Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin-Chipotle Soup

So, I was biking along on a Saturday morning and what did I spy in the ditch? A runaway pumpkin! What more could I want out of life. I'm sure it escaped from a truck on the way to the farmers market. It was a lovely little pie pumpkin that suffered a hairline fracture when it fell. I rescued it...only to take it home, scoop out its guts, and slip it into the oven (lightly coated with oil, face down) for about an hour, until the flesh became tender.

Then I scooped out the meet and stuck it in a storage container. It was only then that I asked myself: okay, now what?

So, I made pumpkin butter (see my Autumn Harvest Butter). Only there was still pumpkin left.

Then I made this soup. The smoky chipotles compliment the sweet molasses and the lentils help thicken the soup and add a bit of protein. You can skip the cayenne if you want to make it a little less spicy, but I love having it in there. There isn't a lot of bite to the soup as its currently written (but note: I have a high spice tolerance), but if it's too much, you can smooth it out and tone it down with a dollop of yogurt (or sour cream) on top.

I serve this with fresh, whole grain bread usually, but if bread isn't your thing, then you could easily couple it with a side of a sauteed green or roasted Brussels sprouts.

Pie pumpkins differ from other types of pumpkins in that the flesh is a little sweeter and they tend to be less fibrous. But, if you've got another pumpkin handy, just use that. It should work out about the same--and don't get rid of those seeds. You can roast them with salt and/or spices, or you can candy them! Consider serving a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds on top of this thick soup.

Pumpkin-Chipotle Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
3 tablespoons split red lentils
15 ounces 100% pure pumpkin or fresh, roasted pumpkin
4 cups water
1 tablespoon (or to taste) chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon molasses
¼ teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Yogurt or sour cream (optional, garnish)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion and celery in the oil until onion begins to turn golden. Add garlic and ginger, sauté for 1 minute. Add red lentils and sauté 30 seconds. Add in the pumpkin, water, chipotle, molasses, and cayenne. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup mixture, then stir in the cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to heat once more. Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, if desired.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn Harvest Butter

This simple recipe combines some of the best flavors of fall: pumpkin and apple. The recipe I originally made used freshly baked, mashed pie pumpkin, but you can also use the 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!). The jar on the right is the pumpkin butter; the two smaller jars are spicy pineapple core relish.

The best part about this recipe is how fast and simple it is to make. How long you'll need to cook it will depend on whether your applesauce is very thick and how thick you like your pumpkin butter. I used homemade applesauce made from Macintosh apples the first time, but the second time, I just used store bought unsweetend applesauce.


Autumn Harvest Butter

15 ounces 100% pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch cardamom
1 tablespoon lime juice

Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until mixture is sufficiently thick (this will depend on your personal preference).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Simple Donut Bread Pudding

At some point, I was watching Food Network as it played in the locker room of a gym I belonged to and Paula Deen was making Krispy Kreme bread pudding. My immediate reaction: eww. It didn't help when I saw how many donuts and how much cream went into the mix. I told myself I would never make a donut bread pudding.

But then, I saw a recipe in Women's Day for a Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding. "Oh," I thought to myself. "So much easier. 3 ingredients. That's right 3." Paula Dean's recipe came to mind, perhaps because my local grocer puts out day (or two) old donuts for $0.99, ($0.50 for the 2-day old donuts). I just needed an occasion to present itself.

And then, two days later, one of my professors sent out an email about a party at his house, in honor of a visiting writer. Attendees were asked to bring a side dish, which I decided must mean dessert. It was the perfect opportunity to try making a bread pudding. When I went to the grocery store, they had the 2-day old donuts in a grab bag, so I wasn't even sure what I was getting. I also bought some instant French vanilla pudding.

When I got home, I found out I had: 1 glazed cinnamon roll, one maple covered long john style donut without filling, one vanilla covered vanilla icing filled long john, and one plain raised glazed donut. I thought to myself: "Sure, why not?" and went to work. The end result turned out well, if I do say so myself, and one of my professors even sought me out to ask me to send him the recipe--he was especially happy to learn how few ingredients it had (more than 3, less than any other donut bread pudding recipe I could find).

This recipe is also lower fat than the other donut bread pudding recipes. This is not actually a tested fact, just something I'm assuming since it doesn't use whole milk or cream, nor does it use additional eggs.

Simple Donut Bread Pudding

4 stale donuts (app. 3 ounces each)
1 3-ounce box instant vanilla pudding
1 ¾ cup 1% milk
¼ cup cold (or room temperature) coffee
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup chocolate chips, optional
Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350º F. Slice the donuts into thin slices and layer into an 8” square baking pan. Mix together the pudding, milk, coffee, and cinnamon and pour over the donuts. Press the donuts into the mixture. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top, if using. Bake for 50 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving, or store in refrigerator and serve cold. Dust with powdered sugar, before serving, if desired.