Archived entries for pumpkin

Layers of Fall: Pumpkin and Sausage Lasagna

It doesn’t look like much, but this Sunday spin on lasagna was pretty terrific. I was craving a pumpkiny pasta and wanted to have something around the house to feed us on late-working nights. It’s pretty rich, so I think it’s likely to last all week, till we don’t want to ever see another sausagey-pumpkiny bite again.

The sage, spicy sausage, and wine mingle nicely with the savory side of pumpkin, softened with milk and fresh ricotta. A bechamel version would be lovely, too, but I just couldn’t fuss tonight, and this was still satisfying and warming, brimming with Autumn flavors.

At Serious Eats we’re talking about Thanksgiving already. Feels like just a moment ago I was stirring up this stuffing and watching Shiv’s amazing Turkey Day play-by-play. Have you settled into fall? Are you dreaming up mashed potato and cranberry sauce recipes?

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Heirloom Thanksgiving: My Mother’s Pumpkin Pie

Some of my food memories are so vivid: the scent of my grandmother’s potato pancakes cooking, the bratwurst my grandfather would saute with mustard and serve with breakfast, the meatball stroganoff that was my brother’s favorite dinner and the crunchy baked chicken that was mine. I did love all those foods, but I make them these days for the memories they stir up, and in order to feel a little closer to home.

If I had to pick one iconic recipe of my childhood, it would be this pie. My father always requested this pie for his birthday (my family isn’t all that into cake). We’d usually have it for Thanksgiving too, and carve off  slivers for days afterward. The texture improves and flavors deepen after a day or two in the fridge, which makes it the perfect dessert for those of us who like to start cooking for Thanksgiving a few days ahead.

This pie is dark with molasses and cloves, deeply spicy and smooth. I make it at least once every fall, sometimes for Matt’s birthday and otherwise just for me, a connection to home during a holiday I haven’t celebrated at my parents’ table out west for nine years now.

I called my mom to ask for a little more background on the recipe, and it turns out that she found it in a little cookbook assembled by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in 1964. It was called  A Taste of the World, and it also included a recipe from a family friend of ours, Hope. Hope gave my mother the sweet little cookbook at my mother’s bridal shower in 1970, and this pie (along with Hope’s sesame chicken) has been a family favorite ever since. The cookbook is a bit of an old-fashioned affair—all I know about the contributor of this recipe is her husband’s name.

Addendum: a friend was kind enough to dig this up…a little info on Mrs. Demmy here—there’s even a Portland connection!

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Leap and look: Whole wheat pasta with pumpkin cream sauce.

You know how sometimes you kind of just get an idea into your head, and you simply can’t rest until it’s been seen to or otherwise sorted out? And you can’t stop thinking about it, it haunts your dreams and makes everything else seem sort of…beige in comparison? This recipe was one of those.

Pasta with pumpkin sage cream sauce

From the first second it popped into my head, it was a constant companion; the fact that my gratification was almost endlessly delayed (I couldn’t get the ingredients; then, I couldn’t schedule an evening; blah blah) made it a siren whose wail could not be ignored. I was helpless in its embrace. I had to make it, or I was going to pop. And so, not being one to tempt that fate, I succumbed to the inevitable and finally made it happen.

Yes, yes. I finally got to make whole wheat pasta with a pumpkin and sage cream sauce.  Oh! Oh, yes! And what a delight it was.

The recipe is a riff on a risotto that I developed a few years ago, made creamy and dreamy with the application of a little bit of milk and a lot of Gruyere, and possessed of a spicy warmth, courtesy of the nutmeg I recklessly tossed in. This flavor profile, when developed so many years ago, was one of my first great cooking revelations–it was the moment that I first became brave enough to toss together disparate flavors (such as nutmeg and sage) just to see what would happen, and realized that some of the world’s greatest dishes grow out of inexplicable (and sometimes seemingly bizarre) juxtapositions of flavors. It taught me that if you’re going to make something spectacular, you have to be brave enough to throw out what you know from time to time. It taught me that you have to let go of feeling safe and just fucking GO for it.

A good lesson to have refreshed upon occasion, no?

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All the Riches of Fall: Olive Oil Pumpkin, Carrot, and Zucchini Bread

I wasn’t looking for a new favorite pumpkin bread. I’ve been pretty happy with our family standard. And Shiv’s gorgeous loaf from last year was also on my baking list.

But Carolyn, who writes Umami Girl as well as a weekly column over at Serious Eats, posted something too tantalizing to ignore: her friend Viv’s olive oil pumpkin bread. I couldn’t scroll past it. Olive oil pumpkin bread?

Olive oil baked goods are all the rage these days. There’s some pretty delicious olive oil cake for sale at a coffee shop in our neighborhood that’s too tiny for chairs. Paired with their near-perfect espresso, it’s an expensive addiction. And this olive-oil-pumpkin combo is a particularly good idea, since the deep flavors of pumpkin bread can stand up to the rich, musky flavor of olive oil.

Never one to leave well enough alone, I didn’t stop there. You see, I love a warm gingery slice of pumpkin bread. But I also like zucchini bread. And I like carrot cake…thus, Olive Oil Pumpkin, Carrot, and Zucchini Bread was born. It was just crazy enough to work.

The texture of this loaf is so tender, so light and soft, that no pumpkin bread I’ve ever had compares. You could dress it up further with a little candied ginger, or use dried cranberries instead of the raisins. And you could smear the slices with a bit of cream cheese, but I must say, this is a pretty jazzy number on its own.

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A Tale of Three Pizzas, Part One

It seems like everyone has pizza on the brain. Out in Seattle, new restaurant owners Molly (of Orangette fame) and her husband, Brandon are throwing Padron pepper pizzas into a wood fire at Delancey. Another one of my favorite couples-with-blogs just posted a three-part series of tips for grilled pizza that’s certainly worth a look. And here we are with a brand-new pizza crisper pan.

I was eager to try a crust recipe that the writer of Everybody Likes Sandwiches claims is “The Easiest Pizza Dough in the World.” It’s pretty straightforward, and quick enough to make after work with no advanced planning (as long as you have a packet of yeast in your fridge.) Seriously, I mixed the yeast with warm water and honey (accidentally adding a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, though that was no disaster) and left the kitchen to take a shower. (It’s muggy in New York in August, in case you didn’t know.) Then I stirred in the flour and salt, olive oil, and a bit of fresh rosemary, and set it aside while I got dinner ready. The dough process literally takes about five minutes of active time—less than it would take for use to beg a ball of dough from our local pizzeria, which is literally on the ground floor of our apartment building. And certainly less than the time it would take to wait in the interminable lines at Whole Foods, or, God forbid, the Union Square Trader Joe’s. Suburbanites, you have no idea how we suffer for our TJ’s fix.

There’s a lot of yeast in this recipe, puffing it up just enough while you fix a salad and prep your pizza toppings. I didn’t feel like the dough benefitted from a longer rising time or wait in the fridge overnight—in fact, it developed much more gluten and was a little tricky to shape the leftover dough a day later—it kept bouncing back into its original form every time I tried to stretch it. Even without the long rise, even without any kneading, this was a terrific crust. I’m not sure I need to try any other.

I know a lot of you are devoted to pizza stones preheated for a long time in the stove. There may be a reason to have one. But this pizza crisper pan with holes across the bottom worked great for me, and is much easier to store in our teeny kitchen. It yielded a crisp, chewy crust that was totally easy to slide off the pan.

And the toppings? Delicious. I started with a spread of pumpkin purée that I spiked with a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. After the pumpkin, torn fresh sage leaves, crumbles of intense Bucheron cheese, and a sprinkling of smoked salt. It was a savory and satisfying vegetarian meal.

Want more pizzas? Coming right up.

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