Saturday, September 24, 2011


Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Pumpkin — it's not just for carving scary faces anymore! A little wiki info on pumpkins: one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin-producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Nestlé produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the U.S. Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a significant role in fertilization. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta-carotene performs many important functions in overall health. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging. Pumpkin is great because its super easy to use, low in calories and very versatile. The canned organic straight puree is as good as fresh and a whole lot less work so that’s how I roll. Most people think pie, but I think cheesecake (my recipe is already on the website) pumpkin lentil soup, pumpkin flan or crème Brule, how about pumpkin bread pudding? If you want to buy fresh don’t forget to roast the seeds. Here is a great doughnut recipe to try.

Spiced Pumpkin Doughnuts

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or a Dash of ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
Spiced Sugar

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high seed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour until well combined. Cover and chill 3 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-inch doughnut cutter, dipping cutter into flour between cuts. Re-roll as necessary.

Fry doughnuts, 2 or 3 at a time, in deep, hot fat (365 degrees F) about 2-1/2 minutes or until golden, turning once. Using a slotted spoon, removed doughnuts from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Coat warm doughnuts in Spiced Sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 12 doughnuts plus holes.

Spiced Sugar: In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg).