It’s nice to stock up some pumpkins at home, however, once cut opened, do you also have the same problem with me? That is to think of different dishes to finish them. I have made a batch of pumpkin, carrot and leek soup and still got some left, all of a sudden it came to my mind that my mom had a Chinese way of preparing pumpkin which is very easy to prepare and yet very delicious, particularly for those who do not like pumpkins very much. Thanks to the black bean sauce which does not taste too pumpkinny if you know what I mean. Bas enjoyed this dish a lot and I thought maybe I will cook one time for my in-laws to try when they visit us this Christmas, they don’t normally eat pumpkins, wonder if they are courageous to try, ha ha!
Had lunch at a friend’s place recently, and she showed me her new cookbook: Yotam Ottolenghi’s PLENTY. It’s a vegetarian cookbook, she said she is cooking more veggie dishes is because her daughter’s bf is vegetarian. Anyway, my friend never likes buying or keeping excessive things in her house and she has put bookmarks on those she would like to try, so this cookbook must be something. I heard of Ottolenghi’s restaurant but never been when I was in UK. A few days ago, I went to Bider and Tanner, my favorite bookstore in Basel, and found they have PLENTY in stock. I initially planned to order online but thought will do more research first but then this first edition standing in front of me looks very inviting so with further delay I got myself this copy. I was very excited to dig into my first vegetarian cookbook and started bookmarking as well. I have always wanted to get a vegetarian cookbook but didn’t know which one to get as I want to do it right. And I am glad I made the right choice. Ottolenghi is not vegetarian himself but he was asked to write a column in The Guardian featuring his veggie dishes and overtime, he got popular from this. Reading his foreword, he has nicely described the increased popularity of vegetarian cuisine, where do they come from. I am just one of them that he described that there is a group of people who are not 100% vegetarian but would like to eat more healthily and eat less meat.
Anyhow, among of those I bookmarked, I have chosen to make his crusted pumpkin wedges. I have a Japanese pumpkin, Kabocha in the garage. Kobocha is easily accessible in Hong Kong and US but not in Switzerland. When I saw Kobocha available in a health food store in my neighbourhood, I was so thrilled and without hesitation and bought one.
So with a special squash, it sounds like the intense, sweet and starchy texture of Kabocha will fit perfectly for this recipe, although it says most pumpkins would work.
The results and responsed came out extremely well, I was a bit skeptical at the beginning that my family members may not like it but they all gave thumbs up. I have not had time to explore many new dishes lately but this one is a hit, will definitely make again. I think I will use butternut squash if Kabocha is not available. Since it’s Friday night, I prepared our dinner in tapas fashion, crusted pumpkin, some Serrano Jamon, cheese, Japanese bite size August beef steak and a bottle of wine. The whole preparation was very quick except a little time to prepare the crust but luckily Marc was had been really good today, he was able to entertain himself with the kitchenware I provided him. He seems to like cooking but of course too early to conclude but at least he is interested so far.
I am not too sure if it is okay to post the recipe here due to copyright issue but I can highlight a few things from the recipe.
I still have a pumpkin bought from a farmers’ market earlier on in late Autumn keeping in the garage, I have not checked for a long time and thought it has turned bad and luckily it is still in very good condition. Instead of making pumpkin soup again, I wanted to try something different. I used half of it and made two different dishes in the last two days: cameralized roast pumpkin risotto TRIO with grilled prawns and ricotta ravioli with pumpkin sauce (coming in the next post).
Thanks to the wonderful recipes by Aum Shanti of A Life (Time) of Cooking, her rustic way of cameralized roast pumpkin is unbelievably easy to make. It was so easy to scrape out the seeds and take out the pumpkin flesh, I also find this method, you will waste the pumpkin flesh even less than removing the skin prior by knife. I added some cumin seeds, some bay leaves from Tuscany given by my friend Carmen and my second last head of violet garlic from Sarlat, France.
When I took the baking tray out of the oven, the fragrant was so powerful, inviting and tempting. It was really irresistible that I had to try a piece immediately. So here it is, you can prepare the cameralized beforehand in early afternoon, set aside at room temperature when it is time to prepare dinner.
As for the risotto itself I was wondering if I could make a little tweak. Risotto is actually the name of the finished dish, not the rice itself. So I looked into my cupboard and thought of mixing with other types of rice. I picked the rice that would give a creamy or gooey texture and have come up with this risotto TRIO : 1/3 arborio rice; 1/3 barley & 1/3 Korean brown sweet rice (the one used for ginseng chicken). I had another rationale behind, that was to make the risotto less heavy and high in fibre.
The outcome was indeed delicious, I did not feel too full after dinner and still have room for dessert as I have used 50% pumpkin and 50% rice. And the grilled prawns were just perfect matched to the pumpkin risotto. To grill the prawns, I simply deveined and grilled them with olive oil, salt and pepper. I am not going to write out the whole recipe here again. Please click the above links to try out, am sure you will not regret it. This is surely a culinary dish I will keep in my list for my guests in the future. It’s just so healthy and tasty at the same time!
One little note, I noticed that some people will opt out the white wine in cooking the risotto, I would not do that unless you are against of alcohol whatsoever as this is what making it an Italian risotto but not a Chinese risotto.
PS. I have made a TAKE 2 last Sunday for my friends on request and this time I think I could even better control the time and it turned out even better, also, my first time to try to use SLR to take my food photos.