Tag Archives: miso

What I haven’t cooked yet.

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Two weeks ago, Dave and Valerie from Sunnyside Farm gave me a Cinderella pumpkin, saying, “We bet you haven’t cooked this yet.” They were right. I’ve cooked Blue Hubbards, warty Peanut pumpkins and dark-green, lumpy, Italian Marina de Chioggia. But I had never cooked a Cinderella pumpkin.

The first thing I wanted to know was how it tasted. Grey and oblong, Blue Hubbards are sweet and rich. If you want classic pumpkin, for pie or soup, Hubbard is the squash for you. Peanut pumpkins, also know by their French name, Galeux d’Eysines, is mild and sugary. The “peanuts” are the result of sugars building up under the skin. Chioggia, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, is known for its candy-striped beets and it’s namesake pumpkin. Sweet, rich, drier and dense, it is the pumpkin of choice for gnocchi.

The Cinderella pumpkin, red and flat, is a French heirloom also known as Rouge vif D’Etampes. It is likely the pumpkin the Pilgrims and Wampanoags served at the first Thanksgiving. It is mild and not particularly sugary. It cooks down into a beautiful bright orange purée. Tasting more like dinner than dessert, I began to think of Asian flavors and dumplings.

Light Tamari soy, sweet palm sugar and rich, toasted sesame oil delivered the asian flavor profile. Purchased gyoza skins were a valuable shortcut for wrapping the dumplings. Riffing on sweet chile sauce (thanks Renee!), we combines Merken Chile Oil, Tropical Spice Vinegar, Lancaster County honey for sweetness and red miso paste for depth. The satiny texture and rich color of the sauce paired beautifully with the cooked dumplings.

And now I’ve cooked a Cinderella pumpkin.

Cinderella Pumpkin Dumplings

Makes 15-18 full dumplings or 25-30 half dumplings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Cinderella pumpkin purée*
  • 1 tbs palm sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Serrano Chili-Honey Vinegar**
  • 1 package round gyoza skins, thawed or 1 package of square wonton skins, cut round with a biscuit cutter.

For sauce:

  • 1 tbs Merken Chile Oil**
  • 1 tbs Tropical Spice Vinegar**
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp red miso paste

*To cook your pumpkin, scroll to the bottom of the directions.

**I’ve been shopping at Sapore again. Substitute Sherry vinegar for the Serrano-Chile Honey. Use a chile infused olive oil for the Merken and add white wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar in place of the Tropical Spice.

Directions:

  • Combine pumpkin purée with palm sugar, soy, sesame oil, ginger and Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar. Season to taste with a pinch of salt.
  • Wet the edges of two gyoza skins or wonton wrappers. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of one wrapper.
  • Cover with second wrapper with wet sides faceing. Press together pushing out air. Cut around the filling with a biscuit cutter leaving 1/4” of wrapper outside the filling. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • OR place a scant teaspoon of filling in the middle of a gyoza skin, wet the edges and fold in half, pressing out the air and making sure the dough seals all the way around without filling squeezing through. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • Boil dumplings for 3-4 minutes, about 1 minute after they float to the surface.
  • Whisk together sauce ingredients and serve over cooked dumplings.

Cooking your pumpkin:

Method #1: Roasting

  • Cut your pumpkin in quarters.
  • Scoop out the seeds.
  • Rub inside with olive or vegetable oil and roast at 400F until the flesh can be easily pierced, through to the skin, with a fork.
  • Remove from oven, let cool, and scrape pumpkin flesh from the skin.

Method #2: Stove top

  • Quarter your pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.
  • Peel the skin with a vegetable peeler or knife.
  • Cut into a 1/2″ dice.
  • Warm 2 tbs olive oil in a large pan or 6qt soup pot, Cook until pieces begin to brown on edges, add 1/4 water at a time until pumpkin cooks down into a smooth puree, mashing as it softens.
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It’s not about the money. Part I.

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It’s about flavor. Lots and lots of flavor.

You’ve had mushroom soup fresh from the can or carton, right? The first thing you taste is salt. Lots and lots of salt. Then there is this vaguely earthy note. Is it mushrooms or just the packaging? If the soup is creamy, the salt is typically the only flavor to escape the overwhelming starchy, non-dairy-ness of the concoction.

I wanted real mushroom soup. Earthy and rich. I wanted to taste concentrated, slap-your-mama, fresh, mushroom flavor. I knew that a good soup recipe alone wouldn’t get me there. I needed the foundation of a rich, flavorful stock.

Knowing I was going to serve this up at Eastern Market on Saturday morning, I had a few constraints. No oven and little time. that meant no roasting the ingredients, and not enough time for a beef stock. Some quick sautéing started to provide rich flavor. MIso paste was a quick and serviceable substitute for beef and a splash of Madeira gave me depth. All that was left was mushrooms, and several cups of stem trimmings, along with some dried Porcinis did the trick.

Now, several cups of mushroom trimmings invariably come from lots of mushrooms. To save a few pennies, I bought some criminis and used the trimmings from the Shitake and Oyster mushrooms I used later in the soup. This stock isn’t cheap (nor is it outrageous) but it satisfyingly delivers every bit of flavor I have promised.

Rich Mushroom Stock

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  •  1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chopped mushroom stems. I use Shitake, Oyster and Crimini
  • 2 tbs red miso paste
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 1-2 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 4-5 parsley stems
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions:

  • Sauté onions 2-3 minutes over medium heat in 1-2 tbs oil in a 4 qt saucepan
  • Add carrots and celery. Cook for another 5 minutes. There should start to be some browning on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add mushroom stems and cook until lightly browned.
  • Add miso paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the Madeira. As it simmers, stir up the yummy, brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Reduce until almost evaporated.
  • Pour in 10 cups water, add Porcini, parsley, thyme and bay and simmer for 30-40 minutes, partially covered.
  • Strain through a colander, pressing on the solids to release their juices. Then discard solids.
  • Strain a final time through cheese cloth or a chinois. You should have 8-9 cups of stock for your mushroom soup.
This stock would also be wonderful for braising leeks, beef or chicken. Add some to a pan sauce next time you sauté pork chops.