Yesterday was a big Kitchen Day around here. We had company coming for dinner, which meant I had an excuse to make a dessert. My suggestion for a pumpkin pie brought immediate approval.
This was convenient, because I wanted to make a batch of pumpkin liqueur. There used to be a very good pumpkin mash put out by Bohl’s, but they quit making it, and the stuff that’s in the stores now is truly awful. I love to have pumpkin martinis at this time of year, but I’d rather do without than make them with anything currently on the shelves.
Now, I’m not going to make any claims about my liqueur yet. I just got it started yesterday and the jury remains sequestered for at least two weeks. But I’ll clue you in on the process and we’ll all stay in suspense until Tasting Day.
The first step, of course, is to buy a pumpkin. I probably should have purchased a couple of pie pumpkins – the sweet, smallish pumpkins that make the best pies. But because I went to the store Way Too Early in the morning, I wasn’t thinking that clearly. I bought a big, gorgeous pumpkin, instead. Organic, of course.
I do have pictures, but as usual, I got wound up in the cooking and forgot to take pictures as I went along. You’ll see a picture or two near the beginning of the process, and then the final product in the jars. Not very helpful, I’m afraid.
I washed the pumpkin and cut it into manageable sections. Then I scraped out the innards, keeping them safe, since I planned to use them. With the pumpkin in five large pieces, I placed each piece on a cookie sheet, meat side down. I roasted them at 350 for about an hour, until they were soft and the skin was slightly blackened.
While it roasted, I separated the seeds from the pulp, and washed them, setting them aside to dry out before roasting. I microwaved the pulp for a few minutes to bring out any juice, but this was a failure. It was pretty dry. Still, I could use it in the liqueur, so I saved it.
When the pumpkin was done and cooled, I peeled off the skin (compost!) and measured out the meat. It was perfect for one pie (3 cups) and the liqueur (4 cups). How about that?
I made the pie first, mixing everything in the blender.
3 cups pumpkin meat
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, mace, and cloves
The blender does a great job of smoothing out the pulpy pumpkin meat. This step is essential for a perfect pie. I poured it all into a deep-dish 9 inch pie shell (yes, it was homemade with whole wheat flour – so sue me) and baked it for 15 minutes at 425, then 50 minutes at 350. My oven’s a little slow, yours might only need 30 or 40 minutes at the lower temperature.
Finally, it’s time to make the liqueur! Here’s what I did.
Sterilize 3 large jars and lids (I did this by boiling them for 10 minutes while the pumpkin was roasting). Into each jar, I put:
1 cup of 100-proof vodka
1/3 cup sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each of nutmeg, ginger, and cloves
I shook all of this up before putting in the pumpkin – I divided the four cups between the three jars – just eyeballed it. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have heated the sugar in some water to make sure it was dissolved. I don’t see any granules this morning, so hopefully it’s all mixed up.
I need to shake the jars at least once every day. It needs a couple of weeks at this stage, then I filter it.
So that’s this week’s cooking adventure. I also need to give you the recipe I used to make the best roast pork I’ve ever had, but I’ll save that for another post.