Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’

Fresh from the Pumpkin Patch (and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread)

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Fall is my favorite time of year, especially here in Virginia where we are blessed with beautiful weather and picturesque colors this time of year. After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, with those infernal evergreen trees, the brilliant shades of fall leaves here never fail to impress me. And of course it’s not truly fall ’till we’ve ventured to the pumpkin patch. This year, with two kids in tow — and unlike her big brother’s first trip, the Foodie Bebe didn’t sleep through the whole experience. Of course, that may be because we spent the entire day at the farm… But when your farm is part working farm, part Disneyland (right down to the crazy insane lines for the hayrides and food), what else can you expect?

the great pumpkin hunt at Butlers Orchard

the great pumpkin hunt at Butler's Orchard

The past two years we’ve gone to Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland. It’s large, but activities are spaced out so it doesn’t feel quite as crazy as some of the other local pumpkin extravaganzas. It’s a 60-year-old, family-owned farm, and they actually grow things there. I have nothing against farms who turn into amusement parks if that’s what they need to do to lure people in and turn a profit, I just ask that they actually still grow something. When so many places just plop pumpkins from who knows where into a field, it’s nice to see some honest-to-goodness pumpkin vines. I don’t know if all the pumpkins were grown there (there was a remarkably high percentage of “ginormous” pumpkins, as the boy would say), but close enough for me. There’s a farm store where you can get all sorts of apples, baked goods, canning supplies and other harvest accoutrement as well. On weekends in October, there’s live music, bouncy houses, giant slides, caramel apples, barbecue, apple cider, pony rides, a corn maze …. even pedal tractors and a pumpkin coach pulled by mice (with a little help from a tractor).

A long day of play on the farm demands a hearty breakfast first, and this pumpkin loaf is a perfect start. (Made with our homemade pumpkin puree, not the carving pumpkins we got on the farm.)  I used whole wheat pastry flour to add just a smidge of healthfulness, but you can use white if you prefer.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Maple Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ~ 1 teaspoon water

Instructions:  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In the mixing bowl, beat the eggs on low speed until combined. Add pumpkin, sour cream, butter, vanilla and sugar and mix on medium low until smooth. Add dry ingredients, mixing on low until just combined. Pour batter into a lightly greased bread pan (9x5x3), level off the top, and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

To make the glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar and maple syrup, then add water until a thin consistency is achieved. (If you have maple extract, add 1/4 teaspoon.) Drizzle over the cooled loaf and let stand a few more minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 9-inch loaf. Enjoy!

whole grain pumpkin bread

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Pureé

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Happy October! While I may spend my Septembers pretending summer isn’t over, October 1st is officially time to bring out the Halloween decorations, head to the apple orchards and pumpkin fields, and begin the fall baking season. And nothing says fall like pumpkin … bread, muffins, pie, cheesecake, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy my favorite fall flavor. While the recent canned pumpkin shortage is reportedly over, I still prefer to avoid BPA-contaminated canned foods and make my own pumpkin pureé. It’s really quite simple, and one good sized pumpkin will make enough to last through the fall. Naturally the best place to begin is at the farmers market, where you can find all sorts of unique and flavorful pie pumpkins — I’ve had good success with the Cushaw and Cinderella pumpkins pictured below. Just ask your farmer which variety he or she recommends for baking.

You can also likely find something labeled a pie or sugar pumpkin at the grocery store right now, which is where I picked up this little pie pumpkin.

To begin, use a sharp knife to cut off the stem and then halve the pumpkin.

Use a spoon to scrape out the pumpkin guts. Added bonus of baking your own pumpkin pureé? Pumpkin seeds, which you must save, wash and roast. We’ll come back to that.

Place your cleaned pumpkin halves cut side down on a parchment-paper lined rimmed baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, until pumpkin is soft to the touch.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Then scoop out the baked flesh, and divide it into one cup portions. Freeze what you’re not using right away, and just thaw a portion in the refrigerator whenever you’re ready to bake.

Now about those seeds. Once dry, toss them with a tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil and your favorite seasoning combination — cinnamon and sugar, cumin and chili pepper, smoked paprika, etc. Roast at 400 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown evenly. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

What’s your favorite pumpkin treat?

Thanksgiving Countdown: Appetizer, Cranberries, Sides & Dessert

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Hopefully you’ve already ordered your local, free-range, and/or Heritage-breed turkey, but now what?

cranberry baked brie

cranberry baked brie

My strategy for cooking Thanksgiving dinner with a toddler underfoot is to prepare one simple but impressive appetizer. My favorite cranberry baked brie is sure to get your family and guests oohing and aahing while they wait for dinner, just in case it takes a little longer than planned to make it onto the table…

Here are a few other favorites from the Foodie Tot family over the years:

organic maple spiced cranberry sauce

organic maple spiced cranberry sauce

Organic Maple Spiced Cranberry Sauce (and a post about organic cranberries)

green bean almondine
green bean almondine

Green Bean Almondine with Blue Cheese — a green bean casserole alternative

pumpkin pie from scratch
pumpkin pie from scratch

Pumpkin Pie … from a pumpkin!

I’m pondering a new chocolate dessert this year, courtesy of Nigella. What new recipe are you trying this year? Please share!

Cooking Eric Ripert’s Dinner Social

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Chef Eric Ripert recently launched a “Dinner Social” project on his blog, Avec Eric, to encourage fans to cook with friends and family. You have to love a chef who is willing to share recipes and techniques to encourage you to enjoy their food at home. As the theme for the first challenge was “Market Table,” I naturally was intrigued. When April, of The Food Scribe, suggested a collaborative effort with fellow DC food bloggers, I was definitely on board. Together with April, Tiffany of The Garden Apartment and Alison of The Humble Gourmand, we spent Sunday afternoon cooking and enjoying good wine and conversation. We bought as many of our ingredients as possible at our local farmers markets, with my squash from the Del Ray market, Tiffany’s root vegetables from the Dupont Circle market, and April’s pears from the Takoma Park market. With cameras in hand, we took over April’s lovely kitchen and set to work.

My assignment was the Pumpkin Soup with Herbed Creme Fraiche & Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. Chef Ripert suggested serving it in a large roasted pumpkin, but I discovered that it’s hard to find full-size pumpkins after Halloween. The pumpkin for the soup was actually Japanese Kabocha squash, with a rich, orange pulp. My only complaint was that the Kabocha was very hard to peel; next time I would probably roast it a little to make it easier. I hollowed out and roasted lovely orange and green Celebration squash to use as individual serving bowls. (Roasted at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.)

The local ingredients in my soup came from Potomac Vegetable Farms, Va. (thyme), Three Way Farm, Va. (squash, onion and elephant garlic), and Trickling Springs Creamery, Pa. (heavy cream). The rest were organic products from Alexandria’s My Organic Market.

Each course incorporated seasonal ingredients with unexpected flavor combinations. I never would have thought to add brussel sprouts to a roasted root vegetable platter, for example, but the bright green added a lovely visual component as well as a crisp bite among softer turnips, beets and carrots. While it would have been a lot of work for one cook, Ripert provided a several day preparation guide that would have lessened the work load the day of the dinner party. With multiple chefs, it came together easily. All together it was a fabulous meal, made better with great company and good wine! This was the perfect way to spend a chilly November afternoon. Thank you, Chef Ripert, for the inspiration!

(Pictured, clockwise from left, Tiffany, April, yours truly, Alison.)

Be sure to surf around to see Tiffany’s roasted lamb and root vegetable, Alison‘s endives with prosciutto, blue cheese and pomegranate seeds – and perfect wine picks, and Aprils carmelized onion and olive croustade and roasted pears with chocolate bourbon sauce and homemade chestnut ice cream. And you can drool over all our pictures over on Flickr.

Rustic Pumpkin Pie

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Somehow I missed reading about the pie challenge at The Kitchn until about 9pm tonight. I’d been planning to roast my beautiful Cushaw pumpkin tonight, so why not throw together a pie? After a mad rush to roast, bake and blog by the stroke of midnight, I completed my entry form at 11:59pm on the dot … only to have my internet connection drop and return a few minutes later to the “error: the entry form is now closed” message. Nooo! Oh well, now that I have this pretty blog post prepared, hopefully you all will enjoy it even if it’s not a prize winner.

To complement my pumpkin, from our Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA in Virginia, I decided to keep it simple and use a few other quality, local ingredients, namely my South Mountain Creamery butter and Hilldale Farms organic eggs.

This summer I tried the Cooks Illustrated vodka pie crust, to rave reviews. It was perfectly light and flaky. This time, I made it with all (local, natural) butter since I generally prefer not to use shortening, and found the resulting dough a little less moist and easier to work with. It still requires chilling, though, before rolling it out, and I rolled it out between two pieces of plastic wrap to facilitate getting it off my cutting board and into the pie plate in one piece.

For the pumpkin puree, I split my pumpkin in half and roasted it cut sides down on parchment paper at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. This pumpkin is more yellow than your traditional pumpkin, but the cooked flesh was so luscious and creamy it barely needed blending. I used a hand blender just to smooth it out. I like my pumpkin pie custardy with a little creaminess, but instead of using condensed milk I used a little local yogurt instead.

Recipe: Rustic Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust (Cooks Illustrated, half the recipe)
  • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened whole milk yogurt

Instructions: Prepare pie crust and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin puree and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine. Stir in seasonings, then yogurt. Blend completely, then pour into prepared pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook until set, about 35-40 minutes more. Makes 8 servings.

Pour yourself a glass of fresh milk (ours was delivered this morning!), and enjoy the perfect midnight snack! Or, you know, save it for a holiday like a normal person. Either way, enjoy!

This is the first in a four-part series of FoodieTots Thanksgiving favorites – starting with dessert first, of course! Stay tuned for a few other turkey day recipes.