Across the nation, many dining tables have looked like this over the last week:
Today, Brian and I will join a few friends and make a similar mess as we celebrate Halloween and Bella Eats' First Birthday! There will be pumpkin carving and fondue making, apple dipping and kettle corn popping along with a tad bit of hard apple cider drinking. We'll front porch-sit and hand out candy bars to costumed kids (from our friends' house, as the kiddos seem to skip our street every year) as we, or maybe just I, marvel at how quickly the last year has gone by.
I find it pretty hard to believe that it has been one year since I, on a whim one Friday evening, decided to start Bella Eats. How time flies. Thank you to all of my old friends, those of you who stood by even after the big change from food diary to recipe blog. Thank you to new friends, those who found their way here via Tastespotting, Foodgawker, and other esteemed food blogs. Thank you to my family and local Charlottesville friends, many of whom have only recently learned of Bella Eats because for so long I was too shy to share it with you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing your comments. Thank you for being here.
For you, dear readers, I have a recipe that you simply must make this Autumn. In fact, I hope that you will read this in time to carve out a spare pumpkin today, on Halloween, to fill with strong swiss cheese, bread and heavy cream. Its a grown-up spin on a classic favorite, warm and gooey and eye-rollingly good. It is absolutely a dish that one shares with friends - nothing this good should be kept to oneself.
Enjoy, and have a Happy Halloween!
Don't forget to save your seeds. They are delicious toasted with a dash of cayenne pepper for a little kick.
Pumpkin Fonduefrom Gourmet, November 2008serves 8 as an appetizer or side dish - the recipe is easily cut in half if you want to use a smaller pumpkin
1 (7-lb) orange pumpkin
1 (15-inch) piece of baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (6 oz)
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Emmental (6 oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Place rack in lower third of oven. Preheat to 450*.
Toast baguette slices on a baking sheet until tops are crisp (bread will be pale) for about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Cut a 3-inch diameter hole from the top of the pumpkin. Scrape the seeds and any loose fibers from the interior of the pumpkin with a large spoon. Save the seeds for another purpose if you wish. Season the inside of the pumpkin with 1/2 tsp of salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mixed together the grated cheese.
Place a layer of toasted bread in the bottom of the pumpkin. Cover with about 1 cup of grated cheese and 1/2-cup of cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese and cream until the pumpkin is filled to 1/2-inch below opening. Make sure to use all of the cream mixture, but you may have some bread and cheese left over.
Cover pumpkin with top and place in foil lined roasting pan. Rub the outside of the pumpkin with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, 60-90 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving, making sure to scrape some pumpkin flesh into bowls with the bread/cheese mixture.
Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
Preheat oven to 375*.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread seeds over foil and spray with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Stir with spatula and spread seeds evenly across sheet.
Toast seeds until golden brown, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes.