Pumpkin Gorgonzola Custards

I've been testing recipes for my upcoming French Nibbles & Hors D'heurves class on Friday. I can't think of too many other things I'd rather be doing on a cold day in November! This recipe wasn't actually on my list of must-haves for the class but I ran across it again in the amazing Around My French Table cookbook by Dorie Greenspan and decided I must try it (she calls hers "pumpkin gorgonzola flans, but I LOVE anything "custard"!). I was leaning more toward her Cheesy Creme Brulees but pumpkin is one of my favourite foods of all time so I took a chance. It is definitely a winner!

This is not a sweet custard, but a drizzle of honey and a dollop of thick yogurt goes perfectly with the blue cheese flavour. These would make excellent starters at a cold-weather dinner. I liked eating mine warm - the cheese was still melted enough that it ran throughout the pumpkin, infusing every single bite.

*Warning: Alan came home and tucked into one of the custards (at room temperature) and he is definitely NOT a fan. I still am, though. 

Pumpkin Gorgonzola Custards
Serves 6.

1-15 ounce can pumpkin
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled (a generous 1/2 cup)

Greek yogurt and honey for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter 6 (or more) ramekins and fit them into a baking dish or roasting pan that holds them comfortably. Lind the bottom of the pan with a double layer of paper towels or a clean dish cloth and place the ramekins in the pan. Boil a kettle of water.
Process the pumpkin, eggs, egg yolks, and cream in a food processor and process until well blended. Season with the salt and pepper and pour the custard into the ramekins. Divide the Gorgonzola among the custards and poke the  cheese down into the custard a bit. Sprinkle the tops with the chopped nuts.
Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake the custards for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of one comes out sort of clean. Remove the baking pan from the oven and carefully remove the custards from the hot water. Allow to cool till warm or room temperature.
Top with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.


Grilling Spice Mix

I love making food gifts and now is the time to start thinking about getting organized for the holidays. I have been inspired by a great little book - Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg. It is definitely worth a look. This recipe is based on one of the recipes in that book. Feel free to tinker with the amounts and types of herbs. It's all up to you!

This grilling spice mix is perfect for your friends that love to BBQ throughout the year. Package the mixture up into little mason jars with handwritten tags for your favourite people. Include a bottle of gourmet barbecue sauce, and a grilling utensil or two, and you have the makings of a great gift. I made lamb burgers last week and I added 2 tablespoons of my spice mix. They were fantastic!

Grilling Spice Mix
Makes about 1 cup.

6 green cardamom pods
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
4 tsp coriander seeds
4 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp dry mustard powder
2-3 tsp sugar

Gently crack the cardamom pods by giving them a sharp tap with a heavy object. Remove and discard the papery green outer husks and put the little black seeds into a dry skillet. Add the peppercorns and the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. Toast the spices in a dry skillet over low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until they start to smell very aromatic and begin to brown slightly.
Immediately put the toasted seeds into a mortar, add the crushed red pepper flakes, and finely grind with the pestle. Add the remaining ingredients to the mortar and mix to combine. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a clean coffee bean grinder)
Scoop the spice mix into a sterilized jar, seal, and label with grilling instructions.

*** Sprinkle the spice mix over steaks, chicken or veggies and leave to marinate before grilling. Store the spice mixture in a cool dark space for up to 2 months.