The Pumpkin Edition

It’s Fall and finally cooling down in El Paso, which also means it’s my favorite time of year. Best of all, there is no pumpkin shortage this year! I love anything that has pumpkin in it, especially my favorite dessert, pumpkin pie. This past week, I was able to indulge in a whole lotta pumpkin! I’m determined to have the pumpkin pie ice cream from Baskin Robbins this year. It’s been a few years since I’ve had it. Dreyer’s has a limited edition Pumpkin Ice Cream at grocery stores that’s pretty good, but not as good as Baskin Robbins.

Roasting Pumpkins
Craft Magazine featured a really quick and easy tutorial on roasting pumpkins. It provides clear instructions and pictures for each step. I made a pumpkin pie using a Cooking Light recipe, but I didn’t really care for the outcome. I didn’t like the texture and the color was way too light. Not sure if it was me, the recipe, or the fresh pumpkin that went wrong. I used the remaining puree to make a rich and delicious pumpkin soup (the recipe follows). Should you decide to roast your own pumpkin, make sure to choose the correct type. Carving pumpkins are more fibrous and will end up tasting like potato. Varieties such as Sugar, New England Pie, and Long Island Cheese should be used.  They are smaller, thinner skinned, sweeter, and more flavorful.

Pumpkin Ale
A friend of mine brought over Blue Moon Brewing Company’s Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale (thanks Celine!). I’m surprisingly not a fan of pumpkin ales because they’re either too spicy or too sweet, but this one was perfect. It wasn’t sweet at all and it really tasted like pumpkin with a hint of spice. It’s brewed early September through late November, so I’m not sure if that’s synonymous with its availability. According to the bottle, Harvest Moon is crafted with vine ripened pumpkin, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. According to their website, it goes great with turkey (tofurky, too?), sweet potatoes, and beef (veggie beef, too?). I love that they drew a pumpkin venn diagram to describe the flavor profile. Don’t miss out on this seasonal brew with a 5.7% alcohol content!

Pumpkin Pie
I made a traditional pumpkin pie using the recipe that’s on every Libby’s Pumpkin can and a vegan pumpkin pie. I was searching for a vegan recipe, when I stumbled across this one from the Vegan Spoonful blog (this is a good blog! Be sure to check out the other recipes). I used almond milk instead of soy milk in the recipe. I liked both pies for different reasons. My coworkers preferred the vegan one! I liked the vegan version because it had a more pronounced pumpkin taste, but one spice seemed to overpower it a bit. I think it might have been the clove or ginger. I would definitely add more cinnamon. The traditional pie was my favorite because it was rich and creamy. The same spice measurements were used, but none seemed to overpower the flavor like the vegan version. Both had creamy textures, but the traditional one was a bit firmer. Be careful when purchasing frozen and refrigerated pie crusts, as many of them contain lard. I used Marie Callender’s Deep Dish Pie Shells. They’re a little pricier, but worth it (the pie pans are reusable!).

Which one is vegan?

Pumpkin Soup
I had leftover fresh pumpkin and decided to use it to make a creamy soup. This soup has potential for tons of variations. Any squash (especially butternut) or sweet potatoes could be used. Woody, fresh herbs like rosemary or sage would complement the soup nicely. Veganize it by using margarine (you’ll miss out on the browned butter flavor) and almond milk or cashew cream. If you’re short on time or fresh ingredients, try using canned pumpkin and frozen spinach (not sure if the flavors will be compromised). Be careful when browning the butter, it’s really easy to burn. If you’ve never tried browned butter, do it now! It has a rich and nutty flavor like no other. I’ll try to include a picture tutorial soon.

Pumpkin Spinach Soup

About 2 cups Pumpkin puree
½ bag Spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup faux chicken or veggie stock
½ cup milk (any will do: heavy cream, ½ & ½, 2%, etc.)

Drizzle olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until browned; add red pepper. Add spinach and cook until wilted; season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set spinach aside and wipe down pan.

Melt butter over medium heat and cook until the butter turns brown and smells nutty (be careful not to burn it!). Add pumpkin puree and stock; simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in milk, spinach, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

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