I have never really celebrated the annual event of Halloween, although I have been always interested in this celebration which goes back so many centuries. This pagan festival is at its core the celebration of the end of the summer and the preparation for the months of cold and darker days which arrive with the new season, Winter. In its most romantic sense it is the culmination of the harvests, the killing of stock and the storage of food and wine for consumption when the days become too cold and short, and the growth of life is less prominent. It also has very much a religious meaning, for instance, in Christianity it is the celebration of All Saints day. With the Celts this was the festival of Samhain, where it was believed that spirits would appear on their way to a better place and needed to be warded off, so people would wear costumes and masks. Hence the scary pumpkin icon of today. And because they are in season, I have decided to create some delicious pies which interestingly could be served as a starter with a leafy salad or as a dessert with a dollop of cream. I think these are a great treat!
Spiced Roast pumpkin & toasted pine nut pies (makes 6)
375 gr of good quality puff pastry
1 small pumpkin (with approx 500 gr)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp of sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp of ground ginger
150 gr of sugar
1 tbsp of honey
100 gr of pine nuts
1 egg yolk beaten with a tsp of cold water
Pre-heat the oven at 180 ºC.
Peel and de-seed the pumpkin. Cut it in chunks and place them in a baking tray. Mix all ingredients on top of it by no particular order and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
When the pumpkin becomes soft, take the tray out of the oven. Remove the cinnamon stick and reduce the pumpkin to a puree by using a food processor. Set aside.
In a dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Roll out the pastry, and with a glass upside down cut twelve discs of pastry. Butter a 6 muffin tray and line each compartment with a disc of pastry. Fill each one with a tablespoon of pumpkin puree, sprinkle with a few toasted pine nuts and place the remaining pastry discs on top of each, so that they become closed pies. Brush each pie with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, till they become golden and the pastry has risen.