Spicy Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoe Soup

Its that time of year… pumpkin pickin’ time! Pumpkins populate “punkin’” patches and make spooky faces from door steps and window sills around Halloween, but Sugar Pie pumpkins are the sweet and mellow ones used for cooking—not scary, and 100% tasty. And unlike their jack-o’-lantern brethren, they are thin-skinned for easy peeling. The sugar pumpkin is a small 3 to 8 pound range squash that has a wide range of cooking applications, but in this recipie… that firey jack-o-latern will meet his spicy match.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin
  • 4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

In a mortar or spice grinder, grind coriander, cumin, oregano, fennel, red pepper, salt and peppercorns into a coarse powder. Blend in garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil to form a paste.

Wash pumpkin, and cut into 2-inch wide wedges, scraping away seeds. Peel potatoes and cut each potato lengthwise into 6 wedges. Smear the pumpkin and the potatoes with the spice paste and place in a baking dish.

Roast in preheated oven 30 to 40 minutes, until tender and just beginning to blacken at the thinnest points.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent.

Chop pumpkin and potatoes into smaller chunks and add this with the chicken broth into the pot. Using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. Be sure to scrape the roasted spice paste off the baking dish and include it in the puree. It may be necessary to deglaze the dish with a little chicken broth.

Heat this thoroughly and then serve with toasted french bread slices. Make this vegan friendly by using a flavorful vegetable stock.


Dry Rubs 03 – Coffee Butt Rub

Sounds weird doesn’t it… rubbing coffee on your butt, but, make no mistake, this is one good rub for your butt. Its a somewhat smokey / spicy rub I use to marinate butt or shoulder cuts of pork before turning them into slow roasted pulled pork.

here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbs onion powder
  • 1/2 tbs garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp  ground red pepper flake
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 3 tbs finely ground dark roasted coffee

mix thoroughly in a large bowl. Apply liberally to the pork and then wrap the pork in plastic wrap and let the rub work its magic in the fridge overnight. Then, remove the pork from the plastic and brush off the rub. Place the pork in a covered roasting pan and slow roast in the oven until done.


Simple Creole Shrimp and Rice

Well, the local stop and shop has a big sale on shrimp… so it must be shrimp season somewhere, and lately, I have been hankering for some Creole style shrimp and rice. I find that this dish is very welcoming to changes and adapting to clearing out some of those spices in the cabinet.

Here’s what you’ll need:
• 1 pound of frozen medium shrimp
• 1 medium onion, chopped about 1/2 cup
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 small can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper depending on your heat tolerance
• Pinch of chili powder
• 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
• 2cups hot cooked rice

Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp, removing tails. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a large skillet cook onion, celery, sweet pepper, and garlic in butter over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes or until thickened.

Stir shrimp and parsley into tomato mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque. Season to taste. Serve over rice. Along side of a nice bottle of blue point’s best to cool your pallet


I went to a New Year’s Eve party and brought a dish. I wanted to bring something that would really sum up the outgoing 2011. I thought and thought of what I would create. I’ve got a little bit of a rep to maintain so I couldn’t just bring any-old-thing. Then, while watching one of those year-in-review shows it hit me! I’ll make some Smack-n-cheese!

What exactly is ‘Smack-n-cheese’ you might ask? Well I’ll tell you… its Charlie Sheen’s Mac-and-cheese, and this is the story of how I created it. First of, there is two versions of this dish. On the one hand you have a mild version which I labeled ‘the Goddess’ version which contains the secret ‘tigers-blood’; and then there is the ‘Violent Torpedo of Truth” version which contains an extra helping of the secret ‘Tigers-blood’ and the added ‘Adonis DNA’.

So let’s concoct these vessels of cheesy ambrosia… you will need:

• 1 lbs elbow macaroni
• 1 16oz package Sargento 4 cheese Mexican blend
• 1 stick of butter
• A couple of table spoons of flour
• 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika
• 2 Cups of milk
• 3 links of chorizo sausage, diced fine
• Half a dozen jalapeno peppers, diced fine
• 1 medium poblano pepper, diced fine
• Louisiana hot sauce (a.k.a. Tigers Blood)
• Chili powder (a.k.a. Adonis DNA)

Cook the macaroni as usual. Then, over a medium flame, in a large pot, sweat the chorizo and peppers till soft and fragrant. Remove these from the pot and toss in the butter, reduce the heat to a simmer. Melt the butter, the slowly add the flour to make your rux. Add milk to this slowly to make a white sauce. Now, fold in the cheese to make the cheese sauce.

Add the chorizo and peppers to the cheese sauce and blend well. Then add one table spoon of the hot sauce. Then, toss I the macaroni and mix this all together so the macaroni is well coated. Put half of this into one bowl and set it aside. This is the Goddess version.

Now, add another two tablespoons of hot sauce and one tea spoon of chili power to the remainder and mix this well. Put this into a separate bowl. This is the Violent Torpedo of Truth version.

Top both of these with a little shredded pepper-jack cheese and bring to your party. Have the host warm it a bit before serving and tell all the folks that only rock stars from mars are allowed to eat it!