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Halloween recipes: Chef Susan Feniger turns pumpkin mush into delicious dishes

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr Creative Commons
Susan Feniger, a chef from the Champions' Round of the most recent season of Top Chef Masters, smiles while making carne asada tacos during day six of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
Jaime L. Mikle/Getty Images for USTA

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Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without the pumpkin. You head on over to your local pumpkin patch, pick one out and carve it. But what do you do with the leftover mush? Well, why not turn it into delicious recipes? 

For a little help with this, Take Two called up Chef Susan Feniger - co-owner of Border Grill and Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood. You can try your hand at Chef Susan's delicious pumpkin dishes with the following recipes. 

Pumpkin Flan

Serves 10
2 1/2 pounds pumpkin

2 cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups water

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
9 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger*
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut pumpkin into chunks, salt to taste and bake until soft throughout, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool, then remove peel, puree flesh in a food processor, and reserve. Reduce oven to 325 F.

Prepare caramel and sauce. For caramel, combine sugar and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan. Be sure all sugar granules are washed down from pot sides. Cook over moderate heat, swirling pan occasionally, until color is golden brown and mixture smells like caramel. Often you need to cook it a bit darker than you would imagine. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Pour enough caramel into a 3-quart pyrex loaf pan to coat bottom and sides and set aside on a level surface.    

Add remaining water to caramel in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Occasionally stir and brush down sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Set this caramel sauce aside at room temperature, then chill until serving time.    

Combine custard ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pour through a strainer into lined loaf pan.

Place inside a larger roasting pan. Pour in boiling water until it rises halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake about 1 hour 50 minutes. The center should feel firm when pressed.

Set aside to cool about 1 1/2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap touching top.  Refrigerate overnight or as long as 4 days.

To serve, run a knife along inside edge, 2 or 3 times, to loosen. When you press center, sides should pull away. Cover with a platter and quickly invert. Carefully drain excess caramel into a bowl and strain into reserved cold sauce. Serve slices of flan on dessert plates. Top with chilled caramel sauce. 

Candied Pumpkin Ice Cream Sundaes

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Mexican cinnamon stick
1/2 pound pumpkin or acorn squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 pints vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
Candied Pepitas (optional), for serving

Combine the water, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by about one-quarter and a light syrup forms, about 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin or squash, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer gently until the pumpkin is translucent, about 45 minutes.  

If preparing in advance, remove the pumpkin from the syrup with a slotted spoon and store the pumpkin and syrup separately.  When ready to serve, combine the pumpkin and syrup in a small skillet and reheat over low heat.

Just before serving, stir the heavy cream into the pumpkin syrup. Spoon over the ice cream, top with Candied Pepitas if desired, and serve.

Candied Pepitas

1/2 cup raw, unsalted pepitas
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small mixing bowl, combine pepitas, maple syrup, and salt.

Spread mixture on a non-stick or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden and caramelized. Be careful not to burn. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Pepita Coriander Dressing    

Yield: 2 quarts

1 1/4 c coriander seeds
2 c pumpkin seeds
2 c white wine vinegar
4 c pure olive oil
1 c freshly squeezed lime juice
2 c (1 bu) cilantro, roughly chopped, stems okay
4 ea garlic cloves
1/2 c shallot, roughly chopped
1 Tbs kosher salt
1/2 Tbs    freshly ground black pepper

Toast coriander and pumpkin seeds on a half sheet pan at 350 F for 10 minutes until pepitas are lightly golden brown. Cool completely and set aside.

Blend seeds with vinegar until pureed.

Place lime juice, garlic, cilantro, shallots, salt and pepper to the blended seed mixture and blend. Slowly pour olive oil into running blender to emulsify.

Copyright © 2014, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Border Grill