Friday, May 29, 2009

Queensland (Culinary) History Week.

The state of Queensland is this year celebrating 150 years of independence from New South Wales. The actual day is December 10, but there are celebrations of various sorts going on all year, and today is the start of something called “History Week”. It has crossed my mind that the organisers have probably not paid much attention to Queensland’s culinary history (and I don’t just mean the damned Lamington.)

I have decided to do my bit this week, and promote one of Queensland’s humble glories – the pumpkin. We grow good pumpkins here. We don’t have to try, they sabotage compost heaps and garden beds and take over the garden with great facility if the vines are not beaten into submission as soon as they appear. If you have ever had this happen to you, you might have found that, quite literally, you cannot give them away. I have, more than once, (when I lived in the country) wondered what on earth I had done wrong, to be gifted with yet another enormous Queensland Blue.

So, today, I am going to assist you with any pumpkin glut that might come your way.The first thought, in Queensland, would be pumpkin scones. They are somewhat of a Queensland icon, so I hesitate to confess that in almost four years of this blog that I have not given you a recipe for pumpkin scones. Nor will I today, for I am still recovering from some of the truly shocking scone ideas I found for a previous post. We have had pumpkin fruit cake before too, so no news there.

How about the pumpkin pie? It is indelibly associated with that other Big Country across the water. – but I am here to tell you that it is well known in Queensland too (but we don’t use canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin?) Pumpkin Pie was one of the topics in last year’s Thanksgiving Pie Week, but perhaps there is more than one post’s worth of substance in Pumpkin Pie?

The Australasian Cookery Book (circa 1915) thinks so. It has seven recipes for Pumpkin Pie, plus Pumpkin and Apple Pie, Pumpkin and Passionfruit Pie, Pumpkin and Pineapple Pie, and Pumpkin Meringue Pie (which includes chopped preserved ginger – another of Queensland’s famous products). If there is still pumpkin left, there is Pumpkin and Apricot Jam, Pumpkin and Pineapple Jam (did I mention that we grow a lot of pineapples here too?), and Pumpkin and Lemon Jam. And there is more. There are instructions (as if you’d need them!) for boiled mashed pumpkin and baked pumpkin, as well as Pumpkin Soup, Stuffed Pumpkin, and two versions of Pumpkin Fritters.

Most surprisingly there are also recipes for Pumpkin Flowers (stuffed with rice and herbs) and Pumpkin Tops (young shoots). All this last recipe lacks is the Hollandaise sauce to make it a nice stand-in for Eggs Florentine. Queensland chefs take note – a local spin on this breakfast classic is just a pumpkin patch away.

Pumpkin Tops.
Take a good quantity of the young shoots of the pumpkin vine, wash well in salted water. Have ready a saucepan full of quickly boiling water, add a small pinch of soda, put in the pumpkin tops, and boil until quite tender. Strain through a colander, and press with the back of a saucer to get out all the moisture. Chop finely and return to the pan with 1 oz. of butter, salt and pepper to taste. Toss till very hot. Have ready some nicely-toasted bread, butter thickly, and pile the pumpkin tops neatly on top. Place a poached egg on each, and serve.

Quotation for the Day.

Produce great pumpkins, the pies will follow later.

1 comment:

Designer said...

Pumpkin tops, what a novel idea. I'll have to give this a try.