Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yuan's Pumpkin Biscuits

Yuan created a variation of a pan-fried pumpkin recipe in our book, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen, turning it into a scrumptious biscuit.

The timing of this recipe couldn’t have been better. Not only is it fall—with pumpkins and winter squash in abundance—but I had also just bought an at-home grain grinder. (It's a WonderMill, in case you wondered. The machine used to be called a “Whisper Mill” until the company got enough flack for the misnomer it changed the name to something more appropriate. Wonderful it is. Quiet it’s not.). In any case, I had the opportunity to cook this recipe with my own honest-to-goodness fresh-ground, whole-grain flour.

Here’s the recipe for the biscuits, which Yuan likes to serve as a snack or as a side dish.

Pleasing Pumpkin Biscuits
15 to 18 ounces pumpkin or other winter squash, such as a small Hokkaido or kabocha (about 3 cups when cubed)
¼ cup walnuts
1 tablespoon (10 grams) apricot kernels (xing ren) (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola or olive oil
¼ cup raisins
½ cup water
1 to 1 1/4 whole wheat flour
3/4 cup soy milk, milk, or water

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash salt

1.    Preheat the oven to 425F. 
2.    Seed and chop the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes. (An efficient way to chop a pumpkin is to cut it into wedges, then cut the wedges into cubes. A large, sharp cleaver can be a useful tool since the raw vegetable can be tough. Another handy trick is to put the pumpkin in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it before cutting and peeling.)

3.    Crush the walnuts and apricot kernels into small pieces (using a rolling pin or glass jar will work; putting a piece of wax paper between the nuts/kernels and rolling pin will keep the pieces from jumping all over).

4.    Heat the oil in a medium-size lidded skillet, then brown the pumpkin over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

5.    Add the walnuts, apricot kernels, and raisins, with just enough water to keep the mixture moist. Then cover and cook over low heat until soft, about 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the mixture isn’t drying out (if it is, add a touch more water).

6.    In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, soy milk, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt with the pumpkin mixture.

7.     Shape the dough into 1-inch thick round biscuits and place them on an oiled baking sheet, spaced well apart.

8.     Bake the biscuits in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden. Let them cool and firm up slightly before removing from the baking sheet and serving.

For Those Familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine
This dish strengthens the Spleen and helps manage appetite.

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