Amidst the myriad of Halloween costumes and masks, many faces of pumpkin are waiting to be revealed in your kitchen.
Certainly, pumpkin has to be one of the official flavors of autumn. It's bright and colorful and lends itself to interpretation.
Sometimes we see pumpkin as sweet, spicy, and creamy. Maybe it's pumpkin pie that piques your palate at this time of year, or maybe it's pumpkin bread that graces a table.
While pumpkin pie is the autumn tradition, there are countless interpretations of the perfect pie. In Pie by Ken Haedrich (Harvard Common Press, $24.95), there's Maple Pumpkin Pie, Spiced Pumpkin Indian Pudding Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie, and Honey Pumpkin-Date Pie.
Put on your happy face. Pureed pumpkin or canned pumpkin can yield cheesecakes, pumpkin muffins, or Pumpkin Biscuits. The latter is popular with all ages. Use a pumpkin cookie-cutter to cut out the biscuits. When baked, the biscuits have a pretty color and taste good with honey and butter or with peanut butter.
If you don't want to cook with pumpkin, make pumpkin-shaped pressed sugar cookies. Before baking, decorate with orange sugar sprinkles. Or shape thawed frozen bread into pumpkin shapes. Brush with beaten egg and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes, remove wrap, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
Pumpkin is surely on the face of history as it is truly a food of the Americas. Not only was it a food of the New England colonists, it grew throughout the Americas. In Puerto Rican Cookery (see article at right), it is used in recipes for cake, fritters, pudding, and cazuela, a coconut dessert made with cooked pumpkin, sweet potatoes flavored with ginger, cinnamon, aniseeds, cloves, and sugar.
About face: Use pumpkin as a side dish. It can be roasted drizzled with olive oil or melted butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, and mixed with pecans and sage. It can also be used as an ingredient in soups, stews, or bisques. Use it as a filling in ravioli and then as a flavoring in the cream sauce drizzled on the pasta.
Pumpkin even has new faces for us to discover.
Gevalia Pumpkin Spice is a specialty coffee made with Arabica beans and flavored with ground ginger and cinnamon. The seasonal coffee at $6.95 per 8 ounces is sold online at www.gevalia.com or calling 800-GEVALIA. It is available through November and is recommended as a dessert coffee.
For a Halloween beverage for adults, use the coffee for Pumpkin Spice Coffee Eggnog: Using a wire whisk and a large bowl, mix 4 cups freshly brewed and cooled Pumpkin Spice coffee with 4 cups eggnog, one 8-ounce tub whipped topping, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. If desired, stir in 1 cup rum. Refrigerate until chilled. To serve, top with whipped topping and sprinkle with nutmeg. The yield is 32 servings.