Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Runaway Pumpkins!

Lots of things really thrive here in the Auvergne. Swiss chard, courgettes, pumpkins.....And me, of course.

When we arrived back to the Potager, the pumpkins had taken over.
The leeks were frantically waving for help, and the beetroot, celeriac and radishes were all but in invisible under a tangle
of pumpkin leaves and runners.
Some had even made it over the fence into my neighbour's garden.

It is definitely the time of year to dust off my pumpkin, squash and courgette recipes.

But first, this year, I thought I would try something new. starting with tackling this giant courgette:
Makes me look tiny! (That's a good thing..)
I tried out a recipe for Courgette and Ginger Jam- and it is surprisingly delicious. The courgettes are a bit tasteless when they get to this size - so provide a good vehicle for strong flavours like ginger and lemon.

Courgette and Ginger Jam

1.5kg of courgette or marrow flesh, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into small chunks
1 kg of granulated sugar
grated zest and juice of 3 lemons ( keep the bald shells in the freezer for adding to marmalades and jams later)
100g of crystallized ginger, chopped
3 tsp ground ginger
250 g pectin

1. Layer the vegetable in a large mixing bowl, sprinkling each layer with sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is all used up.
Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice
2. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
3. A huge amount of liquid will have come out of the flesh, so drain that off into a preserving pan along with any undissolved sugar.
4. Add the lemon and ginger to the mixture and boil rapidly for 20 minutes or so.

Boil rapidly
5. Add the chopped marrow/courgette flesh and cook for a further 10 minutes until tender, skimming as you go.
6. Use a stick blender to roughly blitz the flesh and ginger into a course puree and then add the pectin.
7. Boil until your jam has reached setting point ( when a spoonful sets on a cold saucer and wrinkles up) and then pour into hot, sterilized jars.
Courgette and Ginger Jam

The medium sized courgettes were made into an old favourite- stuffed with leftover bolognaise sauce and cooked au gratin in the oven:

Stuffed Courgettes/Marrow Au Gratin
And any other assorted overgrown veg from the garden were put together with Moroccan spices, dried fruit, chutney and tomatoes for a tagine:

Veg for a tagine
Finally, I am going to use up one of the giant pumpkins to make Spiced Pumpkin Butter ( a bit like a treacle spread for toast, pancakes, waffles etc).

Spiced Pumpkin Butter
2 kg of pumpkin flesh, peeled and cut into cubes
500g brown sugar and 1 tbsp treacle or 600g  brown sugar ( if you don't have treacle)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
6 cloves
finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

1. Put the cubes in a steamer over hot water and steam for 10 minutes or so until tender.

Steam rather than boil the pumpkin initially
2. Place in preserving pan and blitz with a stick blender until you have a puree.
3. Add the sugar and spices, the lemon juice and zest
4. Simmer on a low heat for an hour or so until the mixture is very thick. (I am going to use a slow cooker for several hours instead.)
5. When the puree is very thick and leaves a clear channel when a wooden spoon is drawn through- it is ready to be potted up in sterilized jars.

Spiced Pumpkin Butter
(Photo courtesy of Thane Prince)
That takes care of one of the pumpkins. My friends assure me that the rest will keep well in our cool cellar over the winter.
No chance of getting the ones back which have run away into the neighbour's garden anyway- he has placed them under armed guard!

Pumpkin patrol!