Posts Tagged pumpkin
Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Normally this means a two-hour drive to see the in-laws, but we’ve moved now. I suppose if we were diligent young people we would make the drive this year as well, either back to Texas for his family or down to Florida for mine.
We are staying in New Orleans. The original plan was a low-key Thanksgiving dinner at home, just us corvids and our cats. But people are really nice here. A pair of our new friends discovered we were planning to spend Thanksgiving alone and invited us to join them.
Obviously we’re bringing food. Lime pie. Biscuits. And this corn bread.
The best thing about this is how moist the pumpkin makes the finished bread. I wasn’t even remotely tempted to add butter or more maple syrup to serve. It’s also unbelievably easy to put together, but don’t tell our new friends that. I want them to be impressed.
This recipe is adapted from the Comfort of Cooking.
Ingredients (makes two 9-inch round loaves. serves 12-16)
8 T butter
2/3 C sugar
3 T maple syrup
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 C milk
2/3 C pumpkin puree
1/2 t salt
1 C corn meal
1 C flour
Melt the butter.
Add sugar and maple syrup to the butter.
Whisk to combine.
Add milk and eggs.
Whisk again and add the pumpkin.
More whisking. Such a lovely shade of orange.
Add the dry ingredients.
Do not whisk. Fold the flour and corn meal and baking soda salt into the batter. Do not over-mix.
Scoop the batter into two buttered 9-inch cake pans.
Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
This is perfect unadorned. Mr. B likes to dunk his cornbread in milk. I like mine with a side of simmered greens. And of course it goes perfectly with Thanksgiving dinner.
Anyone who prefers to eat seasonally should probably look away until autumn. July is no time for casseroles, surely. No time for pumpkin and kale, or the heady scent of nutmeg.
Sometimes I’m ready for fall before it’s ready for me. Sometimes you need a deep dish of savory bread pudding, and who cares if it’s 90 degrees outside after dark? Greens are good all year round, and this recipe prefers silky canned pumpkin to the fresh little ones we won’t be able to find at the shops until September, so it can be made anytime. If you can bear to turn on your oven in this heat, this is the dish to do it for.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1/2 of a baguette, sliced
1 lb kale
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz cheese (I used half Gruyère and half Drunken Goat)
white pepper, nutmeg, and salt to taste
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Trim away the kale stems, tear the leaves into manageable chunks, and boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain well.
Arrange the baguette slices in an oval pan or an 8×8 inch brownie pan.
Stuff kale between the slices.
Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.
Combine the eggs, pumpkin, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl.
Mix them together thoroughly.
Pour the mixture over the bread and kale and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
Wait 5-10 minutes to let the liquid soak completely into the bread. Turn the oven to 375°F while you wait. When ready, bake the bread pudding for 40-45 minutes.
Serve immediately. This would be good with a light salad, but I had no difficulty eating this on its own and justifying seconds by telling myself it had kale in it, so it’s practically health food.
How could anyone say no to that?
I don’t eat soup. I know it’s strange, especially in these chill winter months, but I just can’t do it. I have a serious psychological aversion to the idea of drinking food. When I eat yogurt, it has to be the extra-custardy kind that holds its shape when scooped. Soup is simply out of the question. So don’t listen to Mr. B over there calling this tasty dish by the abominable name of “cheesy pumpkin soup.” He’s dreadfully misinformed.
It’s called “individual roast pumpkins stuffed with Gruyère.” See? That doesn’t sound anything like soup.
Mr. B slurps his out of a soup spoon just to annoy me.
Honestly, the recipe couldn’t be simpler. You just gut a pumpkin, fill it with cheese and cream and wine, and roast it. Scoop the flesh and filling onto some toasted French bread rounds, and you’re set for dinner. I like to use the tiny individual-sized pumpkins for this, but you can use a 3- or 4-pounder to feed about four people. It’s more fun to have your own, though.
Ingredients (serves 2, but make as many as you need)
2 fist-sized pumpkins (about the size of a salt owl)
4 ounces Gruyère or other good melting cheese
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic
a pinch of nutmeg for each pumpkin
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F, then decapitate the pumpkins. You don’t want to make a horizontal cut, because that will damage the structural integrity of the pumpkin and it will collapse into a cheesy pumpkin pancake while roasting instead of holding its shape. I made octagonal vertical cuts with a paring knife.
Scoop out the seeds and gooey threads that hold the seeds together.
Place a peeled clove of garlic in the bottom of each pumpkin. Stuff the pumpkins with Gruyère. It’s worth noting at this point that overfilling them will lead to cheese escaping due to thermal expansion while they roast, making a big darn mess in the oven, but you probably aren’t any more likely to stop adding cheese because of that than I was (more cheese is always better, right?), so just remember to put the pumpkins in a roasting pan with raised sides to catch the spill.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of cream into each pumpkin.
Then two tablespoons per pumpkin of wine.
Grate on the nutmeg and toss in a pinch of salt. Stick the lids back on the pumpkins. Bake them at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour.
Turns out there is such a thing as too much cheese, and it makes a big mess. A tasty mess, but still.
Leave the lids on until you’re ready to serve. There’s something incredibly satisfying about taking the lid off just as you’re ready to dig in and have the contents still steaming hot.
The taste is very similar to fondue, which makes sense because the filling is pretty much fondue. Scoop a mixture of pumpkin flesh and cheesy filling onto a slice of toasted French bread and prepare to swoon.
Full disclosure here: That steamy delicious one? I ate it. I had to get Mr. B’s pumpkin to take the rest of the pictures. I just could not wait another two minutes. These are that tasty.
Just be very clear when you have these, just because you eat them with toasty bread and a spoon, they aren’t soup. Corvids don’t eat soup.
Homemade pasta is a thing of beauty.
I’m not suggesting it should be an everyday affair. indeed, unless you have a pasta machine and loads of free time, it shouldn’t be. On the other hand, on the rare occasions when I crave a filled pasta, store-bought ravioli or tortellini simply will not do. I’m told one can buy fresh pasta sheets for these purposes, but I don’t go to the fancy grocery stores so homemade was really the only option. You need something fresh and eggy and delightful to hold in all this pumpkin, you see.
Then you can do one of two things. There’s the healthier option of adding simmering vegetable or beef broth, or you can do what I did.
Everything’s better with cheese. Drizzle a creamy Swiss cheese sauce over these lovely things and prepare to overeat. The trick is using the right cheese. You want something more than a little bitter, with enough bite to provide a contrast to that lovely sweet pumpkin flesh.
I’ll warn you, this is a multi-stage process, but it’s made easier by the fact that most of it can easily be done ahead. Roast the pumpkin and refrigerate it for a day or two, make the pasta dough (or buy some. I don’t mind.) and toss it in the refrigerator until you’re hungry. Sauce is optional; I had originally planned to serve this in brodo before I realized we had somehow used all the vegetable broth in the apartment.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the roast pumpkin:
1/2 of a 3 to 3 1/2 pound roasting or pie pumpkin
1/4 cup of white wine
2 large sprigs of rosemary
about 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated
salt, to taste
Also, 1 pound of kale
For the ravioli:
2 cups flour
2-3 T olive oil
1 t salt
For the Swiss cheese sauce:
2 T butter
1/4 cup cream
about 3 ounces Swiss cheese
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
The only real challenge in cooking with fresh pumpkin is chopping said pumpkin into manageable chunks. For almost everything else in my kitchen, I use the incredibly light and viciously sharp ceramic knives. For bread I use a serrated knife, and for pumpkin I use this bad boy.
I found him in standing water in an ill-maintained campus kitchen when I was in college. I’m not sure whether it’s actually a kitchen implement or a Hobbit-sized sword, but this knife probably has enough heft to take out a chunk of the counter if we wanted to. Which we don’t. So, chop your pumpkin in half.
Peel the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds (we’ll talk about roasting the seeds later).
Wrap up one half for later, and chop the other into 1/2 inch cubes.
Pour the wine over the pumpkin bits.
Grate on the nutmeg and add the rosemary.
Sprinkle on some salt.
Toss the pumpkin, wine, and seasoning. Arrange the pumpkin in a layer in a roasting pan and toss it in a 400°F oven.
After 45 minutes, you have roast pumpkin.
Congratulations! Now, while that’s in the oven and you’re snacking because you didn’t start dinner until you were already hungry (please let me believe I’m not the only person who does that, okay?), make some pasta.
Food processors make life almost too easy. It’s why I love them. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them briefly.
Add all three eggs.
Zoom, zoom. Process while drizzling in the oil for about 20-25 seconds.
With well-floured hands, form the dough into a ball on an also-floured countertop.
Divide the dough ball in two halves and roll out one of them as thin as you can. I don’t have a pasta machine, nor do I think it would be worth the space to get one. Just elbow grease and a nice heavy rolling pin, thanks.
Pile little hills of roast pumpkin at two-inch intervals over the dough. I topped mine with grated Swiss cheese, as well.
Roll out the other half of the dough, drape it over the first one, and use a biscuit cutter to form ravioli. Repeat rolling and forming ravioli until you run out of pumpkin or dough. I made 32 ravioli before running out of pumpkin.
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. (Why yes, I do put salt into this recipe four different times. Isn’t it wonderful?)
Boil the ravioli for 3-4 minutes.
Boil a pound or so of kale, too. Kale is delicious and crunchiful.
Divide your ravioli onto serving plates. Now they are finished, and quite tasty, but naked.
Let’s make a quick Swiss cheese sauce. Plop 2 tablespoons of butter into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Letting the butter brown was an accident, but I don’t regret it. Pour on the cream.
Add the Swiss cheese and stir to melt it.
Add the salt and turn off the heat, stirring quickly to fully incorporate the salt.
Spoon over the ravioli and kale just before serving.
The best thing about this dish is that everything on this plate makes everything else on it that much better. The wine on the roast pumpkin gives it a sour edge that the pumpkin flavor bursts out of. The kale is just bitter enough to contrast the pumpkin, and lends its texture to an otherwise too-soft dish. Bitter, salty cheese keeps everything from being too pumpkin-sweet (think pumpkin pie. No thanks.) and the rosemary does what rosemary does best (it makes everything better, in case you were wondering. Everything.) This is definitely something to make again soon. Even without a pasta machine.
A friend asked me a while back if there was any possible use for those inexplicably tiny pumpkins one finds at the grocery store. Sure, small children paint faces on them and people without extremely rambunctious cats may put them over the fireplace for decoration, but that’s not really useful.
I have an answer. Actually, I have quite a few answers and they all revolve around one simple but apparently little-known fact: pumpkin is not just for pie. Sure, it perks up beautifully with a dash of cinnamon and a generous scoop of brown sugar, but pumpkins are just as good in savory recipes as they are in sweet. In this instance, stir fry. Combine sweet pumpkin, bitter greens, and peas (snap peas would have been better, for the crisp texture) for a delightful Western stir fry.
It pains me that I’ve run out of Chinese hot mustard powder. I ran out of it almost a year ago, and just can’t seem to get up the energy to drive into the city for more. If you like mustard, see if you can find the hot stuff. If you can’t find it, just use an lot of ordinary mustard powder. Hate mustard? Some Chinese five spice, or just chili powder and nutmeg, will do the trick nicely.
Ingredients (serves 1, easily doubled)
1/2 of a baseball-sized pumpkin
4-5 leaves collard greens, mustard greens, or kale
1/4 cup peas (or sugar snap peas)
1 t mustard powder (a bit less if using the hot stuff.)
a dash of mirin
a dash of soy sauce
salt, to taste
1 cup cooked rice
Start heating a bit of butter, oil, or chile oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Peel the pumpkin. I hear the peel is edible, but the texture is rubbery and unpleasant, so I’d just peel it.
Slice the peeled pumpkin into 1/2 inch wide strips.
Dice the strips and toss them into the hot oil.
Remove the central rib from the greens. If you plan to eat it, dice it and toss it with the pumpkin immediately–It’ll need longer to cook than the leaves. If not, discard it.
Roll the leaves up tightly and cut them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chiffonade.
Toss the greens and peas in with the pumpkin.
Stir vigorously, adjusting the heat if it’s not sizzling well or cooking too fast.
Add the mustard powder (or whatever spices you like.)
Place the cooked rice in a bowl.
Top the rice with cooked vegetables.
Add a splash of rice vinegar.
Then a splash of soy sauce.
Stir the rice and vegetables together with your chopsticks.
Serve hot. This is a light, simple, ten-minute meal, perfect for work nights or a bagged lunch.