Last weekend, we celebrated the fall at Gourmet Dinner Club with a Pumpkin Theme at Mike’s. We had a large crowd of folks (13!) who came with full appetites for what was an incredible meal. We also had a gorgeous table to eat at!
Let’s get the party started! I was in charge of cocktails and mocktails.
For my cocktail, I followed this recipe for a Pumpkin and Apple Cider cocktail. I didn’t actually have one since it was the weekend of the half-marathon, but from what I hear, it wasn’t bad. I don’t have a photo of it because apparently my camera ate some photos. Does this happen to anyone else?
My mocktail was a bigger hit. It’s called a Pumpkin Preggatini. I followed this recipe, making a few changes. I used my own pumpkin puree, vanilla almond milk for the regular milk, ginger snaps for the graham crackers and I made my own spiced simple syrup. These were delicious. This would be great at Thanksgiving or any type of fall cocktail party. You could add a spot of vodka for a spiked version.
During cocktail hour we snacked on Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (recipe at the end) that Marnie brought. These babies were seriously addicting. Be warned.
Amanda brought a pumpkin marmalade (here’s the recipe!) and served it on baguette slices and a cheddar goat cheese (have you ever heard of that?) and it was also super yum. The citrus in the marmalade was my favorite part.
We then moved to the table and were served up so many tasty treats.
We started with Jenna’s Curried Pumpkin Soup with Cranberry Apple Compote (recipe at the end). It was velvety smooth and tasted like fall in a bowl. She topped it with crispy five-spiced apple chips using this recipe. I could sit down with a bowl just of the apple chips.
Lee made a gorgeous quinoa spinach salad with roasted pumpkin and pumpkin seeds.
Liza pulled of a beautiful Roasted Pumpkin Quiche. Transferring it seemed to be the most complicated but she handled it well. She used this recipe. I loved the use of phyllo dough for the crust.
Also on the plate was the main dish made by Mike. Of course, there is a story behind it and a pretty funny one at that. Here was Mike’s email just moments before our evening began:
“So, I thought I had an epic fail on my hands today, but I did a little recon and it turned out ok…
My vision was to make chicken with mole sauce. My habit is usually to look up a bunch of recipes and pick and choose elements that I think sound best. But I found this recipe from Epicurious (it has pumpkin seeds in it…)
I’m usually super confident in Epi’s recipes, but I think there is just something absolutely wrong about this one- It called for 3 baquettes! I had the presence of mind to think that was way too much, so I only bought 2 baguettes… I think what it should actually be is 3 slices of baguette. I ended up with 10 times the volume I was expecting:
It was too thick and chunky to pass through a sieve, and I had to re-blend with the immersion blender to get a reasonable consistency. I also used 10 times the stock the recipe was calling for, but by that time I was pretty far down the rabbit hole. The flavor ended up pretty good, so I decided to just go with it with the thorough explanation about the consistency. I also tried to make an emergency run to Mercado Centrale to see if some restaurant would sell me some fo’ realz mole. Nobody had more than their regular quantity for their dishes they are serving, so I ended up getting some pre-made stuff in a jar. So, we’ll have the two to do taste testing…
The chicken is looking like it worked, though. I dredged some portioned chicken breast pieces and thighs in flour, salt, pepper, cumin and nutmeg. Then did an eggwash, then breaded in panko and pepitos.
See y’alls in a little bit!”
The verdict? The homemade mole was definitely better than the pre-made stuff in the jar. It did make a ton! The chicken turned out great. If you need some extra mole, just give Mike a ring. He can probably hook you up.
Then dessert. There were three of them. Yes, three! No one complained.
We had Henriet’s pumpkin mousse which I could eat a giant bowl of. Funny thing…Henriet is from the Netherlands and pumpkin is just not a thing there. It is so weird to her how gaga we all get over it. I’m not sure if we converted her or not. I’m definitely converted to the mousse which was made using this recipe. The toffee crunch was like crack. She made a few changes to the recipe: She didn’t freeze the mousse and she also substituted some of the whipped cream that needed to be folded in with whipped up egg whites.
Dessert #2 was from Kari who also used phyllo dough. This was a non-traditional pumpkin dish (at least for me): Kataifi with Candied Pumpkin and Yogurt. I really enjoyed the yogurt topping – way less sweet than a whipped cream. The tartness brought everything together.
Finally, there was Ron’s Pumpkin Flan. I went in with low expectations. I do not like flan. I can’t get past the gelatinous texture. I’m squirming just thinking about it. Well….I LOVED this flan. It wasn’t gelatinous! It was more of pudding texture than a jello texture. I don’t have Ron’s recipe but as soon as I’m able to hunt it down, I’ll update the post.
At this point, we were all definitely FULL. We enjoyed great conversations over our protruding bellies and rolled home in a pumpkin stupor. It was my kind of drunk. Any of these recipes would be great for Thanksgiving. Speaking of which….that is our next theme! In two weeks will be doing a spin on Thanksgiving dinner which will hopefully give you all some inspiration for your holiday gathering.
Recipes (I’m only including the recipes below that weren’t linked above):
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
3 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 chipotle chili powder (you can buy in bulk at most co-ops) or Lunds/Byerlys
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp veg oil
1 c raw pumpkin seeds
Set out a piece of parchment paper to cool seeds on.
Place veg oil in large skillet over med heat. Heat oil until hot. Add pumpkin seeds and stir to coat. Cover with lid and cook 1 min.
Sprinkle sugar mixture over seeds, stir to coat. Cover and cook 1 min until seeds begin to pop. Remove lid and continue to
cool, stirring for approx 3 min or until most of the seeds have popped.
Place and parchment paper and let cool. Break apart and store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
Curried pumpkin soup
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium apples (I use haralson)
- 4 cups roasted pumpkin
- 4 1/2 cups veg or chicken stock.
- 1 Tbs curry powder
- 1/8 tsp five spice powder
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup cream
Chop onion and apples in food processor until fine.
In a heavy stock pot combine butter, onions, apples, five spice, curry and the cayenne pepper.
Cook 5 to 7 minutes until onions and apples are soft.
Add pumpkin, stock and salt and pepper. Cook at medium for 10 min then add the 1/2 cup cream.
Garnish with cranberry apple compote (recipe follows)and creme fraiche.
Cranberry Apple Compote
- 1 cup whole fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 haralson apple peeled, cored and cut in to 1/2 inch dice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- pinch of salt
In a small sauce pan, combine the cranberries, apple, sugar, water, lemon juice and salt.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring frequently,until the mixture is thick and the berries have burst open, about 20 minutes.