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Friday, November 20, 2009

Smashing Pumpkin

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to Salem, MA and included a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie in a Pumpkin that I feel appropriately ushers in the fall. I just came across an old grocery list and it suddenly reminded me of the dinner Baby and I made for a few friends last year, where every course included an element of the great pumpkin, in tribute to the season. Here are some guidelines to perhaps create a smashing pumpkin dinner of your own.


We started with a simple Salad Dressed with Blood Orange Vinaigrette. Michael Lomonaco taught me the components to compose a vinaigrette through his fantastic '21' Cookbook and his recipe for Shallot and Champagne Vinaigrette, which remains my favorite dressing. For this particular dinner, I played around a little with essential balance of sweet, sour and savory ingredients, incorporating blood orange juice and red onions and subbing balsamic vinegar for the champagne vinegar to grace the romaine lettuce and further topped the greens with pepitas, otherwise known as the pumpkin seeds that I had scoured out of the pumpkins used for our Pot Pie.

Shallot and Champagne Vinaigrette
Yield: 1 cup
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 large, peeled shallots
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the vinegar, mustard, sugar, shallots, salt, and pepper until the shallots are finely chopped. With the processor running, add the oil very slowly in a small stream until all the oil has been incorporated and the dressing has achieved a silky, smooth texture. The dressing may be stored, covered, up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before using.

For a pasta course, we served Papardelle with Pumpkin Sauce and here is a recipe very similar to what we did (I'd skip the red pepper though).

Chicken Pot Pie in a Pumpkin

Ebelskivers are little pancakes that may be stuffed to your hearts delight with any number of things. The ebelskiver pan was a birthday gift last year and any time we've brought it out, our guests have responded resoundingly in kind. For this dinner we served our ebelskivers stuffed with whipped pumpkin and cream cheese and a drizzle of Vermont maple syrup. Here's the basic recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and the 4 Tbs. melted butter. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.
Put 1/8 tsp. melted butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan. Set over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon filling into the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Using 2 skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling.

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