So my lovely friend Gi, who writes a food column for Scarlet Lily’s blog (link listed amongst those at the right) decided to celebrate the pumpkin by having a contest for the best pumpkin recipe. Seeing as how the prize was a piece of her artwork (she’s sort of a jack-of-all-artistic-trades and does amazing paintings as well as cooking and singing) I couldn’t resist entering. The guidelines were that the recipe had to be vegetarian/vegan and it had to be original. Below you will see my entry, exactly as I submitted it.
Erin’s Autumn Brunch Bunch
My goal in creating these recipes was to make a complete pumpkin-inspired brunch fit for a lovely autumn day. A second goal was to make everything as easy as possible since I feel like many people think that brunch is something that needs to be complicated. Not so! Although I prefer to use real pumpkin for soups, I substituted canned pumpkin in an attempt to speed up the process for anyone who might want to make it. Obviously this would taste even better if you took the time to use real pumpkin.
My taste testers were my rugged Alaskan boyfriend Jake and our friend, fellow Midwesterner and history grad student Adam. Both Jake and Adam are taste testing experts, being boys and therefore able to eat large quantities of food. Jake and Adam were very involved with the process, frequently having spoons of pumpkin-y goodness shoved into their mouths and asked to comment upon taste.
The biscuit recipe works well as a biscuit recipe or as a muffin recipe. I’ve made it both ways, adapting it from an old Betty Crocker bread recipe and adjusting the amount of flour to make them easier to “drop” onto a cookie sheet. It is a heavy biscuit and goes very well with the suggested almond butter or apple butter, or dipped in the soup. The addition of chai gives the biscuits the perfect spicy flavor that goes well with autumn. These are not light airy biscuits, they carry the weight of autumn in their spicy pumpkin depths.
The pumpkin soup was entirely of my own creation and modeled after a jasmine pumpkin soup I used to eat when I lived in China. I worked with it for a long time to give it the correct balance of sweet and earthy. The addition of the jasmine green tea keeps this from merely being something like pumpkin pie in a bowl by giving the soup an earthy, raw aftertaste that goes really well with the pumpkin biscuits.
In the end I have emerged triumphant with a rather impressive and easy pumpkin brunch. I recommend serving this with a cup of deliciously sinful dark coffee or perhaps a lovely light white wine, champagne, or a delicious recipe for an Apple Drink with Absolut Vanilla that got from the New Scandinavian Cooking show (sadly cannot take credit for this, you can find the recipe here) if you want to go fancy and alcoholic.
Erin’s Autumn Pumpkin Biscuits
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 tablespoons applesauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup Tazo Organic Chai Mix
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 1-2 cookie sheets or muffin tins (works in both). Set aside.
2. Stir together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, chai mix and applesauce in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. (If you’re going to make these as big biscuits then add in extra flour till the mixture is thick enough to drop like biscuits.) Poor into muffin tins or put large oblong dollops onto the cookie sheet.
3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.
Serve with apple butter or almond butter and the soup below.
Erin’s Autumn Pumpkin Soup
3 cups water
3 Trader Joe’s Jasmine Green tea bags
1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
¼ teaspoon allspice
a dash of orange peel
5 tablespoons raw sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
a dash of salt
1 packet spiced apple cider mix
1 teaspoon cornstarch (to thicken, if you’d like)
1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan.
2. Turn off heat. Steep the 3 tea bags in the water for 5 minutes.
3. Turn heat to medium.
4. Add can of pumpkin.
5. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to break up the canned pumpkin.
6. Add in allspice, orange peel, raw sugar, vanilla, cloves, salt, spiced apple cider.
7. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
8. Add in cornstarch (if you want the soup to be thicker). Cook five more minutes.
9. Turn heat on low and let soup thicken, stirring occasionally.
10. Divide into bowls and sprinkle crushed walnuts on top of the soup.