Tag Archives: pumpkin

The Vegetable of Many Faces?

Pumpkins, what a “cool” vegetable and is there a more versatile vegetable? My opinion no there is not, and the pumpkin has been around for a very long time. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico. I am not really sure who or why someone decided that pumpkins were going to be the face of Halloween but what a brilliant idea. The pure joy of watching the competition (some more serious then any professional sports championship) and excitement of the pumpkin carving contest is magical.

Is there anything a pumpkin can not do? We use pumpkins in just about everything from a latte to flavoring beer, savory to sweet and we even toast the seeds that really are simply delicious.

Well I am not going to carve any pumpkins for you today but I have decided to create a very simple dish that I hope you will be inspired by. This dish can be created with out much hassle and I played with the goat cheese a little but you could use crumbled cheese and it would be just as tasty. Hope you enjoy…Jason

Amy’s Wine Picks

For Chef McLeod’s roasted pumpkin and chilled goat cheese ravioli, I recommend a fuller-bodied white wine or a -lighter bodied red to avoid overwhelming the subtle flavors of the goat cheese.

Top Pick: A Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, France, such as Savennières. Chenin Blanc has naturally high acidity and an aggressive bitterness which pairs well with warm fall flavors. In its youth, Savennières can be austere, dry and rigid. But as it ages, it develops a complex honeyed undertone with a rich palate. Two Grand Cru appellations within Savennières include La Roche aux Moines and Coulée de Serrant. Typical aromas include bruised red apples, chamomile tea, wasabi, tangerine, chalk, limestone and wet wool.

Playing it Safe: A lighter-bodied Gamay from Beaujolais, France, complements the roasted flavors of the pumpkin. Beaujolais has a very distinct flavor profile of banana, bubblegum and pear drop due to its aging process, carbonic maceration. This is when the alcoholic fermentation occurs in whole, uncrushed grapes in an anaerobic environment, under the protective blanket of carbon dioxide. The grapes eventually explode and are crushed under the weight of those above it. Other aromas include strawberries, black cherries, violets, and crushed granite.

Off the Beaten Track: Orange wine. Yes, it exists. They are lush and perfect for fall.
One of the best producers is Stanko Radikon. Located in the small town of Oslavia in the Isonzo zone of Fruilli, the winery is known for hand-harvesting, extended skin maceration, large, older barrel fermentations without temperature control, no added yeasts or enzymes, and little or no use of sulfur.

On the Radikon website: “The winery’s philosophy is to always make a natural, organic wine with the least human intervention possible and with the maximum respect for the soils and nature.”
The vineyards were originally planted by Stanko’s grandfather, Franz Mikulus, with the Ribolla Gialla grape. In 1948, Stanko’s parents, who had inherited the property from his mother’s father, planted Merlot, Tocai Friulano and Pinot Grigio. Today, Stanko, his wife, Suzana and son, Sasa maintain their family’s land. The family produces the Jakot (100% Tocai Fruilano), Ribolla Gialla and Oslavje (40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Grigio and 30% Sauvignon)

Cheers,
Amy Payne

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Cooking with Pumpkin

Kürbis is the German word for Pumpkin. In our early days of living in Switzerland, we ventured across the border into Germany and found a decent Italian restaurant recommended to us by one of our friends. It was totally packed and the staff of family were shouting in Italian to one another across the restaurant. They squeezed us in and our waiter (who became our favourite and always had a table for us) suggested we try the soup. Kürbis. We walked through our limited German not knowing what we had ordered until the creamy soup the colour of pale squash arrived. It clicked for one of my kids who immediately figured it out and said with a smile, “pumpkin soup”!

Haven’t you always wanted to try fresh pumpkin? Did it seem daunting and perhaps even a little strange? Buying, washing, cutting up and roasting your own pumpkin is so easy, you may never go back to the tins. For both of the recipes featured today, I used Organic Sugar Pumpkins. We were also given a white pumpkin which we cut up, roasted and pureed as well; the puree was a lovely pale colour. Roasted cubes of pumpkin with a little olive oil and salt were happily eaten as we waited for the cubes to cool.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 – 3lb pumpkin
olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups chopped leeks
1-2 shallots, chopped
1.5 – 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
(I used the large tetra pack)
salt
1/2 cup milk or cream

Wash the pumpkin well before you cut it. Cut it and clean it out (save the seeds for roasting). Working in small sections, slice off the rind and any leftover pulp. Cut the pumpkin into cubes. Drizzle the cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Lay cubes out onto a deep baking dish, leaving room between each cube if possible. If you have a convection oven, put it onto “Roast” and pre heat to 400 degrees. The pumpkin cooks perfectly – tender on the inside, slightly crispy and brown on the outside. Keep an eye on it – you don’t want burnt pumpkin (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.

In a deep saute pan or your soup pot, melt the butter on medium-high heat – do not brown the butter. Add leeks, shallots and pinch of salt. Cook for quite awhile – you want the leeks tender and bright green; you will be “sweating” the leeks and shallots, stirring often. Add the cubes of pumpkin when leeks are tender and cover with all of the stock. Stir and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. You can use a hand blender to blend the soup or s traditional blender (work is small amounts to puree). Return all the pureed soup to your pot and heat on medium. This is when I added a little milk – the soup was too thick for our taste – use your judgement at this stage and adjust to your taste. Also, add salt as needed or desired.

To Finish the soup, you have a few choices…
** A little dollop of Creme Fraiche is a wonderful addition.
** Toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled in each bowl creates an interesting texture.
** To really impress, top the soup with Brown Butter or Beurre Noisette (also used in the Madelines) and Sage. Once the butter has browned, add the fresh sage leaves to soften. Drizzle just a few drops over each bowl of soup and add a sage leaf to each bowl as well.

Patricia’s Glazed Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla (you can omit maple and use 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup icing sugar

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Sift and set aside dry ingredients. Beat together butter, and sugar until creamy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla (the mixture may look curdled, but smooths out when you start to add flour). Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture until blended – do not over mix. Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes – test for doneness by lightly touching the top of the cookie; it should spring back.

To make the glaze, combine brown sugar with milk and butter in a small/med saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil. Allow to boil for one minute, remove from heat and add maple and vanilla extracts. Add the sifted icing sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. The glaze should be smooth but not so thick it is spreadable. Whisk until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies (dip the tops or half of each cookie) into the glaze and set on a cookie sheet/parchment to dry. The glaze should be warm for best results.
Eat the cookies while they are still warm (a little messy but so good) or cool for several hours if you prefer the glaze to be set.

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