Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Bacon

This recipe from the blog the Noble Pig is a fun idea, but the recipe itself is not without some issues. A little doctoring on my part made this unique recipe fabulous. As for the bars, past experience has made me know that one teaspoon of baking soda is not enough power to lift 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree. That's just 1/4 cup short of a full can and I added two extra teaspoons and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. My bars turned out decidedly more cake-like than the Pig's, but were still plenty moist.

As for the frosting, I just couldn't get it to fluff up no matter how long I left the mixer on. So I added two cups of powdered sugar to give it some density and one teaspoon maple flavoring to give it more taste. The results tasted great. The bacon is wonderful  and crisp the first day, but after that it gets kinda chewy and flavorless. Not that it stopped the Hub, Andrew, Karen and I from eating them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Lumpia (Philippines)

According to Wikipedia, lumpia, both fried and fresh versions, was brought by Chinese immigrants from China to Southeast Asia and became popular where they settled in Indonesia and the Philippines. This recipe is apparently no longer available online, but that's OK, it had some translation issues anyway. Here's what I used for the filling.

1 leek, thinly sliced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
100 gms (about a cup) grated pumpkin
1/2 can sliced mushrooms, diced
75 gms (about a cup) bean sprouts

Grating the pumpkin was my idea and worked perfectly. I sauteed everything except the bean sprouts until all the vegetables were soft. Then added the bean sprouts and cooked just until they were wilted. I used about two tablespoons to fill each spring roll wrapper (they sell lumpia wrappers, but my store was out) and then rolled them up. There are several online videos showing the proper way to roll up lumpia, and when we lived on Guam, they even had classes in it. But since I wasn't going to deep fry them, which is the traditional way to cook lumpia, I didn't have to be so proper. The directions on the wrappers said they could be baked in the oven and that's what I did. I was the taster on these and, since lumpia is one of my favorite foods, deemed them great. I do think they would have probably been better deep fried, but then what isn't?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Madeleines (France)

The madeleine is a traditional small cake from the Lorraine region in northeastern France -  a very small sponge cake with a distinctive shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions. Aside from the moulded pan, no special tools are required to make madeleines. This recipe is for a pumpkin version. River and I thought these were perfect on a fall morning with a cup of tea. They don't contain a lot of sugar so the Hub thought they needed some frosting or something - guys!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Colorful Chicken and Pumpkin Stew (Cambodia)

Making this recipe took a trip to the international market. First on the list, fresh galangal - my helpful produce guy and I were having trouble communicating and I was probably mangling the pronunciation, but he assured me that the malanga that he was selling me was really galangal. I was a believer, but then I found the real galangal on my own while he was off cutting a piece of malanga for me. Malanga is the Spanish word for taro root. Moving on to kaffir lime leaves - there was a lot of discussion among the produce people about this one. From what I could understand he was saying, it is illegal to sell fresh kaffir lime leaves in the state of Virginia, but and he waved off in the distance, maybe I could find some somewhere else. Next up green pawpaw, which is actually green papaya and got me a look that said "now you're just making stuff up and you're probably smoking those lime leaves to boot." But I could have turned the tables on him when I asked for snake beans and he handed me a package of snow peas. I found the rest of my ingredients on my own, and was too embarrassed to put the taro root back right in front of him, so I bought it.

But was the recipe worth all this aggravation? Not in the opinion of my sister Jeanne and I, who were the tasters on this. We both found it kinda bland, except for the green papaya, which was an interesting tasty addition. Maybe the contraband leaves would have spruced up the flavor.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dulces De Calabasas (Mexico)

This is the second time I've made this recipe and really wanted to like it. It seems like the perfect candy - a little chunk of sweet pumpkin. A candy that Mexicans have been making and eating for centuries. But this recipe calls for boiling chunks of pumpkin 30 to 35 minutes and they can't take that and still hold up. Then you dry them for 12 hours at room temperature, I dried mine for two days and this picture is the only time they looked like this. They're just soggy little lumps. There just has to be more to making these candies than this. Also apparently these traditionally don't have the spices and the cloves are overpowering. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sausage and Pumpkin Roast (England)

This recipe came from the BBC's Good Food website. It is easy, quick and both the Hub and I were amazed that 1. the food was cooked thoroughly and 2. tasted great. While we were making it, both of us (without saying it out loud) felt this recipe had "big loser" written all over it. To begin with we had to convert 220 degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit, which turns out to be 428 degrees F. Most of the ingredients had to be converted from grams to ounces and we had to replace the tub of fresh beef gravy from the chiller cabinet with jarred gravy. My biggest concern was that it wouldn't be done in the 20 minutes cook time, that the sausages would not be browned on the outside and would still be pink on the inside. But it was and, not only that, it tasted good, too. It would make a quick weeknight dinner if, like us, you had the pumpkin cut and peeled in advance.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indian Pumpkin Pudding (United States)

Indian pudding is an old-fashioned American dessert made with cornmeal, milk and molasses. The addition of pumpkin to this recipe from The New York Times makes a pudding that tastes like pumpkin pie without the crust. I really like this. I'm not a big fan of raisins especially in a pudding, but they add something to the dish. It can be eaten warm or cold and for any meal. I cooked mine in two dishes, but it still took the entire cook time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hot and Sour Pumpkin Soup (Thailand)

   Each Asian country has its own version of hot and sour soup. They are identified by their ingredients. Thailand's tom yum is flavored with lemon grass, lime, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and Thai chiles, and in this recipe developed by Ming Tsai and Tom Berry, pumpkin. I used pumpkin that I had frozen from last year, dried lemongrass and jalapenos. Andrew loved this because he's a fan of hot food, but I liked it too. The flavor is amazing and I used the sour cream to cool it down a little. The texture is just a little thicker than broth, and requires a hand blender and then straining to take the solids out.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pumpkin Mochi (Japan)

According to Wikipedia, Mochi is a Japanese rice cake pounded into paste and molded into shapes. In Japan it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. While also eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. Mochi is also a prominent snack in Hawaii and several other Southeast Asia countries.

My mochi recipe from the blog Zakka Life does not call for pounding or molding, but the author does seem to know what she's doing. I made a half recipe since it called for a 29 oz can of pumpkin and I could just use a 15 oz one. I cooked it in a 9 x 9 pan. Mine looks a little dryer than hers, but it tasted great. I really like these sweet little cakes. Finding rice flour took a trip to the international market, but I love that place.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin and Leek Pie (Greece)

This recipe was published in The New York Times along with several other pumpkin recipes. The author was planning on serving it for Thanksgiving as a vegetarian alternative main course. I loved it; the Hub not so much. Even though it only has three eggs and 2.5 pounds of pumpkin, it was too quichey for him. I've been enjoying it for lunch every day this week.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pork Chops with Apples and Pumpkin

This recipe appeared in People magazine in November of last year. Sandra Lee had adapted it from her cookbook Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook and I adapted it from that. It's really in need of some seasoning in my opinion and I added salt and white pepper. Andrew, the Hub and I were the tasters for two nights in a row for dinner. We all liked it, even Andrew who thought he wouldn't because he usually doesn't like meat dishes that add fruit. But, I doubt would make it again because it just seems to work too hard to incorporate healthy ingredients and then ruins it with a can of cream of celery soup. I'm not a soup snob, but it does contain 96% of your daily sodium needs in just one can. So much for adding extra salt!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tikvenik (Bulgaria)

This recipe came from last year's Food Blog Challenge. Challenge number two was to learn to do something new with pumpkin. The Kohler's made this old Bulgarian recipe, Tikvenik (TEEK-vih-NEEK) a rolled phyllo or “banitsa” with a slightly sweetened pumpkin filling. Everyone liked the taste of this pumpkin baklava type recipe, and the phyllo was not particularly difficult to work with, but (and this is a pretty big but) it is truly unattractive as food goes. I'm sorry to say this, but this plate was the best of the best, mostly the ends where the phyllo stayed crispy. I would be embarrassed to serve this to guests. Also, if you are adding the nuts, they need to be chopped really fine.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kaddo Bowrani (Afghanistan)

This recipe came from many people trying to duplicate the kaddo bowrani served at The Helmand, a famous Afghan restaurant with many locations. It must be really special because a lot of people are trying to make it themselves. It has a yogurt base topped with slow cooked pumpkin topped with a meat sauce. The Hub and I were the testers on this and both felt it was OK, but not something I would probably make again. I think a road trip to The Helmand in Baltimore might be necessary for a comparison to the real thing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Big Cats Love Pumpkins too

Apparently humans aren't the only ones who enjoy pumpkins. Watch this video of rescued lions, tigers, leopards, lynxes, bobcats and more at the Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit educational sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pie-Croissant Pudding (Canada)

This recipe came from the October issue of Food and Wine magazine. Chefs at Montreal's Joe Beef restaurant use leftover croissants to make their signature fall dessert. The recipe calls for pumpkin pie filling, two cups of heavy cream, one cup of sugar and seven eggs, not to mention all those croissants. Wow, that's a lot of calories. I lightened the caloric load by using egg substitute. But still it would have to be a once-in-a-while treat. For instance, whenever I'm in Quebec.

The recipe calls for soaking the raisins in rye whiskey, but we only had Irish whiskey in the house. I don't think anyone could tell. Andrew, the Hub, work pal Chris Morrison of Discovery Creative Chili Cookoff fame and I were the testers on this. A quote from Chris:  Best served warm, with either vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream, the pudding was very enjoyable. Its mix of croissants, pumpkin and overall sweetness held together nicely while accompanied by a sprinkling of raisins. The texture was unique (especially given time to set) in that it was more firm than expected. This created more of a cake-like consistency. Personally, I found that to be very appealing. Overall, a very satisfying and delectable dessert good enough to cause small feuds/brawls within the family for that sacred last piece.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baby Dampers (Australia)

I have more readers from Australia than any other country except the States. Go Aussies!

According to Wikipedia, damper is a traditional Australian soda bread prepared by swagmen, drovers, stockmen and other travelers. It consists of a wheat flour based bread, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire. Damper is an iconic Australian dish. It is also made in camping situations in New Zealand, and has been for decades. This recipe from is for baby dampers, smaller loaves that contain pumpkin. The herbed mascarpone spread was forgettable, but the rolls were delicious. I made them with fresh pumpkin, but canned would work just as well if you could figure out the amount. I bought self raising flour (for the first time) instead of trying to convert the metric weight. It rose nicely even with the weight of the pumpkin. I do have issues with recipes that call for 500 gms of cooked pumpkin. Now is that 500 gms before cooking and mashing through a ricer twice or after? Before and after are pretty different. I started out with the weight (a little over a pound) in pumpkin cubes and ended up with about a cup of mashed pumpkin. But the rolls turned out lovely, so I'd go with that again.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Italian Pumpkin Strata (Italy)

This recipe for a brunch type casserole did not come from Italy, it came from Libby's. Sorry, but it is really good, and I've already done several pumpkin pasta dishes. My only issue with this recipe is the prep time - 20 minutes. The Hub, my very experienced sous chef, and I could not put this together in any time close to 20 minutes. There are four vegetables to be chopped, bread to be cubed, cheese to be shredded, not to mention ten plus minutes of cook time browning the sausage, breaking it up as you cook so someone has to be there the whole time. I could imagine someone trying to get this out it an hour for a brunch and it taking one person twice that long. By then it's lunch time.

In the back of the picture are baby dampers, a delicious roll with an odd name from Australia - tomorrow's post.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

International Pumpkin Month

An interesting thing has happened while I've been writing about cooking with pumpkin for the last year: I have picked up readers from all over the planet. Apparently everyone likes pumpkin. Fifty-two countries and counting. It never fails to amaze me.

Here's the list of countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina,Trinidad/Tobago, Bermuda, Brazil, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Singapore, Japan, Bahrain, Nepal, China, Denmark, Latvia, Switzerland, Russia, St Helena, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Hungry, Ukraine, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Slavia, Lithuania, Sweden, Romania, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Palau

For this reason I've decided to call October International Pumpkin Month, and am going to highlight recipes from around the world. Here's my neighbor, Ann, with a Mexican pumpkin she picked up for me at the farmers market. I used this pumpkin in several of the recipes.