Chosen Bites: Autumn in Tuscany kosher style

Delicious kosher recipes for crema di zucca and pumpkin sponge cake by Chef Laura Frankel.

Pumpkin 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Pumpkin 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Crema di Zucca
Autumn in Tuscany looks a lot like the neighborhood pumpkin patch I remember visiting when I was a kid. Pumpkins of shapes, sizes and colors are piled high. This versatile vegetable stores well for winter, is easily canned and is frequently featured in savory dishes. This luxuriously textured soup is a perfect example of cucina povera, which is the practice of using what is readily available and seasonal. The fragrant woodsy Porcini mushrooms can be a little expensive-but their flavor and fragrance make them worthwhile ingredient. Look for porcini pieces instead of the whole mushroom. It will be much cheaper.
8 servingsIngredients:Extra Virgin olive oil7 cups plus 1-cup vegetable stock (See recipe, page)1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms1 7 pound pumpkin, about 5 cups peeled and diced pumpkin (look for Sugar Pumpkin) or 3 cups canned pumpkin puree6 Cipollini onions, peeled and cut in quarters, or shallots1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg1 medium head Savoy cabbage, very thinly slicedSalt and pepper
Instructions: 1.    Place the one cup of vegetable stock in a small saucepan with the dried porcini mushrooms. Bring to simmer. Turn off the heat and set aside.2.    Brown the diced pumpkin if using in batches in a large sauté pan lightly coated with olive oil. Be sure to season each batch with salt and pepper. Transfer the pumpkin to a stock pot.3.    Brown the cipollini onions in the same pan adding more olive oil if necessary until they are completely browned. Transfer the onions to the stock pot.4.    Add the stock, porcini mushrooms, soaking liquid and nutmeg to the stock pot. Cover and cook on low heat until the pumpkin is very soft. Puree the pumpkin in batches or with an immersion blender adding more liquid if necessary. 5.     Add the cabbage and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Garnish with extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese if serving dairy, shredded chicken if serving meat and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin Sponge Cake
This delicious low fat cake is loaded with vitamins and fall flavors. Bake it into cupcakes and frost with your favorite frosting or bake the cake into layers and serve as a festive fall cake with poached pears.
Ingredients:8 ounces cake flour1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon baking soda3 whole eggs1 cup sugar½ cup canned pumpkin puree1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions:1.    Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside. 2.    In a high speed mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until they reach a ribbon stage (when you lift the beat out of the mixture, the eggs and sugar will form a ribbon that will hold its shape for a few seconds).3.    Fold the pumpkin puree into the egg and sugar mixture. Add the dry ingredients and gently mix together.4.    Spoon the cake batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake cups or into parchment lined 8” cake pans.5.    Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes for cupcakes or until the cake is lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering featuring Cuisine by Wolfgang Puck. Founder of the adventurous, gourmet kosher Shallots restaurants in Chicago and New York and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and JEWISH SLOW COOKER RECIPES .