The Richmond Food Collective is always trying to think of new ways to grow, enjoy and spread the word about local food, sustainable agriculture and seasonal cooking. With much excitement, we have now leapt into the podcasting world with Collective Kitchen, a short podcast in which we will hopefully take you on some great adventures in the world of local food!
Click here to download Collective Kitchen, Episode 1: Cooking with Pumpkin! Use our RSS feed to subscribe through iTunes or your favorite podcast subscription software!
For our first set of podcasts, we will invite you into our homes to investigate our ingredient of the month as we cook, learn about and eat a seasonal item. Sometimes these dinners will also include some of our good, local food lovin' friends, whose opinions you may hear during the podcast. We will offer plenty of facts on our featured ingredient, as well as information on the Virginia wines, brews or spirits we pair with the meal. Look for other kinds of broadcasts in the future when the RFC 'steps out' to visit local businesses, farms and markets on our quest to learn more about finding, growing, and preparing great local food.
Our first podcast features pumpkin as the ingredient of the month! I played host this time, and for our meal I used a pie pumpkin I had purchased this past October from the Agriberry stand at Lakeside Farmers Market. For the entree I made a creamy roasted pumpkin sage sauce over fresh cheese and spinach ravioli from Cavanna Pasta; Natalie contributed a wilted white bean, rosemary and spinach salad; my dessert was a roasted pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream.
First and foremost, the wine!
We drank some delicious wines during dinner! Here is a reminder of Erin's picks: the vineyard was White Hall Vineyard. The white we started off with was the 2007 Viognier, followed by the 2007 Cabernet Franc during dinner...dessert was the 2006 Touriga.
The first step for a roasted pumpkin sauce or a homemade pumpkin pie is roasting the pumpkin. This looks like a long process in print, but it actually goes very quickly. I estimate about 30 minutes of prep and 40 minutes for the cooking (during which time you can be working on the other portions of your recipes.)
First, using a sharp chef's knife, carefully cut the top out of your pumpkin, just as you would when preparing a jack-o-lantern.
Then cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom.
Once your pumpkin is opened up, scoop out all of the seeds and stringy parts from each half. To save the seeds, put the stringy, seedy mess in a large bowl with cool water and, using your hands, remove as much of the fleshy strings as possible. Then dump into a colander for the final cleaning.
Lay wet seeds out on a flour sack towel folded over them to dry. You can rub the seeds between the two layers of towel to catch any remaining pumpkin bits if necessary.
Once the halves are cleaned out, spray or brush a light coating of olive oil over the flesh, then place both halves flesh-side down on a baking sheet. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake until the skin has taken on a slightly darker color and a fork can easily pierce through the skin. For a 4lb pumpkin this takes about 40 minutes, give or take. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Next scoop all of the flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Cumin
To make use of the whole fruit, I toasted my cleaned pumpkin seeds on a baking tray in the oven at 350 degrees. All you have to do is toss the raw seeds with enough butter or olive oil to coat them and then spread them out in a single layer on the tray. Place the tray on the middle rack of the oven. Stir the seeds once or twice and take them out once they have turned slightly golden. Toss with salt and a little cumin. I used cumin just because I thought it would complement the pumpkin dishes well, and left the seeds out as a snack for the guests while the finishing touches were being put on the meal.
Roasted Pumpkin Sage Sauce
This recipe is my own concoction: a mix of ingredients I had around the house. I loved the way this turned out! One of the rewards of playing in the kitchen.Ingredients:
1 medium onion finely chopped
3-4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter (I use Kerry Gold brand, unsalted for sauteeing)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Note: we went all out and used unrefined grey Sea Salt or "Fleur De Mar." This salt is a bit pricey, but after some discussion, I think we all agreed it was well worth it. French grey sea salt should not be used for cooking, but instead sprinkled over the finished dish as a garnish. Penzey's Spices in Carytown offers both machine-processed and hand raked versions.
Sautee the onions in the butter until they become translucent (about 3 minutes). In a medium pot mix the pumpkin puree, milk, and cream. Begin to heat on low. Add the garlic to the onions in the skillet and toss with the sage. Remove the onion mix from the heat and stir it into the pumpkin mixture. Add the parmesan and pepper and stir. Simmer on low to medium-low for 10-12 minutes to let sauce thicken a bit. Immediately spoon sauce over plated pasta of your choice. I used a cheese and spinach ravioli from Cavanna. My husband added meatballs he made from CCL Farms' sage pork sausage and was very happy with his meal. Another great addition would be coarsely chopped toasted walnuts. This dish was fantastic and it was matched perfectly with Natalie's wilted spinach side dish. Most of us placed the salad alongside the pasta on the same plate so we could easily add a little spinach to our pasta as we liked.
Wilted White Bean and Spinach Salad
1/2 lb. Spinach
2 cups Cannellini or other white beans
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2-3 cloves garlic
Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Saute garlic until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Take off heat and pour over cooked cannellini beans. Add rosemary, and allow to marinate while you wilt the spinach. Put the skillet back on the stove, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. Throw spinach into the skillet and toss until just wilted. Don't cook it for too long or it will get soggy and dark green. Remove from heat and put spinach on a nice serving plate. Spread beans on top. Cover with an ample dusting of parmesan cheese.
First let's make the crust. My crust recipe comes from the 'The Enchanted Broccoli Forest' , the old Vegetarian cookbook by Molly Katzen of Moosewood fame. Her basic pie crust recipe is so satisfying and simple to make that it has become a staple in my kitchen for everything from quiche to tomato-zucchini pie, to the wonderful winter dessert we are discussing here.
Here is Molly Katzen's basic pie crust recipe:
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups flour (up to 1/4 of flour can be whole wheat)
Between 4-6 tablespoons water, milk or buttermilk (the amount depends on the humidity level of your kitchen)
As I mentioned in the podcast, a lot of recipes for pumpkin pie call for evaporated milk. The RFC makes every possible effort to eat as close to home as possible, but also to limit our use of ingredents that have been industrially processed, so ith that in mind I wanted use only fresh cream and not evaporated milk.
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tsp flour
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
A pinch of fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp brandy (optional)