refrigerated pumpkin puree will last a couple of days. 1/2 a cup went into the freezer bag (front) and into my freezer. Frozen pumpkin puree will last about 4 or 5 months in the freezer and not lose any of its va-voom. Cool, huh? All you have to do is take out the little bag and let it thaw for about 20 minutes and you're good to bake!

So what did I end up using the pumpkin puree in?

Clue: apples

Clue: batter (?)

Still guessing?

I chose to go with the Ultimate Pumpkin Waffle recipe from The Ultimate Pumpkin Waffle. Yes, it is a blog all about the quest to perfect pumpkin waffles. I halved the recipe and made a few alterations.

I ended up using:

- 1/8 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 & 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1/8 tsp. cloves
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup soy milk, with a little of that half cup actually being chai concentrate mix and hazelnut coffee creamer < < I'm weird
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and warm
- An apple, finely chopped and divided (1/2 went into the batter, 1/2 went into my syrup)

I followed all of his crazy instructions too. Whipping the egg whites at the end, folding them into the batter REALLY gently.


The pumpkin waffle master advises to let the waffles cool on a wire rack to let the pumpkin flavor really sink in. He recommends putting them back on the griddle for a little bit to warm up before digging in.

Look! Syrup-y waffles.... mmm!

These were really really really really good.
What about the seeds?

I cleaned the seeds, placed them back on the same parchment paper, and popped them into the oven for about an hour at 250 degrees. When they came out of the oven, I put a tablespoon of canola oil in a skillet and heated it up with a tablespoon (or more?) of sugar. I quickly added the pumpkin seeds and swish swashed them around for about a minute. When they looked caramelized, I transferred them to a bowl and tossed them with cinnamon, sugar, cardamom, more sugar, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar.

All in all I say my first pumpkin experience was a success! Do any of you have recommended pumpkin recipes? I want to bake the most legit pumpkin pie ever for Thanksgiving - pie dough from scratch, bake and puree a pumpkin, do a fancy crust design, the works. 


No Garlic Ice Cream

What's that sign say? Garlic Ice Cream??

Sadly those are not my hands (eek! man hands attack!) ... and no they are not Kyle's hands. Those babies belong to a stranger. A stranger holding the mystical garlic ice cream. To make it better (or more strange?) the ice cream is served in half a cantaloupe. We went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival and I was so excited to try the garlic ice cream but that never happened. Here is why:

We got to the fairgrounds and did a loop around to check everything out.
We stopped and spun the prize wheel. No cool winnings.
We stopped to check out these giant chickens. They were really well trained.
We walked into this demo area and someone tossed us some free garlic!
They told us how to make their prize-winning scampi sauce.
He was afraid of the giant chickens from earlier.
We continued to walk ... SO MANY PEOPLE! And lots of food options...
For example, these enchanted escargot.
If you are a real badass you could just eat the garlic like an apple.
Then we found one of the 2 stages and listened to a lady rock out. SERIOUSLY she was a rocker. 
Okay. HUNGRY now! All the food was locally grown. 
MMM... this sounds delicious.
And it was! It was overflowing with green and red peppers, onions, garlic of course...
Ultimately this was the reason why I did not have the garlic ice cream...
Can you blame me? Nicole knows about my love for anything related to frozen yogurt. I'm not going to say I would always choose froyo over ice cream, but today froyo won! Kyle and I also had the garlic fries (in fact it was the first thing we ate!)

General thoughts about the Gilroy Garlic Festival:
- tons of people! 
- repetitive food stalls (all of them had garlic for some reason ...jk)
- art sampling (diverse but nothing that sticks out as WOOOAHHHH)
- pickled garlic: I liked it while Kyle thought it was detestable. If you ever decide to try it, make sure you are a fan of brine preservation.
- Dunkin Donuts spin wheel is rigged so no one can win
- giant chicken Halloween costume might not be a bad idea
- garlic fries are awesome, if only Jan Hagel would have let me try the one with crab (I don't care if it's fake crab!)
- there really isn't a whole lot to do - eat, walk, eat, sit, eat ... eat eat eat!