It's Pumpkin season!

Magazine Cuisine!

Brrrrrrrr, it’s chilly out there! Whether the sun is shining or the skies are gray and blustery, the weather is wonderfully autumnal now. And when October gets cold and windy, my appetite for all things pumpkin is piqued. After a good long walk outside in the chilly air enjoying the fall color (and sometimes even without it), I'm ready to start cooking some of the numerous pumpkin recipes I’ve collected over the years. Pumpkin is a quintessential fall food, and there are so many sweet and savory ways to use it beyond pumpkin pies (not that there’s anything wrong with pies). I've got recipes for pumpkin bread, rolls, macaroni and cheese, stews, polenta, and salad, as well as pies, tarts, cakes, flan, pudding, gingerbread, ice cream and pancakes, to name but a few. The season isn't long enough to make them all, and I don't know where to begin! But we have to start somewhere, so let's start with brownies.
melting butter n chocolate
Oh how I love butter melting into dark chocolate!

I found Pumpkin Swirl Brownies at the Everything-Pumpkin blog. Pumpkin and chocolate are a surprisingly tasty combination, which I discovered as a teenager on my birthday when mom made my favorite devil’s food cake with dark chocolate icing, and bought a quart of pumpkin ice cream from Baskin Robbins. I’ve been hooked on chocolate/pumpkin ever since, and in these brownies the pairing is every bit as good. You make a plain vanilla batter, divide it in half, then add pumpkin and spices to one half and melted dark chocolate to the other.
chocolate and pumpkin batters
Layer and swirl them together in the pan, and bake. Delish! I skipped the cayenne and nuts, and substituted allspice for the nutmeg. Also, in my 9x9 inch pan these brownies were very thick and took quite a while to cook. Next time I’ll use my oddball 8x11 glass pan.
pumpkin swirl brownies in pan
They were so very good -- the moist pumpkin swirl tasted just like pumpkin pie, and complemented the rich dark chocolate swirl beautifully. They freeze well and can be warmed up nicely in the microwave. Perfect with a cold glass of milk, a steaming cup of coffee, or a simple pot of tea.
pumpkin swirl brownies on plate
Just a few days later we woke up on a cool, sunny Sunday morning and decided to make Pumpkin Ginger Waffles from the October 2009 issue of Country Living magazine. I usually find waffles too heavy or crispy, but this recipe made light, moist, flavorful waffles that filled the kitchen with the cozy fragrance of pumpkin and ginger while they cooked in our heart-shaped waffle maker. I omitted the crystallized ginger, thinking it might have made the ginger flavor a little too intense, and increased the cinnamon to a teaspoon.
pumpkin waffle closeup
We served them butter, naturally, and real maple syrup, which we hide in the back of the fridge and then discreetly pour into a small ceramic pitcher before serving ourselves, to keep our kids (whom we love very much) from flooding their plates with it ($$$!!) and then dumping half of it into the sink with their unfinished breakfasts (which would break our hearts mightily -- they get the Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth's, until they're older). The only thing that might have made these better would be slices of warm Canadian bacon. Oh what a way to begin a fall day!

On a more savory note, I have been eyeing the Autumn Bisque recipe in the September/October 2008 issue of Victoria Magazine for an entire year now, and decided to make it recently on a brisk Saturday afternoon. It was creamy and delicious, especially topped with a sprinkling of fresh parmesan and black pepper, and accompanied by a warm grainy baguette (with butter melting all over it, of course!). The color is gorgeous and so well-suited to a chilly fall night.
Pumpkin bisque
Kenny grates fresh parmesan into our bowls of bisque. Mmmmm! The photo does not do this lovely soup justice.

The original recipe (which is not posted online) calls for mushrooms, onions, and red pepper flakes. I skipped the mushrooms, whose earthy richness might have competed with, not complemented, the mild pumpkin. I also left out the red pepper flakes, so we could enjoy a nice comforting soup without the spicy challenge to our tastebuds. My only regret was using the 1-1/2 cups of onion called for in the recipe, as well as the sliced sauteed leek. I’m not a big fan of onion, and generally either reduce or leave it out completely. I thought the onion overpowered the mellow pumpkin flavor, so I’ve modified the recipe to include more garlic and zero onion. Light coconut milk adds creaminess and just a hint of coconut flavor that doesn’t distract from the main player ... pumpkin! Because pumpkin is what it’s all about right now.

Thankfully, Kenny isn’t tired of pumpkin. Yet. I made pumpkin macaroni and cheese last week, and Curried Scallops on Pumpkin Polenta is in the queue. Oh it’s going to be a delicious fall!

Pumpkin Bisque
Adapted from "Autumn Bisque" recipe in September/October 2008 issue of Victoria Magazine.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (depending on how much you love garlic!)
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cups chicken broth, divided
3 cups canned pumpkin puree (or fresh, if desired)
1 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh chopped type, or 1/4 tsp dried
Toasted pumpkin seeds and grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic, carrots and celery, and sautee until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 15-20 minutes. Pour broth mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot and turn heat up to medium. Add remaining broth, pumpkin puree, and coconut milk and heat through. Stir in the salt, lemon juice and thyme and simmer for about 10 minutes. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and/or grated parmesan cheese, if using.