Pumpkin Recipe Full Of Color, Flavor

SHIRLEY'S KITCHEN

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The weather is perfect for any outdoor activity, so my friend Dee and I drove up to Kohl's Stables on east Highway 260 for a one-hour horseback ride with our guide Josh, who took us through the forest on narrow trails over rugged terrain.

We saw lots of bluejays. The trees smelled sweet. It was relaxing and peaceful -- a wonderful day, considering it was only my second time on a horse ever. I am considering taking classes and maybe buying a horse.

Being an artist and crafter, this is a busy time of year, and it is very gratifying because I get to hear feedback from customers about my work, likes, colors, themes and subjects, all of which helps me to create. Crafters are a breed of their own. It's like a club, or family, a support system -- friendly, helpful and we try to take care of each other. It feels good to be back in the club! Thank you, Payson.

With Thanksgiving Day just around the corner, how about making the feast a potluck dinner.

You cook the turkey, provide the drinks and allow family and friends to bring the rest of the fixings, then relax and enjoy.

A simple, but beautiful, centerpiece is easy to make. Materials: Glass container (10-by-5 inches and 2 inches deep), juniper branches, wine glass, tea candle, 3 to 5 small decorative pumpkins, decorative birds (optional).

Put the tall-stemmed wine glass in the center of the glass container with the candle in it.

Fill the container with enough water to cover bottom stems of juniper branches that have been cut in 7- to 8-inch pieces. Arrange branches all around the container until it is thick and full, then adorn with small pumpkins and silk birds.

It will look beautiful and smell great and should take 20 minutes to put it together. Enjoy.

Here are some unusual recipes brimming with color and flavors that will tease the palate and smell wonderful:

Mangoes in Champagne

A simple and lovely way to serve mangoes for dessert is to peel and slice the mangoes, then put in pretty glass dessert dishes and sprinkle with a little Grand Marnier. Put in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, pour champagne over the mangoes and serve immediately.

Green Salad of Pears, Avocado and Apple

Serves 6, a nice accompaniment to the cheese tray.

2 firm avocados, 2 green apples unpeeled, 2 firm green pears unpeeled.

Peel avocados, cut into halves and then into chunks. Wash the apples and pears and cut into similar-sized chunks. Toss together with the dressing.

Dressing:

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) olive oil

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) lime and/or orange juice

1 kiwi fruit, peeled and pureed

Blend ingredients together in blender or food processor. Pour over prepared fruits.

Because pumpkins are in season, I chose this dish that is served in a pre-cooked pumpkin shell: Carbonada Criolla. This is a colorful, unusual dish from Argentina. It is really a casserole, made with either beef or veal. Some versions include zucchini (courgettes) and sweet potatoes, apples and grapes which are optional. The corn, potatoes and peaches are a must, though. Use what is in your garden or on sale at the grocery store. Serve with hot fluffy rice.

It is a pleasure writing this column and sharing recipes with all of you. May your lives be filled with blessings and prosperity.

Carbonada Criolla

Serves 8

1 10-pound pumpkin, washed and scrubbed (or 8 baby Golden Nugget pumpkins)

olive oil

2 pounds beef or veal, trimmed and cut into rectangular pieces

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 onions, chopped

2 small green sweet peppers, sliced

1 large stalk celery, chopped

1 fresh medium chili, chopped finely

3-1/2 cups (1-3/4 pints) beef or veal stock (broth)

bouquet garni (parsley stalk, oregano branch and bay leaf)

3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

salt and ground pepper, to taste

3 potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 corn cobs, husks removed and cut in 1-inch rounds

3 small zucchini, washed and sliced

2 apples, peeled and cut into wedges

4 peaches, peeled and halved

8 ounces black grapes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Choose a pumpkin with a stem on it. This will serve as a handle. Cut into the top of the pumpkin to make a lid about 6-inches in diameter, lift out and, using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and stringy inner parts from the pumpkin. Put the lid (or lids, if using the Golden Nuggets) back in place.

Place pumpkin in a roasting dish and bake in oven for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until the pumpkin is tender, but still firm. Remember that the shell has to hold the filling, so don't let it get too soft.

If using Golden Nuggets, cook for about 50 minutes.

When done, scoop out some of the cooked flesh to allow more room inside, being careful not to damage the skin.

Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the meat and brown on all sides, turning frequently. Remove meat from pan. Add more oil to pan if necessary and then throw in the garlic, onions, sweet peppers, celery and chili and cook until soft. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Return meat to pan, add the bouquet garni, tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook gently for 45 minutes. If sauce seems too thin, thicken with a little cornstarch.

Add potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn to the meat, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add zucchini and apples, cook a further 10 minutes. Finally, add the peach halves and grapes and cook a further 5 minutes, still covered.

Spoon the meat, vegetables and fruit into the pumpkin shell, place pumpkin in a baking dish and bake another 15 to 20 minutes in oven. Remove pumpkin from roasting dish and transfer to a large serving dish. Remove bouquet garni before serving.

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