Simply Seasonal: Pumpkin recipes are rich holiday traditions
The origin of pumpkin pie is thought to have occurred in 1621, when the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass. gave thanks for their first successful harvest. The colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and then filled it with milk, maple syrup, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in the hot ashes of a dying fire, and the result was a delicious custard. The beloved Thanksgiving pumpkin pie evolved from this treat.The pumpkin is actually a fruit, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants with trailing vines. One company in the U.S. grows and produces the lions share of annual pumpkin consumption in Tazewell, Ill. They have been perfecting the crop since 1929, developing their own strain of the Dickinson Pumpkin, which is smaller, squatter, meatier, heavier and sweeter than the Halloween pumpkin and has a creamy texture.Though these pumpkins are available to home cooks today, not many attempt making their own pumpkin puree. Carving a jack-o-lantern for Halloween lets anyone know that working with a fresh pumpkin is no easy feat! Difficult to cut, hollow inside … How many pumpkins and how much time would it take to yield one pie? No wonder one company has the market share on this unique autumn harvest.Nutritionally, pumpkin offers a ton of benefits. Low in calories and fat, naturally sodium-free, one half cup serving of pumpkin provides more than a days worth of Vitamin A, and a significant amount of fiber. But we tend to sugar-coat our pumpkin in desserts, and make rich savory dishes. Perhaps thats why we associate it only with the holiday season, though excellent canned pumpkin is available year round.Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale, shares a deceptively simple souffl recipe below, a dish that would compliment any autumn meal. This makes an impressive vegetarian entre, too, he said.For an easy, homespun dessert, try Avondale Pastry Chef Allison Helfers Pumpkin Bread Pudding. People love to make pumpkin bread or muffins this time of year, she said. Make extra and use the leftovers for bread pudding. Or start from scratch with her cake recipe here.Brian Harker, bar manager at Avondale suggests a festive cocktail to begin a holiday meal. Infused vodkas are easy to make and fun for entertaining. Treat guests to this unique cocktail, before dinner or during a holiday open house, Harker said.
4 cups milk1/2 cup flour1/4 cup butter2/3 cup grated parmesan1 cup pumpkin puree7 eggs2 egg whitesMelt butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring until combined and light gold in color. Add milk and bring to a boil. Add parmesan and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Fold in pumpkin and chill mixture. Beat eggs and add to mixture. Whip egg whites to soft peaks and fold gently into mixture. Pour into buttered one-cup ramekins and place ramekins in a shallow pan of warm water. Bake at 350 degrees approximately 30 minutes or until browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve immediately. Yields 8.
Pumpkin cake:1/2 stick butter1/2 cups sugar2 eggs1 cup warm milk 1 cup pumpkin puree1/3 cups flour1/2 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/4 teaspoon ground all spice1/8 teaspoon baking powder1/8 teaspoon baking sodaCream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well. Mix in warm milk. Add pumpkin puree and mix in. Sift flour and spices together and mix in. Pour into a standard size and sided cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. Cut into cubes and spread out on a flat surface. Allow to dry. (If using leftover pumpkin bread or muffins, plan on 6 to 8 cups of cubes.)Bread Pudding Custard:3 cups milk3 cups cream3 eggs11 egg yolks12/3 cups sugarHeat cream and milk together just to the boiling point, remove from heat. Beat eggs, yolks and sugar together. Very slowly add the hot mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from curdling. Cool.To assemble: Place cubes of cake in a large bowl and add enough custard to cover. Allow to absorb, about 20 minutes. Place into a casserole dish (or individual ramekins) and pour additional custard on top. Bake at 300 degrees about 40 minutes or until custard is set. Serve topped with ice cream or whipped cream. (Baking will take less time if using individual ramekins, approximately 25 to 30 minutes).
2 ounces Pear/Cinnamon vodka 1 ounces Pumpkin Butter – equal parts Pumpkin puree and butter3/4 ounces triple sec.1/2 ounces simple syrup1 graham cracker, crushedMake ahead:Pear-cinnamon vodka:2 pears, peeled, cored, sliced2 apples, peeled, cored, sliced3 cinnamon sticks750 ml vodkaCombine ingredients, seep for four days. Strain into a clean bottle.Simple syrup:1 cup water1 cup sugarHeat together, stir to dissolve sugar. Keep in a squeeze bottle as a bar staple.Make the cocktail: Combine vodka, pumpkin butter, triple sec, and simple syrup with ice in a shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass rimmed with crushed graham cracker. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit http://www.avondalerestaurant.com.