Best Bets: Pumpkin

Sweet, savory from the patch

Pumpkin pie (clockwise), pumpkin cookies and pumpkin cupcakes at Muddy’s Bake Shop.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Pumpkin pie (clockwise), pumpkin cookies and pumpkin cupcakes at Muddy’s Bake Shop.

I used to make pumpkin pies from scratch for an annual Midtown Christmas party back in the 1970s and ’80s. I cut up the pumpkin, cooked it, added the Pet milk and spices and baked it in Piggly Wiggly pie crusts. I remember during the party noticing a few of the uncut pies had cigarettes stubbed out in them. Guests thought they were earthenware ashtrays.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a pumpkin pie, but you still want to bring something pumpkin-related to a Thanksgiving feast, check out some of the options you can find locally.

A cocktail made with Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie cream liqueur, which is available at Buster’s Liquors.

Photo by Michael Donahue

A cocktail made with Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie cream liqueur, which is available at Buster’s Liquors.

Lucchesi’s Pasta and Deli Co. will begin carrying its pumpkin ravioli Wednesday. This is ravioli pasta filled with baked pumpkin, brown sugar, nutmeg and butter. “We’ve been selling it about three years now,” says owner Michael Robilio. “It’s such a good seasonal item. We usually bring it out before Halloween. Then we keep it through Easter.”

Pumpkin is everywhere at Muddy’s Bake Shop, which sells a pumpkin cake (Pumpkin D’light) with cream cheese icing and cinnamon sugar. They’ve also got pumpkin-oatmeal cookies (Kadie’s Cookies) with a brown sugar glaze that “tastes like marshmallows,” says owner Kat Gordon. And they sell pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins with toasted pecans. The cupcake and the pumpkin cake don’t have any nuts in them.

The “Pumpkin” appetizer at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen features rabbit, red wine vinegar, cranberry purée, Bartlett pears and tatsoi greens.

Photo by Michael Donahue

The “Pumpkin” appetizer at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen features rabbit, red wine vinegar, cranberry purée, Bartlett pears and tatsoi greens.

They also have pumpkin pie, but they don’t get “hifalutin with it,” Gordon said. It’s made with condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and a homemade crust. They sell Boozy Whipped Cream made with bourbon to go with it. They purposely leave the whipping cream off the pie so it doesn’t have to go in the already-crowded refrigerator during dinner preparations, Gordon said.

Ladybugg Bakery in Hernando carries a variety of pumpkin pastries, said owner Heather Ries. They sell pumpkin “whoopie pies,” which are two little cakes with maple cream cheese frosting in the middle; and pumpkin “Pop Tarts,” baked tarts made with homemade dough with a pumpkin, cream cheese and spice mixture in the middle.

In addition to pumpkin muffins and pumpkin spice cupcakes, Ladybugg Bakery also makes pumpkin butter. “It’s a mixture of pumpkin purée, apple juice or cider and then some spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves,” Ries said. “You cook it down, reduce it, and then it kind of thickens. You use it as a spread on bread or biscuits.”

If you’d rather bring something to drink to dinner, you’ve got a lot of pumpkin-flavored alcohol to choose from. Buster’s Liquors carries Kahlua pumpkin spice, which is a rum-and-coffee liqueur; Cathead pumpkin spice-flavored vodka; Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie vodka and Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie cream liqueur.

Lindsey McGehee, bar manager at Elfo’s Restaurant in Germantown, created a cocktail made with the Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie cream liqueur. She poured the liqueur over ice in a round glass and added a very generous dollop of whipped cream on top. She shaped the whipped cream at the top to look like a pumpkin stem.

“It tastes like an eggnog,” said Matt Randall, who works at Elfo’s. That means it’s appropriate for the holidays.

For another special pumpkin treat, try “Pumpkin,” an appetizer at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. The pumpkins are seasoned with salt and pepper, dusted with ras el hanout, a North African spice mix, and caramelized in a pan with rabbit, then deglazed with a red wine vinegar that was aged a year in charred-oak barrels at the restaurant. The dish then is dressed with savory cranberry purée, roasted Bartlett pears and tatsoi greens, all touched with sorghum and the barrel-aged vinegar.

I tried it the other night. It’s delicious. It’s definitely not pumpkin pie. And nobody stubbed out a cigarette in it.

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Lucchesi’s Pasta and Deli Co., 540 S. Mendenhall, No. 3, 901- 766-9922

Muddy’s Bake Shop, 5101 Sanderlin, No. 114; 901-683-8844

Ladybugg Bakery & Café, 205 E. Commerce in Hernando, 662-449-7000

Buster’s Wines and Liquors, 191 S. Highland, 901-458-0929

Elfo’s Restaurant, 2285 S. Germantown Road in Germantown, 901-753-4017

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