Pumpkins: Not Just for Pies!

September 28, 2010

The chefs at Blue Plate catering in Chicago have created several pumpkin recipes to showcase how this popular fall ingredient pumpkin can be used in a variety of recipes. "Pumpkins don't have to be incorporated in just baked goods, says Matt Lyon, Blue Plate's Chef de Cuisine. "The creamy sweetness of pumpkin also works to compliment salty or spicy dishes."

Chef Matt shares Blue Plate's favorite pumpkin recipes and says they will win over everyone in your family, even those who don't like pumpkin pie. He also shares some tips on cooking with fresh pumpkins:

  • Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Gratin
  • Pumpkin Biscuits
  • Cranberry and Apple Compote for Cornbread Stuffing or Cheesecake
  • Curried Ginger and Pumpkin Bisque with Cardamom Crème Fraiche
  • Pumpkin Cheese Cake
  • Pumpkin Bran Waffles
  • Tips on Cooking with Pumpkins:

  • Choose smaller pumpkins for eating. Sugar pumpkins are usually labeled by the market for cooking purposes as opposed to those used for decorating or carving.
  • Pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, are often roasted and eaten as snacks. Another by-product, pumpkin seed oil, is normally mixed with other oils for cooking, salad dressings and other uses due to its strong flavor and color.
  • Pumpkin seeds can be toasted on a cookie sheet in the oven at a low temperature (225 F). Be sure to stir them often and watch for burning. Some prefer to soak the seeds in salt water before toasting. Shelled pumpkin seeds can be used as a less expensive alternative to pine nuts in recipes.
  • Using mashed pumpkin in cake and muffin recipes can add moisture and texture and depth of flavor.
  • Higher temperatures will cause pumpkin flesh to become stringy. If you end up with a stringy pumpkin, you can beat the pulp with an electric mixer on high speed for ten seconds and then switch to low speed for sixty seconds. The strings should wrap around the beaters for easy removal.
  • Homemade pureed pumpkin for pies is usually much thinner in texture than canned. To alleviate excess moisture, bake rather than steam or boil the pumpkin. Mash and drain through cheesecloth before using in pies.
  • About Chef Matthew Lyon

    Matt Lyon is the Chef de Cuisine for Blue Plate (www.blueplatechicago.com). He joined the Blue Plate team in February 2010 following three years as the Executive Chef/ Chef de Cuisine at Wolfgang Puck in the St. Louis Art Museum in St. Louis, MO. He attended the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, where he received his Associate of Applied Science through the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts program in 2006. In his capacity, he manages the catering kitchen to provide quality food for Blue Plate events. Lyon joins the well-known Chicago hospitality company with extensive experience in the restaurant business.

    Originally from Virginia Beach, VA, Lyon broke into the industry at Sterling's Steakhouse in Norfolk, VA where he served as the kitchen manager. He then went on to serve as the Chef de Partie at Ambria in Chicago, IL. Highly skilled with a zeal for creating unique seasonal menus, Lyon brings with him extensive experience in the kitchen. He went on to hold positions within elite and well-known restaurant chain, Wolfgang Puck, where he served as Sous Chef before becoming their Chef de Cuisine.

    Today, as a key player in driving the culinary team at Blue Plate, he will coordinate the development and presentation of new menu items and continually research new methods, recipes and products while referencing his extensive experience in culinary training, cooking technique and philosophies.

    About Blue Plate Catering

    Whether it's an intimate gathering for friends or a gala for ten thousand, Blue Plate can help you do it-with style. Blue Plate opened its first kitchen in 1983. Today, Blue Plate ranks among the top hospitality companies in Chicago. Offering boutique-style catering services to corporate, nonprofit, social and cultural institutions, Blue Plate retains preferred status at more than 85 venues, and has earned national recognition for its standards of service and creativity. In February 2010, the Jean Banchet Awards for Culinary Excellence named Blue Plate "Best Caterer."

    Blue Plate chefs hail from some of the premier kitchens including Everest, MK and Wolfgang Puck. Blue Plate also owns and operates two highly acclaimed restaurants: Rhapsody located at the Symphony Center and Park Grill in Millennium Park. Both of these uniquely conceived restaurants have quickly become an integral hospitality center within their respective world-renowned venues.

    For more information, visit www.blueplatechicago.com

    Pumpkin Bran Waffles with Vermont Maple Syrup, Salted Goats Milk Butter with Candied Pecan and Granola Clusters

    Waffle Batter

    ¾ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
    ¾ Cup AP Flour
    ½ Cup Wheat Bran
    2 tsp Baking Powder
    ¼ tsp Baking Soda
    ½ tsp Salt
    1 Cup Buttermilk
    ¾ Cup Pumpkin Puree
    ¼ Cup Canola Oil
    2 Eggs
    2 tsp Vanilla
    2 TBSP Maple Syrup

    Soak the bran and the buttermilk in a nonreactive container for ten minutes before preparing the recipe

    In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk bran mixture, pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended.

    Preheat your waffle iron and spray it with nonstick spray or brush it with oil. Add enough waffle batter to the hot iron to cover but not overflowing. Cook the waffle for two to three minutes or until crispy. Keep warm in a 200F oven while the rest are being made.

    Yield= 6-8 Large Waffles

    Candied Pecans

    3 Cup Pecan Pieces
    ¾ Cup Sugar
    ¼ Cup Cinnamon
    1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
    2 TBSP Water

    In a stainless steel sauce pot combine sugar, cinnamon and water and heat until smooth, add the pecans and stir for two or three mutes to properly incorporate. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread the Pecans onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 3 12 minute intervals stirring the nuts in between.

    Granola Clusters

    3 Cups Rolled Oats
    1 Cup Shaved Almond
    1 Cup Sweetened Coconut
    ¼ Cup Pistachio
    ½ Cup Molasses
    ¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
    ¼ Cup Peanut Oil
    1 Cup Golden Raisins
    1 TBSP Water
    1 tsp Salt

    Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

    In a large bowl combine the Oats, Nuts and Coconut.

    In a separate bowl combine the Molasses, Brown Sugar, Oil, Water and Salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 Cookie Sheet Pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

    Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.


    ½ Cup Goats Milk Butter Room Temperature
    1 Cup Vermont Maple Syrup Warmed

    Spread Goats Milk Butter over Waffle, top with Candied Pecan, Granola Cluster and then Maple Syrup

    Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Gratin

    Sweet Potato Grated 1 #
    Canned Pumpkin 8 oz
    Granulated Sugar ½ Cup
    Evaporated Milk 1 Can
    Whole Eggs Beaten 2 Each
    Cinnamon 1 Tsp
    Nutmeg ¼ Tsp

    Grate Sweet Potato and fold into canned pumpkin. Beat eggs and whip sugar into ribbons. Add potato Pumpkin Mixture and egg Sugar mixture together. Then fold in the can of evaporated milk. Fill Sprayed muffin tins with mixture and top with cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes, they should Soufflé a bit while baking if the ribbons were formed in the egg and sugar. Plate warm and add 1 scoop of Burnt Caramel or Dolce de Leche Gelato.

    Pumpkin Biscuits with Chipotle Roasted Turkey and Caramel Apple Butter

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon white sugar
    1/3 cup shortening
    1 cup Buttermilk
    ½ Cup Canned Pumpkin

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk and Pumpkin Puree until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven; or, until the edges begin to brown.

    Caramel Apple Butter
    Brown Sugar 1 Cup
    Butter ½ Cup
    Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
    Water 1 TBSP
    Cream ¼ Cup
    Green Apples Cored and Diced 6 ea
    Molasses 1 TBSP
    Granulated Sugar ¼ Cup
    Sautee the Apples in 1 TBSP of the butter until soft add granulated sugar and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the Vanilla, water, molasses and brown sugar. Cook for two to three minutes. Blend the apples until smooth in a blender or with an emersion blender. Add the rest of the butter and the cream and remove from heat.

    Chipotle Roasted Turkey
    Chipotle Peppers and Sauce Blended 1 Can
    Raw Turkey Breast Brined for 24 Hours ½ Breast
    Olive Oil ¼ Cup
    Sea Salt A/N
    Black Pepper A/N

    Brine the Turkey in a solution of Salt and Sugar Water for 24 hours. Remove from the brine and dry the breast. Season the outside with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in a roasting pan and preheated 375 degree oven. Cook the bird for 12 minutes per pound or until minimal internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Midway through the bird will be removed from the oven and rubbed with the chipotle paste. If the paste is put on in the beginning it will burn.

    Curried Ginger and Pumpkin Bisque with Cardamom Crème Fraiche

    ¼ Cup Fresh Ginger
    1 Small Pumpkin Split and Seeds Removed
    2 Shallots Diced
    4 Cloves Garlic
    3 Curry Leaves
    ¼ Cup Madras Style Curry Powder
    4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
    ½ Cup Brown Sugar
    1 Can Coconut Milk
    1 Quart Good Quality Chicken or Vegetable Broth
    3 Cups Greek Yogurt
    1 Cup Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream with Ground Cardamom
    A/N Pumpkin Oil
    A/N Olive Oil
    A/N Sea Salt
    A/N Fresh Ground Black Pepper

    Split the Pumpkin and remove seeds and toast them for garnish, as well as the fibrous inside. Roast in a 300 degree oven for thirty minutes until soft. In the meantime in a 6 qt sauce pot sweat the ginger, garlic and shallot in olive oil until fragrant. Add the curry powder, thyme, curry leaves and brown sugar. Cook for a minute or so, once the sugar has dissolved add the coconut milk, chicken broth, and the pumpkin. Cook on med low heat for thirty to forty minutes stirring occasionally. Puree with emulsion blender or tabletop blender. Adjust the seasonings and whisk in the yogurt at the end. The finished soup should have the consistency of a lobster bisque or butternut squash soup. Garnish with the Cardamom Crème Fraiche and toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Oil.

    Pumpkin Cheese Cake

    Cream Cheese 1#
    Granulated Sugar ½ Cup
    Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
    Whole Eggs 2 ea
    Sour Cream ½ Cup
    Heavy Cream ½ Cup
    Lemon Juice ¼ tsp
    Canned Pumpkin 8 oz

    Use 5 quart mixer Mix cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add eggs one at a time Add sour cream, cream and lemon juice. Pour batter in desired crust and bake at 300 degrees in a water bath.

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