We’ve been wanting to try a cooking class at the Loft by Longo’s for a while, and with Fall now upon us, we thought the Pumpkin Patch session would be perfect! The chef had a real passion for food, and our three course meal wasn’t short on pumpkin, or cheese, cream, sugar, butter, etc. for that matter! Here’s a teaser for you:
Start with rich pumpkin bisque topped with harvest croutons. Then creamy pasta with ricotta, smoked sausage and roasted pumpkin. For dessert, warm pumpkin cake drizzled with butter caramel and cinnamon whipped cream.
If you’re thinking rich and sinful, then you’re right on the money! Let’s start with the soup shall we…
Pumpkin Bisque with Harvest Croutons
- 1 pie pumpkin peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks (or 1 16 oz. can pumpkin puree)
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 1.5 liters chicken stock
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg and cinnamon
- 1 cup 35% cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 loaf unsliced light rye and pumpernickel
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- In a large stock pot simmer pumpkin and onions in stock until very tender, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender.
- Season with the cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme and salt and pepper. Whisk in cream until combined.
- Swirl a spoonful of buttermilk into each bowl before serving and top with harvest croutons, and fresh thyme.
- Harvest croutons: Cut the bread into long paper thin slices, cut each in 1/2. Layer bread slices in a single layer on parchment lined baking tray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 325F oven just until dry and toasted.
Harvest Pasta with Ricotta, Chicken and Roasted Pumpkin
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 3/4 cups Pesto sauce
- 2 cups leaves fresh basil, loosely packed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup extra virgon olive oil
- 1 large pie pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 5 cups penne pasta
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- 1/8 pound piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
I increased the amount of pumpkin because it was actually the best part of the dish and used chicken instead of sausage! While the sauce was suppose to be pesto, the flavour was quite bland, so I made some changes to that too. I have a passion for pesto – it can go on pasta, sandwiches, omelettes, pizza, bruschetta, stirfry’s, you name it! Mmmmm pesto.
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the pumpkin with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt, paprika and pepper roast for approximately 30 minutes until tender.
- In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook chicken, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and slowly add the pasta. Stir the pasta or else it will stick together. Most pastas cook in 8-12 minutes (check the package directions) but taste it to make sure it’s cooked to your liking. Pasta should be cooked ‘al dente’ – firm yet tender – but some people like it super tender. Drain it in the sink.
- Pesto sauce: Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry between 2 paper towels. Chop the garlic finely in a food processor, then add the pine nuts and basic, process until it is chopped. Gradually add the grated cheese and work the mixture into an evenly blended pasta. Then slowly mix in the oil, until a creamy, but thick consistency is achieved.
- Return the drained pasta to the warm pot and stir in reserved pesto, ricotta cheese, sausage and roasted pumpkin. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Pumpkin Cheese Cake with Butter Caramel and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
I truly love home made, fresh desserts and while cheesecake isn’t usually my go-to (chocolate is always the winner) this recipe is dynamite! The gingersnap bottom was different and addicting, the pumpkin cheese cake melts in your mouth, and the fresh caramel and cinnamon whipped cream are warm and velvety. Wow wow wow!
Preheat over to 325F.
- 1 250g box gingersnap cookies, crushed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 melted butter
- Combine cookie crumbs, sugar and butter together in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed.
- Press evenly into the bottom of 8 greases 4” ramekins or small canning jars, freeze until firm.
Butter Caramel sauce:
- Bring to a boil in a small sauce pan and cook until golden approx. 12 minutes:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup 35% cream
- 1/4 cup butter
- Whip 1 cup 35% cream until soft peaks form. Folk in 1/4 tsp fresh ground cinnamon.
- 4 pkgs cream cheese (we used full fat – why not at this point?!)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- Whip cream cheese until fluffy; add sugar and cinnamon and whip until smooth. Gradually add eggs and pumpkin, stirring until well mixed.
- Divide among ramekins. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until just set. Chill and top with butter Caramel sauce and cinnamon whipped cream. Garnish with a cinnamon stick!
O.M.G. I wish I had taken a picture of the inside and bottom, but it was just too good!
Now remember with this meal…you only live once so savour every bite!!