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Pumpkin possibilities

The versatile orange fruit is a star in the kitchen.

(Page 2 of 3)



The first English settlers at Plimoth Plantation were introduced to pumpkins by the native Americans and it's thought that they were served their first pumpkin dish at their first or second Thanksgiving.

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Colonists soon were developing their own pumpkin recipes. They would hollow pumpkins, fill them with milk, spices, and maple syrup, and bake them on hot coals. It was the precursor of today's pumpkin pie. Today, many Americans feel that Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie is nothing less than sacrilege.

What better time to return to your Pilgrim roots and cook a fresh pumpkin from scratch? They're everywhere and they're easy to cook, so there's no excuse. You'll never reach for a can of pumpkin again.

PUMPKIN-GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

These crostini make an interesting seasonal starter for a meal. They can also be made with any cooked winter squash, such as butternut or acorn. Serve with cups of cold cider. This recipe makes about 24 crostini; halve the recipe if needed.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 ounces herbed or plain goat cheese, crumbled

2 cups pumpkin purée (canned or freshly baked)

1/2 teaspoon salt

24 slices French bread, sliced in 1/2- inch diagonals

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Dried cranberries for topping, about 3 or 4 for each crostini

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a medium-size, heavy saucepan. When hot, add onion. Sauté over medium-low heat – stirring often and being careful not to burn – until onions are soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes; set aside.

When cool, mix in goat cheese, pumpkin, and salt.

Divide the pumpkin mix evenly over each slice of French bread. Top with mozzarella cheese, dried cranberries, and parsley. Arrange on a cookie sheet, and bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

CREAMED CURRY-PUMPKIN BISQUE

This pumpkin bisque can be made a day or two ahead of time and refrigerated. This will allow the flavors to meld. Simply reheat before serving.

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon butter

1 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 cups freshly baked pumpkin (or a 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée)

2 tablespoons molasses

1/3 cup sugar

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, reduce heat to low, and cook until soft and browned, about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in all the spices, including salt and pepper.

Stir in pumpkin, molasses, and sugar. When mixture begins to bubble, slowly stir in vegetable broth.

Simmer, covered, for 18 to 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Whisk in cream and allow to heat. Serve when hot. Divide soup evenly into 6 bowls; serve with cilantro on the side to garnish.

Serves 6.

PRIZE-WINNING PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

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