On Sunday I recieve a message from my sister: “ I have bought a pumpkin. How should I roast it?” While I am sending some instructions to her- who by the way haven’t roasted but crocheted wonderful pumpkins recently!- it makes me remember the time when I ate a looot of pumpkin. I used to operate my own French bistro in the downtown of Budapest at that time. I had two day-offs: Sunday and Monday, but Monday was already busy by preparing things and doing some shopping. So on my only real day-off, Sunday totally exhausted after a week of “cooking-serving-shopping-paperwork- morning market- midnight closing” series I was only able to do two things: eating and sleeping. And going for a walk with Beeper, of course. She was a puppy at that time and to make sure I don’t forget about her, she used to jump on the sofa and threw toys on me and barked at me, if it was necessary.
It was the time when I became obsessed by roasted pumpkin. I bought it at the vegetable corner shop and baked two different kinds: a sweet one for myself and a natural one for Beeper. After long, sometimes half-sleeping walks with her we made ourselves comfortable at my flat and ate pumpkin. Each one her own version: I had my caramelised version, she had hers with rice and meat.
We took a long journey since than: both literally and figuratively speaking. While I am thinking about this, I receive a new message from my sister. “I bring you a few pieces, peeled.”
I am delighted partly because after 15 years away from my family finally I live so close that she can pass by easily and partly – obviously- because of the pumpkin!
So it happens that on a cold autumn Sunday we make ourselves cosy on the sofa wrapped into blankets, eat the roasted pumpkin but this time already with other loved ones: Áron and my mother.
It is not an accident that I am wondering what if I roast pumpkin in this week’s blog post. Kata, my friend is most probably reading in my mind because she offers me a pumpkin which Imi, her boyfriend bought at an organic farm not far from where we live. It is really beautiful one, called “Nagydobosi” variety: grey outside, dark-orange inside. I must say it is a really photogenic one, I cannot stop myself taking photos and the taste comes only next.
I was experimenting with pumpkin quite a lot at the time of the bistro. I tried to make it savory and sweet, with cane sugar, with honey or caster sugar. Roasted unpeeled, or peeled and cut into pieces. Brushed with melted butter, roasted with a piece of butter or brushed with olive oil. I have to admit, I became obsessed by pumpkin. Finally this version became my favourite. I peel it and cut into smaller pieces because it gets a nice crust all around which I like. I prefer brown sugar to honey because it caramelises better and I think gives a nicer touch in flavour to the pumpkin. Instead of brushing pumpkin with butter I place a piece on each one’s top and sprinkle with sugar. This way the butter melts and runs down the sides while the sugar caramelises.
The other trick is that occasionally I turn the pieces and brush them with the melted sugar-butter mixture, exactly the way you would do with a nice piece of roasted meat.
1 kg peeled pumpkin
50 g butter
80 g cane sugar
Preheat the oven to 200 ºC. Wash the pumpkin, cut into “cloves” then peel them. Remove the inner part with the seeds and put the seeds aside, dry them if you want to roast them later. Cut the “cloves” into smaller pieces and place them on a baking pan lined with baking paper. Divide butter and sugar between the pieces so each one gets a piece of butter and is sprinkled with a bit of cane sugar. (approximately a 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon goes to each piece) Bake pumpkin for 50 minutes- 1 hour by occasionally turning the pieces and brush them with the melted butter-sugar.
Ps.: Currently I am using an older electric oven, which functions perfectly but can be slower than the new models so consider that baking time can be shorter in case you have a new oven. If you want to make sure the pumpkin is ready to eat push it with your fingertip, it must be soft, sugar should be caramelised but not burnt at the edges.