Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dishin' Up Delicious

“Mom, this was the best day ever!” declared my five-yr. old boy.  I agreed, as I whipped off my bike helmet and gently uncurled my sleeping toddler away from the pumpkin she was “taking care of.”  We had really loaded the bike trailer down with a 25 lb. toddler, two large pumpkins and various other ingredients we purchased at the fresh produce stand.  My husband was the brave soul that pedaled all that weight through the bike trail outside our home.  We really look forward to this day – the day we bring the pumpkins home!

I was thoroughly pleased that my boy was satisfied with our conquest of securing our chosen pumpkins and returning home, however our family tradition includes a couple more hours of kitchen fun!  “Addison, don’t you remember that now we get to roast the pumpkin seeds? THAT makes it the best day ever!”  My eldest daughter never forgets anything.

In order for my kids to have a vested interest in what they’re eating, we try to get them involved with the process of cooking as much as we can.  This is what the Wang Family does with their pumpkins – it’s full entertainment for both kids and parents.
Chinese Pork and Pumpkin Soup
(Baking my soup in the pumpkin was inspired by reading the October 2011 issue of Bon Appétit magazine.  I used to cut my pumpkin into cubes – that’s hard work so this is a welcome change! And it’s beautiful!)
1 6-8-lb Cinderella or like pumpkin
2lbs pork ribs (or pork chops)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh ginger or 1 ¼ tsp ginger powder
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch cilantro
Sea Salt/Pepper to taste (if you like, add a little cayenne . . .)
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
approx. 2 Tbsp Oil (I prefer Canola or Grapeseed oil)
Sea Salt and Seasonings of choice . . .
Cinnamon and Sugar
Before we left for our bicycle trip, I poured about 8 cups of water into my stockpot and brought it to a boil.  I cut up the pork (bone-in) with a cleaver into bite-size pieces and put it in the pot.   I skimmed the top of the water surface with a spoon to remove the gunk that seems to collect there (what is that called?).   Then I added the garlic, ginger, sea salt, and pepper.  Let that simmer for at least two hours.
So that’s the boring part that I do before I get the kids involved. Next comes the FUN!  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Cut out a wide circle around the stem of the pumpkin to make a lid.  Scoop out the seeds and strings and place in a bowl.  Now, I was not born with a lot tolerance for messes – especially kid messes, so this is why I give the kids two,  big, wide bowls with instructions to keep the pulp in one bowl and separate the seeds into the other so that we can roast the seeds later . . .
While the kids are busy sorting, I finish removing the itty bitty strings left inside the pumpkin.  Once clean, sprinkle sea salt and pepper lightly around the inside of the pumpkin.  Set the pumpkin on a rimmed baking tray.  (I use my Deep Flexipat on the Perforated Baking Sheet for this.)  Pour in the broth, but leave about 4” of space from the top rim.  Roast pumpkin for 1 hour with the lid on.  Then take the lid off and set it on the pan beside it and roast for about 30 – 45 minutes longer.  It’s done when the flesh is soft.  To serve, ladle the soup into bowl, scoop a little bit of the pumpkin flesh into the bowl (be careful not to perforate the shell, or it’ll spring a leak!).  Garnish with fresh chopped green onion and cilantro.  (I have the kids add their own garnish – they love their creation!)
While the pumpkin is in the oven, it’s a great time to prep the pumpkin seeds for roasting.  By this moment, the kids are about finished sorting and cleaning the seeds, so I add a little oil and seasoning of choice to their bowl and let them stir away.  Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet (I use my Silpat® and Perforated Baking Sheet for easy clean-up!)  Bake at 425° for approx. 8 min. (until crispy and lightly browned)

Place the bowl of pumpkin seeds in the middle of your table and watch them disappear!

You most often see the Silpat® in a bright orange color – this white one is exactly the same, just in white – ask me how to get yours in white!

Tip: Cornbread muffins pair perfectly with this soup!  Email me to get my favorite cornbread recipe . . .

Demarle At Home Bronze Chef
2009 ~ 2010 Roundtable Member

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1 comment:

  1. That sounds perfect! I've been looking for something new to try and it involves pumpkin which is a big bonus because i have totally run out of ideas in that department.Im going to try your recipe with my crew then admit I got it from you(grin)


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