Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!

November 10, 2011

My pumpkin haul this week, after being hit with the frightening realization that pumpkin season does not last forever

My love affair with pumpkins has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The seasonal chill in the air that signals the introduction of pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin bread back into the day-to-day (at least in America) is my very favorite time of year for the snuggly sweaters and fabulous boots, but mostly for the food that is to come. Come to think of it, I've rather loved all things orange - carrots (so much so when I was a toddler that my mother had to inquire of my pediatrician why my hands and feet had turned orange), clementines, Fanta (OK, not-so-naturally orange) and of course - pumpkins. 

As I type, our apartment is filled with the smell of roasting pumpkins that I'm cultivating the flesh from in mass amounts (see photo above) to freeze and use throughout the holiday season. Pumpkin foods should not end with Halloween. There is still pumpkin pie (hello, Thanksgiving?!), pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin lattes... and the desire for which does not wane until long after that last leaf hits the ground. 

In an effort to keep the pumpkin love flowing, I'm including below a few of my recent favorite pumpkin recipes. The first of which I discovered in a friend's family cookbook and saw again on myrecipes.com, originating from Cooking Light (the 'light' suggestions, needless to say, I disregard). I love this soup because while I often find that savory pumpkin dishes can feel a little heavy and stifling for my sweet-preferring taste buds, the orange and mango in the mix bring a nice lightness to the flavor. I also made a few alterations for my preferences and already converted for our metric uses over here, so here goes: 

Thai Pumpkin Soup - one of the latest staples of our autumn diet

Thai Pumpkin Soup
1 (16-ounce) can/ 475ml chicken broth (use more if you prefer lighter, less dense soup)
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin/ flesh from 2 med Hokkaidos, roasted & mashed/puréed
1 (12-ounce) can/ 355ml mango nectar
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (use the good stuff, if you can get it)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced green onions (I'm generous with this amount)
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I'm generous with this as well)
1 garlic clove, crushed
Sriracha sauce to taste
pumpkin seed oil, roasted pumpkin seeds & chopped green onions for garnish
Combine first four ingredients in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil, whisking generously to mix. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and next six ingredients, adjusting red pepper and Sriracha to desired spiciness; cook until thoroughly heated. 

Now, I tend to let this sit/simmer for a while to let the flavors really meld. It's always nice to get some more heat from the pepper flakes and Sriracha as the flavors come together. 

Perhaps the world's biggest single clove of garlic

I made some pumpkin pancakes last year, but honestly, wasn't blown away by the recipe. Realizing my affinity for baking things with buttermilk, this time around I actually searched 'buttermilk pumpkin pancakes' and came up with a part-time foodie and full-time lawyer's blog called Judicial Peach (he was born in Georgia - cute, right?) for a winning recipe. Needless to say, I'm sure I will be going back to Charles for some more food ideas! 

The perfect Buttermilk Pumpkin (& pecan!) Pancakes

Real Buttermilk Pumpkin Waffles
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I used fresh grated)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 cup shaken buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
*I added 1/3 cup chopped pecans to mine

Sift together the dry ingredients – the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices, in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter, in a large mixing bowl, until smooth. Whisk in the dry ingredients, in batches, until well combined. Fold in pecans, if using. Cook in a non-stick (or greased) griddle over medium-low heat.

I found these to be light and fluffy, without letting the dense pumpkin overwhelm the texture of the pancake. These will definitely a weekend breakfast staple for the season (along with pumpkin lattes made with pumpkin syrup I make and keep in the fridge for a week's worth of coffees)!

I've also gotten some requests for the recipe to the Thin Mint cookies I made last month, and as much as I hate to give away my secret site of all things amazing, here goes: Ming Makes Cupcakes. I don't know who this girl is or what she does besides bake up some of the most amazing things ever and give the recipes away for free on this little site of hers, but I'd like to give her a big fat kiss. Everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - I've made from her site has knocked my socks off. I've made several of the cupcakes (including a savory one!) and two of the cookies already, but I'm determined to work my way through her entire catalog of treats. 

No more Girl Scout cookies for me (even if I could buy them here)!

Quick tip on the Thin Mints: I found refrigerating overnight - rather than just 2 hours - helps them to keep that perfect circular shape when slicing pieces to bake. The above photo was taken before this realization, hence the wobbly oval shape of an otherwise delicious cookie. Enjoy!

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische