The Main Menu: The pumpkin is the prince from October on

It's pumpkin time, and our columnist Jan Main has some winning recipes for you.

By JAN MAIN

The pumpkin is prince from October through the winter months.

Pumpkins, a member of the squash family, are rich in carotene, fiber and vitamin C. Their rich flavour and creamy texture makes them ideal for both savory and dessert recipes.

With Halloween around the corner and perhaps leftover pumpkin, sweet potato or squash puree in the refrigerator from Thanksgiving, not to mention the Christmas season ahead, these recipe suggestions are sure to find a place in your home.

Curried Pumpkin and Apple Soup

Truly a harvest taste of pumpkin and apple, the warming flavour and velvety texture are delicious for both lunch and dinner menus.

The soup can be made ahead (up to two days) or frozen for longer storage. Remember sweet potato or squash could be substituted for the pumpkin. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. This recipe doubles easily if using a 28 oz/ 796 mL can of pumpkin.

2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
2 stalks celery, sliced (1 cup/ 250 mL)
1 large onion, chopped
1 can (14 oz/ 1 2/3 cup/ 398 mL) pumpkin puree. Not pie filling!
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp curry powder
3 cups (750 mL) chicken stock
2 cups (500 mL) evaporated milk or cream
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
Salt (will depend on saltiness of chicken stock)

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Cook celery and onion covered until vegetables are softened, about five minutes.

Stir in pumpkin puree, apple, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, curry powder and chicken stock. Increase heat to high; bring to boil; reduce heat to medium cover and simmer until vegetables are tender about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Stir in milk or cream.

In a blender or food processor, puree soup in batches. Stir in pepper and salt to taste. Makes about 6 cups (1 ½ L), 4 to 6 servings.

Frozen Pumpkin Ice-cream (Torte)

Ideal for entertaining, this recipe can be served without the base layer in dainty cups or wine glasses as a mousse or frozen as a semi-freddo. Alternatively, for a dramatic presentation, it can be made with the base layer in a spring form pan, frozen and sliced.
Whichever way you choose to serve it, this dessert is sublime. (For people who do not like pumpkin pie, you will love this version!)

Base Layer:
1 pkg (250 g) ginger cookies, crumbled
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (50 mL) melted butter

Pumpkin Ice-cream:
1 can (14 oz/ 1 2/3 cup/398 mL) pumpkin puree. Not pie filling!
1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cloves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg and salt
1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream, whipped
1 pkg (8 oz/ 250 g pkg) full fat cream cheese

If you are using a spring form pan, line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

In a food processor or blender, add the crumbled ginger cookies and ground cinnamon. Puree until fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into bowl and stir in melted butter combining well. Press crumbs into bottom of spring form pan; cover and freeze while making the filling.

Filling for semi-freddo and dramatic presentation:

In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. In separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.

In separate bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy, beat the cream cheese into the pumpkin mixture until well blended and fold in the whipped cream.  Spoon filling into small cups; cover and freeze or spoon evenly onto crumb base, cover and freeze, four hours or overnight.

To serve semi-freddo, garnish with a rosette of whipped cream.

For the dramatic presentation, remove parchment paper; slice the torte onto a large serving platter and pipe whipped cream decoratively around the base of the torte. Slice with a knife dipped into hot water.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.


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