Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SPOTLIGHT: The Pumpkin

In case you haven't noticed lately, we seem to be inspired by all things pumpkin here at the gourmet pantry. Fall is more than in the air- it is literally in the kitchen!

Recently, a good friend came over with a serious craving to carve a pumpkin and sip some wine. Is there a better way to spend a sunny crisp fall afternoon? Actually, yes--- when you take that cute little pumpkin you just carved a jaggedy face into and create all of the below recipes. That little jack-o-lantern can do more than light up your front porch or kitchen table, you can create all sorts of yummy meals out of him when you add just a few ingredients you already have in your pantry! Check out what we came up with: cinnamon sugar roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice soup, pumpkin oatmeal raisin cookies, and last but not least- chocolate pumpkin bread. So sit down, carve a big ole' pumpkin up, and make dinner out of him. Literally.

First thing's first, buy and carve a pumpkin. Invite a friend over, drink some hot cider (or wine, who are we kidding here). Be sure to scoop out all of the insides. Separate the seeds from the pulp on a large cookie tray. Rinse the seeds and let them dry overnight and store the pumpkin in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to use (within 2-3 days). Maybe your pumpkin won't look as professional as ours (sarcasm, heavy heavy sarcasm there), but save the insides!

Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 stick butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Make sure the seeds have dried over-night (laid out evenly on a cookie sheet). Melt the butter and coat the seeds thoroughly. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon. Roast at 400F for 45-55 mins or until golden brown & crunchy to the taste. Let cool and store in a ziplock bag- indulge!

Next.... it's time to use up the rest of that lovely pumpkin puree right from inside your fresh pumpkin. Mixing the few ingredients we had in our pantry this spicy, slightly creamy, protein filled soup won't leave you out in the cold.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

olive oil
red pepper flakes
12 oz pumpkin puree
14 oz package unsalted chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 8 oz can rinsed white cannellini beans

Begin by heating 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic (finely chopped!) and the red pepper flakes. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, do not burn the garlic! Then, add the broth, pumpkin puree, & heavy cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and let these ingredients marry-up for 10-15 minutes. When it starts to come to a boil, add the beans and cook another 5-10 minutes. Serve with a dollup of cream cheese or goat cheese... whatever you have that will melt and give this soup an extra OOMPH. Serve with some toasty whole grain bread & sop it up!

OK.... had enough yet? No, actually, I think you need some dessert.... onto the COOKIES!! (and frankly, the best part).

Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
15 oz (or half of 1 large can if you don't have fresh pumpkin) puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup instant oats
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F, and whipping the butter (room temp!) with the sugars. Next, add the egg and vanilla and whip again for roughly 30 seconds, do not over-mix! Then, add the pumpkin puree and whip some more until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & pumpkin pie spice. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, a few additions at a time. Finally, add the raisins and oats and combine with a large spoon so as not to over-mix. Grease your cookie tray, and scoop using a small ice cream scooper or large tablespoon. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown around the edges, and it passes the toothpick test. Serve with fresh whipped cream for added pleasure!

Look, even our own Mr Peppy the Pumpkin wants to eat them they smelled so good!

If you are STILL reading, and STILL aching for some pumpkin. This dessert below is the ultimate indulgence, and will stay moist for days (especially if you tuck it up in some plastic wrap). We have truly saved the best recipe for last. Here's to hoping you enjoy these as much as we have! Happy Fall!

Chocolate Pumpkin Bread

1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin puree, whichever you have on hand)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup full fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin by preheating the oven to 375F. Line your bread loaf pan with nonstick spray or parchment paper (we used both to play it safe, and for easy removal). Whip the butter and sugar together in your stand-mixer until combined thoroughly. Next, crack the eggs one at a time and combine one at a time. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, and sour cream. Whip for roughly 30 seconds until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spice. Slowly add in portions to the wet ingredients & whip for 1-2 minutes. When the dough has formed, add the chocolate morsels and mix with a spoon just to combine. Pour into the pan and bake 45-55 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Serve hot with fresh whipped cream. To. Die. For.

*Special note--- if you don't have a freshly carved pumpkin but still want to try these recipes, they work just as well with the canned version! Always go for the organic or pure pumpkin (without any additives or salts or sugars, maximize that true pumpkin flavor!*

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