It’s day 15 of 31 days of pumpkin. I can’t believe I’m halfway there. Today’s recipe was such a joy to make. I’ve never made cheesecake before and I was nervous at each step, but everything worked beautifully. I followed a recipe in a book that my sister gave me recently. Every once in awhile, she’ll see interesting cookbooks at a used bookstore and send them to me. I love it because there are always surprises. Like this book which is based on the fourth season of a Public Television Series I didn’t even know existed: Cooking Secrets of the CIA. The video doesn’t appear to be available anywhere, but the book is still available on Amazon:
The book was published in 1999 and was sponsored by Cuisinart. There is a set of pages at the back of the book featuring Cuisinart small appliances. The other thing about the book that I find fascinating is that the photography isn’t that great. The recipes are amazing, but with so much incredible food photography around these days, the lack of consistency in this book is a bit jarring.
Recently, I attended two food photography sessions at the BlogHerFood09 conference in San Francisco.
I’m seeing the world through pumpkin-tinted glasses these days, so when my eyes settled on the Buffalo Bill Pumpkin Ale display at the market the other day, I just knew I had to cook something with it. You see, it’s day 14 of 31 Days of Pumpkin and time for something completely different.
A beer batter video came across my desk while working on my other project, StreamingGourmet: Where You are the Food TV Star (join today!) and I knew just what to do. I’ve always wanted to master deep frying with batter and today, I think I have. In the past, I’ve struggled with keeping the coating on the food and having it crisp up just right. Well I’m not exactly sure what went right today, whether it was the consistency of the batter, the high temperature of the oil, or the fact the oil was the right depth, but I got perfectly fried fish every time and it was a cinch. I ate the fried calamari too quickly to photograph it. Sorry.
Day 13 of 31 days of pumpkin and we come to a personal favorite: the brownie. Brownies are the kind of food that inspire strong opinions. People know exactly how they like their brownies. Some people like them cakey, others like them fudgy. Some like the crunchy edges so much that they buy special pans so that every brownie will have a crunchy edge. Others want the slightly undercooked gooey middle. Me? I go for the fudgy, gooey variety, made with chocolate as dark and rich as possible. That’s why I decided to make this recipe using 70% cacao Sharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate and a whole lot o’ butta.
Day 12 of 31 days of pumpkin and I’ve decided to do a healthy breakfast recipe for this installment. My 19 month-old daughter wolfed this down for breakfast this morning. I just love it when she takes to a new food instantly.
Basically, all I’ve done here is create a mini pumpkin custard (except I’ve left out the eggs) and swirled it into traditional oatmeal. The oats I used are labeled Old Fashioned oats, but the directions say to cook them for 3-5 minutes, which sounds like Quick Cooking oats. Use whatever you’ve got as long as it’s not instant. Just follow the package instructions. For this recipe, you cook the oats and the pumpkin separately anyway and then combine them at the end.
I garnished the oatmeal with an apple slice, but the apple with a little bit of the pumpkin sauce on it tasted so good that next time, I plan to top the bowl with about 1/4 cup of diced apple.
It’s day 11 of 31 days of pumpkin and I’ve decided to try something new. I’ve never added pumpkin to gingerbread, but it seems like a natural combination, so I’ve decided to go for it. The tagline of this blog is after all, “We risk disaster so you don’t have to.” Combining pumpkin and ginger isn’t even that big of a risk, but you never really know how something is going to turn out until you taste it. This risk yielded success. A moist, light, fluffy cake with a spicy bite to it, I would say this gingerbread is traditional with a twist.
Of course, writing this post feels a little bit like the time I was 8 years old and I told my family I had invented a new drink: half apple juice, half grape juice. Then, while watching tv that night, we all saw a commercial for Welch’s new Apple-Grape drink. While working on this post, a quick Google search for “Pumpkin Bread” has yielded a pretty long list of recipes. Duh.
Day 10 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us to a mousse recipe. I must admit, I’m new at making mousse and this is an adapted recipe, but I am delighted, because it was so easy to make. Before I started, I was a little intimidated by using gelatin, but there was nothing to it. This is one of those recipes that requires no baking and sometimes that comes as a great relief. With pumpkin pie (I haven’t posted one yet; it’ll come), it’s always nerve wracking to wait while it bakes in the oven. Things can go wrong. It can crack. It can dry out. Not so with mousse. Once you’re done. Your done. When I put it in the refrigerator to chill, I knew I was home free.
This recipe has rum flavoring in it, which is really an optional addition. I didn’t have any dark rum in the house, so I used 1 Tbsp of rum extract mixed with 3 Tbsp of water, but you could substitute 1/4 cup of dark rum or leave it out altogether.
I had such fun making the gingersnap crust. Crust is another thing that has the potential to intimidate me, but mushing buttery crumbs into a pie plate was a cinch. I used my handy Cuisinart Mini-Prep to crush the cookies. You could purchase one here and make my day.
Day 9 of 31 days of pumpkin and I am psyched. I chowed down on this dish after photographing it and it was delicious. It’s been a long time since I’ve made risotto. It’s a labor of love kind of recipe that demands one’s full attention, so I made this while the kids were at school today. And then, in a quiet house with the hazy, long shadows of an early afternoon in fall, I savored every last bite. Then a pair of Blue Angels screamed overhead breaking one reverie and ushering in a new one.
For this recipe, I use the smaller Bay Scallops, rather than the larger Sea Scallops. Either could be appropriate here, but the Bay Scallops were $9.99/lb as opposed to the $19.99/lb Sea Scallops, so I decided to go for the lower stakes. I wasn’t disappointed. Yesterday, I read a blog post by Debi Shawcross on How to Perfectly Pan Sear Scallops and I took her advice to heart. Definitely check out her post. The key takeaway for me was to try to get as much of the water out of the scallops as possible because water is the enemy of browning.
Day 8 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us to the pumpkin muffin: a true classic. This was the perfect recipe for me today because this week, it is my responsibility to bring the daily afternoon snack to my son’s kindergarten class. I can’t wait to drop these off tomorrow. Since they’re not iced and there aren’t any chocolate chips in them (although, chocolate chips would probably be great in these), I don’t feel too guilty when it comes to the children’s health meter. I hope they can’t tell!
The recipe worked just as I’d hoped. They are fluffy and moist and not overly sweet.
Day 7 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us into the drinks category. I have a confession. Before today, I had never had a latte. But people go nuts over the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I knew that I would be including a pumpkin latte recipe in my 31 days of pumpkin extravaganza. I’m so glad I did. This drink was dreamy and I plan to make it again and again and again.
There are other Pumpkin Spice lattes out there on the internet, like the one from TheKitchn, but my version jacks up the pumpkin content and is generous with the sugar too. Also, technically, one might not be able to call the drink I’ve made a latte, because in place of espresso, I’ve used a generous shot of strongly brewed, French pressed coffee. The flavor is so perfectly to my liking that I hesitate to monkey with it at all.
Inspired by the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, I make it at home.
Recipe type: Drink
2 cups whole milk
5 Tbsp canned pure pumpkin
5 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 shot of strong coffee
½ cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
Start boiling water to make the French press coffee. Meanwhile, gently heat the milk in a small saucepan. Be careful not to scald the milk or bring it to a boil. Whisk in pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Stir in sugar and blend until dissolved. Add spices and blend. Add vanilla and stir. Keep milk on the heat as long as it is not starting to boil or scald.
Make the coffee in the French press, stronger than usual.
Use a hand-held egg beater (or an immersion blender if you have one) to froth up the warm milk mixture.
Use a whisk, or an egg beater, or a hand held mixer to whip the cream.
Pour about ¼ cup of coffee into a tall mug. Pour the milk mixture on top until the cup is nearly full. Add a large dollop of whipped cream and grate a little bit of nutmeg on top. This recipe makes two tall cups.
Day 6 of 31 days of pumpkin brings us to the perfect Halloween-morning breakfast: pumpkin pancakes. These are true pancakes from scratch, complete with whipped egg whites folded into the batter at the end for extra smooth, fluffy pancakes. This past summer, I used the same method when creating strawberry-coulis infused pancakes. What will we infuse into our pancakes this winter, I wonder?
The spices in this recipe include cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. I’m loving my microplane grater this month. I use it everyday to grate the nutmeg in each of these recipes. Other spices you could swap in are ginger, mace, and allspice. Just keep the quantities low. A little of these goes a long way.
I purchased the Halloween pancakes molds at Williams-Sonoma this week. I used to have an older set, but I gave it to a friend last year. I also have the Christmas set as well as a “Things that Go” set that my son adores. I have to say, Williams-Sonoma must have made significant design improvements recently because these new molds are easier to use than any of the other sets I have. In the past, I’ve cursed these molds because despite all my best efforts, the batter inevitably stuck to the mold and the whole thing fell apart when I tried to get it out.
Strategies for getting a perfectly shaped pancake include:
1) Spray the molds generously with non-stick spray
2) Heat both the pan and the mold thoroughly before adding batter
3) Don’t overfill the mold
4) Pick up the molds gingerly when ready to flip
These new molds are great. They really don’t stick to the batter at all the way they used to. Now, the mold lifts right off without bringing any of the pancake with it. It looks like William-Sonoma re-engineered the nonstick surface. Also, the shapes are slightly different. There aren’t as many nooks and crannies as the older ones, so that may also help with easy removal. I’m just happy not to be spewing curse words in the kitchen anymore while preparing this special breakfast for my angelic children waiting patiently nearby.
Pumpkin Pancakes Serves 2 people (makes 6 shapes)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 large eggs, separated
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat griddle on medium heat. (Don’t add any fat to the griddle yet. Just let it sit there heating up).
2. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin and egg yolks. Melt the butter in a small ramekin in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Mix the vanilla in with the eggs to help cool it down a little. You may have to wait a minute or two. You don’t want to cook the eggs. Add the butter/vanilla mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix thoroughly. The batter will be thick. You’re going to add the egg whites next. Using an electric handheld mixer, or a crank one like that pictured here, beat the egg whites until they are stiff, but not too dry. Fold them into the batter gently.
4. Using a ladle (to control the amount of batter you use each time), pour batter into the mold, moving your hand around as you do so to spread the batter around all the little areas. Only fill the mold up about halfway. It will rise during cooking. Once the edges become firm, you are ready to gently lift the mold out of the pan. Check for places where the batter could be sticking to the mold and gently push it away with a butter knife. Once you’ve removed the mold, you can flip the pancake like normal. Let cook for another 2 minutes or so.