This summer I fell in love with a Portuguese pumpkin jam that I purchased. Well, this fall when I ran out, I was having withdrawal. So I found a Portuguese connection who helped me discover how to make this myself! You can make this in about an hour, well ahead of any celebration time. It will keep in the fridge for months. Ahead of the holiday itself, you can also make your favorite New York style plain cheesecake, hopefully with plenty of lemon zest and a ginger cookie crust (love Anna's brand). Or order a plain one right from Juniors, with their impressive delivery packing. You will have plenty leftover pumpkin preserve to enjoy on all sorts of things, too, from French toast to ice cream, not to mention yogurt. You can find it otherwise in Portugal or Spain. You could think of this as a distinctive gift from the old world for our Thanksgiving table! —Sagegreen
Cut a pumpkin into wedges and peel the skin. Finely grate the pumpkin wedges to make 2 cups of fine angel hair. Make sure you have 2 cups, packed down.
In a heavy pan like a Dutch oven combine the grated pumpkin with the sugar, honey, cinnamon, optional almond, lemon, and water. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 15 minutes.
By stirring vigorously, break down the fibers of the pumpkin. Add a splash of spirit if you like. Cook another 20-25 minutes or so until the pumpkin has broken down, very close to a puree, stirring frequently. Let cool a bit.
Puree the cooked pumpkin mix, removing the cinnamon stick first, preferably in a blender vs. a food mill. Then sneak in a few blanched almonds if you like. Let cool, then chill. You won't need to can this, because it really won't last that long.
Cut your chilled cheesecake (homemade or store bought) into slices just before serving; generously top each slice with this pumpkin glory, mine with almonds, please. Thank you, Portugal and Spain.
But to make your own cheesecake, if you need one, first mix the ginger cookie crumbs with sugar and butter; press into a greased springform pan. Chill.
In a large bowl incorporate the cream cheese with the eggs, sugar, salt, lemon, flour, lemon zest, flour, and nutmeg using a mixer or by hand. Pour this mixture into the chilled crust pan.
In a preheated oven place the cheesecake in a shallow water bath. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 250 and continue to bake until firm, about 1 1/4 hours or so. Let cool completely, remove pan ring, then chill before serving.