I got lost underneath a highly suspect, random bridge trying to take the pictures for this post.
It’s true; In my pursuit of autumnal photographs, I ended up in a never-ending gravel lot, the sounds of cars above me whizzing by over-head, with no way out in sight. Or humans, for that matter.
It was the kind of area that nightmares are made of. Or at least really bad horror flicks. Luckily my tatas were tucked safely away inside my dress and it was the middle of the day. Were it nighttime and I clad in a skimpy bikini, I’m convinced I would have ended up in pieces, tucked inside a duffel bag and hidden halfway under a pile of fallen leaves.
Side note: I don’t wear skimpy bikinis. Ever. No one wants to see that. Do they? My inner need for external validation is pulsing right now.
We’re at a funny time of year right now, aren’t we? While aimlessly (still understandably get-the-heck-out-of-there minded) meandering the underpass the air still held the warmth of Summer yet at the same time, a distinct chill was blowing off the water. It’s not quite Summer, not quite Fall. I call it Sumall. Or Fammer.
The trees look like they’re in a struggle for the seasons too. While some are turning bright yellow and red, and leaves are crunching under-foot in the park, others are desperately holding on to the last heat of the Summer sun. Makes it difficult to take Fall photos for a blog post. Hence the underpass misdirection.
But it’s not just the weather. While at the Granville Island Market – after having just mowed the only thing a girl CAN mow while lunching on the dock – searching out some fresh sage and recovering from my almost-demise, I noticed somethin’ freakay!
…Mini-pumpkins cuddling up to juicy watermelons. Brilliant red strawberries mingling with the last of the figs. And grapes canoodling with stalks of asparagus. It was fruitfully bizarre. Almost the kind of thing horror stories are made of. You know, if it the horror story was that of the modern grocery store and year round produce availability.
Ironically, it’s also the thing that dreams are made of. Which is why I couldn’t believe my luck when I found 2 sugar-pie pumpkins in my CSA this week. 2! Astounded – and giddy beyond giddy – I set to work to bake a homemade scratch pumpkin pie for the boyfriend and a pumpkin bruschetta to end all pumpkin bruschettas for me. It’s a recipe that’s been plaguing me obsessively for weeks.
Does that ever happen to you? Do you get an idea – a recipe, a story, a sex move – that inspires you beyond anything else and you can’t get it out of your head until you do it? John says I must have some kind of mental disorder. No argument there. But he thinks that my fixation on things must be a clinical issue. Between this recipe for pumpkin bruschetta, Lego Movie and my compulsion for bourbon soaked cherries, he may be right. He is the pineapple and cheese stick expert after all. And the only one of us with a PhD right?
So pumpkin bruschetta. Oh my god, yes. Smear with creamy fresh ricotta (I used buffalo), slowly oozed caramelized onions and a few flakes of crispy sage bits and you have yourself probably one of the most orgasmic, delicious, sultry, vegetarian friendly dishes you could ever hope for. I suggest eating them for breakfast, a quick lunch or a light dinner with a big fat glass of fruity, full bodied wine (or 3). If you have pancetta or bacon, crisp up and chuck some of that on there too. It isn’t vegetarian then, but it’d be damn good. And those of us who are omnivores can always appreciate the addition of good, pastured, heritage pig bacon. Right?
Make this. And avoid deserted underpasses. Unless dessert is involved. Like pumpkin pie. Or in this case, simply pumpkins. Because all good things lead to those. Especially now. At the end of Summer, the beginning of Fall and whatever this place is called where we find ourselves in-between the seasons.
- 1 Sugar pie pumpkin
- 5 Garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- Handful of fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 Medium white onion, peeled & sliced
- 1/2 Tbsp + 1/4 C of butter, unsalted.
- 1/2 C fresh ricotta cheese (buffalo if you can find it)
- Few Tbsp of balsamic reduction
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt (like maldon) & fresh cracked black pepper.
- To serve, loaf of rustic bread, thinly sliced.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- As it heats, cut the pumpkin into quarters and scoop out the pulp and the seeds. Discard the pulp but reserve the seeds to make Toasted Pepitas. Place the cut and cored pumpkin in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Massage in. Pour enough water into the pan to just cover the entire bottom and stick in the hot oven. Bake until soft and tender, about 40 - 50 minutes. Remove and let cool enough to handle. Once you can touch it, peel the skin off the back of the pumpkin and discard. Don't worry about being delicate with the pumpkin, it'll get roughly smashed on the toast when you serve it.
- As the pumpkin roasts, place a medium sized frying pan over medium-low heat with a good glug or two of olive oil. Once hot and shimmering (not burning), dump in the onion. Season with salt and stir well. Allow the onion to slowly caramelize, stirring often. This should take about 40 to 45 minutes. About 5 minutes before you pull it off the heat, add the 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Allow to melt and coat the onions, stir and remove from the heat. Set aside.
- In that same pan, turn the heat up to medium and add the 1/4 C of butter. It should sizzle and pop as it melts. This is the water cooking out of the butter. Once that slows, chuck in the sage. Stir well. Allow to crisp as the butter browns. Just before it burns (it should smell nutty and sweet), remove the sage with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Add the brown butter (and all the little bits in there) to the cooked pumpkin. Stir to combine. Hello, flavour.
- If desired, toast the bread under the broiler. Baste one side of slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast (be careful, they brown quickly). Remove from the oven and rub the top of each with the smashed garlic.
- Now build your crostinis! Serve all the elements - pumpkin, sage leaves, caramelized onions, cheese and balsamic reduction - individually or pile high on the bread/toast, finishing with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
Do you ever get yourself into precarious situations? How’s your sense of direction? What are you loving about the seasons right now? Any fixation disorders I should be aware of? Are you enjoying or loathing pumpkin right now? Spill it!