|credit: Jim Dugan
|Pumpkin pancakes are a favorite on the Mary Day, served with real Maine Maple Syrup.
Gourds were the first vegetable species domesticated by humans something like 10,000 years ago. Since then, humans have been carving gourds and turning them into lanterns of one kind or another all over the world. The Celts believed that the souls of the dead roamed the earth during the festival of Samhain – a late fall event - and they exhibited their gourd lanterns to ward off evil spirits.
Colonists, especially in New England, learned early on to appreciate the indigenous gourds that they called pumpkins. They were a consistent bulwark against the ever-present specter of hunger. One Colonial song went, “We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon/If it were not for pumpkins we should be undone.” Grown easily, the pumpkin was so hearty that a single vine produced hundreds of pounds of nourishment that was both palatable and easily stored over winter.
Nowadays, pumpkins tend to get short shrift: either they are carved up as jack-o-lanterns or canned and made into a once-a-year pie for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, these recipes – all twists on an old favorite - will help your family and friends see pumpkins in a whole new light.
Sugar Pumpkin Cheese Fondue from Ladona chef Anna Miller
½ baguette, cut into ½-inch slices
1 medium to large sized sugar pumpkin
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chopped sage, thyme or rosemary
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (about 4 oz)
2 cups coarsely grated Emmental or Swiss cheese (about 4 oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third of the oven.
Toast baguette slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet in oven until tops are crisp (bread will still be pale), about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (3 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin. Season inside of pumpkin with ½ teaspoon salt.
Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and set aside. Mix cheeses and herb together and set aside.
Put a layer of toasted bread in bottom of pumpkin, then cover with about 1 cup cheese and about ½ cup cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about ½ inch from top. You may have a little of each of the filling leftover.
Cover pumpkin with top and put in an oiled small roasting pan. Brush outside of pumpkin all over with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, 1¼ to 1½ hours.
Serve warm and when you scoop, make sure you get some pumpkin with each serving.
Serve with more sliced baguette or hearty crackers.
Pumpkin Pancakes from the Mary Day
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ tsp each cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
¾ cup milk
⅓ cup pumpkin or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
butter for griddle
Mix all the dry ingredients well in a bowl. Break egg on top, pour on milk, oil, and pumpkin. Mix gently until blended. Do not beat or over mix. Let rest a few minutes. Cook on hot, buttered griddle. Serves 3 or 4.
These are a favorite on the Mary Day, served with real Maine Maple Syrup.
Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins from Lewis R. French
2½ cups flour
1½ cups sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup oil
½ cup orange juice
15 ounces cooked pumpkin
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
½ cup cranberry raisins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, orange juice, pumpkin, eggs and milk. Add the mixture from the smaller bowl to the larger bowl; mix until just combined. Fold in the cranberry raisins. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
For more information about recipes from the galleys of the Maine Windjammer Association click here.