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david cooks dinner, gather food studio, personal chef, colorado springs, denver

Spice, Spice, Baby.

You know its that time of year.. because you can't go anywhere with out seeing the outfit of the season - Pumpkin Spice Lattes with sweaters, shorts, and Ugg boots.  The P.S. Latte made its debut in 2003, btw..  and the cultivation of pumpkins can be traced back to 5500 BC in Central America.  That gives me 7503 years of pumpkin fun to talk about :) ... Oh, Ghourd!

I'm not going to go back quite that far, lets start about 398 years ago when the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Harbor.  As those European settlers would soon find out, the winters in southern New England are rough, and they are exponentially more rough when food is scarce, and half of your people die from scurvy.  Lucky for the Pilgrims, there were some curious Native Inhabitants around that were intrigued by their new visitors.  So intrigued that they stole some tools.  (I'm obviously paraphrasing a lot of history, but stick in there.)  Anyway the tools were returned and this is how they meet Squanto.  Now, Squanto and his tribe, the Wampanoag were fighting with a nearby tribe, the Narragansett and desperately needed the Pilgrims support.  This leads to the Pilgrim-Wampanoag Peace Treaty of 1621 and offers both parties support from each other.  The Pilgrims would help provide defense and arms for the Wampanoag; and they in return taught the Pilgrims how to farm.  So... to celebrate the first harvest (the first historically-recognized*  Thanksgiving), there was a big 3 day party where lots of local food was eaten - fish, shellfish, fruits, nuts, venison, even things like, um... local and native squashes - but not the kind that were double baked and in a pie crust.  That happened later.  Like, 1796 later, in the first American Cookbook, American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons. 

As time goes on and the settlers started colonies, pumpkins weren't necessarily a dinner staple, with some regarding the pumpkin as a food of last resort.  People at the time were way more taken with bread and beer.  However, when yeast wasn't available for beer, guess where people turned to... yep, fermenting pumpkins.  So even though people didn't want to admit it, there were always pumpkins hanging around.  It wasn't until Abraham Lincoln designated Thanksgiving a National holiday in 1863 that the pumpkin pie really cemented its place in history as a dessert staple.

Now, as American history goes, Industrialization changes everything... the pumpkin industry included.  At the end of the Agricultural Depression, the Government was giving out large farm subsidies to large companies who were mass producing food for the country.  This was bad for the small farm and something needed to happen fast!  Luckily, by this time, cars were commonplace and people were looking to venture out of their urban environments on the prowl for some good ol' fashioned weekend nostalgia.  Seasonal roadside farmer stalls adorned with pumpkins starting popping up everywhere, pumpkin patches gained popularity and well as festivals, dedicated to nothing but... PUMPKINS! Grow them big, hoist them a mile in the air.. doesn't matter what you do with them, people are having fun.

Last year, in America, pumpkin sales topped $121 Million dollars, with the number one pumpkin product sold being pumpkin pie filling. 

*** On Dec. 4, 1619, a group of 38 Englishmen landed at Berkeley Plantation on the James River near what is now Charles City, Va. ... This Virginia Thanksgiving, a religious observance, was held about one year before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620 and about two years before their Thanksgiving harvest feast in 1621. ***

America sure has come a long way since the first harvest celebration!

(Tune in next week when we talk about how the Civil War created Thanksgiving)

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 1 T cinnamon, freshly ground
  • 1 T ginger, ground
  • 1 T coriander, toasted and freshly ground
  • 2 ¼ tsp mace, ground
  • ¾ tsp clove, freshly ground

Toast the coriander slightly in a pan until fragrant.  Freshly grind the spices and combine.  Store in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Apple Pie

For the Crust

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. butter, cut into large chunks
  • 3 T. water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

For the Pumpkin Layer

  • 1.5 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. evaporated milk
  • ¼ c. white sugar
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp clove
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of salt

For the Apple Layer

  • 2 baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • ¼ c. white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp preserved lemon juice (or regular lemon juice is fine)

For the Pecan Crumble

  • ½ c. flour
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1/3 c. chopped pecans
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Scant ¼ c. white sugar

For the Crust:

Mix the flour, butter, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pieces. Add the water and work in gently until a dough has formed. Shape into a ball, and place on floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is large enough to lay across a deep dish 9” pie plate. Gently work the dough into the pie dish, shape crust as desired, and cut off any overlaying pie dough with kitchen shears. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

For the Pumpkin Mix:

Combine the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, both sugars, eggs, vanilla, and spices in a bowl. Mix well to combine. Set aside.

For the Apples:

Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and preserved lemon juice. Mix well to combine. Set aside

For the Pecan Crumble:

Mix the flour, butter, pecans, cinnamon, and sugar together. Working with your fingers, crumb all of the butter into the flour and pecans. Mixture should be crumbly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the prepared pie dough from the refrigerator. Using a fork poke holes around the bottom of the dish. Next add the apples and arrange in a flat layer. Next pour over the pumpkin mixture. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top. Place back in the oven and back for another 25-30 minutes or until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

  • 2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 T. crystallized ginger

In a medium sized saucepan, combine 1 ½ c. cream, cream cheese, ½ c. sugar and scald. Do NOT Boil. While the cream is heating, combine the egg yolks, and remaining ½ c. cream and ¼ c. brown sugar. Whisk together very well until the sugar has combined. When the cream mixture has scalded, temper half of the cream mixture slowly into the egg yolks, stirring continuously. Pour the egg cream mixture back into the saucepan and place on the stove over medium heat, stirring continuously until the mixture has thickened and the consistency as able to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture into a bowl, discarding any solids. Add the pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree and crystalized ginger and whisk the entire mixture together to ensure even distribution of the pumpkin puree and spices. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until the mixture is cooled. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.