Tis the season of the Great Pumpkin! Beginning with Halloween when he takes center stage and captures everyone’s attention right on through to Thanksgiving when he’s sure to appear in and around the traditional holiday dinner and anytime in between. This “jolly good fellow” can make an unexpected appearance in any number of interesting and enticing ways, not the least of which is in this luscious ginger pumpkin custard.
When this happens he will once again have succeeded in stealing the show, by enhancing a dinner or lovely dessert buffet.
Milder in flavor and less dense than the traditional pumpkin pie this dessert will surprise and please the eater with its unexpected addition of candied ginger – lifting it out of the ordinary into the extraordinary!
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and fresh ginger until blended. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, milk, vanilla and salt until blended.
- Pour into 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Place custard cups in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place dish on oven rack in center of oven. Pour boiling water into pan around custard cups to a depth of 1 1/4 inches.
- Bake 35 minutes or until centers are almost set. Remove custard cups from baking dish and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or cold. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and candied ginger just before serving.
I love fall — just the smells hanging in the air fills me with a sense of adventure. Woody smoke, apples, root vegetables, leaves burning…it is all there beckoning us to pay attention. The other day, the Sisters were given a very generous donation of pumpkins from a local nursery. It was a beautiful sight seeing them lining our walk in all different shapes and sizes. Being the thrifty sort and hating to see anything go to waste, I knew we must use these not just to beautify our property, but to eat before they went bad. When I got the call that a lunch was needed to feed our community of 200 people, I knew just the thing – homemade pumpkin soup – Delightful! We set about cutting the pumpkins into large chunks, roasting them in the oven, and then transferring them to our skillet where we turned it all into a yummy creamy pumpkin soup. When we were all done, we still had pumpkins left over! (It felt a bit like the feeding of the 5000!). I remembered that a friend, returning from Italy, had brought me a wonderful recipe of a whole, roasted pumpkin layered with ham, sautéed vegetables and cheese. It’s a perfect recipe to try at this time of year, especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner.
Pumpkin stuffed with Vegetables and Cheese
- Wash the pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Cut the head of the pumpkin, making an incision horizontally about 2 inches down from the stem
- Place the top back on the pumpkin, wrap it in tin foil and place in a preheated oven for about one hour or until the pumpkin is almost fork tender.
- Remove from oven, let it cool slightly and remove the seeds. With the spoon, gently remove some of the flesh from inside the pumpkin and reserve.
- Generously salt and pepper the interior of the pumpkin.
- In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil and add the butternut squash and parsnips. Sprinkle with kosher or onion salt and pepper.
- When they are partially cooked, remove from the skillet
- Add onions and peppers to the same skillet, again sprinkling with salt and pepper.
- Once they have cooked a few minutes, add the mushrooms, followed by the zucchini, a few minutes later. Sautéing slightly.
- While the vegetables are cooking, grate your cheese and set aside and slice your ham into thin strips.
- Once the vegetables are prepared, in the cavity of your pumpkin, start layering in this order: ham, baby spinach, assorted vegetables, the reserved pumpkin, swiss cheese, parmesan cheese and repeat – two or three times, ending with cheese.
- Place the top on the pumpkin, place the pumpkin in a casserole dish or cast iron skillet, and return to the oven for about 45 min. or until heated through and cheese is bubbly. Let rest a few minutes and slice when ready to serve.
For a meal, serve this with homemade bread or rolls and a salad.
Friday morning is muffin day at the convent. Walking back from church to the refectory for breakfast I try to guess what kind it will be today. Our muffin baking sisters excel at so many varieties it is hard to predict which type will be next. Last week they surprised us with the best banana nut muffins I have ever tasted. We haven’t had their poppy seed or those wholesome raisin bran ones in a while, both of which are big favorites so we could be having one of those today. But as I open the convent door and get a whiff of fragrant spices I know it is neither of the above. I’ll have to guess again!
We like to do a lot of seasonal decorating in and around the convent, mainly using what is produced on our grounds and in our gardens. Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving always feature an abundance of pumpkins — but now that fall is behind us and it’s decor has been remembered, we have started decorating for Advent. What is going to happen to the leftover pumpkins, many of which were still very robust and healthy? They have been sitting in the back stairwell of the convent kitchen waiting there to find out. Well yesterday some kitchen sisters chopped, cooked and mashed them up to be frozen for future use.
Aha! Is that what I smell? Have these pumpkins been turned into a heart warming breakfast for us this morning? Yes! Indeed they have. Our resourceful muffin baking sisters have just created a prize winner. Let’s name it “The Spicy Pumpkin Streusel Muffin” — absolutely delicious! Those chubby pumpkins could not have had a happier ending.Apple Streusel Pumpkin Muffins
Apple Streusel Pumpkin Muffins
- Preheat oven 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins or line with paper.
- In a bowl combine flour, sugar and cinnamon.
- Cut in butter; mix until coarse and crumbly.
- Set aside.In another bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
- Make a well in the center.
- In another bowl combine eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir just until blended.
- Add apples and blend well.
- Add to dry ingredients; stirring just until moist.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling three-quarters full.
- Sprinkle with topping.Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes about one dozen.