Great pumpkin: It’s fall. Bring it on.
by Lisa Davis
Oct 05, 2011 | 3267 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo: Special to The Star
Photo: Special to The Star
Long before the weather turned cool, the signs of fall were all about. Pumpkin coffee at Starbucks. Pumpkin pie milkshakes at Sonic. Pumpkin spice Hershey’s Kisses.

But pumpkin is best enjoyed baked into warm, scrumptious pastries, or simmered on the stovetop in a soup.

Java Jolt Coffee House, on the square in Jacksonville, recently threw a Pumpkin Day — and it was so successful they’re doing it again.

On Monday, Java Jolt will be filled with luscious pumpkin scents. They’ll be serving pumpkin soup for lunch, as well as pumpkin mocha, pumpkin latte and other pumpkin-flavored coffee drinks.

And the pastry case will be filled with pumpkin crunch, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake and pumpkin parfaits.

Keep an eye out for Apple Day, coming soon.

Cinderella Pumpkin Soup

Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club — one of Alabama’s star chefs — is an inveterate pumpkin-carver. Each year, he carves about two dozen jack-o-lanterns and fills up his porch. He draws his designs free-hand, and then puts his knife skills to good use. He roasts the seeds from the smaller pumpkins, and uses the flesh of the big “Cinderella” pumpkins in recipes — including this pumpkin soup. Makes 2 quarts, or 8 servings.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white part only)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
8 cups peeled and medium-diced Cinderella pumpkin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 cups water (or just enough to cover)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the leeks and thyme and cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the pumpkin, salt, sugar, chicken stock, water (only enough to barely cover the diced pumpkin) and pepper and bring to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to low.

Allow the mixture to cook, covered, at a simmer for 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is fully cooked through and tender.

Remove the stockpot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a blender in small batches and puree until smooth.

Add salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve immediately.

— Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook
by Chris and Idie Hastings

Pumpkin Gingerbread Bars

Shopping tip: Make sure you choose a can of pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling that already contains spices. Makes 12 servings.

2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup solid pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square pan with nonstick vegetable spray.

Beat eggs with electric mixer at high speed 2 minutes. Add brown sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add pumpkin, molasses and vanilla. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger; stir to blend. Add to pumpkin mixture; stir well.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool 10 minutes in pan; invert onto platter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

— The Kansas City Star

Pumpkin Day

When: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday.

What: Pumpkin pastries, pumpkin soup, pumpkin coffee drinks.

Where: Java Jolt Coffee House, on the east side of the square, Jacksonville, 256-782-3222.
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