Pasta

A Couple of Pumpkins, 4 Dinners, 1 Dessert

Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples -- or your seasonal produce -- every which way.

Today: Wondering what to do with the pumpkins you forgot to turn into jack-o-lanterns? Meike Peters from Eat in My Kitchen is going to show you how to turn those pumpkins into dinner.

Pumpkins and squash are the epitome of autumn, with their various shades of yellow, red, and green spanning the whole range of the season's color palette. Kabocha, ambercup, butternut, Musquée de Provence (also know as Fairytale pumpkin), buttercup, and many more -- the list of winter squash is as long as the list of recipes I use them in.

Every week I buy different kinds of squash at the market and line them up on my kitchen windowsill. This is my kind of decoration -- the kind I can eat and the kind that changes every time I stock up for my next batch of recipe ideas.

Both my cooking and baking follows the seasons, and the transition to autumn brings back hearty food for cozy dinners at my long wooden table. To me, spices are to winter what fresh herbs are to summer. I have a big old metal box on my kitchen shelf filled with jam jars that I reuse for all the aromatic seeds and powders that refine our meals -- cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, juniper, cardamom, and many more. Apart from the pumpkin's beauty, its great quality is that it goes very well with the most exotic spice mixtures.

Here are some of the pumpkin classics that I come back to every autumn:


Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut Pesto
There's no doubt that homemade gnocchi taste so much better than the store-bought variety, and if you follow a few rules, they can also be fun to prepare. I learned to make gnocchi from my mother, a wonderful and experienced cook. It's crucial that the potato, butter, and egg yolk mixture be completely cool before you mix in the flour. Otherwise, the gnocchi will turn out too soft. If your dough is too stick to work with, add the flour in small increments to prevent against dry or tough gnocchi.

For the autumn version of my gnocchi recipe, I replace some of the potatoes with pumpkin, which makes the gnocchi smoother in texture and almost sweet in flavor. I like to top them with walnut-parsley pesto -- the nutty flavor of the pesto matches perfect with the gnocchi's sweetness.

More: Make any type of pesto you'd like, no recipe required.



Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Chili and Bittersweet Chocolate
This wonderfully warming soup, perfect for the cold nights ahead, gains depth and heat from bittersweet chocolate and hot chili peppers. I love the combination of sweet and spicy in chocolate bars, and it works just as well in soup.

I cook the pumpkin with chopped onions, leek, carrots, potatoes, dried chilies, and a bay leaf for about half an hour. After I season the vegetables with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, I purée the soup in a blender until it has a velvety texture. To finish the soup, I sprinkle it with finely chopped fresh red chili peppers and grated bittersweet chocolate.



Golden Pumpkin Spaghetti
This dish looks like Tuscany in autumn -- the golden spaghetti, orange pumpkin slices, and dark green roasted pumpkin seeds mimic the warm colors of the afternoon light in the soft Tuscan hills. I like to use Hokkaido pumpkin or kabocha squash for this recipe (as you can leave on its beautiful skin), but I've also made it with butternut squash and Musquée de Provence.

The recipe is really quick and easy. You do have to cut the pumpkin very thinly, so I recommend using a vegetable slicer. You’ll then sauté the slices in a splash of olive oil and some butter and sugar for a few minutes, until they're golden brown and soft. After you’ve seasoned them with salt and pepper, you mix them with the spaghetti, a few drops of the aromatic pumpkin seed oil, and a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds. The pasta should be al dente, and you’ll want to mix it with a splash of the cooking water (if you only use the pumpkin seed oil to glaze the pasta, the oil's taste will be too overpowering).

More: See the tools that Mario Batali relies on to make perfect bowls of pasta every time.


Pumpkin and Ginger Brack, an Irish Tea Cake
When we moved to Whitby in North Yorkshire, England a few years, it didn’t take me too long to fall in love with the locals, the food, and the dreamy village. It must have been the day after my arrival that I discovered the famous local bakery called Botham's, which soon became my second home. One of the many local delicacies I grew to love is brack: juicy, butter-free Irish teacakes made with dried fruits soaked in tea and lots of spices. In Ireland, this is a traditional Halloween cake, but in my kitchen, I bake various versions of it all year round.

This recipe is made with puréed pumpkin in addition to tea-soaked raisins, sultanas, grated fresh ginger, and candied ginger. I also added a traditional spice combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. The result is an aromatic and moist loaf, and the pumpkin makes it soft. It tastes divine with butter spread on top.


Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel
My boyfriend's family is Maltese-American, and both cultures have had a big influence on my cooking and baking, especially on the sweet side. American pies and cookies soon became some of my favorites. For pumpkin pie, one of the fall classics, I came up with a recipe that combines the traditional version with a caramel and coriander seed topping. Coriander is very prominent in the cooking of the Maltese Islands in the Mediterranean, so this dish combines the best of both worlds.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut Pesto

Serves 4

For the walnut pesto:

3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) walnuts, plus a few for the topping
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup (110 millilters) olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

For the pumpkin gnocchi:

21 ounces (600 grams) pumpkin, cut into 1-inch (2 1/2-centimeter) cubes
7 ounces (200 gram) potatoes, cut into 1-inch (2 1/2-centimeter) cubes
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
10 ounces (280 grams) plain flour
3 teaspoons (leveled) salt
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Pepper, to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Meike Peters

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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12 Comments

Petite F. November 15, 2014
Thanks Meike1
 
Author Comment
Meike P. November 26, 2014
Hi, <br />yesterday, I baked two bracks to find out where the problem lies and I noticed that a mistake slipped in. When I copied the recipe from my handwritten note book to the blog I changed the amount of tea to soak the dried fruits from 5 ounces (150ml) to 8.5 ounces (250ml). Unfortunately, this mistake changed the texture drastically and is the reason that it didn’t work out. I’m so sorry about that and I try my best to avoid these hassles by proof reading the recipes a couple times, but this one slipped through. I hope you’ll give the brack a second try one day!<br />All the best,<br />Meike
 
Petite F. November 14, 2014
hi,<br /> Yes, I used a bottom heat oven and I live in a Utah (high altitude). And no, I used canned pumpkin and I believe I used enough baking powder. However, here is the only thing I did different and that is I soaked my fruits for a week (lazy) and I didn't think it would affect the bread. I also don't measure my dry goods but maybe I am thinking of buying a scale if it makes such a difference. I think for most part, I didn't cook it enough or my oven temp was way off...I think.<br />To clarify: I was suppose to bake it on 350F for 50 minutes then turn the heat down to 320(?) and bake another 20 minutes? <br />Anyway, I have never been successful with breads. My 1st attempt at making bread was challah and it was a laughable experience to say the least:) I will try it again, when I have the patience and the time.<br /> Thank you for your advices and responses!
 
Author Comment
Meike P. November 15, 2014
Hi, <br />The brack has to bake for 50 minutes on 350°F and for at least 30 minutes on 320°F. I tried it with convection and top/ bottom heat (it needs a bit longer to cook through) and both worked. Bottom heat (without top heat) works well for pizza and flatbread but it's not ideal for cakes. I never soaked the fruits for 1 week, so I have no experience how it would affect the result. I hope your 2nd attempt will be more satisfying! <br />All the best,<br />Meike
 
Petite F. November 13, 2014
Hi Meike,<br /> I baked 'brack' last night and although the flavor was good, the middle was gooey and it stuck to the paper. I left it in the oven for extra long time hoping that it would come together. Not sure where I went awry but did not look anything like yours. <br /> I may try it again just because...<br /> Btw...Love your food website.<br /><br />thx
 
Author Comment
Meike P. November 13, 2014
Hi, I'm very sorry about that! Let's try to find out where the problem lies: Did you use convection or top/ bottom heat ? I always use the fan setting for my brack, it would need a little longer or higher temperature when you use top/ bottom. Did you make your own pumpkin purée or was it canned, maybe it was a bit too liquid? Did you use the right amount of baking powder? Did the fruits soak overnight? A few people made the brack and some shared the photos on Instagram and it always looked like mine. I would love to find out what went wrong. <br />I'm glad you enjoy my blog !<br />All the best, Meike xx
 
Petite F. October 30, 2014
Thank you!
 
Petite F. October 29, 2014
So, stem ginger and crystalized/candied ginger is the same? because when I googled 'stem ginger' I read that it comes in a sugary liquid whereas the crystalized ginger is dried. Anyway, thank you for the recipe! This bread looks amazing!
 
Author Comment
Meike P. October 30, 2014
Thank you! I know it is a bit confusing. Stem ginger is either preserved in syrup or crystallized, both are referred to as candied. There are two ways to make crystallized ginger: <br />1. Cook small pieces of ginger in water and sugar for about half an hour and then dry and sugar it. This ginger will be hard.<br />2. Cook cubes or slices of ginger in water for about an hour until soft. Drain them and cook them again in water and sugar for about half an hour until they crystallize. This ginger will be soft, that's what I did in my recipe.
 
Petite F. October 27, 2014
oops...posted my copy rather than my question. Is there a sub for 'stem ginger' to make the Brack bread/
 
Author Comment
Meike P. October 28, 2014
Hi! <br />There isn't really a substitute for preserved ginger, you could use more of the fresh ginger for the recipe but it wouldn't have the same effect. But when I read your comment you inspired me to make my own crystalized stem ginger this morning and it tastes great! It's a bit more spicy than the store bought one so I would use a little bit less for the pumpkin brack (about 40g / 1.5 ounces). Here's the recipe:<br />You need 250g / 9 ounces of very fresh and juicy ginger (preferably organic as it tastes stronger), peeled and cut it into 1.5cm / 0.5" cubes. In a sauce pan, bring the ginger in 1.5 cups of water to the boil and cook for 1 hour (simmering with lid-open for the first 15 minutes). When the ginger is soft, add 250g / 9 ounces of granulated sugar and 30ml / 1 ounce of water and bring to the boil, cook for 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Spread the ginger cubes on parchment and let them cool. You can keep the crystalized ginger in an airtight container and use the excess sugar to sweeten and spice up mint or lemon tea.<br />I hope that helps! Enjoy the brack!
 
Petite F. October 27, 2014
, an Irish Tea Cake<br />When we moved to Whitby in North Yorkshire, England a few years, it didn’t take me too long to fall in love with the locals, the food, and the dreamy village. It must have been the day after my arrival that I discovered the famous local bakery called Botham's, which soon became my second home. One of the many local delicacies I grew to love is brack: juicy, butter-free Irish teacakes made with dried fruits soaked in tea and lots of spices. In Ireland, this is a traditional Halloween cake, but in my kitchen, I bake various versions of it all year round.<br /><br />This recipe is made with puréed pumpkin in addition to tea-soaked raisins, sultanas, grated fresh ginger, and candied ginger. I also added a traditional spice combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. The result is an aromatic and moist loaf, and the pumpkin makes it soft. It tastes divine with butter spread on top.<br /><br /><br /><br />Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel<br />My boyfriend's family is Maltese-American, and both cultures have had a big influence on my cooking and baking, especially on the sweet side. American pies and cookies soon became some of my favorites. For pumpkin pie, one of the fall classics, I came up with a recipe that combines the traditional version with a caramel and coriander seed topping. Coriander is very prominent in the cooking of the Maltese Islands in the Mediterranean, so this dish combines the best of both worlds.<br /><br />Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut Pesto<br /><br />Serves 4<br /><br />For the walnut pesto:<br /><br />3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) walnuts, plus a few for the topping<br />3 tablespoons chopped parsley<br />1/2 cup (110 millilters) olive oil<br />Salt, to taste<br />Pepper, to taste<br /><br />For the pumpkin gnocchi:<br /><br />21 ounces (600 grams) pumpkin, cut into 1-inch (2 1/2-centimeter) cubes<br />7 ounces (200 gram) potatoes, cut into 1-inch (2 1/2-centimeter) cubes<br />2 egg yolks<br />2 tablespoons butter<br />10 ounces (280 grams) plain flour<br />3 teaspoons (leveled) salt<br />Grated nutmeg, to taste<br />Pepper, to taste<br /><br />See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.<br /><br />Photos by Meike Peters<br /><br />Jump to Comments (0)<br /> SHARE THIS ARTICLE  TWEET THIS ARTICLE<br />THE GREAT PUMPKIN<br /><br />READ<br />17 Pumpkin Recipes to Help You Use an Entire Pumpkin<br />SHOP<br />Plush Pumpkin<br />READ<br />Sweet and Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds<br />SHOP<br />Spiced Sugar Cubes<br />FROM OUR FRIENDS<br /> TASTINGTABLE.COM<br />8 Chocolate Recipes You Can't Help But Love<br /> TASTINGTABLE.COM<br />The Finest Scrambled Eggs Ever<br /> FIRSTWEFEAST.COM<br />10 'Healthy' Junk Food Recipes<br /> TASTINGTABLE.COM<br />How to Make the Ultimate Grilled Cheese<br />powered by ZergNet<br />Tags: weeknight dinner, everyday cooking, pumpkin, squash, autumn, fall, pasta, soup, pumpkin pie<br /><br /><br />Meike Peters ° eat in my kitchen<br />FOLLOW 