Monday, September 15, 2014

What to do with a Big Ol' Pumpkin

Welcome to Cooking with Expression -- the successor to Law School's Cooking.  Law school is now over, and we have learned to unleash creativity in cooking like never before.  This blog will strive to push the boundaries of cooking and discover beauty in odd cooking creations.

I invite you to join me on this journey, and leave comments with your own ideas.  Together, we can find even more wonderful expression to unleash in the kitchen.

It has been chilly here in St. Louis today, so what better maiden voyage for this blog than a post about pumpkins--just in time for Fall.

Sometimes during the Fall, you can find gigantic pumpkins at the store for $5, which is a great deal.  If you find yourself resisting the urge to splurge, stop the resistance!  The vitamins, the fiber, the great flavor, the glorious smell--countless reasons to always have pumpkins around.  There are so many things you can do with a pumpkin, it will not go to waste.  And of course, the experimentation is the best part, in my opinion.  Unleash your creativity upon that delicious gourd.

Basically, my plan for this Fall is to cook and eat pumpkin in a variety of delicious dishes until we get sick of them.  Here are some ideas I'm planning to implement this Fall.

Note: The large pumpkins that are inexpensive (that I buy) are not the sweetest pumpkins out there.  There are smaller ones that typically have names with the word "sweet" in them, so if you're looking for a sweeter flavor and are confused why your pumpkin doesn't taste like canned pie filling, that's why.

First of all, start by roasting it, 1/4 of it at a time.  Cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds to throw away or give to a friend who knows how to deal with them (I personally am not willing to undergo the headache of washing them), then cut the halves in half.  For each quarter, place in a greased baking pan, skin-side up, and roast at 400º for about an hour.

And then the fun begins...

1. Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Bread Muffins

2. Vegan Pumpkin Soup

3. Pumpkin Oatmeal (in a crockpot!)

4. Pumpkin Tofu Smoothie
(Don't feel required to use the particular brand--experiment with what you have.  Soft tofu is best, and leaving the water in adds moisture, so you don't even need to add milk.)

5. Pumpkin Pie

Gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free:

Gluten-free, dairy-free:

Variation 1: Make a tofu pumpkin smoothie like above, with a bit more sugar, and without liquid from the tofu package, you can pour it into a pie crust and firm it up in the fridge.

Variation 2: If you are not cooking the pie, then you can use a raw crust made from pureeing nuts (almonds or pecans) and raisins in a food processor, with some cinnamon and nutmeg.  It will form a thick sticky paste.  Form the paste to the bottom of a pie pan to make the crust, then pour the tofu mixture into the crust and refrigerate until it firms up.  Sprinkle pecans and/or cinnamon on top to serve.

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