Today was Pumpkin Patch Day! Me and my boyfriend (Jon) have gone to the Great Pumpkin Patch in Hayden, Alabama, every year since 2005. We just barely missed 2004, since we were established in November of that year. So this was our 5th year. I remember going once or twice as a kid, and I’m so glad I’ve made it a tradition as an adult. (Can I be classified as an adult? Whatever. I guess I’m considered one by law.)
I never thought to bring a picnic to the pumpkin patch before 2007. Even then, I just brought along some Pumpkin Cranberry Scones with Maple Glaze for dipping. We ate in the car before heading to the patch.
The next year, I got a bit more picnic-y and brought some vegetarian chili, a salad mix, and a slice of baguette.
This year, however, I wanted a bit more of a meal than a soup and salad deal. And I wanted my menu to completely embrace all that is autumn. So I made Cider Baked Butternut Squash Soup (brought along with some leftover Butternut Bisque from yesterday), Sweet and Tangy Green Bean Salad, Pumpkin Focaccia, and mini Apple + Cranberry Crisps. We had apple cider to drink!
It might look a bit much, but everything fit into our picnic basket! (Well, I brought the cider in a separate cooler.) I put our tablecloth in the bottom of the basket. The soup stayed warm in little Cambell’s Soup thermoses. The green bean salad was in a plastic container (it was eaten at room temperature). The crisps where brought in mini ramekins with lids, and the focaccia was wrapped in aluminum foil. Then I just had to fit the plates, bowls, cups, and utencils in there! haha.
I’m just going to post a link to the Cider Baked Butternut Squash Soup, because I don’t really think it’s worth posting. The soup was *ok*, but I much preferred the Butternut Bisque from yesterday.
The pumpkin focaccia, however, is worth posting! I used this recipe, replacing the butter with margarine and omitting the cheese altogether. Instead of walnuts (didn’t have any), I just sprinkled some kosher salt on top of the loaves before baking.
2 loaves, 8 servings each (serving size: 1 wedge)
- 3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour, divided (about 15 3/4 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
- Cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon cornmeal
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour and butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes.
Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2 1/4 cups flour and half of cheese; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8-inch circle. Place dough circles on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle remaining cheese and nuts evenly over dough circles; press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size).
Preheat oven to 400°.
Uncover dough; bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (shield loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary). Cool on a wire rack.
For the green bean salad, I blanched some green beans and then dipped them in an ice water bath to retain the color. Afer draining, I tossed them with some thinly sliced red onion and a dressing consisting of about 2 TBSP dijon mustard, 2 TBSP agave nectar, and 1-2 tsp red wine vinegar + salt and pepper, to taste.
The Apple-Cranberry Crisp is in the current issue of Everyday Food magazine (which has a ton of awesome, easy, vegan/veganizable recipes, btw!)
And that’s that for the Pumpkin Patch Picnic 2009. I hope the pumpkins didn’t realize I had baked them into the bread I was eating :-\