Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins not suitable for pie

10/29/2013 3:03 PM

10/30/2013 5:46 AM

Pumpkins are popping up in decors along with straw bales and colorful autumn mums; our landscape is a beautiful sea of rich colors. Now that it’s fall, we are back in the routine with children in school and we’re thinking about fall holidays and cooking. Some of you are thinking about pumpkins and entertaining.

Q: In anticipation of Halloween, we bought several large pumpkins for jack-o’-lanterns. After Halloween, could they be used to make pumpkin pies?

A: Probably not. Not only have they been cut a few days and no doubt are contaminated, field pumpkins are grown specifically for decorating and carving and are not very sweet. They are not recommended for cooking. For cooked pumpkin, it is best to use the small, sweet pie pumpkins available now in our supermarkets. But remember there is a lot of waste in a pumpkin. A four-pound pumpkin will only yield about 1½ cups of pumpkin puree.

Q: I was not able to attend your demonstration for the Mediterranean Layered Dip so I was happy that you put it in your column. One of the ingredients was hummus and you said you could use either commercial or homemade. Can you explain what it is and how you make it?

A: Hummus is a tasty dip made with garbanzo beans that are blended with olive oil, lemon juice and tahini paste (a paste of finely ground sesame seeds that is available at most supermarkets and natural foods stores) and is seasoned in various ways. There are many variations, all of them quite delicious served with pita chips or fresh vegetables.

I would like to invite you to a Holiday Open House featuring tasty food samples and lots of ideas for easy holiday entertaining and gifts on Saturday at Cooking at Bonnie’s Place, 9747 E. 21st St., Suite 139, in Cambridge Market. There will be two complimentary demonstrations. At 11 a.m. I will be discussing what to look for when purchasing cookware and demonstrating a wonderful hot soup for fall from my cookbook, “Farm to France.” At 2 p.m. chef Judith Dobson from McPherson will demonstrate how to make a beautiful holiday smoothie in the VitaMix. No reservation required. It’s a fun day to get excited about holiday cooking and baking.

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