Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pumpkin Time!

It's Pumpkin Time! The arrival of the pumpkins signals that delicious time of year when the leaves are turning and fall baking and cooking uses the bounty of the season. Baking with fresh pie pumpkins from the farmer's market couldn't be easier, and inexpensive too. To prepare the pumpkin, wash and dry it, then microwave for 2 minutes to soften it before cutting in half and scooping out the seeds and stringy pulp. Bake for 40 minutes at 350° with the cut side down. When it is cool enough to handle, turn it over and scoop out the meat, then run it through a food processor or mash it by hand before using. Left over pumpkin may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for later use. Depending upon the pumpkin, one pie pumpkin should yield about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of pureed pumpkin. Try this recipe for Pear and Pumpkin Bars--they're great for breakfast!
Pear and Pumpkin Bars
Recipe by Locavore Lisa Lathrop

½ cup butter
¾ cup agave or 1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup cooked, pureed pumpkin
1 cup cored, diced pear (about 2 small pears)
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp salt

Cream together butter and agave or brown sugar until light and creamy. Add egg and mix well. Add vanilla and pumpkin. Stir together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in pears by hand. Bake in a greased, floured 8-inch square baking pan at 350° for 50-60 minutes if using agave and for 40-50 minutes if using brown sugar. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done. Cool on a rack before slicing. Store in the refrigerator if using agave, as baked goods with agave will mold quickly unless refrigerated or frozen.

Note: Agave is an all natural sweetener that is safe for diabetics and others with sugar sensitivities to eat. It comes in a liquid form similar to honey, but is thinner and sweeter.

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