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Entries in Pumpkin (5)

Thursday
Oct182012

Pumpkin Bread

I have an amazing group friends and family.  I recognize this year-round, but every year on my birthday the cards, telephone calls, and celebrations serve as a special reminder of just how lucky I am.  This year, I had not one but three friends sing happy birthday to me in voicemails, which absolutely made my day -- I listened to the messages while waiting for the bus and had a HUGE grin on my face.  The day before my birthday, I got to celebrate my Mom's birthday with a fall run through the canyon behind my parent's house with my parents, followed by a surprise party for my Mom that my Dad planned (yes, my Mom and I almost share a birthday)!  Rob treated me to a new craft beer to try.  A special friend even brought me the best black licorice in the world from Berlin.  My birthday extended from a day into a week as we finally hosted a housewarming party a few days later.  If I ever feel lonely, I need only remember how awesome it was to have fifty friends drop by our house on a gorgeous fall day.  There were kids playing and running through the house, Forest the cat basked in the attention of our guests, and new friendships were forged.  Instead of snow, we had sunshine.  Life is great. 

It also reminded me of how we thought we'd have a housewarming barbecue in July, shortly after we moved in.  Ha!  Only now do I feel like the house is ready to have guests... our new closets are finished, our bookshelves are done as of yesterday, and the basement is a work in progress, but thankfully not one I have to look at every day.  It definitely feels like home.

In one of my birthday phone calls, I was discussing with B how disappointed I had been with the pumpkin-inspired recipes I've made recently.  These Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, for example, were fine, but not great.  On my birthday, I made a special dinner for Rob (Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie) and while I love all of the ingredients, the end result was underwhelming.  I've heard B rave before about her pumpkin bread, and she passed along the recipe in the hopes that it would lift me out of my pumpkin funk.

It absolutely worked!  This bread could not be easier to make.  It is flavorful without being too sweet.  It makes both an excellent breakfast or dessert.  Plus, it makes two loaves, so you have one to keep for yourself and another to share (or to freeze... but why not make someone's day and give them a surprise loaf of delicious bread?).  As I write this, I am enjoying a piece at my desk... 

Pumpkin Bread
Recipe shared from friend to friend and given to me by Betsy Strenio

Note - I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup.  If you prefer your bread super sweet, I'd add that 1/2 cup of sugar back in.  I used olive oil and loved the end result.  The original recipe, however, calls for vegetable oil.  And if you want to make the bread healthier, you could try substituting apple sauce for half of the oil.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin (I use both store-bought pumpkin and homemade puree in my pumpkin goodies.  If you want an easy and instructive post on homemade puree, use this link.)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preparation

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.  Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend.  Mix in eggs and pumpkin.  

2.  In a separate large bowl, sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.  Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions.

3.  Divide batter equally between prepared pans.  Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes.  Using sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely.  You can freeze a loaf for future eating or give one to a friend!

Birthday beer from Crooked Stave in awesome mugs courtesy of Danielle & Kate

Wednesday
Dec072011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

In case it isn't obvious by the frequency with which I post about desserts, I have a sweet tooth.  Dinner in our house is more often than not followed by something sweet.  As the weather turns and fall and then winter arrive, I always look forward to the arrival of my two favorite seasonal ice cream flavors - pumpkin and peppermint stick.  This year I am determined to make homemade batches of both.

This recipe for pumpkin ice cream requires a bit of advance planning as the puree must be chilled initially and then the custard must be chilled again.  You can make this in one day, but be sure to leave enough time for both the puree and the custard to chill.  There is also a LOT of heavy cream in this recipe.  It is delicious but obviously unhealthy.  That said, I have found that a few bites of this is more than enough and it is something to really be savored.  Finally, the chocolate chips are optional - I threw them in at Rob's request and because I do think pumpkin and chocolate are a dynamite combination.  

If you'd like to make your own pumpkin puree, I've included instructions below the recipe.  It will absolutley make a difference in how flavorful the ice cream is but obviously adds a step to the preparation.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma  
Yield = approximately 1 quart 

Ingredients
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree* or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 - 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (miniature chips are preferable) 

Preparation

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.  While the mixture is whirling around in your ice cream maker, add the chocolate chips.  I started with 1/2 cup and then sprinkled additional chips until the ratio seemed right.  Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container.  Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.  Makes about 1 quart.

*To make your own pumpkin puree, use 1 large or 2 medium Sugar Pie or other eating (not field) pumpkins.  Cut out the stem and quarter the pumpkin lengthwise. In a preheated 400°F oven, bake the quarters, cut side down, in a shallow roasting pan with a little water in the bottom until tender, about 1 hour.  Let cool, scrape out the seeds and cut the flesh from the peels.  It is recommended that you then force the pumpkin through a medium-mesh sieve or the medium disk of a food mill.  I am lazy and instead just processed it in the food processer.  Freeze any leftover puree for up to 2 months.

 

Saturday
Oct222011

Pumpkin Soup & Challah Knots

The mountains and hills surrounding Denver are sprinkled with autumnal colors and while the days are still warm, the nights are noticeably cooler.  I'm loving the arrival of fall... our insane summer travel schedule has slowed and it actually feels as though the pace of life generally is slowing.  To me, fall means squash and gourds, apple picking, carving pumpkins, making soup and stew, falling leaves, wearing my Patagonia Better Sweater all the time and the return of the pumpkin spice latte.  

 My absolute favorite soup is pumpkin.  I fell in love with pumpkin soup in college at Au Bon Pain.  Then the soup was served in a bread bowl (so healthy!) and probably contained a LOT of cream but it was still delicious.  Since I started cooking, I've been looking for a pumpkin soup recipe without cream but with strong flavors and the requisite silkiness. I've tried several (including this one from the current issue of Bon Appétit that was just wrong) and keep coming back to the same simple recipe from Fine Cooking.

Soup alone is not enough for a meal, so I tried a new roll recipe from the October 2011 issue of Saveur.  The rolls require advance preparation but I've noted in the recipe below that you can make them to a certain point one day in advance to minimize the work you have to do the day you want to serve these.  I've made them twice and the end result is a buttery, soft, fluffy roll.  These are my new go-to roll!  The original recipe for the soup includes instructions for making croutons to accompany the soup.  Since I served it with a roll and I don't particularly like croutons, I omitted this step. 

Pumpkin Soup with Sage and Gruyère
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Yield = 6 appetizer servings or 4 main course servings

Ingredients
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
6 cups 1-inch-diced peeled, seeded pumpkin
2 medium cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 medium fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
4 to 6 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup packed grated Gruyère
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Preparation
Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the pumpkin and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.  Add the wine and the sage leaves and cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in 4 cups of broth, cover, and simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until the pumpkin is very tender, about 25 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of the Gruyère and using a hand-held or standard blender, purée the soup (in batches, if necessary).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly and adding more broth as necessary to achieve a thin soup with the consistency of heavy cream.  Ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve with the croutons.

Challah Knots
Saveur - October 2011
Yield = 12 rolls

Ingredients
4 tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup canola oil
4 egg yolks
3¼ cups flour
1¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten 

Preparation
In a bowl, stir together yeast and 1 cup water heated to 115°; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in sugar, oil, and egg yolks; add flour and salt.  Stir to form dough, and then knead on a work surface until smooth, about 8 minutes.  Cover, and let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Punch down dough, cover, and let sit for 45 minutes more.  You can also let the rolls sit overnight in the refrigerator at this point.  Remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to forming them into knots as instructed below.

Preheat oven to 350°. Form dough into twelve 10″-long ropes; tie each rope into a knot, tucking ends underneath. Transfer to a greased 9″ × 13″ baking pan.  Cover the rolls and let them sit for 30 minutes.  Brush with egg; bake until browned, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday
Oct182011

Pumpkin Waffles

Breakfast - the trickiest meal of the day!  It isn't that breakfast is hard to make, but who has the time?  I am always rushing around and want something I can pop in the microwave or toaster and be on my way.  I was eating Baked Oatmeal Cups, but after two weeks of oatmeal I needed a change.  This recipe in Runner's World caught my eye.

I know what you are thinking.... "A recipe from a running magazine?  Great."  But these waffles are tasty and healthy, ideal for fall with their subtle pumpkin flavor, and are ready to be eaten in a matter of minutes.  I made a double batch, froze most of the waffles by individually wrapping them in plastic wrap, and had a warm, quick breakfast each morning for the past two weeks.  Amazing!

This recipe uses "alternative" flours, but I am sure all-purpose flour will work just as well.  The pumpkin flavor is noticeable, but not overwhelming, and these can be served with the usual butter-maple syrup combination or you could great creative and add a dollop of Cinnamon-Nutmeg Crème Fraîche (this is what I did in the photo above).  Just so there is no misunderstanding, these are healthy.  I suppose this is obvious given the aforementioned alternative flour, the soy milk, the lack of butter, etc., but I don't want to mislead anyone.  I have no doubt that there are richer versions of pumpkin waffles that contain butter and whole milk, but these are good and guilt-free!

Pumpkin Waffles
Adapted from Runner's World

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour (I used a mixture)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat soy milk
  • 1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Coat a non-stick waffle iron with cooking spray. Preheat according to the manufacturer's directions.

2. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the soy milk, pumpkin, honey, oil, and vanilla just until blended. Gently fold in the egg whites until just combined.

4. Spoon 1/2 cup of batter on the bottom grids, covering two-thirds of the grids. Close the iron and bake according to the manufacturer's directions.

5. Using a rubber spatula, carefully remove the waffle from the iron. Repeat with the remaining batter. 

Wednesday
Sep212011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Our vacation last week kicked off in Aspen with an all-day trail run/hike around the Maroon Bells.  The views are dramatic and the peaks are steep... and we learned a lesson the hard way about winging it when trail running in the mountains and ended up on an adventure that lasted three times as long as we originally planned.

Thankfully, I had greedily stashed a delicious and filling pumpkin chocolate chip muffin in my backpack from the Aspen Farmer's Market earlier that morning.  The plan was to just peruse the market rather than to buy, but I couldn't resist the table of muffins and pastries.  I think about about hour four of running, Rob wished he hadn't resisted (don't worry, I set aside my only child tendencies and shared the muffin).

Pumpkin is one of my favorite foods.  I look forward to fall each year - pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattés.  After savoring the muffin on our Aspen adventure, I had to try my hand an recreating the muffins at home.  The recipe I used comes from the Baking from the Heart cookbook and the contributor of this particular recipe is Joanna Chang of Flour Cafe & Bakery in Boston fame (I've posted about her banana bread here).  These take a matter of minutes to put together and make a great treat for breakfast (yes, I'll eat a muffin which chocolate chips for breakfast... I can tell you are judging).

The only significant change I made to the recipe was inspired by this month's Fine Cooking magazine, which included an article on baking with olive oil.  While the magazine cautions against substituting olive oil for butter when the butter is to be creamed, I found that it worked extremely well in this instance - the resulting muffins were surprisingly light and flavorful.  If you'd prefer to only use butter, the original recipe called for only 1/2 cup.  Happy fall!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Baking from the Heart
Yield = 1 dozen muffins 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup solid packed, canned pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non-stick vegetable spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and pumpkin puree in three additions, beginning with the flour mixture.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  

Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.  Place muffins in the oven and bake for about 18 -20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.  Place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.