The pumpkins are here! A couple of weeks ago I was driving down the street and saw a large farm truck pull into town full of pumpkins and thought – wow, it’s already that time of year. Now I see them in big bins at the store prompting my kids to beg and plead to pick them up for carving (I’m one of those that likes to wait till it’s at least a couple of weeks before Halloween). But, the point is that pumpkins and squash are well stocked now at the grocery stores and just waiting for a little creativity, be it carving for purposes of a jack-o-lantern or to create a delicious pumpkin dish.
Most recipes call for pumpkin puree. You can obviously use canned pumpkin puree for many recipes and this is a big time saver, but if you are a purist then by all means get your carving knife out and be prepared to get your hands messy! There are several ways to prepare pumpkin puree.
- Steam: Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds, pulp and any stringy stuff. Remove the hard outer peel or rind and cut the flesh into small pieces. Place the pumpkin pieces in a steamer basket set over simmering water and steam for about 45-50 minutes or until the pumpkin pieces are tender. Transfer the pumpkin to a blender or food processor and puree.
- Boil: Repeat the same process as above except this time place the pumpkin pieces in a saucepan and cover with water and lightly salt. Boil for about 25-30 minutes or tender. Puree in a blender or food processer.
After the pumpkin puree has cooled completely you can divide it into freezer containers and freeze in smaller portions for future use. A 5lb. pumpkin should yield about 4-1/2 cups of pumpkin puree. Just as a comparison, one 15 oz can of pumpkin puree is about 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
Pumpkins can be used for sweet and savory recipes. This month we’d like to feature one of each. The first is an amazing soup that is a great recipe for entertaining, Pumpkin Soup with Gruyere. For an extra special presentation serve this soup in a hollowed out pumpkin half. The second is our favorite pumpkin cheesecake. This beautiful cheesecake is served with chocolate swirls and is baked on top of a brownie crust. Again, another delicious recipe fit for any special occasion.
Pumpkin Soup with Gruyere
- One 5-6 pound pumpkin
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 6 cups gf Chicken Stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-1/2 cup light cream
- 2 Tablespoons grated orange zest
- 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 pound gruyere cheese, shredded
- Salt and white pepper
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out all strings and seeds. With a sturdy knife, cut away hard peel. Coarsely chop pumpkin flesh; you should have 8 cups.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden,
4-5 minutes. Add gf stock, chopped pumpkin and bay leaf. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, 15-30 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Using a food processor, puree soup in small batches.
Return puree to pan and stir in cream, orange zest, orange and lemon juices, nutmeg and ginger. Reserve a handful of cheese and sprinkle the rest into soup, stirring over low heat until cheese melts and blends in.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a warmed tureen, individual bowls or pumpkin shells and garnish with reserved cheese and chives.
You can serve this lovely soup in a large pumpkin shell, or small individual ones. You will need additional pumpkins. Cut off the stem end of pumpkin and carefully scrape out flesh leaving a shell 1/2 inch thick. Fill the shell with soup, and garnish.
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Brownie Crust
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup gf flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1-1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (1 pound)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium saucepan bring a small amount of water to boil.
Melt butter and 2 ounces of chocolate, stirring constantly, in a double boiler over simmering water; water should not touch top pan.
Remove chocolate mixture from heat and let cool slightly. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg into chocolate mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk gf flour with baking powder and salt.
Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. Stir in chopped walnuts.
Spread batter in prepared springform pan; smoothing surface with a spatula.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until risen and dry to the touch. Set springform pan on a large sheet of foil and fold sides up around sides of pan.
Melt remaining chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in cornstarch and vanilla.
Add 1 cup of cheesecake batter to melted chocolate and stir well to blend.
Beat pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into remaining cheesecake batter.
Pour 3/4 of pumpkin cheesecake batter over brownie crust.
Check chocolate mixture to see that is thin enough to spread. If it is too thick, heat it in micro-wave for 10 seconds. Pour the chocolate batter on top of pumpkin cheesecake batter.
Spoon remaining pumpkin cheesecake batter on top of chocolate batter. Use a table knife to make a few decorative swirls. Do not overswirl.
Set springform pan in a medium roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to reach halfway up side of springform pan.
Bake pumpkin cheesecake at 325°F for 1-1/2 hours, or until it is firm around edges, but slightly jiggly in center. Turn oven off, prop oven door open and let cheesecake stand in the water bath in warm oven for 1 hour, or until completely set.
Remove pumpkin cheesecake from water bath and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove foil and springform pan ring from cheesecake. Carefully transfer cheesecake to a platter, cut into wedges and serve.
We used The Gluten Free Pantry’s Country French Bread Flour Mix for the gf flour in this recipe.
More delicious pumpkin recipes like these are available in our recipe archives:
Golden Pumpkin Bread
Maple Sugar Pumpkin Pie with Rum Cream
Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Meringue Pie
Spinach Ravioli with Sage & Pumpkin
- Chef Jessica