We were a little slow with Halloween this year. It snuck up on me in all the end-of-season hoop-la, the winter planning and restaurant closing and fall cleaning, long overdue. It wasn't until Saturday morning, when Clare showed me this Rouge Vif d'Etampes, that I realized it was here.
By the time I got a face carved in the pumpkin's deep ruddy flesh, it was Sunday morning. And so this indignant little jack-o-lantern only had one night to live—one night out on the stoop, glowing orange and yellow and red.
That turned out to be okay, though. This pumpkin was edible, and expensive, and I had no intention of letting it sit out on the stoop to mold and rot and droop like most Halloween pumpkins do. I toasted its seeds—big, thick disks, warmed golden brown and tossed with olive oil and salt—and today, cut the flesh up into long, moon-shaped strips. Now we have four cups of roasted, pureed squash—the question is, what to do with it?
I have a few ideas—I'm thinking this or this or maybe one of my mom's old standbys, Sophie Minkoff's Pumpkin Bread—but I'd like to hear your favorites, too. This time of year, you can't have too many good squash recipes—there's always more coming in from the garden, the market, huddled in the cold of the guest room, on newspaper underneath the bed.
SOPHIE MINKOFF'S PUMPKIN BREAD
This recipe comes from Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook, a favorite in our family. My mom says she makes it exactly as written, except that she usually pours the batter into a tin to make twelve muffins rather than a single loaf. Either way, it's moist, sweet, and exceptionally good.
1 cup raisins
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin, or a loaf pan.
Combine the raisins and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and 1/4 cup water. Add the pureed pumpkin and stir well.
In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the un-drained raisins and the walnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin or loaf pan, and bake for roughly an hour, or until a broom straw inserted into the center of the muffins or bread comes out clean.