For the past couple of weeks, we've (Princess Tofu and The Bojon Gourmet) been working hard at menu planning and recipe testing for our second supper club. The theme this time, pumpkins! From sweet to savory, we are going to serve up several courses of pumpkin themed dishes for people to taste and enjoy. My first experience with the supper club was a lot of fun, it made me realize how much I enjoyed be part of a team that loved to create and share our food with people. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and comfortable and the people that come to dine are really looking to taste something different and appreciate the food. I think that is what made me the happiest and of course, I was only too happy to do another one when asked. Today, I'm sharing two recipes from our menu which are easy to prepare.
When I decided to use cookie cutters to cut out shapes in the pumpkin slices, I figured the best way to use up all those scraps of pumpkin would be in a slow cooker to make pumpkin butter. If you don't feel like cutting shapes out of the pumpkin to make the pickles, you can cut them into 2 inch strips that are about 1/4 inch thick. To keep the pickles crispy, I used the technique recommended by the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (April 2006), to prepare bread and butter pickles, a salt and ice water mixture keep the pumpkin pieces crispy. The syrup is flavored with jaggery and a few spices with a little splash of apple cider vinegar, The pumpkin butter on the other hand, has a warm ginger and chai (tea) flavor and gets a lovely caramel color and flavor while it cooks in the slow cooker.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these two pumpkin treats,
- I used my tiny cookie cutters to create the shapes for the pickles, I'll admit it is a bit of work and I did get a little tired towards to the end. So if you want to avoid that, cut the pumpkin up into 1/4 inch thick strips that are around 2 inches long.
- Use fresh ginger for a more gingery taste for a milder flavor use a tablespoon or two of ginger powder.
- I like dark molasses but the lighter kind will work well here too. M's mother makes her own molasses on the farm and always gives me a batch every year, so I used hers in these recipes.
- If you can't find jaggery, dark brown sugar will work just as well.
- I didn't can either of these since I'll be using them up this week but you should be able to, since they both contain vinegar for acidity and there's sugar as well in both.
chai pumpkin ginger butter
yields: approximately 4 1/2-5 cups
1/2 cup water, boiling water
5 darjeeling tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose darjeeling tea leaves)
3 lbs raw pumpkin, peeled and and sliced
3 inch piece ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 cup granny smith apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 cup dark molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and allow to steep for about 5 minutes. Squeeze and discard the bags.
2. In a slow cooker, pour the tea and the rest of the ingredients. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 6 hours. You might need to stir it once or twice occasionally half way through cooking to move the ingredients around.
3. Once the ingredients are cooked they will be soft and tender. Using an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth (or transfer to a blender and blend until smooth). Transfer the hot pumpkin butter to clean glass jars. At this point you can can them or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
yields: approximately 3lbs 10 ounces of pumpkin pickles with pickling syrup
3 lbs pumpkin sliced into 1/4 inch slices, peeled
5 tablespoons kosher sea salt
4 cups ice cold water
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, whole
3 inch piece stick of cinnamon, whole
1 tablespoon all spice, whole
3 bay leaves
11 ounces jaggery
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups water
1. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out shapes (whatever shape you like) from the pumpkin slices. Stir the salt with the ice cold water in a large bowl. Add the cut shaped pumpkin pieces to the water, cover with cling film or a lid and leave in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours (7 hours) maximum.
2. In the mean time, during the last hour of the pumpkin soaking in the salt water, prepare the syrup. In a large thick bottomed stockpot, add the rest of the ingredients from the fennel to the water and stir on medium-high heat. Bring the contents to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer. Remove the pickling liquid from stove, strain through a sieve and reserve the liquid.
3. Drain the cut pumpkin pieces in a colander and then rinse in cold tap water. Repeat this three times.
4. Place the pumpkin pieces in a large jar or an airtight container. Pour the pickling liquid over the pumpkin and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 days before opening. (You can probably, also can this for long term storage).