Ghoulish Delights

Thai Pumpkin Soup
    I found this recipe on one of the gazillion Web sites featuring pumpkin.
    Serves four.
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
2 small fresh red chili peppers, chopped (I recommend deseeding)
1 Tbsp. chopped lemongrass (or substitute grated lemon zest)
21/4 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and diced pumpkin
11/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

    In medium saucepan, heat oil and butter. Cook garlic, shallots, chilis, and lemongrass until fragrant. Stir in chicken stock, coconut milk, and pumpkin. Bring to boil and cook until pumpkin is soft. Puree in blender to desired consistency. Garnish with basil leaves.

Pumpkin and Sage Risotto With Mushroom
and Pea Ragout

    I am embarrassed to say this recipe came from People magazine.
    Serves six to eight.
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cups cubed, peeled pumpkin or butternut squash
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
Black pepper

Mushroom and Pea Ragout
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion or shallot, chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
8 oz. mixed exotic or wild mushrooms
1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas, thawed and drained
1/4 cup chicken broth

    To make risotto, in large saucepan stir together broth and canned pumpkin. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and hold at very low simmer.
    Meanwhile, in a four-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and saute onion for about five minutes. Add fresh pumpkin or squash and cook for two minutes, stirring. Add rice, stir for two minutes more.
    Add wine to rice mixture and cook until wine has evaporated. Slowly add two cups of the broth mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining broth mixture, three-quarters cup at a time, stirring constantly until broth is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir Parmesan cheese and sage in to the rice mixture. Season to taste with black pepper.

    To make ragout, heat a nonstick 10-inch skillet over medium heat and saute onion until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook a few seconds. Stir in mushrooms, increase heat to medium high and cook five minutes or until mushrooms are wilted. Stir in peas and broth and cook until heated through. Serve about a half-cup portion in the center of each bowl of risotto.

Homemade Honey Caramel Apples  
    You will need a candy thermometer to make this.

4 large or 6 small crisp, chilled apples
1 cup honey
1 cup cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

    In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine honey, cream, salt, and vanilla. Bring to boil and then simmer, stirring often and scraping down sides, until sauce has reached temperature of 260 degrees on candy thermometer. This could take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. When temperature is reached, take off the heat and let sit for about five minutes, or until it begins to thicken to caramel-like consistency.
    Meanwhile, take cold apples out of refrigerator, dry them off, and push skewers through. Have a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Dip apples into caramel, swirl around, then lay on parchment. Chill in refrigerator until ready to eat.