When I moved to the Pacific Northwest last summer, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of the seasons. As summer turned to fall, I quickly found a bounty of colors signaling change, even if the landscape ins't quite saturated the way it is at home in New England.
At this time of year, regardless if you're in Boston or Seattle, you're bound to end up with a number of squash and pumpkins, some for decorating and others for eating. We've got the white ones sitting on the front steps, greeting guests as they arrive and the pie pumpkins are lined up as well, bumping elbows on the kitchen counter. (The rest of the squash are in the basement. I only have so much space in the kitchen!)
One of the pumpkins was peeled, cubed and roasted for this delicious salad I had seen in Bon Appetit, swapping out the goat cheese for an Oregon blue. (The leftover seeds were my afternoon snack.) Earthy lentils are always a nice match for a pungent blue and in this salad the pumpkin caramelized nicely to go aginst the arugula's bite. Looking at the photo I can't help but notice it captures the season's hues on the plate.
Although I adore this salad, and have filed it away to make it again, autumn isn't complete without turning the oven back on for some warming treats. In my mind, the best part about baked goods right now isn't pecan pie or apple crisp, its pumpkin bread. Most quick breads are made from what's in your pantry, with the addition of the requisite fruit or vegetable, which is very convenient when the air is getting cool and you'd rather stay put inside with your comfy slippers. This recipe is heavy on cinnamon and nutmeg and as you pull the loaves from the oven you'll be rewarded as the aroma extends from the kitchen throughout your house .
Homestyle baked goods are always a safe bet to please E, so I know I won't be required to eat it all myself. That's not to say I haven't had my fair share of slices, I'd just prefer not to down an entire loaf before the wedding next Saturday.
Pumpkin Bread with Dried Cranberries
Adapted from The Foster's Market Cookbook by Sara Foster
Makes 2 loaves
I've made this recipe many times using raisins in place of the cranberries and adding pecans or walnuts. Feel free to experiment as desired. The original recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree but I make it with pumpkin and/or squash that I've roasted, put through the food mill and let sit overnight in cheesecloth, which doesn't lend as deep of a color to the bread. Hey, I've got to do something with what's in my farm share. Lastly, this bread only gets better with time and ships well.
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
15 ounces pumpkin puree
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter and flour two large loaf pans (9"x5"x3")
Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to incorporate
In another bowl, whisk sugar, eggs and oil
Add puree, juice, zest and vanilla and mix just until evenly combined
Stir in cranberries
Divide batter evenly between the two pans and place on a rimmed baking sheet
Bake for about 1 hour
Let the bread sit in pans for about 10 minutes and remove to cooling rack