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Pumpkins: Part 2

October 21, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Pumpkins II

Last week we took a look at pumpkins, particularly which varieties are good for cooking. This week we want to bring you up to speed on some of the delicious recipes you can create.  And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen has pointed out, this is a far more versatile vegetable than most people realize.

Pumpkins would be important even if we didn't have Halloween.  They play an important role in many cuisines around the world including Indian, Middle Eastern and Latin American.  In fact, it's hard to differentiate pumpkins from squash, their close relative.

Many recipes call for the pumpkin to be puréed, and this is quite easy to do.

Quarter the pumpkin lengthwise and remove the seeds and fibers.  Salt the pieces and then roast in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes.  Remove and when it is cool enough to handle, scoop out pieces of flesh and drop into a food processor.  Process the pumpkin until it is thoroughly puréed.  Refrigerate or freeze until you want to use it.

With the pumpkin purée you can make soups, breads, ravioli, stews, ice cream, puddings and of course, pies.  Pumpkin works well with sweeteners such as brown sugar, molasses and honey, or savory spices like cumin, cayenne pepper, fennel and cardamom.
                Pumpkin-Ricotta Ravioli

2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Fill ravioli squares.  Makes enough filling for about 40 raviolis.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.