Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Flan

I’ve always wanted to make a “Flan” and was excited when I stumbled across a recipe for “Pumpkin Flan” in a vintage cookbook. It is another prefect recipe for Thanksgiving and the holidays. A custard-type dessert with caramel topping is by far my husband’s favorite dessert. In Louisiana, custard flans and a similar dish, crème brûlée, are standards on most traditional restaurant menus. I can always guess what dessert we will order when we go out to eat. This recipe for “Pumpkin Flan” is a baked custard using whole eggs, spices, cream and pumpkin puree. It includes a hard caramel glaze. This recipe, or at least the caramel glaze, is tricky to make. I included fresh pumpkin pulp from my “sugar pumpkins” in the custard which gives this flan a definite Thanksgiving “pumpkin pie” taste. The “Pumpkin Flan” turned out great including my caramel glaze. Creamy and smooth. Delicious.

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Easy Cook: A Small Batch of Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

Autumn is the season for pumpkin, gourds, winter squash, apples and sweet potatoes. I look forward to cooler weather and all the fall produce. In addition to providing decoration for our homes and yards, pumpkin and winter squash are extremely tasty — when properly cooked. In my opinion, there is no comparison between freshly cooked pumpkin and the canned variety. My husband recently brought home several small “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” Okay, now I get to cook them! But, I’m ready. These pumpkins have a very mild, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in many recipes. Today I made a small batch of absolutely delicious “Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup.” Although some recipes for this soup are complicated, this Thai-inspired soup is extremely easy to make. 

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Let’s Eat Pumpkin! Cajun-Inspired Roast Pumpkin Slices

Who would think that we might be eating roast pumpkin and liking it. Small sugar pumpkins which are available in grocery stores in autumn are really quite tasty when simply roasted. Once I discovered how much I liked the pumpkins, I’ve continued to purchase them. I added Cajun-type spices which made these very flavorful.

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Vegetarian Chili with Pumpkin

Here’s a different kind of chili –vegetarian chili with pumpkin. I was a bit skeptical of adding pumpkin puree to chili and omitting the beef but went ahead and gave it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised. The result is a dish which has the spices of traditional chili; full of vegetables and black beans which add texture and flavor. The pureed pumpkin thickened the chili but didn’t overpower it. 

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Pumpkin and Spice Snickerdoodles

It’s October — the season for pumpkins and gourds. I’m beginning to see small pumpkins for sale in grocery stores and farmers markets. These pumpkins are called sugar pumpkins and are best suited for baking and eating– rather than the huge ones sold for carving and decorations.  A recipe for Pumpkin Snickerdoodles caught my attention. Adding pumpkin puree to cookies is a unique way to use  pumpkin pulp; I thought I’d try to make a batch. 

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Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is undoubtedly the best pumpkin pie I have tasted. It is from a treasured family recipe that has been served at every Thanksgiving meal in my memory. Light and airy with a gingersnap crust, it’s a great way to end this holiday meal.

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Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Crunchy Quinoa Granola–tasty, healthy, high in fiber and protein, other nutrients-it’s hard to find something that both tastes good and is good for you. This recipe is both-plus it’s easy to make and lends itself to lots of variations. The granola recipe includes quinoa, which has been described as a “superfood,” whatever that is. It is great for breakfast with yogurt and fresh fruit.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Most restaurants in the South include “Bread Pudding” on their menus; it is a popular dessert offering here in Louisiana.  The baked bread and egg custard is sweet and rich, often accompanied with Rum Sauce. But, I have to admit that I never really liked this dessert. That is until I discovered Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme’s version from the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. His version is sweet and light with aromatic pecans; accompanied by a Lemon Sauce and Chantilly Cream. It will turn you into a “Bread Pudding” believer.

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Don’t Forget to Roast the Pumpkin Seeds

After going to all the trouble to hollow out a fresh pumpkin for baking and cooking, don’t forget the pumpkin seeds. They are easy to roast and make a great snack.

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And the kernels of the pumpkin seeds are quite nutritious. Of all the seeds and nuts, pumpkin kernels rate among the highest in polyunsaturated fatty acids, along with walnuts and sunflower seeds. And they are high in monounsaturated fatty acids. These are heart healthy fatty acids and provide antioxidant properties. The pumpkin seeds provide protein, vitamins and some minerals, but you’d have to eat alot to get significant amounts.

There are lots of methods of roasting pumpkin seeds. The one that I like best is to let the seeds dry overnight, after separating out all the pump when the pumpkin is hollowed out. Then coat the pumpkin seeds with a little canola or sunflower oil, salt lightly, and roast slowly in a lower temperature 300 degree oven. To 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, I added 1 tsp. canola oil and less than 1/8 tsp salt, placed the seeds in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet. Roasting time was 20 minutes. For a Cajun version, add 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt), 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 2 drops of Tabasco hot sauce. Roasting times vary depending on the type of oil used (butter browns quicker) and whether or not the seeds are dry.

Set the roasted seeds on your kitchen table and they will disappear quickly!

Soup in a Pumpkin

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Soup in a pumpkin brought to a holiday meal table makes a spectacular presentation. It’s a family favorite and we’ve made it many times over the years. It dates to the time when we looked forward on Sunday to getting the Washington Post newspaper in our mail box. It impressed me that the world news was always on the front page.

Each Parade Magazine contained a food feature by some well known chef such as James Beard, Julia Child, The Silver Palate authors–Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (my personal favorites). This was probably my first glimpse at gourmet cooking. The November 13, 1983, issue contained a very young-looking Julia Child preparing “Soup in a Pumpkin.” I still have the original copy.

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