'Fall favorites' more than great decoration
BY CHEF TIFFANY POE The Busy Kitchen
Monday, October 22, 2012
10/22/12 at 4:22 AM
Editor's note: The Busy Kitchen is a Monday column written by two area chefs - Tiffany Poe and Valarie Carter - who also happen to be mothers of young children. They'll explore nutrition, cooking for kids and more.
Nothing says October and harvest season like pumpkins.
Their beautiful orange color and "easy to squeeze" shape make them the perfect decoration and delicacy for this time of year. I love having these cute "fall favorites" around my house, and I really love turning them into yummy treats for my kids.
Most of us take this friendly familiar squash for granted as we rush through our crazy fall calendars. But pumpkins are definitely worth getting to know.
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for "large melon." They are rich in antioxidants as they boast high levels of both alpha and beta carotenes. They have a slightly sweet comforting flavor and incredible culinary versatility.
I start shopping for pumpkins in early October because I like to get my money's worth. The first several weeks they adorn my home with their "easy accent" personalities and beautiful autumn hue. They make the house feel warm and help create the perfect mood for throwing a harvest or costume party.
By now though, all I can think about is what kind of delicious recipes can I come up with to put these "squatting squash" in my tummy.
I love to get my kids involved during pumpkin cooking time. They are a super kid-friendly ingredient. My kids not only love carving them but they enjoy helping me turn them into tasty treats for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.
I have four recipes to share with you this week. They cover all the bases for having pumpkins highlighted on your menu no matter what kind of food mood you are in.
There is one ingredient, besides the pumpkin itself, that unifies these four recipes - pumpkin pie spice. I love this simple mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. It has all the great flavors that complement the perfect pumpkin flavor without having to purchase four separate spices. I hope you enjoy playing with your pumpkins this holiday season.
1 bag of small pumpkins (about the size of a baseball)
1 pound salted butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the top portion off of the small pumpkins. The goal is use the top as a lid for your butter container.
2. Scoop the seeds and pulp from the small pumpkin using a spoon. Make sure to get all the strings. Save the seeds for the pepita recipe.
3. In a medium bowl mix together softened butter and pumpkin puree. Use a whisk to combine. If mixture looks separated use rubber spatula to smooth.
4. Add pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup to combine.
5. Using a clean spoon, fill hollowed out pumpkin shells with butter mixture. Place pumpkin top on filled shell and refrigerate until service.
*This pumpkin butter is great on toast, muffins or bagels. You can also use these on your holiday party or buffet table.
PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIES
Makes six servings
1 cup frozen pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
3 cups whole milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1-2 cinnamon graham crackers
1. Combine pumpkin puree, yogurt, milk, honey and spice mixture into blender.
2. Blend on medium speed for about a minute.
3. Serve with crumbled crackers and a small sprinkle of the pumpkin pie spice.
*You can substitute pumpkin pie filling (sold next to the pumpkin puree) in the place of the puree and honey or agave nectar.
*To freeze: Simply place in an old-fashioned ice-cube tray or in a plastic storage container and freeze for 2 hours or the night before.
PEPITAS DE LA POETITAS
Pepitas are Spanish for "little seeds of squash." My kids love this recipe. It's sweet, sassy and satisfying. They make great snacks and are a good source of protein as well.
Makes 2 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cleaned pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 large egg white (beaten to frothy consistency)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle olive oil onto baking sheet. Mix pepitas, sugar, egg white and spices in small bowl. Spread pepitas in single layer on baking sheet.
2. Bake until pepitas are golden and dry, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Use a pair of tongs to separate pepitas if they become stuck together. Cool and serve for an afternoon snack or in little baggies to your trick-or-treaters.
PUMPKIN RAVIOLI WITH BROWN SAGE BUTTER
Makes 35-40 ravioli
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs or finely crumbled crackers
15-20 small fresh sage leaves
1 package round wonton wrappers
1/4 cup of water in a small bowl
8 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and pepper
1. Fill a large pasta pot or stock pot with water and bring to a soft boil.
2. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin puree, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pumpkin pie spice and breadcrumbs into a paste. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 pepper.
2. On an open counter space lay out wonton wrapper and place 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin filling in the center of the wrapper.
3. Using your index finger dip the tip in the water and brush a small amount around the edge of the wonton wrapper.
4. Place second wrapper on top of the base wrapper and seal around the edges of the ravioli. Make sure there are no air pockets in ravioli as it will cause the pocket to rupture during the boiling process.
5. Using a fork, press the edge of the wrappers between the fork tines to secure the two wrappers together.
6. Repeat process until all the filling is used and all ravioli is assembled.
7. Once ravioli are assembled, place 4-5 at a time in soft boiling water.
8. When the ravioli are cooked they will float to the top of the pot. This takes approximately 2 minutes. Once they have floated to the top remove from pan with a skimmer or slotted spoon and place on a plate or platter.
9. Once ravioli are cooked off you can begin the sauce. Place butter in a medium non-stick sauté pan. Melt butter slowly and continue to allow butter to brown on low heat. The butter solids will turn light brown and become toasty.
10. Place fresh sage leaves in butter and cook for about 30 seconds.
11. Add cooked ravioli to pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes to coat butter over ravioli. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
12. To serve top with more Parmesan cheese and spoon additional butter and sage over ravioli on plate.
Chef Tiffany Poe, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., owns Tiffany Poe Culinary Services, a consulting, food styling and corporate coaching company. She and her husband have three small children and own The Grandview Inn, a historic bed and breakfast near the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Pawhuska. Find more of her recipes on her blog, tulsaworld.com/gastronomymommy