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Special Issue
WWD Scoop issue 09/29/2008

Pumpkins are ripe for the picking—and not just for carving festive jack-o’-lanterns. Chefs across the country have no shortage of recipes that utilize the fall vegetable. WWDScoop presents the best of the crop.

Unconventional pizza toppings might raise eyebrows, but unorthodox pizza sauce is completely uncharted territory. Frank Bonanno, chef and owner of Denver’s Osteria Marco, cooks up an Orange Crush Pizza featuring sauce made from pumpkins instead of tomatoes. “It’s a fun riff on the classic Neapolitan pizza,” explains the chef, who tops his creation with broccoli rabe and ricotta.

This story first appeared in the September 29, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Serves 4

1 medium baking pumpkin
6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4 fresh pitas
1 bunch broccoli rabe, blanched
1 tbs chili flakes
8 sage leaves, julienned or chopped
1 cup ricotta salata, crumbled

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve pumpkin and drizzle each side with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a light dusting of salt and pepper. Set on cookie sheet, flesh side down. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the size of the pumpkin) and remove when tender to the touch. Once it has cooled, scoop out flesh and puree until smooth.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of puree on the pita and spread until covered (about 1/8 inch thick).

Divide broccoli rabe among the four pizzas; sprinkle with chili flakes to taste. Add sage to each and drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top. Salt and pepper to taste.

On a cookie sheet, bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes. Garnish with ricotta and serve.

“I added little bits of carrots to enhance the sweetness,” says Jonnatan Leiva, executive chef of Jack Falstaff in San Francisco, while whisking a saucepan of sugar pie pumpkin. Leiva says the intense flavor of the sugar pie variety calls out for the soup to be paired with lamb roast “or a nice hardy oxtail fettuccine.” He also suggests adding a pinch of saffron, a culinary detail that he picked up from the Spanish cooks in his family.

Serves 8

3 tbs butter
1 whole yellow onion, chopped
1 tbs cinnamon
3 cups peeled and chopped
sugar pie pumpkin
2 cups white wine
6 cups vegetable stock or
chicken stock
3 cups fresh carrot juice
Salt and pepper to taste
For garnish:
Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted almonds

In a stainless steel pot, melt the butter over a medium flame. Add onion, cinnamon and chopped pumpkin. Let the vegetables sweat for about five minutes. Next add the white wine and reduce the heat to low. Let the wine reduce to about half, then add the vegetable stock. Let the pot simmer for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are fully cooked.

Let the soup cool, then transfer to a blender and add the fresh carrot juice. Blend the soup until it has a smooth consistency. Season with salt and a dash of pepper. Garnish with extra virgin olive oil, toasted almonds and chives.

Chef Peter Davis of Henrietta’s Table in Boston searches out sugar pumpkins for his Whoopee Pies and rounds up unusual varietals such as cheese and red curry for his heirloom pumpkin soup. Davis’ first book, Fresh & Honest, hits stores in November.

Yields 6 pies

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 pint heavy cream
1/2 tbs confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon, freshly grated if possible

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix sugar and oil together in a medium-size bowl and add eggs.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder together into a medium-sized bowl. Add to sugar-and-eggs mixture. Add pumpkin puree.

Place in refrigerator to set, about one hour. Use a medium-size ice cream scooper to create 12 balls approximately twice the size of a marble, and use your hands to give a rounder shape.

Place on sheet pan and bake for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Whip cream into stiff peaks, adding sugar and cinnamon while whipping.

Add a medium-size dollop of the cream between two pumpkin cakes to create the sandwich. Serve.

“Pumpkin empanadas may sound like an unusual combination,” says Clark Frasier, who, along with Mark Gaier, co-owns the organic eatery Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine. “But they’re always a huge hit.” In fact, the toques are such proponents of the vegetable that they will host a pumpkin festival dinner this season, complete with its very own patch, on the premises of their other restaurant, Summer Winter, in Burlington, Mass.

Yields 32 small empanadas, or 6 servings

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
12 tbs (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small squares
2 large egg yolks
2 to 3 tbs ice water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse a few times to cut the butter into the flour. Add the egg yolk and combine. Continue to pulse while slowly adding water until the ingredients start to gather.

Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and gently knead to bring together. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about an hour, or for up to one day.

For the filling:
1 small pumpkin or other winter squash, about 3 lbs
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle flesh with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place it skin side up on a cookie sheet and roast until the flesh is very soft, about 30 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or a blender, until smooth. Measure 2 cups puree into a bowl.

Warm the remaining olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring until translucent, about four minutes. Scrape into the pumpkin puree, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper if needed. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the puree and refrigerate until cool.

To assemble and cook the empanadas:
1 large egg, lightly beaten
On a floured work surface, cut the dough cylinder into 1-inch sections. Using a rolling pin, roll each section into a round about 1/8-inch thick and 3 inches in diameter.

Place 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree in the center of each round. Brush the edges with egg, then fold the circles in half, pressing out any air. Carefully crimp the edges together with the back of a fork.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and arrange the empanadas half an inch apart on the sheets. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm. 

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