pumpkin

Seasonal Entree -> Whole Roasted + Stuffed Pumpkin Magic

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    Alyssa Joy Photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by Alyssa Joy Photography

Let me begin by saying there is a degree of “fly by the seat of your pants” when doing a whole roasted + stuffed pumpkin. Size and variety of pumpkin both play a part in how long it takes for it to cook through. That being said, it is an easy recipe as most of your effort is in prepping the pumpkin and ingredients. The rest is just hurry up and wait. I used Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in Around My French Table as my main guide as well as perusing a couple of other versions I found online.

Most people use pie pumpkins for this recipe for their small size. But I love a challenge so of course I bought an heirloom variety twice the size of a pie pumpkin. A fairytale pumpkin to be exact; approximately 6ish pounds. I can’t say for sure on weight as my kitchen scale doesn’t go that high. As most pie pumpkins are half that weight or smaller, you can see why I’m harping on “guide” here. Especially since heirloom varieties often have thicker flesh. Everything below is approximate so add as much or as little as you want of something. All the ingredients are pre-cooked anyway so if there is something you love (bacon!), by all means, add more (mushrooms!). I recommend baking this on a sheet pan or in an oven safe skillet/braiser. Be sure to read recipe through before beginning. If you have questions feel free to ask!

Whole Roasted + Stuffed Pumpkin

(adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in Around My French Table)

Ingredients

1 pumpkin, washed thoroughly (mine was a ‘fairytale’ variety, 6ish lbs)

2 cups pre-cooked rice (I used basmati cooked in chicken broth)

1 pound bacon, cooked crisply and diced or sliced into lardons (I used about 8 slices)

portobello mushrooms, sliced + sauteed (I used a half dozen or so)

1 small onion, diced sauteed

1-2 clove garlic, minced

5 oz (-ish) cheese of choice, cubed (I used emmenthale. Gouda would also be great.)

thyme, few sprigs, de-stemmed + more for garnish

1 cup (-ish) heavy cream

nutmeg, pinch freshly grated

kosher salt + pepper to taste

olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and center a rack. I lined a baking sheet with foil and then lightly sprayed the foil. Things didn’t get messy but I also chose a more dense variety of pumpkin. Cut the top out of the pumpkin. This isn’t a jack o’ lantern so make it a bit wider so you have room to work. Scoop out the seeds and strings. Thoroughly season the inside of the pumpkin with salt + pepper.

In a large bowl, mix the rice, bacon, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cheese, and thyme. As I prepared each ingredient I used salt + pepper accordingly. Test for salt + pepper preference and add accordingly keeping in mind the bacon and cheese are going to release salt into the mix. Fill the pumpkin with the mix all the way to the inside top. You may or may not use all the filling. Season the cream with nutmeg and a little salt and pepper to taste. Remember not to overdo it because bacon + cheese! But I did find in mine that I needed to add a bit to the cream. Pour the cream over the rice mixture but not all at once. Pour over a half cup and check the moisture level. Your mixture might require more or less than the recipe calls for. You want it moistened by not soupy as the pumpkin is going to release moisture into the rice mixture as well. Put the cap on. Rub olive oil over the outside and sprinkle with salt. Pop it in the oven. Mine took approximately 3 hours to cook. This means that you WILL NEED to cover with aluminum foil once the skin starts to darken to keep it from blistering too much. It is done when you can easily pierce the pumpkin flesh with a fork. You will need to periodically check for doneness as it cooks. I checked at the two hour mark and again 30 minutes later. You may want to remove the lid for evaporation purposes if the stuffing is too moist for your liking. When it is done you can scoop it from the inside like a pot of stew being sure to pull some of the pumpkin into the mixture or you can cut into wedges. I did the old scoop and pull as I wanted to keep its shape for serving.

Be sure to check out Dorie’s recipe as well as she has ideas for different ingredients. While researching I discovered Armenian and Turkish versions called ghapama - stuffed with rice, dried fruits, and honey! - and I will definitely be trying that in the future. Good luck! You got this!

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by    Alyssa Joy Photography

styling by jennifer oatsvall | photo by Alyssa Joy Photography

Seasonal Brunch -> Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Nothing says brunch to me quite like French Toast and this cozy cool weather version is a warm hug in a pan, I tell ya. Pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, pecans - praise hands! I'll be honest and share that I add a little extra of everything: extra pumpkin, extra spice, and definitely extra pecans. When I was shopping for this recipe I got lucky and stumbled on one last loaf of brioche so I snatched it up to mix with the baguettes I already had in my cart. That eggy brioche makes it that much more decadent. If you expect to refrigerate leftovers, I would stick to french baguette or a similar hearty bread as the brioche can get a bit too wet when refrigerated after baking. I like to make my own pumpkin pie spice because I already have all of the spices anyway and it seems a waste for me to buy pumpkin pie spice. Plus I love to grate my own nutmeg as it's one of those spices that loses its punch fairly quickly if it sits on a shelf too long. There's really no comparison to buying it off the shelf and grating it yourself. But if you don't have all of the spices in the recipe, pumpkin pie spice is perfectly fine! 

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography:  alyssa joy photography    

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography: alyssa joy photography
 

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

(adapted from Little Spice Jar)

Ingredients

1 day old French, brioche, or challah bread, diced (see Note)

2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (recipe below)

1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Streusal Topping

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup cold salted butter, diced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (recipe below)

1/2 - 3/4 cup whole pecans

The smell when this comes out of the oven is delightful. Prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography:  alyssa joy photography    

The smell when this comes out of the oven is delightful. Prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography: alyssa joy photography
 

Directions

Generously spritz a 9x13 dish with nonstick cooking spray. Add diced bread to baking dish, sprinkle with chopped pecans; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and pie spice. Pour the prepared custard over the bread in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 3-4 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Streusal Topping: combine light brown sugar, butter, flour, and pie spice in a small bowl. Using your fingertips, quickly mix together until the butter breaks down into smaller pieces. Press the whole pecans onto the casserole and sprinkle the topping over the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. If the streusal topping starts to brown too much, tent with a piece of aluminum foil. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with syrup of your choice, butter, and powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

3 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Whisk all in a small bowl and store in resealable container.

*We used a 50/50 mix of French + brioche breads. It is important that the bread not be fresh so it will stand up to the custard. To accelerate the process: cube or tear bread into chunks, spread on baking sheet and allow to sit out on counter for several hours. Every hour, toss the cubes to expose them to more air. When bread starts feeling dry to the touch, ready to use.

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography:  alyssa joy photography

prop + food styling: jennifer oatsvall of {feather + oak}, photography: alyssa joy photography

It's nutty and delicious and smells amazing when you take it out of the oven.