Monday, September 29, 2008


Today is the first rainy, thunderstorm day in Los Angeles! I craved pumpkin soup!

A pumpkin is a squash fruit that grows as a gourd from a trailing vine and I heard on the news that there was a shortage this year due to global warming. I certainly don’t believe that from all the amazing varieties I have seen so far this fall. Toasted pumpkin seeds are an autumn stable in my household and the basic pumpkin puree can eliminate the can for simple freshness. Sweet or savory enjoy these harvest favorites.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. melted butter or oil (olive oil or vegetable oil work well)
Salt to taste
Options To Taste:
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Seasoning salt
Cajun seasoning blend

Pre-heat oven to 400. 
While it's O.K. to leave some strings and pulp on your seeds (it adds flavor), clean off any major chunks. Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and seasonings of your choice. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

Basic Pumpkin Puree

1 4-lb. pumpkin
1-cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Split the pumpkin in half and seed it.
Remove the stringy fibers by scraping the insides with a metal spoon.
Place the two halves cut side down in a roasting pan along with 1 c. water. Bake the pumpkin until meltingly tender, about 90 minutes. Scoop the flesh out of each pumpkin half. Puree in a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade. Use as needed.

Pumpkin and Gruyere Soup
One 5-6 pound pumpkin
1/4-cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cups chicken or vegetable
2 cups heavy cream
Zest of one orange
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1-pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
Cut pumpkin in half, Scoop out and strings and seeds.
Cut away the hard peel and coarsely chop the flesh. In a large soup pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add the stock and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pumpkin is tender. About 45 minutes. Blend or process the soup. Return the puree to pot and stir in the cream, orange, lemon, ginger. Reserve a little cheese for garnish (perhaps with some fresh sage) Sprinkle into the soup. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Risotto
3 Tablespoons butter
1-tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 cup diced pumpkin
3 to 4 cups hot vegetable stock
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Sage for garnish

Heat butter and oil together in a large saucepan. Sautee the onion and garlic. Add the rice and cook, stirring until the rice is coated in the oil mix about 1 minute. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour over 1 cup of the hot stock.
Cook, stirring often until the liquid is almost all absorbed. You don't want the liquid to be boiling in with the rice, just a gentle simmer. Continue stirring and adding stock one cup at a time until the stock is all absorbed and the rice is tender about 20 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Soufflé
6 eggs, separated
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
½ cup pumpkin puree
1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Spray 4 soufflé dishes with bakers joy. All the way to the top and over the sides in large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Set aside. Beat egg yokes until thick and lemon-colored. Thoroughly fold in pumpkin and spice. Gently fold yolk mixture into beaten whites. Spoon into prepared dishes. Place cups in baking pan. Fill pan with very hot water to within 1/2 inch of top of dishes. Bake in preheated 375 oven until puffy and delicately browned, about 15 to 20 minutes

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
1-cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
½ cup pecans, chopped
Blend in a food processor until a ball forms. Press in 8x8 pan sprayed with bakers joy. Bake 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes and cool slightly.
8 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup pumpkin puree
1-teaspoon vanilla
1/4-teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Blend until smooth and pour over crust. Bake 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set. Cool and cut into bars.

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