This time of year, there are pumpkin spice jokes ad nauseam and while I don’t particularly love the idea of pumpkin spices unless they’re in a pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, I do, do, do love me some pumpkin. From one year to the next, one shelf in my garage storage pantry is smack full of pumpkin. I’m not afraid there’ll be a shortfall, though that almost happened in recent memory, I just know year-old pumpkin in the can tastes better than this year’s pumpkin — especially for pie, but really for anything. This often repeated tidbit is one of many my father-in-law Gene Morgan (longtime Jewel-Eisner grocery merchandiser) passed on to me early in my marriage. (There’s also that I might want a loaf or two of pumpkin bread mid-July when a can of pumpkin might be a tad difficult to locate at the store. Just look next year and see if I’m not right.) When Gene, not a big talker per se, gives you a little grocery tip, you’d best file it away and not forget it. At 19, for instance, I learned to rinse off the top of any can I was about to cook with or drink out of. His graphic description of certain sorts of insects running across the floors of grocery warehouses wasn’t something easily forgotten. And why hadn’t my mother told me this? (She might’ve and I might not have heard her, too.) Thank goodness Gene filled me in and kept us from whatever diseases roaches impart. By the way, they include things like listeriosis, plague, and dysentery, to name but a few. Ewwww.Continue reading
Creamy Pumpkin-Peanut Soup
Every once in a while, it’s time to cook up an old recipe on the blog, take new photos, and tweak the dish up to today’s standard. That’s exactly what happened the other day with the blog’s very first pumpkin soup from way back in November, 2009. With my book club meeting in my living room last Thursday, I thought I’d move away from the same-old, same-old cheese and whatever….and make a soup I could serve in coffee mugs along with the glass of wine we enjoy. Change = good. I looked at the not few pumpkin soups I’ve blogged and settled on the simple, but fun 12-year-old version that is finished off with peanuts and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. As I sometimes will, I tried making it right from the original recipe, which is so old it’s not even printable. While good, it needed perking up, thickening, and expanding. I was amazed, though, to see how readable the recipe was even then. That’s not to say it didn’t need editing and redoing. It did.Continue reading
From one year to the next, I keep a few cans of my favorite Libby’s 100% pumpkin in the pantry. Thanks to my father-in-law, Gene Morgan (who spent years in grocery management), I know that “old” pumpkin makes for better pumpkin pies. I see no difference in pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, or pumpkin martinis but pie — oh yes. The pie filling is darker, feels richer-thicker though still silky, and sports a deeper flavor profile with the aged cans. This year, I’m very glad I kept those few and a couple more because when I put in an order for pumpkin, my King Sooper’s app indicated zero, nada, zip, nil, nought, nothing, though it allowed as there were a few cans of the organic variety left. I don’t like those for pie (ewww), but I’ll take them in a pinch for baked goods and so tapped the icon. When I went to pick up my groceries, I didn’t even get the organic cans. Yikes. What was the story? Should I be grabbing a few pie pumpkins out of the produce section and getting out the roasting pan? Consider a Thanksgiving featuring sweet potato pie? While I have nothing against sweet potato pie as my parents were both southerners, I like pumpkin pie so much better. What’s a baker to do?Continue reading
Pumpkin-Ginger Crunch Cheesecake
I can’t remember exactly when the pumpkin spice thing took hold. Or how it came to be. You can google all that and get your own ideas. One thing comes to mind and it’s coffee:Continue reading
Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread
I’ll begin by saying I’ve made a little more of this bread over the last week than I ever intended. Look at that face. Just look at that face. Isn’t that sweetness canine-i-fied? Lord, I love this dog.Continue reading
Pie 101 – Pumpkin
If your pie is solid and unmoving–like old jello-it’s overdone or old. If the filling is pulling away from the crust, it was made too many days ago. Is it cracked? Well, that just happens once in a while (probably overbaked)–but next time bake it for less time and see if you can avoid that. Continue reading
Curried Pumpkin Soup or Julie Used to Live Here
I adore pumpkin in nearly any form. I think I love pumpkins because they appear during my birthday month. Maybe not, though. Because, truly: I love to eat them. Almost any way. While I’m sure pumpkin soup has been around a long time (A quick peek at my historical cookbooks, however makes no mention of it. American Cookery 1796 has a recipe for Pumpkin Pudding. Fanny Farmer, 1896, lists only pumpkin pie. The Household Searchlight Recipe Book, 1931, has listings for canning pumpkin, making pumpkin custard, jam, and pie with cheese crust–but no soup,) I had never tasted it until 1985 when we went to live in Spokane, Washington, and my God’s gift of a neighbor, Joyce Smith, made pumpkin soup in the pumpkins for a holiday meal. Ten years later, I traveled right here to St. Paul, and good cook Lani Jordan whipped up a pumpkin-peanut butter soup for Sue’s birthday lunch.
My own soup was years later coming. Late 90’s maybe. By now, it comes in several guises. I sometimes blend cooked, ripe pears and apples into the mix.. or other batches contain a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top. One memorable pot was ladled into bowls with my sweet-crunch “Go Nuts” as garnish. I’ve also been known to use a mix of squashes and vegetables (also cooked dried beans) with the soup and up the heat factor, as well.
While, according to an old Craig Claiborne book, you can steam unpeeled pieces of pumpkin and later peel and mash them, I’m by now definitely attached to opening a can. As are many women. And…
Pumpkin anything is pretty simple if you’re willing to used canned pumpkin. I also adore butternut squash soup, but if you want to make butternut squash anything, you have to peel and cook the rock-hard thing. Which takes a lot of effort. I buy a new peeler every year because the winter squash wreaks havoc with them. Even Paula Deen gets one of her boys to peel her squash. (My children don’t seem to be waiting in the wings to peel my squash. Where are you?) Your other option is to pay through the nose for already cut-up butternut squash. I’m not doing that. But pumpkin! Well, that’s why God made Libby’s, right? (Or go ahead and roast or microwave a whole one if you have to, but after trying it once, you’ll head to the grocery store canned aisle.) I seem to be on a pumpkin jag lately–both in this blog and in Dinner Place. So! Go ahead and make pumpkin soup. Did I say it’s quick? (Doubles or triples easily for a larger group.)
CURRIED PUMPKIN SOUP
serves 4 (or 6 small first course servings)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup each chopped onion and celery
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (don’t peel)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (more if your curry powder is mild)
- 1 quart (4 cups, 32 ounces) low sodium chicken broth or stock
- 15-ounce can pumpkin
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a 4-6 quart small stockpot over medium heat and add onions, celery, and carrots. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook five minutes or so until somewhat softened. Add parsley and garlic during last minute of cooking.
- Pour in chicken stock and stir in pumpkin and applesauce. Add curry and ginger. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir again.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer until the vegetables are quite tender.
- Puree using immersion blender in pot or pour soup into food processor or blender and puree in small batches. Whichever method you choose, be quite careful; the soup is hot. If using blender, hold down a doubled up dish towel over the lid to keep it tightly in place.
- Ladle soup into bowls, top with a sprig or two of parsley and drizzle with a bit of heavy cream to create an attractive pattern.
*I keep a variety of small jars of curry powder, but like Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder as the spices are the ones I enjoy and the heat is moderate. If you use a hotter powder, use a bit less. If you use a milder one, you might want to add a few drops of hot sauce. You can also make your own curry powder from ground tumeric, coriander, cumin, cardomom, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, etc. Or you can read The Surly Vegetarian and get a great recipe for curry.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Life in the ‘Hood
|Cooks just want to have fun: Making pie crust cookies.|
|The last of Wendy’s heirloom tomatoes that ripened on the windowsill in my dining room for two weeks.|
|Under 5 minutes in the microwave: great acorn squash.|
|Rustica Bakery, Minneapolis: on BA’s list of ten best bakeries in the U.S. Yep.|
|Rustica Bakery’s almond croissant.|
|Rustica Bakery: a bit more elegant garnish, eh? This is their latte.|
|58 years in the neighborhood, Troos comes to check Dave’s work on the vegetable garden.|
|Under the bushes he dug out, an old glass jar appears.|
|Appears to have been buried by Julie in 1965. Troos doesn’t remember Julie.|
|One of the thousands of crazy, crazy squirrels in Tangletown this year.|
|This is a tiny bush with precious blooms in my south garden.|
|This chickadee cracks her seeds between her toes.|
|All cleaned up for Opus and Olives Sunday night downtown with 850 other Friends of the St. Paul Library supporters.|
|Lani and Jeanne after dinner having fun.|
It’s been a warm week. Two days we even had the AC on to cook and sleep. Weird October.
We have guests for dinner two nights coming up,a trip south with a friend to pick up a new puppy, Book Club here Tuesday, rehearsal on Wednesday and also Taize service in conjuction with Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Come worship@ 6:30 (Wed, 10/14) at Prospect Park United Methodist. Take an hour bite out of your life to unplug, sit quietly, and reflect. It’d do ya good. Sounds like we’ll need it too.
Sing a new song of fall…leaves and pumpkins and wind and cooler temperatures,
Pumpkin-Ginger Bread–or Alyce Tweaks the Pumpkin Bread One More Time
One or two things I make during the holiday season go from September-January. Pumpkin bread is one of them. If you know me well, you’ve eaten my pumpkin bread. I have several versions and every one is different and unique and yummy and… special. I kind of work of it from year to year. My choirs eat it; my husband lathers cream cheese on it. I make it into muffins; my friends husbands say to their wives, “Why don’t you make anything like this?” (Mostly because they’re eating cake at dinner.)
This year, I had sweet ideas. Whoa: Candied ginger. Black pepper. Cayenne. Pumpkin seeds. I tried it out. Twice. Increased the ginger the second time. Passed it around at home and elsewhere. I took some to St. Paul, where we visited for Thanksgiving, froze our butts off, made it through a job interview (me-whewgladitzovah), 13 houses, and came home drop-in-bed sick from. We ate it there for breakfast. Every day. Ah. Thanksgiving time! So I’m keeping this version. It seemed to go over well, even with Sue’s friend Gladys, a top-notch cook and baker at 91. She did say, however,
“WHAT is in this? I don’t like eating stuff when I don’t know what’s in it.”
I think it was the candied ginger and the cranberries. Of course the black pepper might have done it, too. Or the cayenne. Well. I like pepper in bread; sue me. And I’m gonna go right on making it. Like that. It does make super gifts and can be made as tiny loaves, muffins or big loaves. Maybe even T-tiny muffins for a buffet. Try it; you’ll like it. Everyone else did. Better make a bunch. (Provenance: I think the original recipe for this came from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK.) Freezes well. (No longer than 2-3 weeks, though)
|Pumpkin seeds. Use some in the bread. Eat the rest. Good for you. Great in bread!|
Alyce’s Newest Pumpkin Bread Featuring Candied Ginger and Black Pepper. OH, and Cayenne, too.
- 1/2 c dried cranberries
- 1 c boiling water
- 2/3 c butter, soft (to cut fat, use half apple-sauce–no more than that)
- 2 c pumpkin ( a can is 15 oz now; add applesauce to complete the 2 c)
- 4 eggs
- 2 1/4 c sugar
- 1/3 c candied ginger, minced
- 2/3 c evaporated milk, low-fat or fat-free (can use regular milk instead)
- 3 1/3 c unbleached white flour
- 2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1 1/2 t salt (sorry, left out of original post–corrected 11/18/11)
- 2t Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1/2 t freshly-ground nutmeg
- 1 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
- 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4-1/3 c salted or unsalted pumpkin seeds (I like salted)
- Preheat oven to 350 F for bread or 400 for muffins. Grease and flour pans. For muffins pans, grease only.
- In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and boiling water. Set aside.
- With hand-held electric or standing electric mixer, beat together in a large bowl butter, pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, sugar and candied ginger until light and fluffy. Beat in milk until well-mixed.
- On top of the wet ingredients, measure dry ingredients: flour, soda, baking powder, spices. Carefully mix just the dry ingredients with a spoon or rubber spatula, trying to avoid mixing the dry ingredients into the wet. Using electric mixer, beat wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated. Don’t over beat. Drain cranberries well and stir into batter gently.
- If desired, sprinkle pumpkin seeds into bottom of prepared pans (9×5) or baby loaf pans (3×5 or similar) or muffin tins. Use ice cream scoop for muffins.
- For loaves or baby loaf pans, bake at 350 for about an hour or half-hour, respectively. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer; it will come out almost clean when the bread is done. Leave in pans 5 minutes. Bang bottoms of pans on board, floor or counter before turning out on to racks carefully to cool completely. If sticking, use thin, sharp knife to go around edges. When absolutely cool, wrap well in foil. Store on counter 1-2 days, in frig for 2-3 days, and in freezer up to 2-3 weeks.
- If in muffin tins, bake at 400 F for maybe 15 minutes or until nicely browned and firm to the touch. Turn out immediately onto metal cooling racks. Follow storage instructions above, though muffins store well in large plastic containers that are freezer safe.
|This is a great pumpkin bread pan loaf. Pan available at Williams-Sonoma. (Design changes year to year.)|
Just thought you’d like to see the options….
Bake now while it’s quiet one night. Wrap up your treasures carefully in shiny foil. You can even put ribbons on them before you put them in the freezer. Be ready as you move through Advent into Christmas. Or as you hit the second day of Hanukkah. Breathe and study. Live and love. Don’t get crazy over what you’re supposed to do. Or as you live through another day…
Don’t let the light go out (see and hear song, LIGHT ONE CANDLE) and, while you’re at it, pray that I see the the path where God is undoubtedly shining it if I just could only be aware enough…
Pumpkin Soup–Making up for Thanksgiving Weekend or Moving from Thanksgiving to Advent
Thanksgiving-An Intimate View
Well, of course, I had the idea and, truthfully, had done something like it before, but I had to flesh out the menu and, naturally, try it all out. If you’re a Tyler Florence fan, you might have seen a turkey roulade Tyler makes with leeks and cornbread stuffing. My inspiration for the turkey here came from that lovely recipe.
While I adore Thanksgiving, I know it can get out of hand. You don’t know it’s gotten out of hand until you start the dishes and are still washing glasses the next day. Mostly, it’s worth it. Occasionally, though, you want a holiday to BE a holiday for everyone, including you. Well, you and one other person, a special one.
- Starters: Olives and Pistachios–set out in small bowls and served with a sparkling wine
- First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (bought from deli)
- Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
- Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
- Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
- Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
- Bread: Corn Muffins from the bakery
- Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350—No crust)
- Drinks: Wine: Gruet Sparkling Wine, A to Z Riesling, and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have it all! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream