Back to the Kitchen: ‘Tis the Season for Pumpkins

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It’s pumpkin season…

Although it’s still warm today in Southern California, the varieties of fall pumpkins available in the market are outrageous! A pumpkin is a squash fruit that grows as a gourd from a trailing vine.  I love to mix them up roasting  them with other autumn squashes. Toasted pumpkin seeds are an autumn stable in my household and the basic pumpkin puree, made from the smaller sugar pumpkins , can eliminate the can for simple freshness. Can we say Pumpkin Pie? Sweet or savory — please enjoy these harvest favorites.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons melted butter or oil (olive oil or vegetable oil work well)

Salt to taste

Options To Taste:
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Seasoning salt
Cajun seasoning blend

Pre-heat oven to 400. 
While it’s O.K. to leave some strings and pulp on your seeds (it adds flavor), clean off any major chunks. Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and seasonings of your choice. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Makes about 2 cups.

Basic Pumpkin Puree

1 4-lb. pumpkin

1-cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Split the pumpkin in half and seed it. Remove the stringy fibers by scraping the insides with a metal spoon. Place the two halves cut side down in a roasting pan along with 1 c. water. Bake the pumpkin until meltingly tender, about 90 minutes. Scoop the flesh out of each pumpkin half. Puree in a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade. Use as needed. Makes about 3 cups.

Pumpkin Tureen

Select a squat pumpkin rather than one that is upright for balance. Start by washing the pumpkin in warm soapy water rinse well and dry. Using a sharp knife, insert the tip about 1/3 of the way down, and cut away the top to form a lid. Scoop out the seeds. Lightly oil the pumpkin inside and out and sprinkle the inside with salt. Spray a baking sheet with bakers joy. Place the pumpkin and the lid and bake at 325 for about an hour depending on the size of the shell. You want it slightly under baked as an over baked shell cannot handle the weight of the soup. Believe me, it is a big mess. Remove from the oven and cool. Gently scoop out some of the soft pumpkin from the wall, being careful not to puncture the shell. Scrape the cooked pumpkin from the lid as well. Ladle hot soup into the pumpkin and serve. The lid can be used as a cover or you can serve the soup uncovered.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cinnamon Streusel

For the cinnamon streusel:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

To make the pancakes: 

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

First, make the cinnamon streusel. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Mix together with your hands until you have a crumbly mixture. Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until combined. Heat a griddle or pan to medium low. Spray with Bakers Joy. Drop 1/3 cup of batter onto heated skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon streusel. Cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip pancake over and cover very generously with cinnamon streusel. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Continue this process to make the rest of the pancakes. Serve pancakes warm with maple syrup and butter. Serves 4.

Pumpkin and Gruyere Soup

One 5-6 pound pumpkin

1/4-cup butter

1 onion, finely chopped

6 cups chicken or vegetable

2 cups heavy cream

Zest of one orange

Juice of one orange

Juice of one lemon

1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped

1-pound Gruyere cheese, shredded

Cut pumpkin in half,  scoop out and strings and seeds. (You can roast the seeds and float them on top as a garnish and just salt and eat the rest! them) Cut away the hard peel and coarsely chop the flesh. In a large soup pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add the stock and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pumpkin is tender. About 45 minutes. Blend or process the soup. Return the puree to pot and stir in the cream, orange, lemon and ginger. Reserve a little cheese for garnish (perhaps with some fresh sage) Sprinkle into the soup. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8

 Pumpkin Cheese Risotto
7 to 8 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups white wine

1-tablespoon butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cups Arborio rice

1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 fresh sage leaves, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 sage leaves for garnish

In a saucepan, heat stock to a simmer and holds at a very slow simmer. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan next to stock, heat butter and add onion. Cook over medium heat until translucent. Add rice, stir, Add wine. Stir until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid; add 1 1/2 cups hot stock. Repeat a third time adding pumpkin and sage. Repeat with another 1 1/2 cups hot stock and add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until the rice has absorbed most of the stock. After about 25 to 30 minutes, taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Leave risotto a little runny before adding the cheese so it will have a creamy not stiff texture. Divide onto 4 plates or soup bowls and garnish with a sage leaf. Serves 4 as a main dish or 6-8 as a side dish.


Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter-Sage Sauce

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 pinch salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

28 won ton wraps

egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

1 teaspoon salt

For the sage butter:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2-cup Parmesan Cheese

Chopped fresh sage, for topping

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree, Ricotta cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place a won ton wrap on a clean surface and brush edges lightly with egg wash. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrap. Fold over wrap into a triangle and pinch edges tightly to seal. Repeat with remaining won ton wraps and filling.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-teaspoon salt. Boil ravioli until soft and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cook, stirring often, until it begins to turn a deep golden brown. Add Parmesan and bring to a boil. Toss cooked ravioli with sauce. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped sage. Serves 4.

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar

1-cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

3 cups pumpkin, cooked and pureed or one 16-ounce can.

3 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon ground cloves

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-teaspoon ground ginger

1-teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon baking powder


4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons pepites or roasted pumpkin seeds

1-teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Whisk flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into another large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Mix the topping ingredients together. Sprinkle over loaves. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Turn loaves out onto racks and cool completely. Makes 2 loaves.

Pumpkin Soufflé

6 eggs, separated

¾ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup sugar

½ cup pumpkin puree

1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Spray 4 soufflé dishes with bakers joy. All the way to the top and over the sides in large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Set aside. Beat egg yokes until thick and lemon-colored. Thoroughly fold in pumpkin and spice. Gently fold yolk mixture into beaten whites. Spoon into prepared dishes. Place cups in baking pan. Fill pan with very hot water to within 1/2 inch of top of dishes. Bake in preheated 375 oven until puffy and delicately browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

1-cup flour

¼ cup brown sugar

1-stick butter

½ cup pecans, chopped

Blend in a food processor until a ball forms. Press in 8×8 pan sprayed with bakers joy. Bake 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes and cool slightly.


8 oz. cream cheese

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup pumpkin puree

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/4-teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Blend until smooth and pour over crust. Bake 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 30.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies.  Check out her websites and  Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available through AMAZON .


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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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