Saturday, October 18, 2008

Seasonal Produce: Pumpkin

As the autumn season continues & more of my favorite examples of seasonal produce become prevalent, I was reminded of an experiment I had been contemplating for some months. Now before you start frantically searching for the back button (it's on the left), a few brief words. If you've been reading here for a while (or are one of the many new readers who have been trickling in from all corners of the earth - thanks by the way!), you've doubtlessly noted three things in or about my rambling articles:

1. I tend to wax poetic at times...alright all the time.
2. I'm more often than not rambling about (crazy) recipes which are, admittedly, a pain to actually make - no matter how delicious they might be.
3. Coming under the auspices of items 1 & 2, a fairly-lengthy article discussing regional variations on Orgeat syrup.

Well, at least for this little experiment - a continuation of the topics mentioned in #3 - I'll try to avoid the pitfalls of 1 and 2. As it is mid-October, I'm sure many of you are preparing for some manner of Halloween festivities, which will undoubtedly result in hacking up an otherwise-serviceable pumpkin. But what to do with all the insides? Make some pumpkin pie from the flesh of this seasonal delight? Sure (and a bloody fine idea that is), but what about the veritable pile of seeds you'll end up with?

One of the problems I failed to mention when discussing Orgeat variants like Horchata de Melón is that, while absolutely delicious, they tend to be inefficient to make. After all, how many seeds can one expect to extract from a watermelon or worse, a cucumber? In the following recipe, this problem is non-existent - even the smallest of pumpkins is nearly overflowing with seeds. Even better, if you mean to make a jack o'lantern in the next few weeks you'll have more of them on hand than you could shake a stick at. Simple, efficient & absolutely delicious - give this one a try (©):

Pumpkin Horchata
2¼ Cups: fresh Pumpkin seeds
¼ Cup: slivered Almonds
2½ Cups: Water
2¼ Cups: white Sugar
4 Tablespoons: Muscovado/brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon: ground Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon: ground Nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon: ground Ginger
5x whole Cloves
1 pinch: Cayenne pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Wash the pumpkin seeds thoroughly in a colander or strainer, then pat dry. Spread seeds and Almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet & toast until fragrant. Process the (still-warm) toasted mixture in a food processor, shells & all until coarsely-ground. Combine this mixture with the spices and Water (reserve the Sugars for later) and refrigerate for approximately 4 hours. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Re-combine the solids and liquid and steep again for another 4 hours; strain again. (For the strongest flavor; repeat the process once more.) Combine strained liquid with Sugars in a saucepan & bring to a very gentle simmer over medium-low heat (do not boil) until Sugars are dissolved. Cool, bottle and enjoy in the following libation:

Clever Jack Cocktail
1½ oz. Laird's 100° Bonded Apple Brandy
½ oz. Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
¾ oz. Pumpkin Horchata
½ oz. fresh Orange juice
1 Teaspoon fresh Lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice & shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass & garnish with a flamed twist of Orange.

If you do give this syrup a go, be sure to pass along whatever cocktail recipe(s) you clever folks might come up with. Incidentally, if you mean to substitute this into an existing cocktail what calls for Orgeat, go a little heavier on the pour - its' slightly more delicate in flavor and sweetness that the aforementioned French stuff...

For my part, I'll be carting a bottle over to Jonathan Pogash's Elements of Mixology class tomorrow at the Astor Center in NYC to try & formulate some more uses for this delicious seasonal syrup. Then perhaps a quick jaunt over to Pegu to see what those clever lads can make of it...

Cheers & Enjoy!


Stampin Fairy said...

ok so I didn't read the whole post but I love the idea of it. sorry the type is tiny for my old eyes, and its late and I have tons to do.

Anyway, love the photo here! I too am on a rampage about what to do with pumpkins. Actually, probably more true is that I'm on a hunt for pumpkins. hmm I hope you will have some of this stuff left for next Friday and that I see you at "the apartment" Halloween party. which I hear is a roaming party. Winston and I will be there and in costume.

I inquire here because I am on a hunt for wedding ideas. I found a few which led me to your site... more in person. I'm keeping some secrets in hopes of a fun wedding surprise!
see you soon I hope!

Tiare said...

I`ve never yet made anything with pumpkin seeds..its about time isn it?

Great post!