Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pumpkins: They’re not just for carving
by Daniel Porubiansky
November 05, 2014 11:03 PM | 1401 views |  
Pumpkin soup with Port Wine Cranberries, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil by Daniel Porubiansky, chef partner of Century House Tavern.
Pumpkin soup with Port Wine Cranberries, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil by Daniel Porubiansky, chef partner of Century House Tavern.
Pumpkins are not just for carving on Halloween nor are they just for making pies on Thanksgiving. They’re also delicious to eat in many other ways.

A couple of my favorites I will share with you, one is pumpkin soup and another is crème brulée.

Try making a fresh pumpkin soup with something else that happens to be in season right now — fresh cranberries. The sweet and sour cranberries really work well with the melon cucumber flavors of a pumpkin.

I know you’re thinking I’m crazy right now, but pumpkins, squash, gourds, cucumbers and melons are all in the same family. Next time you have the chance to cut open different types of squash or pumpkins, smell the inside and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Chef tip: If you want to get fancy, you can even serve the soup from inside a cored out pumpkin for effect.

Another favorite of mine, that has been a big hit this fall at Century House Tavern, is the mini pumpkin crème brulée. The crème brulée is actually baked inside a pre-baked mini pumpkin. The presentation is stunning and the dessert tastes even better than it looks. Here are the recipes for you to try at home and as always, good cooking.

Pumpkin Soup (with Port Wine Cranberries, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil)

(Serves 8)

½ pound unsalted butter

2 pie pumpkins

1 yellow onion

2 quarts water

½ quart heavy cream

2 tbsp. pumpkin seed oil

Salt & pepper

1 bag fresh cranberries (normally comes in a 12 oz. bag)

2 cups port wine

½ cup sugar

Zest and juice of one orange

1 cinnamon stick

4 ounces pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp. olive oil



Peel and seed pumpkin. Dice into 1 inch cubes. Cut onion into ½ inch dice. In a large pot, sauté onion with butter over medium-high heat. Stir frequently for 3 minutes. Add diced pumpkin and stir for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until pumpkin is tender (approximately 5 -10 minutes). Add cream and return to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully blend in a blender (Chef tip: liquid is hot and builds pressure in the blender. Slowly and carefully turn on and off the blender until the contents start to emulsify.) Strain through a fine screen China Cap. Adjust seasoning and set aside. Note: This soup can be made two days in advance and will store nicely in the refrigerator.


In a medium sized pot, over medium heat, combine port wine, sugar, orange zest and juice, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce by half, add cranberries, and simmer until thick. Cranberries should have ‘popped’. The mixture should be a thick ragout. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl combine pumpkin seeds with oil and season with salt. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in pre-heated oven for about 8-10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. When seeds are crispy, remove from heat and place on another cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Set aside.

Pumpkin Crème Brulée

(Serves 8)

8 mini pumpkins

½ quart of cream

½ quart of milk

8 oz. granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean (scraped)

12 egg yolks

4 tbsp. raw sugar (also known as turbinado sugar)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully cut the top off the pumpkins. Cut about ¼ inch of meat off the top of the pumpkins. With a spoon, scrap and clean out the inside of the pumpkins. Put the top back on the pumpkins and bake them in the oven for approximately 50 minutes. Remove from heat, take the tops off and set aside.

While the pumpkins are in the oven we can make the crème brulée base. Bring milk, cream, sugar and vanilla to a boil in a medium sauce pan. In a separate bowl with the yolks, slowly temper the hot mixture into the yolks, whisking briskly until all liquid is combined. Strain through a fine screen china cap and set aside.

Chef Tip: The brulée base can be made up to three days in advance and stored in your refrigerator.

Arrange pumpkins in a casserole dish and fill pumpkins with brulée mixture. Add a ½ inch of water to the bottom of the casserole dish, place filled pumpkins in the same 350 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes uncovered (do not re-cook the tops, save for presentation later). Cooking time varies depending on the size of the pumpkins and your oven, brulée may require an additional 10-15 minutes of baking. When the custard is set, remove from oven and allow to cool. After one hour, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Plate up:

Remove finished pumpkins from the refrigerator, sprinkle ½ tbsp. of raw sugar evenly over each brulée. With a propane torch, brulée sugar until bubbly and golden brown. (Chef’s tip: Do not over caramelize the sugar as it will become bitter.) Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds (see pumpkin soup recipe for seed procedure) and serve with the cooked top alongside the pumpkin.

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