Friday, October 16, 2015

The Pumpkining II: 2 Sweet 2 Savory

Around this time last year my friend Suzanne and I competed in the first annual orange gourd-based cooking throwdown between us, The Pumpkining: Beyond Pumpkindome. She ran away with the top prize then - no surprise - and a good time was had by all.
Pumpkins! Pumpkins! Pumpkins!
However, with six desserts that we just had to eat, things got a bit too sweet that afternoon. (I almost lost a foot.) So we resolved that this year's edition would introduce some savory goodness into the mix.

And that's just what we did. Once again, she prepared most of her entries on the day prior. I planned on doing the same so things wouldn't be quite so hectic, but the day of the competition was unexpectedly (to me) moved up 24 hours. Things were quite hectic. Like Weezer predicted, though, everything was alright in the end.

Here were my submissions*:

I got tickets for Rush's fall tour, eh.
Pumpkin poutine (recipes for the pumpkin fries and the pumpkin nutmeg gravy) - Please note: due to the time crunch I wasn't able to go to the specialty cheese shop for curds, so I had to use Monteray Jack. My deepest apologies, Canucks.

Beat that, White Castle.
Pumpkin sliders topped with pumpkin BBQ sauce and pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies (recipes for the burgerssauce, and cookies; I added Muenster cheese to the sliders.)

And now Suzanne's entries:

Soup is good food.
Chipotle chicken and pumpkin soup (recipe)

Stack 'em high.
Pumpkin pie toffee (recipe)

I unwittingly ate cream cheese.
Pumpkin cream puffs (recipe)

By, uh, tradition the judge for the context is determined by who is occupying the house next door to Suzanne. This year she had new neighbors, with the esteemed critic being chocolate and black lab owner extraordinaire Kenica. Due to the spread out nature of the cooking, the contest unfortunately didn't provide blind submissions. Suzanne provided Kenica with her offerings first and then a few hours of palate cleansing later I served up mine.

And just how did she rank the dishes? I'm glad you asked!

A whole mess o' pumpkin.
Per her post on Instagram:

Very thankful to have been selected to be the judge for the neighbors annual #pumpkinrecipe #cookoff! It was hard to pick a winner because they all were so delicious and to be honest the top 3 all should be#numberone But I had to vote... 1. Pumpkin slider with pumpkin BBQ sauce (perfect hint of cinnamon and tang, it was so yummy it needs to be on a menu)
2. Pumpkin cream puff with marshmallow (this is dangerously good w a bit of honey and overall could be sold at the top bakeries #obsessed )
3. Pumpkin fries (the texture was just like sweet potato fries but was made with the actual pumpkin cuttings...amazed to say the least)
4. Pumpkin chicken bean soup (had an extra kick which I loved and I want the recipe)
5. Snicker doodle pumpkin cookies (not my fave but ended up eating 2, so I guess they were pretty good) lol
6. Pumpkin toffee bar (was a little sticky but I like this idea)
Overall, this was so fun and I'm very impressed with their kitchen skills and wish you all could've taken part in this tasting to get you into the pumpkin spirit!

Victory is mine! Success was evenly divided, though, with me taking the odd places (natch) and Suzanne with the even ones. I totally agree with Kenica. Everything turned out great this year. It was the first time that I've cooked with actual pumpkin and let me tell you that it was a bit of a chore. It took forever to prep them. The video embedded in the French fries recipe shows the woman using a potato peeler to remove the skin. HA! My attempts broke two peelers and bruised my knuckles. I recommend using a knife. Also: one of the four pumpkins I bought must be constructed out of stone and has made a career switch from food to front porch decoration.

Anyway, aside from a couple of setbacks, it was another fun culinary throwdown. But with success comes dread. I have to up my game somehow to defend my crown next year. How the heck am I going to do that? Blurgh. That's a year away, though. Now my priority is to decide on a Halloween costume. I'm thinking sexy autumnal food competition winner.

*Regrets? I got a few. Mostly that I didn't take better, more mouthwatering food porn pictures. I didn't bring my camera and was constantly busy cooking. Sorry.

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