Savory Stuff

Homemade Pumpkin Purée

roasted pumpkin

Thanksgiving is nigh and that means lots of baking, even though it's going to be in the low 90's here in LA on Thanksgiving (dear god, why?!).  I may melt, but I must bake pie, and it must be pumpkin because I recently came into a sugar pumpkin and didn't know what else to do with it except make purée.  Normally, I buy canned pumpkin because obviously it's easier and delicious. But, there's something satisfying about making your own. And really, the hardest part is slicing the pumpkin, so, just make sure your knife is sharp. Let's get to it!

Ingredients

1 sugar pumpkin (about 2-3lbs)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree. 
  2. Remove the top of the pumpkin with the stem. You don't really want to roast the stem, plus this makes it easier to slice into. 
  3. Cut pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and guts into a bowl (I'll show you what I did to the seeds later. I'll give you a hint: I roasted them.)
  4. Cut halves in half again, so, you get it, you have a quartered pumpkin. 
  5. Place quarters face up on a baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.  Let cool 20 minutes or when you feel like you can handle the warm pumpkin without burning off your fingerprints. 
  6. Using a spoon, separate pumpkin from the skin. The skin should actually peel away really easily. 
  7. Cut pumpkin into cubes and puree in a food processor. If your pumpkin is dry and you're not getting the smooth consistency you want, add about a tablespoon of water at a time until it's nice and velvety. 
  8. OR if you're like me and you don't own a food processor, use a blender! 
  9. OR if you're like me and you don't own a food processor and your blender is actually a knock-off version of the bullet and doesn't work very well anymore, use a potato masher! I added about 1/4 cup of water and mashed the hell out of the pumpkin. You don't get the velvety consistency that a food processor would give you but, you get a "rustic" puree, not chunky... rustic. 
  10. Use immediately in your favorite recipes- pumpkin pie, your morning or night smoothie, I've used about a cup of purée in chili before and it was pretty tasty. Or do what I did and measure out 1 cup of purée and freeze in freezer bags. 
  11. Makes about 2.5 cups of puree. Enjoy!

Savory Stuff

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

I always imagined pickling to be some all-consuming full day task that resulted in an entire refrigerator/cabinets/storage unit full of pickled things and peppercorns in your bra. Little did I know there's a much less involved version that takes an hour tops and is almost impossible to botch.

Now that I'm basically an expert, I'll take it upon myself here to show you how to pickle anything. I picked out some carrots and radishes from my neighborhood's farmer's market and used this recipe from the Kitchn as a reference.

You will need:

  • One bunch of carrots
  • One bunch of radishes
  • 3 12 ounce canning jars
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons of pickling spices (I used a pre-mixed blend because I would have had to spend a million dollars buying full-sized containers of all the spices I wanted to use and no thanks.) The blend I used contained cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, ginger, chili pepper, cloves, black pepper corns, mace, and cardamom.
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced in half

Directions:

  • Cut the greens off of and wash your carrots, radishes, and whatever else you've decided to pickle.
  • Cut veggies in a way that will fit well in the jars. I sliced the carrots into sticks and the radishes into small, round discs.
  • Pour one tablespoon of pickling spice blend and one halved garlic clove into each jar, then place vegetables in, as well.
  • Fill each jar until the veggies are snug, but will allow plenty of pickling liquid.
  • Mix water, vinegar and one tablespoon of spices in a sauce pot and bring to a soft boil.
  • Pour boiling pickling brine into each jar, leaving about a half inch at the top.
  • Place the lids on the jars and let them sit until room temperature.
  • Once cooled, place them in the refrigerator for 48 hours and voila!

Fried Asparagus

Ah, asparagus. Always delicious no matter how you cook it up and always worth the smelly pee. Because I'm lazy, I only ever prepare asparagus by sauteing with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I decided to shake things up a bit and try out fried asparagus. I know, I know frying isn’t the healthiest, but I say “treat yo self” once this summer with fried asparagus.

Ingredients for Asparagus Batter- serves 4

*Note* Easily double this recipe for a larger group but still use only 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • vegetable, canola, or coconut oil for frying
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pounds of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

For Dijon Mustard Dip

  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place an oven proof dish inside.
  2. In a small dish combine mustard, lemon zest and garlic and let sit til asparagus is ready.

  3. In a large bowl mix water, cornmeal, all purpose flour, cornstarch, egg, salt, pepper, and lemon juice until combined (batter will be a little lumpy).

  4. In a skillet, heat about a 1/2 inch of oil over medium-low heat to about 350 degrees. 

  5. Coat asparagus in batter letting excess batter drip off. Using 3 to 4 stalks at a time, gently slide asparagus into oil and fry about 3 to 4 minutes, turning halfway through with tongs. When asparagus is golden brown, remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain any excess oil. Place in dish in oven to keep warm while frying the rest.

  6. Serve warm and with mustard and ENJOY!