Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Presentation of Pumpkin

I love Fall. It is absolutely my favorite season. I love looking forward to cold nights, being able to layer my clothes and jackets and snuggle in with hot chocolate and a cat (or two). I also love being able to eat or drink anything with pumpkin. It absolutely makes my day.

And so, I bring you a pumpkin-y post!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Biscotti

I used a recipe from epicurious and modified it a little. Having no white chocolate or food processor, I replaced the chocolate with about 1/2 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips. I added some more pecans and substituted 1/2 teaspoons each of ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg for the pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice (I think it's about the same, but maybe a little spicier). I thought the recipe was fantastic, producing soft biscotti that didn't break my teeth eating them straight up but didn't crumble when dipped in coffee. The sweet/spicy combo was great.

"Spicy Holiday Muffins"

This recipe was nicked from “Just Muffins” compiled by Gaye Hansen, a small red book my parents bought on their honeymoon in Canada. I think they bought it from street vendor, it looks almost hand written and has apparently made some fantastic muffins over the years. This is no exception.

1c milk
1c pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c oil
2c flour
1/4c sugar
3tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
1/2tsp ground cardamon
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp nutmeg

1tbsp butter
1/4c chopped nuts
3tbsp sugar
1/4tsp cinnamon

Mix all the wet, add all the dry. Fill tins 3/4 full and top with melted butter, cinnamon sugar and nuts. Bake for 20-25 min at 400 degrees.

Savory Three-Cheese Pumpkin Soup

As I have mentioned, I love pumpkin. And while it shines in sweet recipes, I have been disappointed with every over-sweetened store-bought box of pumpkin soup. Why can't we deviate a little from the norm and pair this squash with something savory? And delicious? Like cheese?
Pumpkin cheese soup, how could that not be divine? Surely someone has made it before and I should just find the recipe.
However, both AllRecipes AND Cook's Illustrated online let me down. I was bummed. Fine, I'll make it myself! So here's what I did:

4 tbsp butter
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1.5 tsp kosher salt
2 15-oz cans Libby's Pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 tbsp brown sugar
~1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best)

In a large pot, lightly brown the butter and saute the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add 6c of water and bring to a boil. Add the salt, pumpkin, and cream and thoroughly mix until homogenous. Whisk in each cheese, one at a time until smooth. At the end stir in the brown sugar and nutmeg (because I was grinding a whole nutmeg, I don't really know how much I actually added, but around 1/2tsp. Flavor to taste). Let barely simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes and serve hot.

This does leave little onion chunks in an otherwise smooth soup. I don't mind them, but maybe you could try pureeing it all before you add the cheese.

Anyway, this produced a rich soup that wasn't too heavy, cheesy or sweet. I've wanted this combination for years so finally I have a recipe!
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