Pumpkin predicaments

If I say the word ‘pumpkin’ to you, what do you immediately think of? If it’s Hallowe’en, then you were probably born in the northern hemisphere.

This week I was given a present of a pumpkin. It was beautiful: green with orange speckles, home-grown and organic. It could not have been any cuter. But all I could think was: it’s May, who the hell grows pumpkins in May?? The answer: Australians.

Figuring out the seasons is one of the stranger adjustments I have had to make since moving here. At home, on the fair emerald isle, we all know Australians celebrate Christmas during the summer. We giggle at their stupidity for not knowing Christmas revolves around frost, mulled wine, fairy lights and a whole lot of hearty winter fare; all the while secretly wondering what it would be like to spend it on a sunny beach. This is all well known, so when Christmas rolled around I was prepared for the strangeness of it. It has been other things that have caught me off guard, such as eating hot-cross buns as the leaves are changing colour, sunshine on St. Patrick’s Day and now being given pumpkins in May. Where will it end?!

If Australia is the opposite to Ireland, then May is pretty much like October, right?

So once I had recovered from the shock of all this, I had to figure out what I was going to do with this May pumpkin. And I’m afraid I was very unoriginal, I opted for risotto and pumpkin pie. And here is my rational: pumpkin risotto is all kinds of yum, so that’s pretty much a no brainer; and I’ve never actually tasted pumpkin pie before, so while it might seem unoriginal to some, it’s totally left of field for me.

So that was the menu planned, all that was left to do was crack open the gourd and a bottle of red, cook and enjoy on a (very warm) Sydney autumn evening.

Pumpkin and rosemary risotto


1 kg (2 ¼ lbs) pumpkin
2 sprigs rosemary
3 tsps olive oil
25 g (¾ oz) butter
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1.25 litres chicken or vegetable stock
100 ml white wine
300 g (10 ½ oz) arborio rice
100 g (3 ½ oz) grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Mix the pumpkin, rosemary and olive oil in a heavy baking dish and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for about 50 minutes or until golden and soft.

Met the butter in a large pot. Sweat the onion and garlic together until soft and slightly coloured. Add the rice to the pot along with half of the stock. Mix well over a medium heat, until the stock has been almost all been absorbed. Keep adding the wine and stock in batches and stirring until it has nearly all been absorbed and the rice is cooked through. At this stage the rice should have a creamy consistency. Add the roasted pumpkin and rosemary and stir through. Finish by mixing in the parmesan and season well with salt and pepper.

Roasted pumpkin with rosemary – deliciousness squared.

pprePumpkin pie with clementine cream

Pumpkin pie with clementine cream

Recipe is courtesy of the awesome Jamie Oliver.


For the pastry:

500 g (17 ½ oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100 g (3 ½ oz) icing sugar
250 g (8 ¾ oz) butter,
zest of 1 lemon
2 large free range eggs, beaten
A splash of milk
white of 1 egg
250 ml double cream
zest and juice of 3 clementines
2 tbsp caster sugar

For the pie:

1 kg (2 ¼ lbs) pumpkin (or sweet potato)
50 g (1 ¼ oz) butter
100 g (3 ½ oz) brown sugar
4 tbsp plain flour
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large free range eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing until the mixture looks like crumbs. The key here is keeping everything really cool: your hands, the butter and the bowl.

Add the lemon zest, eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly and turn onto your work surface, knead it together, then wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Roll out your pastry and use it to line your tin. Blind bake it for 12-15 minutes. Then allow to cool slightly and brush the inside of the pastry case with egg whites. This will seal it and stop your filling from leaking, then cook for a further 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast the pumpkin in the over for about an hour, until soft.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add the cooked pumpkin, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and beaten eggs. Mix together well until totally combined.

Spoon the pumpkin mixture into your cooked (and cooled) pastry case. Crisscross strips of leftover pastry across the top to make a lattice. Brush with egg whites and cook for a further 50 minutes or until lovely and golden brown.

Serve with clementine cream made by beating cream together with sugar, clementine juice and zest.

The result: pumpkin-fest galore!

Roasted pumpkin seeds, apparently they are healthy and so are best consumed with beer to counteract this.

Roasted pumpkin seeds, apparently they are healthy and so are best

The result: pumpkin-fest galore! A few times during the evening I very nearly thought someone was going to suggest a game of bobbing for apples. The evening was quite warm, even by autumn in Sydney standards, and so I feel totally justified in being so completely thrown off by the seasons. Seasonal cooking here is going to be one big head spin.

Christmas in July anyone?



You might also like:

Bœuf bourguignon and posh potatoes

Summery tart

The dreaded pesto

2 thoughts on “Pumpkin predicaments

  1. This was so good – I’m having vegitarian friends to dinner in a couple of weeks and look forward to cooking again.

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