Tag Archives: pumpkin

Pumpkin ricotta pie

13 Nov

There’s a reason nobody ever asks me to cook Thanksgiving dinner: I’m not wired for it. And can’t be trusted to do things the traditional way.

Let’s face it, my idea of a Thanksgiving feast isn’t so much about the bird and the stuffing and the side dishes as it is about starting things off with my mother’s manicotti (and possibly ending them with cousin Josephine’s biscotti). Not exactly what most folks expect when they gather to celebrate such a uniquely American holiday, and so I don’t blame people for keeping me away from the kitchen year after year.

Last Thanksgiving I did manage to snooker my way into the dessert portion of the festivities, by promising to bake a simple and completely traditional pumpkin pie.

“You’re not gonna screw around with it, right?” asked My Associate, understandably dubious of my intentions. “We’re talking about a straight-up, old-fashioned pumpkin pie. That’s what you’re offering to make, nothing else?”

Anticipating the woman’s resistance I had come prepared with unimpeachable evidence to prove that my motives were pure.

“Is this traditional enough for you?” said I confidently, holding in my hand an original edition of Joy of Cooking. “It’ll be by the book, I swear.”

Once given the go ahead I had every intention to follow Joy of Cooking‘s recipe to the letter, and in fact did so in every way but one: At the last minute—while no one was watching—I decided to, well, not exactly bake a straight-up old-fashioned pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

There was some very nice fresh ricotta in the fridge, you see. It was only a small amount, leftover from the batch of mom’s manicotti that I had prepared and stored away earlier in the day.

“Why not?” I muttered, looking around to see that I was indeed alone. “Nobody will even notice.”

The full list of ingredients is below but basically the deal is this: Instead of using the 2 cups of pumpkin that the recipe called for, I went with 1 1/2 cups pumpkin and that 1/2 cup ricotta in the fridge. They’re about to be spoon-mixed with the two eggs that are in the recipe.

Then the white and brown sugar and spices are mixed in.

Along with evaporated milk.

The pie crust is one that I swear by. It’s from Cook’s Illustrated and the complete recipe is below. Pour the mixture into your pie shell and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

And there you have it, a not entirely traditional pumpkin (and ricotta) pie that’ll go along just swell with your Thanksgiving feast.

One other thing. People did notice. Who knows, they may even request the pie again this year.

Of course, I can’t promise not to mess with the recipe all over again.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

For the pie crust
From Cook’s Illustrated
NOTE: This recipe is for a double crust but only the bottom crust is needed here.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water
Directions
Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.
Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour).
Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.

Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
 
For the filling
Adapted from the original Joy of Cooking
 
1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin 
1/2 cup ricotta (This is the only alteration I have made. Should you be looking for Joy‘s recipe simply ditch the ricotta and go with 2 cups of pumpkin.)
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 slightly beaten eggs
 

Pumpkin & pancetta pasta

4 Nov

And you thought I paid scant attention to the changing of the seasons.

Peeshaw!

I know a good-looking cucurbita when I see one, you know. And when I saw this American Tondo pumpkin there wasn’t a lot of hand-wringing over what to do with it: I’d make some pasta. Imagine that.

Dice up the pumpkin flesh and put it in a baking dish with olive oil, rosemary, nutmeg, a good dose of kosher salt and some ground black pepper. Place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F.

Around 30 to 40 minutes later the pumpkin should be plenty done and so remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

Dice around a half pound of pancetta (or bacon if you prefer) into cubes and saute slowly in olive oil until crisp but not burned. Set aside and drain all but a little bit of the pork fat from the pan. The pan should be big enough to accommodate the pasta later on.

Add some olive oil to the fat and saute a few garlic cloves and a little hot pepper until softened.

Then add the pancetta.

Next add your cooked pasta (a half pound here), a good dose of the well-salted pasta water, and some grated cheese (I used caciocavallo).

Add the roasted pumpkin and gently stir together. (I did not use the entire pumpkin here, only around two cups’ worth after roasting.)

And you have got yourself a pretty nice Autumn meal.

I know I did.

Pumpkin & ricotta gnocchi

10 Oct
 
Hey, it’s October. What were you expecting, spring peas?
This is the first time I have used a pumpkin to make gnocchi, and so we are flying a little blind here. I also didn’t use a recipe. The ingredients seemed to come together naturally.
It started out by clearing away all the seeds. This is a Tonda Padana pumpkin (or winter squash, if you prefer); grown by a friend locally from Italian seeds that I provided her. I planted the seeds also, but didn’t get a single pumpkin.
I decided to roast the pumpkin, and to do that I placed the two sides face down in water inside a roasting pan. This went into the oven, at about 375 degrees F, for about an hour, or until the flesh was very soft.
Here’s the cooked pumpkin, ready to have the flesh scooped out. (It was on the watery side, and so I let the flesh sit in a colander for about an hour to drain.)
Here’s what I wound up with for ingredients (clockwise from bottom left): 3 cups of pumpkin; 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; 1 lb. of fresh ricotta; and 1/8th cup of finely processed amaretti cookies (I used the Vitamix on that). There’s also some nutmeg sprinkled on top, as well as salt and pepper.
Before adding an egg, taste the mix to see if you like it and adjust seasonings if needed.
Though others would probably suggest adding flour to the entire mixture, I prefer working in small batches. I put a bit of flour on my work surface, scooped out some of the mix, then very delicately worked it all together.
It’s critical to not work the dough very hard. My preference is to go as light on the flour (and the mixing and the rolling) as I can get away with while still getting the dough to hold together.
You can see that these gnocchi are barely worked at all. This makes it a little difficult to handle but the payoff, I think, is well worth it.
Here are the gnocchi after they were quick fried in very hot extra virgin olive oil. They are served with just a little brown butter and sage, plus crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Definitely among the lightest, most delicate gnocchi I’ve ever had.
From now on I will be supplying these pumpkin seeds to as many friends as I can convince to take them.

PGJ7HJM2E5UV 

Pumpkin & ricotta ravioli

2 Nov
I’m a big fan of the freshly baked pumpkin pie. (Hear that, Josephine?) But I’m more of a pasta maker. And roasted pumpkin makes a really swell ravioli filling.
Our guest of honor, an American Tondo. This pumpkin’s roots (so to speak) are in Italy. It is relatively new to the U.S., and I like it a lot. A local farmer grew them this year.
Pretty, huh?
Anyway, so you cut it up into one-inch pieces, toss into a roasting pan and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, rosemary and (of course) garlic.
About half an hour at 375 degrees ought to do it.
And it’s ready for the Cuisinart. (You could just mash it all up by hand instead, which would give the filling more texture. I’d have done that had I not been adding the cheese.)
Get (or make) yourself some ricotta. (The pic doesn’t show this, but I wound up with two-thirds pumpkin and a third cheese.)
And mix it up by hand, like so.
Then it’s on to the pasta sheets. (Yes, Jeannie, I will one day dedicate an entire post to making fresh pasta.)
Cover and shape with pasta sheet No. 2.
Let the pastry cutter do its thing.
And there you go.
A simple brown butter sauce will do. But, hey, it’s your ravioli, do what you want.