Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » October 9 – Pumpkin, Squash, Apples
October 9 – Pumpkin, Squash, Apples

I LOVE FALL and as testers arrived and the pumpkins and pork were baking they all commented that the apartment smelled like fall, so I must be doing something right! My testers were Amneris Pascasu, Marcus Bowers, Daniel and Megan Parker who did some great publicity for me and brought friends John, Dani and April. It was great to meet new friends and welcome them into my home. Since it was a Saturday night we all sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the food and company. We talked and talked and covered a variety of subjects. I forgot to take a group shoot again, sorry, but was pleased that the wonderful Marcus Bowers offered to take pictures of the evening. THANKS MARCUS, I love them!

Mocktail: Pumpkin Punch (3 Stars)

The punch was a fun idea, as I’ve never had a pumpkin punch before. It was a little too sweet and heavy. The recipe suggested serving it with cinnamon sticks, but mine weren’t long enough for my glasses. It does need a stirrer to keep it mixed and there was a suggestion to serve it warm, which I do want to make it again and try that way.

1st Course: Squash Soup in Pumpkin Bowls (4 Stars)

A strong 4, the squash soup was simple and paired with the roasted pumpkin bowls quite a memorable dish. The addition of the pumpkin being scooped out with every spoonful added more flavor and a nice touch. I forgot to add the cream at the end pureeing the soup as everyone was arriving (I always forget at least 1 thing), but it really didn’t need it. The flavor can be enhanced depending on what toppings you use. I had roasted pumpkin seeds, croutons, paprika and bacon. Another suggested topping was sage, but I think it would be good to add to the soup along with the thyme to add even more flavor. The addition of the pumpkin bowl also makes the soup a little more substantial of a dish.

2nd Course: Cider Pork Chops (5 Stars) with Maple-glazed Parsnips & Carrots (3.5 Stars)

I baked the pork chops in my Le Crueset dutch oven and it definitely turned out fabulously. The chops were very thick so I did have to cook them a little longer which resulted in even softer apples, but everything was juicy and the cider sauce (which was added to the pan and had a little butter, brown sugar, the granny smith apples and raisins).

The parsnips and carrots were a good compliment to the pork chops. This way my 1st time ever making parsnips so I kept checking the veggies to see if they were done yet. I cut the carrots in half and shouldn’t have done so as they were too soft. Parsnips are thicker and don’t bake as quickly. I used maple bacon, which was perfect since they were drizzled with maple syrup.

By the time we got to the main course Amneris felt the main was too sweet because of the mocktail and the sweetness of the pork and maple in veggies. I could have made the soup a little saltier to balance that out a little more or also done a side/veggie that was more on the salty side.

Dessert: Apple Crumb Cheesecake (5 Stars)

The cheesecake was definitely the hit of the evening. Not only did it look great, but it also tasted fabulous. We were all quite full by this point so I should have probably planned a lighter dessert, but since this version called for 6 eggs versus the typical 3-egg cheesecake it was fluffier and not as heavy.

I think the biggest compliment of the night – John, who told me he doesn’t like sweet, ate every last bit of his piece. It really was delightful and the drizzle of Caramel on the top was a perfect finishing touch.

Side note: I did make Sweet Potato Biscuits to serve with the soup and then I forgot to serve them. I had them plated and ready to warm up…ooops. These are really good out of the oven, and best warm with a little butter and honey. The flavor wasn’t really strong but I kept the puree flavoring light just in case. So add in some spice. I’d give these a 3 Star put do plan to make them again and play with the recipe a little.

3 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Monster Mary (October 22, 2010)

    Mike is anti squash but loves everything sweet. He probably would have loved this meal. I often feel I need to balance out my meals with sweet and savory dishes too. The cheesecake does look divine. MMMM too bad David and Sam say they don't like cheesecake.

  2. Megan (November 15, 2010)

    Thanks for a fun night, Amber. The dish I keep thinking about is the soup in pumpkin bowls. So memorable and yummy.

  3. dutchgirl89 (November 15, 2010)

    I love soup! I request more soup recipes. This one looks great. I will absolutely have to try it.

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