Sharla Dressler isn't fazed by a pumpkin soup, stuffed pumpkins or pumpkin custard.
She's not a huge fan of these herself, but she learns of somewhat-exotic pumpkin recipes on a regular basis from customers at Schaake's Pumpkin Patch east of Lawrence.
"I hear a lot of different things now," says Dressler, whose family owns the farm. "It used to be just pumpkin pie."
Pumpkins may be best-known for making jack-o-lanterns or pie, but they're actually a versatile fruit that can be used in appetizers, main dishes and desserts.
There are several varieties of baking pumpkins designed for better flavor than those typically used for carving. Those baking pumpkins - sometimes called sugar pumpkins - also have less stringy pulp than those not designed for the kitchen.
No matter what you're cooking, Dressler suggests cutting pumpkins in half or thirds and cooking them in a microwave or pressure cooker. It's easier to remove the meat from the skin after it's cooked, Dressler says.
She also suggests draining the pumpkin for a long time - perhaps even overnight - in a colander.
"If they're going to use it for pumpkin pie or bread, you have to let it drain," Dressler says. "That's the downfall of runny pumpkin pies - they didn't let it drain long enough. You'd be surprised how much water comes out of them."
The drained pumpkin meat freezes well in sealable baggies.
Dressler says she's talked with people who have stuffed pumpkins with sausage, rice and vegetables and baked them whole. Soups also are popular, as is ice cream. She also just read a recipe recently that involved adding condensed milk to pumpkin to make a custard.
Canned pumpkin will work in most cases, Dressler says, but most people prefer fresh pumpkins.
"To everybody who comes out and I talk them into buying a pie pumpkin, once they try it they never go back to the canned," Dressler says. "They like the real stuff."
Pecan-topped pumpkin muffins
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
or winter squash
5 tablespoons melted butter
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 beaten eggs
16 chopped, pitted dates
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/3 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together mashed cooked pumpkin or winter squash, melted butter, milk, vanilla, beaten eggs and chopped pitted dates.
Mix with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Grease muffin pans, or use baking cups. Pour batter into muffin pans. Top each muffin with a pecan half.
Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Curried pumpkin soup
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup pureed pumpkin (or about 1/2 can of pumpkin)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 cups veggie broth (or chicken broth)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrow root or tapioca powder (use as thickening agent)
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Chopped chives (as decoration)
In large pan, cook onion, garlic and curry in the butter or margarine for a few minutes until onion is tender. Add pumpkin, nutmeg, sugar and the bay leaf. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Take out the bay leaf. Stir in 1 cup of the milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes. In another bowl, stir together the remaining milk and the cornstarch until dissolved, then add it to the pan.
Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook a couple more minutes. To serve, swirl the cream on top, and garnish with chives.
Pumpkin belgian waffles
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned
2 cups unsifted flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups skim milk
3 large egg whites
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pumpkin ice cream
Powdered or confectionery sugar
Preheat waffle iron. Whisk flour, brown sugar, cornstarch and spices, thoroughly mixing ingredients together. Beat egg whites in a second bowl, until whites form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the ingredients in the first bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until smooth. Brush waffle iron with vegetable oil.
Cook waffles until golden brown. Keep warm in the oven until serving. Place on a plate. Top with vanilla or pumpkin ice cream. Top with fresh fruits like blueberries or chopped walnuts.
1/3 cup reduced-calorie margarine, room temperature
2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
1 container (24 ounces) nonfat
cottage cheese (3 cups)
1 tub (12 ounces) light cream cheese
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 can (16 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lightly grease bottom and sides of 9-by-3-inch springform pan.
For crust: Mix margarine and cracker crumbs in a bowl until evenly moistened. Press over bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared pan.
For filling: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Process cottage cheese and cream cheese product in a food processor or blender about 2 minutes, scraping down sides 2 or 3 times, until thick and smooth. Add brown sugar, process until sugar dissolves. Add eggs and egg whites and process just until blended. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, cornstarch, spice and vanilla until well blended and smooth.
Pour into crust. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until top of cake looks set. Shut off oven. Cool completely on wire rack. To store, cover and refrigerate in pan at least 6 hours or up to 4 days.
Source: Source: www.pumpkin-patch.co
A few good gourds
Pumpkins are so versatile that they've even permeated pop culture. Here are a few examples: "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. In the movie, Linus waits in the pumpkin patch awaiting the arrival of the Santa Claus-esque Great Pumpkin, which he thinks will deliver toys. The generous squash is a no-show, and Sally - who waits in the patch with Linus - is enraged that she missed out on trick-or-treating. *** Christina Ricci stars in "Pumpkin," a 2002 movie about a sorority girl who falls in love with a developmentally disabled young man. The man's name - with no real explanation given in the movie - is Pumpkin. BigPumpkins.com says Ron Wallace of Warren, R.I., currently has the world record pumpkin. The pumpkin weighed in earlier this month at 1,502 pounds. The previous record was held by Larry Checkon of North Cambria, Pa. His pumpkin weighed a mere 1,469 pounds. *** The Smashing Pumpkins are, perhaps, the most famous band named after mauling a fruit. The band had its heyday in the 1990s and broke up in 2000, but lead singer Billy Corgan has said he wants the band to get back together. *** Remember when pumpkin-carving used to simply involve a magic marker and a knife? No more. The Web site www.extremepumpkins.com takes carving to a new level. The site plays host to annual contests that have drawn flaming pumpkins, puking pumpkins, pumpkins with "gunshot wounds" and more.
Stew in a pumpkin shell
1 large pumpkin
2 large onions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 pounds chuck steak, cubed
1 pound tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 1/2 pints beef stock
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 pounds raw pumpkin, cut in chunks
2 cans sweet corn
12 canned yellow peach halves, sliced
Syrup from canned peaches
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
To prepare the pumpkin, cut the top to form a lid, angle cutting so the lid will sit on and not fall in. Leave the stem for a handle. Remove the "guts" - the fibers and seeds and discard. Scoop away most of the solid flesh, leaving a sturdy wall of pumpkin, being careful not to cut through it. Measure out 2 pounds of the pumpkin flesh for the stew.
Brush the inside of the cleaned pumpkin with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Replace the lid and set the pumpkin aside on a baking sheet.
Cook the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft but not browned. Transfer to a large saucepan. Brown the beef in the oil and add it to the onion mixture in the saucepan. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, half the stock, the bouquet garni, a little salt and plenty of pepper to the meat and onions. Cover and simmer until the meat is almost cooked. This should take about 1 hour.
At this time, put the pumpkin shell in the oven at 375 degrees. Leave it for 30 minutes, or longer if the walls are thick. But be careful not to collapse the walls. You can use a large casserole as a support for the walls.
Add the sweet potato, potato and pumpkin to the saucepan and cover with more stock. Return to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender, the potatoes are cooked and the liquid is thickened with the dissolved pumpkin.
Stir in the sweet corn and peaches and simmer for another 15 minutes. Taste, correcting the seasoning and adding a little of the peach syrup. Remover the bouquet garni and discard. Ladle the stew into the pumpkin and put back into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting
For the cookies:
1 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
For the frosting:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and eggs. Mix to incorporate. Add the pumpkin and mix to incorporate. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Cool on racks. When cool, ice with the cream cheese frosting.
For the frosting: In a mixer, fitted with a paddle, add the cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. If frosting is too thick, thin with a little more milk. Fold in the lemon zest. When cookies are cool, spread with some of the frosting. Garnish with a whole pecan.