Monday, February 28, 2011

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Coffeecake

This recipe came from A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas, and is seriously good. The raw sugar and nuts on top gives it a crispy crust, and the cake itself is really moist. I used freeze dried cranberries, and was happy with the results - I don't think I would have liked fresh. It has some odd ingredients such as corn meal and sour cream, but the final product is obviously a professional recipe. The recipe calls for cooling to room temperature before serving. The Hub and I could not wait that long and eating it warm was so good that we heated the rest up each time we had it.

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Coffeecake

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
3 tbsps raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. (I used spray.)

Spread the pecans in a small baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves . In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, sour cream and pumpkin and beat with a large whisk or an electric beater until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the cranberries and 2/3 cup of nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup nuts on top and sprinkle with the raw sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan to room temperature, then cut into 12 rectangles. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crock Pot Spicy Chicken Pumpkin Soup

This recipe combined the best of both worlds for me - pumpkin and crock pot. At least once or twice a week, I try to throw something in the crock pot to relieve the Hub of cooking dinner when he gets home an hour and a half before I do. By the time I added all the ingredients, my crock pot was full so I didn't have room for the full four cups of chicken broth. This worked out OK because it wasn't necessary to thicken the soup when it was done saving the calories of 1/2 cup of heavy cream and the cornstarch. It was still more stew-like than soup-like, but I got no complaints from anyone. The recipe author felt it was too spicy for children, but ours didn't turn out spicy at all. We ate it over rice. Everyone like it and I would definitely make it again.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies with Apricot Surprise

When the Hub said he needed something chocolate for his Valentine Day staff meeting, I found this recipe in Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel. The recipe calls for jam, but preserves were all my grocery store had in the apricot department. It didn't seem to make any difference. The pumpkin is totally gone from the flavor department, but still adds vitamins and fiber to a desert that normally wouldn't have it. They are named correctly because the apricot comes as a total surprise. I was impressed with the results, but would probably substitute raspberry jam for the apricot next time I made them.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies with Apricot Surprise

5 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
3/4 cup apricot jam or preserves

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently and remove the pan from the heat when they are almost melted. Add the sugar and stir well.

Beat in the eggs and then the pumpkin. When mixture is smooth, add flour, salt and ginger. Stir in the pecans.

Scrape half the batter into the prepared baking pan and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then spread the jam over the frozen batter, leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge. Spread the remaining batter over the top and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roasted Flat Mushrooms with Spiced Pumpkin & Chickpea Stuffing

This recipe came from a cookbook I recently found - Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash by Brian Glover. Glover, an English chef, has written several books highlighting one ingredient per book. I find his recipes well researched and this one is no exception. The picture in the book shows one mushroom cap at very close range and I didn't notice that the mushrooms were supposed to be portobellos until after I bought regular mushrooms. They worked beautifully but left me with lots of the delicious filling which I ate for lunch.

I used fresh pumpkin because we had a few days of warm weather and it took a heavy toll on the pumpkins in the garage. I made six recipes this past weekend all using fresh in order to use them up, but I think you could substitute a can of pumpkin puree.

Roasted Flat Mushrooms with Spiced Pumpkin & Chickpea Stuffing
Serves 4

1 small pumpkin (about 2 pounds) peeled, seeded and diced
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
a small bunch of thyme
1/4 tsp dried hot pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 14oz can chickpeas, drained
1 tsp cumin
lemon juice
1-2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1-2 tbsp creme fraiche or heavy cream (optional)
8 large, flat portobello mushrooms, stalks removed
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

for the sauce
1 garlic clove
a pinch of coarse sea salt
3-4 tbsp tahini
freshly squeezed lemon juice
4-5 tbsps plain yogurt
1 tbsp chopped mint

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the pumpkin with 3 tbsps of the oil, 1 tsp chopped thyme, the hot pepper flakes and garlic. Season and put on a baking sheet. Cover with foil and cook in the for about 30 minutes until tender, then uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes. let cool and put in a food processor with the chickpeas. Whizz to make a rough puree. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin and lemon juice, then stir in the parsley. If the puree is very dry, add the creme fraiche or a little water.

Meanwhile, put the mushrooms, gill-side up on an oiled baking sheet. Season and sprinkle with a few thyme leaves. Drizzle with the remaining oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Roast, uncovered, at 425 for 15 minutes until just cooked. Remove from oven and reduce the heat to 375.

Distribute the stuffing between the mushrooms. Scatter with the pumpkin seeds and a few thyme sprigs. Spoon over a little of the mushroom cooking juices, then return them to the oven for 10 minutes to heat through. To make the sauce, mash the garlic with the salt in a bowl, then gradually work in 3 tbsps tahini, followed by 1 tsp lemon juice. When smooth, gradually work in the yogurt, then taste and add more lemon juice and/or tahini as necessary. Stir in the mint and serve with the mushrooms.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Exhausted Sous Chefs

After a 3-day weekend of nonstop pumpkin cooking, my assistants are in need of some shut eye.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars

This bar recipe appeared in the Seattle Times in November of last year with an article emphasizing the health benefits of pumpkin. And you know it might be true - the Hub and I haven't even had a sniffle since we started eating pumpkin several times a week. He had some surgery recently and bounced back so fast his medical team was amazed. It could be just coincidence, but makes you wonder...

The bars were quick and easy and tasted great. Without heavy frosting the pumpkin and spice flavor came through.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Pie

This recipe is a winner. I combined the tips I learned in The Best Pumpkin Pie part 1 and part 2, with the comments online from cooks who seemed to have made the recipe many times and the results were great. I precooked the crust using my new pie weights I got for Christmas, and added the streusel half way through the cooking as was recommended in the comments. I didn't make the fancy leaf pattern around the edges but might in the future for special occasions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Cobbler

This recipe also came from The New York Times. I replaced the cornmeal biscuit dough that's used for the crust with refrigerated pie crust. When I was eating it I tried to figure out what I was tasting, hoping the pumpkin could have stood alone without the apple. I'll never know because the most noticeable flavor was ginger. With no cinnamon to tone down the ginger, it took over. If I made it again, I would adjust the spices.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Pumpkin, Apples and Onions

This Sunday dinner type recipe came from A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas. I was anxious to try it because it gave me an opportunity to use my convection oven - an appliance I've been ignoring since its installation in my kitchen two years ago. I also got to use this wildberries balsamic vinegar, which is simply wonderful. My skin browned a little faster than I would have wished, but the chicken and the sides of vegetables tasted great. Also my apples and onions needed radically different times to cook and I ended up with crunchy onions and mushy apples. Next time I will add the onions with the chicken and the pumpkin with the apples. There is also the problem of keeping the pumpkin and apples warm until serving time, since the chicken cooks for another 30 to 40 minutes. I would solve that problem by not adding them to the oven until the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes.

Lemon Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Pumpkin, Apples and Onions
Serves 4-5

1 whole frying chicken (31/2 to 4 pounds)
sea salt
8 cloves garlic, slivered
1 lemon, halved and seeded
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lbs pumpkin, cut into 1 1/2 inch squares, 1/2 inch thick
3 Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges
2 unpeeled Fuyu persimmons, cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 head garlic

Wash and pat dry the chicken. Season the chicken lightly inside and out with sea salt. Loosen the breast skin with your fingers and insert the garlic underneath, distributing it evenly. Squeeze the lemon juice over the surface and tuck the lemon halves inside the cavity. Season inside and out with pepper. Place in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Use a convection oven if available.) Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and let it come to room temperature.

Combine the 2 tbsp oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin and toss lightly to coat. Arrange the pumpkin in the roasting pan around the chicken. Toss the apples, persimmon and onion in the remaining oil mixture and place in the prepared baking dish. Slice 1/4 inch of the top of the head of garlic; place on a small sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle lightly with oil. Wrap to enclose and place in the roasting pan with the chicken.

Roast the chicken and the apple-onion dish for 30 minutes. Check the apples and onions, testing for doneness by piercing with a knife. If tender, remove the apples and onions from the oven; if not, return to the oven and check frequently until done. continue to roast the chicken and pumpkin 30 to 40 minutes longer, or until a  thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers 175 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to a large platter and surround with pumpkin, apples, persimmon and onions; open the garlic packet, peel the cloves, and scatter around the platter. Carve the chicken and serve.

Pumpkin Cornbread

This recipe was part of an article in the New York Times about eating pumpkin for breakfast, lunch and dinner and listing a new recipe each day for a week. On a recent weekend I made three of the recipes including this one.

It certainly isn't a omg, can't wait to make it again kind of recipe. But maybe I'm not that big a cornbread fan either. I like the pumpkin soda bread better. We ate half of it as a side dish and I put the rest of it away to use as a topping for a skillet tamale pie recipe I'm making later in the week.

Here's a picture of the Tamale Skillet Casserole by America's Test Kitchen, which was excellent.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pumpkin Chips

Pumpkin chips - what will people think up next? This particular recipe was thought up in 1998 by the cooks at Southern Living magazine.

Making these took a joint effort of the Hub and I. Maybe an electric fryer would have helped, which I don't have. But come to think of it, I do have an electric skillet in the basement somewhere. This would have probably helped to keep the temperature constant, relieving one person of thermometer monitoring. We made this bowl of them, ate them in less than a minute and said hmmm let's not do that again. Not that they weren't good, but some things are just better left to the professionals. Frito Lay - they're all yours.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pumpkin Gifts

How cute are these little velvet pumpkins my daughter gave me for Christmas? The larger ones are filled with beans, the smaller ones sand. And they have real pumpkin stems. She didn't make them but some clever person did. I love 'em.

Look at my new wall decal on the soffit in my kitchen. It could have been a gift or I could have paid for it - sometimes the lines get blurred. But it's a wonderful addition to my kitchen inspiring me to get after it since I do have three cases of canned in the basement, a dozen or so left in the garage, at least 20 pounds in the freezer and 500 recipes left to try.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pumpkin Baked Risotto

This recipe actually started out as a butternut squash baked risotto in that same November issue of Everyday Food as the pumpkin carrot cake. Peeled and diced, butternut squash looks exactly like pumpkin and most recipes are interchangeable. It's just a whole lot easier to peel and dice a pumpkin. And between the pumpkin and the kale, it just doesn't get much healthier than this side dish. Karen and I liked it better than the guys, and I ate it for lunch for a week as it reheats very well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Dip

I made this pumpkin pie dip to take to a baby shower we were having at work for JRo. I'm JLo and she is JRo - works for us. There are several versions of this on the web, each one with fewer and fewer ingredients. I chose this one because I felt it was probably the original.

Readers from or visitors to Ireland will probably recognize this bag that I took the ingredients to work in. Love that store.

I served it with apple slices, sugar waffle cookies and Anna's ginger thins.

The shower was a surprise. The cupcakes are from Georgetown Cupcakes of the TLC program DC Cupcakes fame. They should give us a discount since we made them famous, but they don't.

Everyone liked it (well maybe not Roy, but he at least tried it), especially me. I think it will probably make the top 10.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Citrus-glazed Pumpkin Carrot Cake

This cake recipe came from the November issue of Everyday Food, which was loaded with pumpkin recipes. It makes a large, dense cake with a complementary glaze that serves 16 to 18 people easily. We had it at home for several days, and then I took over half of it work, where it was finished off before lunch and without a group email. Instead of getting stale, several days in plastic wrap only enhanced the moistness. I used citrus I brought back from Arizona for the glaze, which took three times as much liquid as the recipe called for. I used pecans instead of walnuts and toasted the nuts before chopping. I also substituted whole wheat pastry flour for some of the flour to boost the healthy aspects of it.

Here's a funny sidenote, when I went to Martha Stewart's webpage to get the link for this blog, five of five commentors had rated the recipe inappropriate because they were unhappy with the results. They felt it was dry and flavorless. Hmmm maybe this cake should come with a warning - results may vary. Another warning, this cake takes a very large bowl and lots of beating to follow the recipe exactly.

 Everyone (both at home and at work, total number about 14) who tried it liked it, some for the cake, some for the glaze, but most for the combination of both. Here is an interesting comment by David, who said "I liked it because it wasn't overly sweet." When I pointed out that the commenters said it had no taste, he further added "That's because they confuse taste with sweetness."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pumpkin and Ginger Pickles

Instead of actually canning my pumpkin pickles, I vacuum sealed the jars and popped them in the frig. I used to put up dill pickles with my Aunt Irene and never was good at getting them to actually seal so this seemed like a perfect solution. Also just for fun I can check them during the three months and reseal if they aren't ready. While doing some research for this recipe, I read that pumpkin has the perfect neutral ph to grow botulism, so the addition of the lemon peel is mandatory to make it more acidic. This recipe makes 4 - 6 jars, which I halved to fit in the two containers. I also skipped most of the raisins (3 1/2 cups just seemed way too much).

The recipe comes from this Reader's Digest book about pumpkins and squashes, which I checked out of the library and then found a copy at a library sale.

Andrew and I tasted the pickles after a month. I thought they were ok, but not done; Andrew gagged, which I did not take as a good sign. He doesn't like sweet pickles in general and apparently these in particular. I'll wait until the three months is up to pass judgement.

Pumpkin and Ginger Pickle
Ginger lends piquancy to this beautifully colored deep orange pickle. Its blend of flavors makes this a good accompaniment to turkey, ham or chicken.

1 ounce fresh ginger
zest of 2 medium lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler
2 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayeene pepper
3 1/2 cups golden raisins
32 ounces dark brown sugar
2 cups cider vinegar

Crush the ginger with a hammer and place it with the lemon in a cheesecloth bag. Tie the bag securely.

Put all the ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed nonaluminum saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and the pumpkin is tender.

Remove the bag of flavorings and spoon the pickle in the sterilized warm jars while hot. Seat when hot; label when cold.

Keep for 3 months in the refrigerator before using.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pumpkin and Shrimp Bisque

I picked this recipe to make in Arizona with my daughter Robin and her husband Roger because it comes from The Herbfarm Cookbook. The Herbfarm, in Woodinville, Washington, is a restaurant they have eaten at and really enjoyed the food.

The recipe is a little labor intensive, but one would expect that from the kitchen of a restaurant the calibre of The Herbfarm. We had the bisque for dinner with Cesar salads. I was concerned with the amount of stock that boiled out during the simmering stage and added some more chicken stock at the end of it. We still only ended up with five servings as a main dish.

I also cut up the shrimp before cooking them. The 16 to 20 shrimp per pound size are very large shrimp that would require a knife to eat soup. Robin, Roger and I loved the bisque; the Hub was ho hum, not being a shrimp fan. Roger commented that the texture was perfect. My sister Judy and I shared the fifth serving the next day without shrimp and it was really good then too.