Pumpkin Pie Soup

Pumpkin Pie Soup

I love Halloween with the same fervor that loud, obtrusive Bubbes love to kvetch. Which is to say, quite a bit.   Normally I don’t come up with a costume idea until the day of because, like the genius of Bowie and Freddie, my ingenuity tends to shine while under pressure.  Take these three last-minute costumes I donned on All Hallow’s Eve past:

  • The original woman of power, Oprah.
  • MC Hammer. Complete with gold lamé-lined jacket and homemade hammer pants.
  • Sarah Jessica parker

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Spicy Sausage-Filled Pumpkin Roulade with Savory Sage Whipped Cream

Pumpkin RouladeI suppose I owe some sort of explanation for being so behind in my posts for this (last) week.  Not that I have much of one besides the dubious and always inadequate, “oh, life is so BUSY sometimes!”  Even Connor is glaring at me as if to say, “what the shit happened to our clean home and why aren’t you doing anything about it?”  It’s a low point in my life when my house’s cleanliness is being judged by a cat that proudly brandishes dingleberries like precious heirloom brooches.

Strange how, when at this time of year, the rest of the outdoor world seems to be readying itself for dormancy, I find myself propelled well beyond my usual busy life into absolute chaos.  Fortunately I have the company of my beautiful kitchen to keep me sane during these marathon weeks.  When I have to suffer through these periods of endless duties, I like to regress to my kitchen, lay on the floor, open my mouth and let the wildest catena of curses billow out from my lungs.   I’m talking DISGUSTING, god-awful, reprehensible strings of profanities where, if shared on this forum, I’m positive most of you would do one of two things: 1) discontinue reading my posts for a period as long as an elephant’s penis is girthy or 2) pump your fists and challenge me to do better.

Pre-pumpkin puree
Though if mentioning an elephant’s fallopian fiddler doesn’t make you run, I suppose I’m safe.  Aside from horrendous vulgarities, I also take to the kitchen and make good use of my stock of sugar and flour that I never let get too low in case of emergencies.  And trust me, there are plenty of valid emergencies where confectioneries are employed as remedial artistes.

I had a pie pumpkin readily perched by my stove, waiting its demise.  I gathered it and pulled it near, rubbing its ribs and twirling its tendrils I whispered, “I’ve got big plans for you, dirty girl.” With a quick bake in the oven and a few pulses in the food processor, I had fresh, smooth, aurulent pumpkin puree which I then constructed into an allspice butter cream filled pumpkin roulade.  Given that I was blessed with the restraint comparable to that of a geriatric’s sphincter after a dairy binge, I served myself four heaping slices.  It’s times like these that I thank my lucky genes and inability to gain weight properly.

Pumpkin / Connor the CatRecently I’ve been toying around with savory dishes and making them sweet, and conversely morphing the sweet to savory.  In this particular moment, while in my state of sugar euphoria, my curiosity was piqued; could I turn this decadent, sugary pumpkin roulade into a decadent, savory pumpkin roulade?  Well, COULD I?

What I’m about to admit here is a little embarrassing. Much like the indiscretions of inebriated, bicurious altar boys amassed in a bear bar, this is something I’d much rather keep to myself.  However, I’m honest to a fault so I will share this  abashedly and hope for a swift, fleeting judgement: I didn’t make up the pumpkin bread recipe.  No, instead I created my supple, moist  roulade with the assistance of a recipe prepared by the Make-a-Wish evading food seductress herself, Ina Garten.  As someone who covets baking sans recipe, I’d much rather boast that it was 100% my doing, but Ina’s perfect pumpkin bread served as a nice starter.

Pumpkin RollThe idea wasn’t to make the bread savory, but to use the sweet pumpkin bread in an appropriate savory dish.  For the filling, I combined spicy turkey sausage, 1 cup of ricotta curds that have been drained of its whey, sage, grated Romano and salt and pepper.   The grande finale was a topping of savory sage whipped cream.

The end result was a warm, spicy pumpkin roulade reminiscent of pigs in a blanket.  Not a dead ringer, but a subtle similarity to evoke nostalgic familiarity.  The sage whipped cream tones down the sweetness of the roulade as the flavors assimilate on your tongue and confuse your palette.  There’s an undeniable maple flavor, in spite of not a drop of maple being present, and the red pepper flakes within the sausage bring it back around full circle, adding a cordial warmth to supplement the cool nip of the sage whipped cream.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some kitchen floor cussing to attend to.

Spicy Sausage-Filled Pumpkin Roulade with Savory Sage Whipped Cream

Pumpkin roll

Time: 1 1/2 hours, start to finish

Serves: Up to 6

Difficulty: Intermediate

For the pumpkin roll (slightly modified from Ina Garten’s original recipe found here)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 large room temperature eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree (seriously, don’t use that canned shit)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar or grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×18 inch cookie sheet, line with parchment paper, then lightly grease and flour the parchment.  Set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt into a medium bowl and mix together.
  3. In a stand mixer on medium high speed, mix together the eggs and granulated sugar for 3 to 5 minutes until light yellow.
  4. Slowly mix in pumpkin puree with the sugar/egg mixture by hand until just incorporated.
  5. In your mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet and spread so the mixture is even across.
  7. Bake in oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cake springs back up when poked.
  8. While cake is cooking, lay down a clean cotton kitchen towel (here’s where I make a plug: Target sells flour sack kitchen towels that are perfect for this purpose) and dust with entire 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar or Parmesan cheese (depending if you want to retain a more sweet or savory exterior).
  9. Immediately, but gently, roll the cake starting from the short end and place a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the sausage filling:

Ingredients

  • 6 spicy turkey sausage meat removed from encasing (roughly 1.25 lbs)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese curds
  • 1 cup fresh grade Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add onions to the pan, cooking until just lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Then add garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute.
  2. Add sausage to onion and garlic and cook until completely browned.  During last two minutes of cooking, add sage and red pepper.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer meat to a bowl and stir in ricotta and Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool completely.

For the sage whipped cream:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup of fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp water

Directions

  1. Using the dull edge of a large knife, beat and bruise the sage leaves to release more flavor and then roughly chop
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat salt, sage and water over medium high heat until it just beings to boil.  Remove from heat and allow to steep for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Using a sieve, strain the sage water into a small bowl, making sure to press down on the sage to extract as much flavor as possible.
  4. In a mixer, add whipped cream and sage water and beat on medium until stiff peaks are formed

Completing the roulade:

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. When the pumpkin roll cools completely, unroll and evenly spread the sausage and cheese mixture throughout leaving one inch of space at the very end of the bread.
  3. Lightly roll the roulade ensuring an even roll.
  4. Wrap in tin foil and place in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated throughout.
  5. Slice and top with fresh sage whipped cream.

Beets for Dessert: Golden Beet and White Chocolate Mousse Parfait

Golden Beet Mousse
The other morning, as if visited by a Burpee’s Golden demon, I was jarred awake with images of beets orbiting violently within my head.  Boiled, charred, sliced, diced, pickled beets became tenants of my brain, and I became a man on a mission. As possession could be the only explanation, I I rubbed my eyes, walked into the kitchen, and pulled out a bag of beets and began to peel them in rapid succession, one after another, salivating over their potential.  What’s strange about this scenario is not that I began cooking even before my preliminary daily pee, but I don’t like beets.  Like, at all.  And I never, ever, never have.

Golden Beets

Earthy.  Ask anyone their opinion on the taste of beets and I guarantee that most of them will say that they’re earthy.  The second-most well-accepted postulation would be “disgusting” which I, too, had believed to be more accurately analogous for this once-believed wretched root.

The short breakdown is that beets smell like construction workers’ feet and have the funky consistency of semi-boiled potato that, when placed on the tongue, begs itself to be spit into the trash.  Deer love beets, and they are constantly — almost purposefully — getting hit by cars, if that tells you anything about the logic of those who enjoy eating these abominations.  So why did I pick up beets when I last went grocery shopping?  Well, let me ask you this: why did I wear my hair like a young Jonathan Taylor Thomas for the majority of my pre- and post-pubescent life?  Some things just cannot be explained and are better left not dwelled upon.

Boiled Beet Slices
Nevertheless, here I was, 9 AM, chopping up beets and preparing them for god knows what.  It wasn’t until I was halfway through my third beet when I got the idea for beet mousse.  I suspect that I was still sleeping at that point, because…what the crap?  Beet mousse?!  Insane as it may seem, at that point it sounded like the march of brilliance had lit up my mind and put my fingers to work, and so I was off.

Candied Beet SlicesI’d boiled the chopped beets into a saucepan with a combination of 1:2 sugar and water, which when reduced made an lustrous, thick golden beet sauce which was really pleasing in both sight and taste.   Post boil, I pureed the beets while reducing the beet syrup to half and let both sides cool before rejoining them once more.

Pureed, Sweetened Golden BeetsMixed with heavy cream, tempered egg yolks and a few additional hearty tablespoons of sugar.  The beet mousse was, as planned, candied enough to be a proper dessert while maintaining enough of its trademark earthiness to pay proper homage to the manipulated Beta.  I then layered the beet mousse between a thick stratum of white chocolate mousse to please both eye and mouth, which added a welcomed dimension of sweetness that complimented the indelicate, albeit subtle, flavor of of the beet.  Finish it off with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a candied beet slice and you’ve just found a way to get your kids to eat these foot-flavored roots sans kicking, screaming and threats of  emancipation.

Pureed beets being spooned into the whipped creamUnfortunately this recipe called for a lot of trial and error while I was making it up, as well as quite a few steps that I didn’t document, so I can’t share the steps I took with any confidence.  Also, I’d like to first perfect and smooth out the texture of the beet mousse prior to making it public, as I fear the presence of pureed beet is enough to make the consistency-conscious eaters shy away from this dessert.  I will, however, provide my recipe for candied beet slices which goes just as well by itself.

Golden Beet and White Chocolate Mousse Parfait
CANDIED BEET SLICES

Difficulty: Super easy

Serves: 3 – 5

Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium golden or red beets
  • 1.5 cups natural sugar crystals

Directions:

  1. Peel and slice cut beets into thin slices.
  2. Place beet slices into a small saucepan and fill with water until it just barely covers the beets.
  3. Bring water to a boil and immediately lower to medium-low and allow beets to simmer for 20 minutes or until very tender.
  4. Pour out all but 1/3 of the water, stir in sugar, and place on stove over medium-high heat.
  5. Stirring constantly and gently, allow the liquid to boil and continue to stir until all the liquid has evaporated and the sugar recrystalizes.
  6. Immediately remove pieces to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.