Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pâté

So, this isn't a pâté as in a mixture of ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste; it is, quite literally, a pumpkin paste. But I serve it in the same manner as a meat pâté - with olives and crusty bread. Plus it gave me an opportunity to use my pumpkin Le Creuset.

Pumpkin Pâté

2 C pumpkin puree
2 C raw cashews (soaked and drained)
1/2 C water (use soaked nut salted water)
1/4 C organic maple-agave syrup (sweeten to taste)
3 T pumpkin seed oil
1/2 t pink Himalaya salt (salt to taste)
1/4 C tangerine juice (use lemon juice for a more tart flavor)
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne
Directions:

1. Soak the raw cashews for 30 minutes in salted water. Drain, but reserve the water for use in the dip.

2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

3. Add the drained cashews, pumpkin, maple-agave syrup, tangerine juice, oil, salt and spices to a food processor or high speed blender

4. Add the water in a few splashes at a time. Process until the desired texture is reached.

5. Season to taste. Add in more spices/salt/sweetener/tangerine juice as you wish. You can also add in additional flavor changers like harissa for a smoky, spicy taste; or crushed sage for a warm herb flavor; or extra black pepper for a little kick.

6. Pour your pâté into your baking serving dish. Shallow dishes will result in a firmer/drier end product. Deep dishes will keep your smooth creamy texture.

7. For a shallow dish, bake at 250 for 50+ minutes. For the deep dish where you only want to warm the center and crisp the top you only need to bake at 250 for 20-30 minutes. The pâté will dry out the longer you bake it.

8. Plating. Serve warm or chilled. You can also add a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and/or maple-agave syrup over top.

Chocolate-Dipped Pumpkin Biscotti

I figured that a rainy Halloween morning deserved some chocolate-dipped pumpkin biscotti.

1/3 C melted butter
1 C organic granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/4 C maple-agave syrup
1 C pumpkin puree
3-1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 T ground ginger
3/4 T ground cinnamon
1/2 T ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 T crystallized ginger, chopped
1 C dark chocolate, chips or chopped
dark chocolate for melting
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, and maple-agave syrup. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and spices; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough. Mix in chocolate pieces and crystallized ginger.

Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll the length of the cookie sheet. Place rolls on cookie sheet, and pat down to flatten the dough to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325.When cool enough to touch, cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet, and bake an additional 10 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.

Once cooled completely, melt chocolate and dip to coat one side. Let chocolate set. Serve with pumpkin espresso!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Love at First Bite

I am in love! Every so often I try something that makes my tastebuds swoon.

This afternoon I tracked down pumpkin seed oil. I needed it for some pumpkin appetizers. After calling around - Cost Plus, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's - and striking out, I located it...at Cornucopia in Carmel. Eureka!

Wow. It's glossy, a deep green from some angles, almost burgundy when the light shines through it. It reminds me of the gemstone alexandrite. And it's packed with flavor. How could I not be smitten? Recipes to come.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin-Ginger Salted Caramels

When a friend sent me a recipe for pumpkin fudge this afternoon, I was inspired to try my hand at an original pumpkin confection: pumpkin-ginger salted caramels. I might try the pumpkin fudge in a couple of days.

This entire endeavour would have been easier if I owned a candy thermometer! Still, I think they turned out pretty well.

2 cups organic white sugar
1 cup packed organic brown sugar
1 cup ginger syrup
3/4 cup milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Grease a 12x15 inch pan.
In a medium-size pot, combine sugar, brown sugar, ginger syrup, milk, whipping cream, butter, pumpkin puree, and spices. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken and remove from the heat when the sugar begins to burn. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and sprinkle with pink Himalayan salt. Let the mixture cool completely. When cooled cut the caramel into small squares and wrap them in wax paper for storage.

Pumpkin Smoothies

Who needs to pay $4 for a smoothie?! Certainly not me, especially when these are so simple to make. Give it a whirl - pun fully intended!

Greek yogurt, honey, pumpkin puree, frozen peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and a splash of almond milk.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

This morning the pillow talk was: pumpkin bread pudding. Okay.

And "not whole wheat, please." Okay.

So I headed to Paris bakery and picked up some day-old french bread.

Cube the bread. Beat eggs with some heavy cream. Add a splash of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and some pumpkin puree. Moisten bread with the egg mixture. Stir in raw pecan pieces and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Press pudding in to a buttered baking dish and top with sliced almonds. Bake at 350 till firm and golden.

Serve with cinnamon-scented whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harvest Stew with - Surprise! - Pumpkin

From sweet to savory, pumpkin has been appearing on my dining room table almost daily for the past few weeks. Thanks to my friends Belle and Randy, and a fantastic delivery from their garden earlier this week, of five pumpkins, I made a gigantic pot of stew featuring - surprise! - pumpkin for dinner tonight. Best yet, I still have four pumpkins left.

All chopped to bite-sized pieces: chicken, pumpkin, carrots, fennel, celery, purple potatoes, chard

Brown chicken with minced garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon, paprika, oregano, cilantro, salt and pepper. Once cooked, add everything else plus beef boullion, a splash of red wine, and a splash of soy sauce. Bring to a boil then simmer till everything is fork tender. In a separate pot, cook black lentils. Mix the lentils into the stew right before serving.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and multi-grain crackers.

Never the Same Twice

Because I use recipes merely as suggestions - even my own - Jake accuses me of never making the same thing twice. Guilty as charged! But I figure that means I'm always improving the recipe. This morning I decided to make the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls [click for recipe] I had made this weekend...with one addition: raw pumpkin seeds to the filling. It was delicious!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shaker Saffron-Pumpkin Bread

I adapted this from Country Breads of the World by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake (United States: The Lyons Press, 2000). I diverge from the traditional Shaker loaf with the addition of saffron and pumpkin seed topping.

1 C milk
pinch of saffron
4 T butter
1/2 C organic granulated sugar
1 t fine sea salt
2 T active yeast
8 C white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 C pumpkin puree
2 eggs

Heat the milk, butter, and saffron threads until butter is completely melted then remove from heat. Add sugar and salt. Stir well and leave to cool until lukewarm. Add yeast to milk mixture and let sit till bloomed. Stir in pumpkin puree and eggs, mix well. Work in the flour until you have a firm dough that begins to leave the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 7-9 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise till doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

Punch down dough. Place into a large baking bowl, or into two loaf pans. Sprinkle with raw pumpkin seeds and coarse sea salt. Press toppings lightly into the top of the loaf. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, again, approximately 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes until a golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when unmolded and its underside tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack and brush with melted butter. Leave to cool.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Some people have a favorite local bakery where just the thought of shelves lined with freshly baked treats can get them out of bed on a chilly Saturday morning. My husband, on the other hand, lounges in bed, whispers three little words in my ear, rolls over, pulls the covers over his head, and waits. What were the three words? Pumpkin. Cinnamon. Rolls.

Yes, I am highly predictable and easily swayed by the mere mention of food. Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. The words reverberate in my head until I manage to slide out of bed. And by the time my bare feet hit the chilly wood floor, I've figured out how to give those words life.

An hour later, we're all sitting in the dining room. And as my pumpkin spiced espresso begins to bubble, I get up from the table. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Jake giving the boys a wink that says, "And that's how it's done, boys."

1 T active yeast
2 t organic granulated sugar
1 1/2 C pumpkin puree
2 C white whole wheat flour
pinch salt
1 T olive oil
1/2 stick butter
2 T pumpkin puree
3/4 C organic turbinado sugar
1 T pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour a baking pan and set aside.

Combine yeast, 1/2 C warm water and granulated sugar together in a mixing bowl. Stir gently and let stand till the yeast blooms, about 3 minutes. Stir in canned pumpkin, flour and salt until a sticky dough forms.

Knead dough on a floured surface for 4-5 minutes or until very elastic. Pour the olive oil into a mixing bowl and transfer dough to the bowl. Turn dough over to make sure the oil coats it completely. Cover bowl with a clean dish towel and place in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

While dough rises, combine the butter, pumpkin puree, turbinado sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well until a creamy paste forms.

Once dough has risen, punch dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle. Use a rubber spatula or butter knife to spread the pumpkin-butter-turbinado sugar mixture all over the dough. Roll up tightly, pinching to seal, so you have a 12” long cylinder. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut the cylinder into 8-10 disks. Arrange disks in the buttered, floured pan.

Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until edges have turned golden-brown. Let cool slightly and serve warm. Makes 8-10 cinnamon rolls. Oh, if you want a glaze...1/2 C powdered sugar, 2 T heavy cream or milk. Whisk till smooth.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Plain Ol' Whole Pumpkin Custard

My pantry was devoid of any coconut milk - and I refused to go to the store late last night - so I had to adjust my original plan from making Sankaya (Thai pumpkin custard) to making a plain ol' whole pumpkin custard. Plain or not, it was a hit. And when the pumpkin vultures descended on the breakfast table this morning, all I had left was the skin and the stem.

1 medium sugar pumpkin
6 eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup packed organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon ginger syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the lid off the pumpkin and remove the seeds.

Combine the eggs, whipping cream, brown sugar, ginger syrup, vanilla and spices. Pour mixture into the pumpkin shell and top with the butter. Replace lid on pumpkin and place in a baking pan.
Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until mixture has set like a custard. Allow to cool and cut wedges of the pumpkin to serve.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

The pumpkin madness continues. This isn't what I set out to make, but I had some extra custard so I added some pumpkin puree and - eccolà! - Pumpkin Crème Brulée.

6 eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup packed organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon ginger syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup pumpkin puree
raw sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk everything together until smooth, then pour into individual ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish and fill pan with water half-way up ramekins. Cover with foil and bake till set. Once cooled, put 1 T of raw sugar on the top of each custard and burn with a torch.

Plum Perfect Chutney

I had several plums beginning to turn in the fruit bowl, so I decided to make a spiced plum chutney. It'll be the perfect accompaniment to a rosemary-rubbed pork tenderloin I'm cooking for my grandmother's 91st birthday potluck this weekend.

Organic brown sugar, sliced plums, 1 C red wine, 1 T aged balsamic vinegar, 2 T ginger syrup, and 1 T ground cardamom. Bring everything to a boil then simmer till thickened.

Pumpkin Ginger Biscotti

"Again with the pumpkin?!" you ask. Yes. I love anything and everything pumpkin. And that obsession becomes full-blown every October. So, the pumpkin creation of the day: pumpkin-ginger biscotti. Now I just need a cup of pumpkin coffee!

1/3 C melted butter
1 C organic granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/4 C ginger syrup
1 C pumpkin puree
3-1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 T ground ginger
3/4 T ground cinnamon
1/2 T ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 C dark chocolate, chips or chopped
1/4 C sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, and ginger syrup. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, and spices; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough. Mix in chocolate pieces.

Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll the length of the cookie sheet. Place rolls on cookie sheet, and pat down to flatten the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Press sliced almonds into the top of the rolls.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325.
When cool enough to touch, cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet, and bake an additional 10 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Soft Pretzels

It's hard to believe that it's almost the middle of October and I have yet to really kick into my usual pumpkin overdrive. That changed tonight and I experimented with a pumpkin soft pretzel. The only real obstacle: I am shape-challenged, as evidenced by my struggles in geometry as a freshman in high school. Thankfully these taste much better than they look!

1-1/4 C warm water
1 t organic granulated sugar
1 T active dry yeast
1 C pumpkin puree
1 t sea salt
4 C white whole wheat flour
1 t olive oil
coarse sea salt for garnish

For boiling...1 beer, 6 C water, 2 T baking soda

In a big bowl dissolve the sugar in water. Add yeast and let sit till the yeast blooms. Stir in the pumpkin. Stir in the flour and salt to form a dough. If the dough seems dry, add 1 at a time until it comes together. Hand knead for 10 minutes. Put olive oil in a large bowl and turn the dough around until the sides of the bowl are completely oiled and the dough is covered in a light film. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large soup pot, bring beer, water, and baking soda to a boil. Roll dough into a coil and carefully twist each rope into a pretzel shape - easier said than done in my case. Boil pretzels for two minutes. Then place pretzels on a lightly buttered cookie sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes until deeply browned on top.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cayenne Truffles

8 oz high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
dash of cayenne
unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small, heavy saucepan bring the whipping cream to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a separate bowl with a dash - or two - of cayenne. Pour the cream over the chococlate. Let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk till smooth. Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Roll half-teaspoon sized balls in your hands as quickly as you can. Roll in unsweetened cocoa. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Moroccan-Spiced Almonds



Moroccan Spice Blend (makes 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3 egg whites
2 T water
6 cups nuts - I used almonds from my friend's family's farm!
2 C organic sugar
2 T Moroccan spice blend
salt to taste

Beat egg whites and water till frothy. Add nuts, stir gently to coat. Combine remaining ingredients and fold in gently. Spread in a single layer on parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees till lightly browned, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lemon-Raspberry-Coconut Cake

I love this flavor combination! When friends commissioned a birthday cake for a magical-themed party, I thought a coconut cake topped with a top hat and a stuffed rabbit would be just the ticket. Like most of my cake creations, it's hearty and not too sweet...and made with whole wheat!

Lemon Cake Layers
2-1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
8 T softened butter
1-1/2 C organic sugar
1 T finely grated lemon zest
1/2 t fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 C organic whole milk
4 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the lemon zest and juice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then half of the egg mixture. Continue adding and mixing until all are incorporated. Divide the batter into two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool layers in pans for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.

Lemon Buttercream
4 egg whites
1/2 C organic sugar
1/2 C powdered sugar
2-1/2 sticks of softened butter
1/4 C strained fresh lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

Whisk together the egg whites and sugars. Over a pan of simmering water, continue whisking till the egg whites are warm and the sugars are dissolved. Whip till cool and increased in volume. Beat in the butter until smooth. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.

Assemble the layers with raspberry preserves and lemon buttercream. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Press shredded coconut all over the outside of the cake.

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