Saturday, 18 December 2010

In the Kitchen: "Heaven in a Pumpkin"

What could "heaven in a pumpkin" be like? It is my daughter's experience when her good friend came to visit her and prepared "Roast Pumpkin with Cheese Fondue." I imagined the taste and asked her to show me how to prepare it. She found the recipe after searching for "pumpkin fondue".

Serves 4 (main course) or 12 (side dish)
Active time: 25 min
Start to finish: 2 hr

I tweaked the recipe a bit, based on what available ingredients I had. Here is my version.

1 (12-inch) piece of baguette, cut into bite sizes
1 (3-4 lb.) orange pumpkin (a sugar pumpkin variety for baking)
3/4 Cup heavy cream (I used creme fraiche)
1/2 cup reduced-chicken broth (I made mine out of a cup of water + 1 chicken bouillon, brought to a boil and reduced to 3/4 C.)
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 C. blend of coarsely grated Comté, Emmental, and cubed Raclette cheese.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (DO NOT use Olive Oil)

Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the lowest position.

1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Lay out cut-up baguette in 1 layer on the baking sheet, and toast in oven until tops are crisp (bread will still be pale), about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
2. Preparing the pumpkin:
a. Wash the pumpkin thoroughly.
b. Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (3 inches in diameter) around stem.

c. Clean out the fibrous/seed mass by scooping it out with a spoon.

d. Pat the salt/onion flakes blend on the interior wall of the pumpkin.

3. Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg in a bowl.

4. Mix together cheeses in another bowl.

Assembling the pumpkin:

1. Put a layer of toasted bread in bottom of pumpkin,

2. then cover with about 1 cup cheese and...

add about 1/2 cup of the broth/cream mixture.

Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2 inch from top, using all of cream mixture. Make a mound of cheese at the top.

Cover pumpkin with top and place it in an oiled, round pie-glass-dish.

Using your hand, spread the vegetable oil on the pumpkin shell. The pumpkin can be prepared 2 hours before baking and set aside to chill in the refrigerator.

Place pumpkin at the botom rack of the oven. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, for 45 minutes. Set temperature at 450°F (220°C) for the first 20 minutes,...

then bring it down to 375°F (190°C) for the next 25 minutes. Don't worry if the pumpkin cover moves a little bit.

As the pumpkin roasts, its skin becomes burnished and some parts may blister, while inside, the toasted baguette pieces and the cheese blend plus the broth/cream mixture coalesce into a rich, palatable "fondue." Serve with a scoop of tender pumpkin flesh.

This is how it came out. Heavenly!!! A great comfort food for very cold-weather days.

It was a tasty appetizer for our dinner meal: Coeur de lettuce with onion/mustard vinaigrette and rolled, smoke salmon filled with creme fraiche, chopped onions and capers.

If you have left over meat on the pumpkin shell, scoop it over and spread it at the bottom of a glass-pie dish up to half an inch thick, layer with grilled baguette bite pieces of 1/2 inch squares, cover with a cup or so of the cheese blend, and spoon over the broth/cream mixture. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes.

Voila! It's a "Roast Pumpkin with Cheese Fondue Casserole."


  1. We often have pumpkin. Such a versatile vegetable and high in antioxidants too! Wonderful recipe this! I shall try. :-) JG Kyne

  2. JG, like you, I love pumpkin. Next time, I will make this with a whole grain baguette and use natural yogurt to add to the broth, to have a more healthy dish. As for the cheese, some mozzarella, cheddar, and Monterey jack cheese are good options, too for the cheese blend.



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