It means ticking down to Thanksgiving, which, as you all know, is my singular most important day of worship at the altar of home cookery. And for those of you who are new? You might want to pop over HERE and check it out.
Having said that, there is one thing about Fall that I don't particularly appreciate.
The minute the heat breaks and the first cool breeze wafts through, the world seems to lose its mind and everything on the planet is suddenly "Pumpkin Spice" flavored. Which, let us be clear, is almost never ACTUALLY flavored like pumpkin, but mostly flavored like spice. Not good spice. Not warming satisfying spice. Bottom of the stale spice drawer spice, mixed with sawdust.
I like spice. I like the autumnal heat of ground ginger, the kick of cinnamon, a touch of clove. The subtleness of mace, transformative nutmeg. And I like pumpkin. Not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but the flavor of pumpkin I find very pleasing.
But I do not need everything I put in my mouth from September through December to taste like a Yankee Candle.
Local bakeries making moist pumpkin breads and tender pumpkin muffins and crumbly pumpkin scones? That contain actual pumpkin? Go forth with your deliciousness. Big corporations whose "food" is mostly made of multisyllabic chemicals? Give it up. That crap is disgusting. And yes, I am looking at you Pringles.
|Seriously? Just no.|
And if you combine the word Pumpkin with Coffee or Latte or Smoothie or any other beverage? GACK.
I know I am about to get a flood of pumpkin spice latte fanatics who wait all year to gorge themselves on a cup full of creamy potpourri, but I can take it. Bring your ire. I will always contend that your taste buds are broken. It won't make me love you any less.
But let me at least try to move you towards the light, may I?
Because pumpkin? REAL actual grown on a vine pumpkin? Can be very delicious. It can even be delicious with some fresh spices. It is the very essence of Fall. But it isn't a "flavoring".
For starters, I give you my famous Pumpkin Soup recipe. Anyone can do this, and the results are truly spectacular. It is a terrific first course for Thanksgiving, a fun mugful on Halloween, and the perfect way to begin a Fall dinner party.
2 large cans pumpkin puree (29.5 oz organic…not pumpkin pie filling!)
3 boxes chicken stock or a gallon of homemade stock
1 pt. heavy cream
2 med. (or one large) yellow onions
1 stick butter
Fresh ground nutmeg
¼ t espelette pepper (ground or paste) (opt)
s/p to taste
In a very large stock pot, sauté onions in butter till soft. Add fresh and canned squash or pumpkin. Put in enough chicken stock to cover by about 2 inches. If you want to make it vegetarian, use water. Cook over medium heat till very soft, about 35-45 minutes. Blend with immersion blender or in stand blender till very smooth. For extra velvety soup strain thru chinois or fine strainer. Add cream and season to taste with salt and pepper, espelette if you like and fresh nutmeg.
Freezes beautifully pre-cream, I often make a double batch and freeze half without the cream in it. Is also delish without the cream if you want to be healthier J
½ c heavy cream, whipped
8-10 amarretti cookies, crumbled
Blend together and scoop on top of soup.
Have also topped with:
Crème fraiche mixed with crystallized ginger
Candied orange zest
Toasted gingerbread croutonsHerbed Popcorn
Whipped cream blended with cranberry sauce
Crouton with melted asiago cheese
Fried sage leaves
Not convinced yet? How about this:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup (90 grams) dark chocolate chips or chunks tossed with 1 T flour to coat
Cream melted butter with the sugars until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin and egg until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk all of the dry ingredients and spices together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft. Fold in chocolate chips until well dispersed. Cover the dough and chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Scoop 2 Tablespoons of dough for each cookie, roll into a ball between your hands (grease your hands if you like). Flatten the dough balls because the cookies will only slightly spread in the oven. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. They will look slightly underbaked at this stage, but as long as the chips look melted and there is a crispy outside, they should be finished, and you want them chewy. As soon as you take the pan out of the oven, give it a sharp whack on the counter which will help flatten the cookies even more. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack. Cool at least 30 minutes to an hour before eating.
Anyone else have any favorite pumpkin recipes to share?
Yours in Good Taste,