Here are some of fall's most promising pumpkin eats (and drinks):
“At St. Francis, we’re known for our pumpkin soup,” says chef Aaron Chamberlin. Butternut squash, red curry squash, and sugar pumpkin form a base accented by leek and onion. Chamberlin is able to keep the soup simple because of how stellar squash and pumpkin are in the Valley, where we have a long tradition of raising vegetables from the squash family (where pumpkin falls). He finishes the soup with a colorful finishing of herbs, pomegranate seeds, and crème fraiche. The soup just dropped this week.
What does an ice cream shop that crafts its own marshmallows for rocky road do when summer starts sliding into fall? Make pumpkin spice ice cream, the right way — with actual squash, not merely pie spices. For the ice cream, pumpkin purée is cooked with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and other dusky flavorings. A decadent scoop that tastes like pumpkin pie filling results.
As a child, Eugenia Theodospoulous baked pies every day for her father’s restaurant, including pumpkin pies once fall came. She aims to channel those remembered flavors into an imaginative macaron. Pumpkin, spices, and Italian meringue bring autumnal goodness to a Halloween-orange buttercream filling. Theodospoulous also uses spices in the macaron's two smooth shells. Other pumpkin creations at her shop include a white-chocolate éclair with pumpkin filling, and the pumpkin pies of her youth.
Once fall drops, this dessert starts with a fresh, local pumpkin. The arc from pumpkin to finished bread pudding is a long and complex one considering the humble origins of the workaday bread pudding (stale bread). Matt Carter rubs pumpkin with butter, cinnamon, and allspice. He rices the pumpkin. It then gets baked into a spiced pumpkin cake. Carter chops and mixes that cake with creme brulee before baking the mixture into an intensely rich bread pudding. He finishes the bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, pomegranate seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a sweet Scotch-based reduction.
This locally iconic brew has been streaming through taps for a few weeks now. First crafted more than a decade ago, the seasonal porter, smooth and dark, has a classic blend of pumpkin pie spices: nutmeg, allspice, clove, and ginger. Unlike many fall pretenders, this brew is actually made with pumpkin. That's right. Plenty of beers calling themselves "pumpkin" are, like many of the lattes, bereft of pumpkin. They merely contain "pie spices." Not this porter. A dark glass of Four Peaks's best-known seasonal brew is a harbinger of fall.
SOL Mexican Cocina
Beverage director Colin Pflugradt dreamed up this crazy creation. At first blush, a pumpkin marg does not seem appetizing. We must open our minds. This isn't a pumpkin drink that uses lime juice to target the fresh flavors of a traditional marg. Rather, this one's fall-spirited all the way. Pflugradt begins with pumpkin pureé. He adds pie spices and then spikes the blend with Don Julio. Pflugradt then strains everything over ice. The glass is dusted with cinnamon.
La Purisima Bakery
Over at the Glendale location of La Purisima Bakery, the Arellano family has been making the same pumpkin empanadas for 33 years. The interior of each medium-sized empanada contains pumpkin purée, breadcrumbs, and sugar. Dough is rolled into balls, and filling is added just before baking. The dough itself contains cinnamon, providing a flavor bridge to the filling. Each empanada is only 80 cents. They're available at both locations of La Purisima (Glendale and Indian School).