>Pumpkin Pie

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This pie is really good.  Lick-the-bowl-clean, make-sure-you-have-room-for-seconds good.  Thanksgiving came early for us this year, since I can’t make it home for the real deal at the end of the month.  And although we were stuffed just like our dear old turkey, we all managed to make some room for this pie, which had been tempting us with its deep orange hue and buttery, spicy aroma throughout our meal. 

And this opened up to some rave reviews – oohs and aahs from its eaters, and a general fascination by the sweet, tangy, and spicy combination of flavors.  The recipe I provide here shows you how to make your own crust, but of course you can buy a frozen 9-inch pie crust and I’m sure this pie would still taste great; it’s the filling that’s the winner.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie – serves 6-8

For the crust:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 stick of butter, cut up into smaller pieces
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
room-temperature water

For the filling:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 oz canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon molasses
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream

1.  To prepare the crust, spread the flour on a work surface and create a well in the center.  Place the salt and butter pieces in the well. 

1. Using a pinching motion, press the butter into the flour, until a mealy combination has formed and the butter is mixed into the flour.
2.  Create another well in the center, and place the egg yolk inside.  Again using a pinching motion, mix the yolk into the flour and butter.
3.  Pour the water over the mixture in small doses, until a ball can be easily formed (you’ll probably need around 1/2-cup of water).
4.  Knead the dough several times, and form it into a ball.  Place in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
5.  To prepare the filling, whisk the sugars and spices together in a medium bowl.  Add the pumpkin, molasses, eggs and the cream, and whisk thoroughly until combined.
6.  Remove the crust from the fridge and roll it out to cover a 9-inch pie pan.  Cut three or four x’s into the bottom of the crust, and remove any overhanging parts of the crust.
7.  Pour the filling inside the pan, and bake for about ten minutes.  Reduce the heat to 325 degrees, and continue to bake until filling is firm, about 45 minutes.

Voila! Tarte de potiron, delicieuse!!

>Spiced Roast Pumpkin with French Lentils and Goat Cheese

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Looking for a new way to use all the pumpkin that’s in season now?  Here’s a light, healthy, and hearty way to use pumpkin in a way that’s a little different from your run-of-the-mill pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup.  The spices on the pumpkin certainly add a depth of flavor and a nice kick to the dish; and the soft, creamy goat cheese creates a nice combination of textures.  Enjoy!
Spiced Roast Pumpkin w/ French Lentils and Goat Cheese – serves 1
1/4 cup French lentils
1 1/2 cups diced fresh pumpkin, cut into about 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
a pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1.  Place lentils in a small saucepan and cover with 1/2-cup water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.
2.  Meanwhile, mix the cumin, paprika, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl, add the pumpkin, and toss to coat.
3.  Place pumpkin in an oven-proof dish and roast for approx 45 mins, or until pumpkin pieces are tender, turning over once at the halfway point. Remove from the oven and cool.
4.  Toss the lentils, basil, mint, vinegar, and pumpkin in a bowl.  Sprinkle goat cheese on top, and drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil.
Voila, bon appetit!

>Shrimp and Pumpkin Bisque

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As adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfield, copyright 2000
Nothing represents fall better than soup.  And for me, bisque immediately conjures up images of turleneck sweaters, stuffed turkeys, fireplaces, and warmth.  I love the creamy, almost nutty flavors of bisques, and the hearty energy they provide on a cold and rainy day.
This bisque is fantastic.  I mean, wow.  Everything from the roast pumpkin to the shrimp sauteed with sage provides so much depth and flavor.  I feel like the rat from ratatouille who can’t help but lose himself in the moment when describing to his less gastronomically-inclined rat friend the joy of combining multiple flavors: pumpkin! shrimp! white wine! butter! sage! cayenne! saffron! Mixed altogether into a soup creates a rat-friendly, perfect fall evening.
Shrimp and Pumpkin Bisque – serves 1
If you use fresh pumpkin (which I highly recommend doing, it makes such a difference with the flavor!), before starting this recipe, cut the pumpkin into 1-inch cubes, roast for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours, and purée. 
4 large shrimp, uncooked and unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoon dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
Pinch saffron threads (about 4 or 5)
1 celery rib, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
1.  Peel and devein shrimp; reserve the shells, and place the shrimp in a bag or container and store in the fridge.  Heat half of the olive oil in a small saucepan over high heat.  Once the oil is smoking, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring constantly, until they are just beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes. 
2.Add the wine to the pan (be careful that it doesn’t ignite – you may want to lift it off the heat for a moment), then boil it over medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated.
3.  Add the chicken stock, saffron, celery, onion, bay leaves, and sage.  Bring to a boil, then simmer gently, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.  Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pushing down on the solids to extract any extra liquid.  Pour the stock back into the saucepan.
4.  Whisk the pumpkin, cream, and cayenne into the stock.  Gently simmer for about 10 more minutes. (This can be made up to 1 day ahead – store, covered in the refigerator; keep the peeled shrimp in a resealable bag in a bowl of ice in the fridge).
5.  Heat the remaining olive oil in a smal skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and sage, and cook until the shrimp are cooked through and slightly crispy, about 3-4 minutes. 
6.  Remove the shrimp from heat, and cut into very small pieces.  Pour the soup into a bowl; lay the shrimp over it.
Voila!! Bon appetit!