Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Great Pumpkin Diva Dinner - November 2006

Diva: Mariah

Drinks: Erin


½ ounce Cointreau liqueur (I may have used triple sec)
2 ounces cranberry juice
4 ounces champagne

Pour Cointreau and cranberry juice in a champagne flute; top off with champagne.

Appetizer: Nicole
Pumpkin Dip

Makes for 6 ½ c (about 25 servings)
Prep: 15 min.
Chill: up to 2 days

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
2/3 c sugar
1 T pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla
Ground nutmeg
Assorted crackers

In a very large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer to a bowl or storage container. Cover and chill up to 2 days.

Transfer to a serving container and sprinkle with nutmeg. Serve with crackers. Makes 6-1/2 cups (about 25 servings).

Salad: Ashley
Warm pumpkin salad with polenta and candied pumpkin seeds

1 ½ c yellow cornmeal (not coarse)
7 ½ c water
2 ¾ tsp salt
2 ½ T unsalted butter
1 T sugar
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne
½ c raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 T fresh pomegranate juice (see cooks' note, below) or cranberry juice cocktail
2 tsp Sherry vinegar
1 T minced shallot
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small cheese pumpkin or butternut squash (2 lb), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and seeded
1 (6-oz) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 oz arugula, trimmed

Prepare polenta:
Bring cornmeal, water, and 2 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until polenta is creamy and tender, about 50 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in 11/2 tablespoons butter and cool slightly.

Spoon polenta onto center of a lightly buttered large baking sheet, then spread evenly into a 10- by 7-inch rectangle (about 1/2 inch thick).
Cover with plastic wrap, then poke several holes in wrap with a small sharp knife and chill 2 hours.

Candy pumpkin seeds:
Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat.
Stir in sugar, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then cook, without stirring, until caramelized. Add pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until seeds are puffed and golden. Transfer to a plate to cool. When seeds have hardened, break up any clumps with your fingers.

Make vinaigrette:
Whisk together pomegranate juice, vinegar, and shallot and let stand 5 minutes.
Whisk in 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.

Roast pumpkin:
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut pumpkin quarters crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
Toss with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper to taste in a shallow baking pan and arrange slices in 1 layer. Roast in middle of oven until just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, then cover with foil to keep warm.

Fry polenta while pumpkin roasts:
Trim polenta into a 9- by 6-inch rectangle.
Cut polenta into 6 (3-inch) squares, then halve each square diagonally. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet until hot but not smoking, then cook polenta in 2 batches, turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes (if necessary, use remaining tablespoon oil for second batch). Transfer as cooked to a plate and keep warm, covered.

Assemble salad:
Shave 12 strips from cheese with a vegetable peeler.

Whisk vinaigrette, then toss arugula in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat.

Place several pieces of pumpkin and 1 piece of polenta on each of 6 plates. Top with arugula, more pumpkin, and remaining polenta. Sprinkle with candied pumpkin seeds and top with parmesan shavings, then drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

Cooks' notes:
Polenta, spread on baking sheet and not yet fried, can be chilled up to 1 day.
Candied pumpkin seeds can be prepared 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
To juice a pomegranate, firmly roll it on a work surface until it feels softer, then cut a small hole in skin and squeeze.

Soup: Brenda (sub for Michelle)

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin puree (2 cans or make own, I used cans of
organic unsweetened pumpkin)
1 yellow onion
3-4 cloves garlic
2-3 carrots
1/2-1 c mushrooms (I used shitake)
vegetable stock
pumpkin seeds
olive oil

Sauté onion, garlic, chopped carrots and mushrooms in olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add 2 cans pumpkin and 2 c. vegetable stock, stir together. Add pinch of ginger and nutmeg to taste, but start small and add sparingly! Allow to simmer gently until carrots are tender. Roast pumpkin seeds in olive oil and salt. Add salt to soup to taste. Add vegetable stock as needed to achieve desired thickness of soup. (I needed to add in additional cup or two.) Serve warm with pumpkin seeds as a garnish.

Side Dish: Tiffany

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins with Stuffing, Green Beans and Tempeh

¾ c onion, diced
½ c celery, diced
2 tsp dried or 3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp sage
¼ tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
4 c bread cubes (whole grain)
10-12 T strong vegetable broth* (up to 3/4 cup)
1 c steamed Green beans
1 c sautéed Tempeh

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a small frying pan, sauté onion and celery until tender with the parsley, sage, salt, cayenne (or regular pepper, if you prefer). This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes with onion mixture, green beans, tempeh and vegetable broth, adding slightly more if the bread is very absorbent (some need more liquids), and mix well. S Salt or pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cut the top off the pumpkins. Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds and strings. Place the pumpkins upside down in a pan with 1/3 inch of water. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully turn the pumpkins upright and fill with stuffing mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the stuffing is minutes crisp and golden and the groups are soft.

Serve immediately.

Entree: Tamara
Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage and Pine Nuts

1 c pumpkin puree**
3 tablespoons finely minced shallot or white onion
4 tablespoons olive oil or margarine
3 tablespoons soy milk or other nondairy milk
1 tablespoon sherry or sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon vegan parmesan cheese (optional)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
pasta dough or wonton wrappers
several sprigs of fresh sage
pine nuts


Step 1: Make the filling. In a large skillet, heat half (2 tablespoons) of the oil or vegan margarine over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot or onion and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and cook until slightly dry, about 2-3 more minutes. Add the soymilk, sherry or vermouth, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 2 more minutes.

At this point you can save the filling and make the ravioli another day if you wish.

Step 2: Make the ravioli, using about 2 tsp of filling per ravioli and sealing the edges with water. It should make about 16 ravioli. At this point, you can store the ravioli by placing them on layers of wax paper or parchment paper in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a day or two if you aren't ready to cook them. Wonton wrappers may turn gooey-looking where they are in contact with the filling, but they should come out OK after boiling.

If you are cooking them the same night you make them, let the formed ravioli rest while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. This is a good time to chop the sage and toast the pine nuts. (Toast the pine nuts in a small dry pan over medium heat, shaking every couple of minutes until they are browned to your taste.) Boil the ravioli 2-3 minutes, then remove and pat dry.

Step 3: Dress the ravioli. Either wipe clean the skillet you used for the filling or use a fresh one (make sure its roomy). Heat the remaining half (2 tablespoons) of the olive oil or vegan margarine over medium heat and add the chopped sage. Add the cooked ravioli (leave plenty of room - do it in several batches if necessary) and sauté for about 2-3 minutes per side. Plate and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

*Assuming you have premade dough or wonton wrappers. If you make your own pasta, it will take longer.

**A 15-ounce/425g can of pumpkin contains 1 3/4 c. I've cooked my own fresh pumpkin, and I've used canned, and to my picky palate, canned tastes every bit as good, its a hundred times easier, and its never stringy. So I recommend canned pumpkin all the way.

Serves: 2-4

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Dessert: Stacey
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 c pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
1 c oil
2 c sifted flour
1 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg

Blend pumpkin, eggs and oil in a mixing bowl. Blend all the dry ingredients together, then fold into pumpkin mixture.
Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 mins.
Remove from oven and cool to room temp. before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz. cream cheese softened
½ c butter softened
½ c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp light cream or milk

Mix cream cheese with butter. Whip in sugar, vanilla and cream. Spread over pumpkin bars.

WildCard: Sara

Stuffed Mushrooms

Clean and de-stem 3 dozen mushrooms, save stems.
1 small white onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ stick butter
1 c pumpkin seeds, finely chopped
1 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 T pumpkin seed oil
Salt, pepper, paprika

Finely chop clean mushroom stems, sauté with garlic, onion, and pumpkin seeds, until onion is wilted. Let mixture cool. In large bowl mix sautéed ingredients with spices and Parmesan. Fill mushroom caps with mixture and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil. Bake mushrooms at 350° for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Pumpkin seed humus

2 c cooked, cooled, and drained garbanzo beans
6 cloves garlic
3 T Pumpkin seed oil
3 T Tahini
3 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste.

I used a food processor to blend all ingredients together. Serve with warm pita bread.

Lottery: Lovina

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