Thanksgiving: Pumpkin mousse an easy pie alternative

(CBS News) I must admit having my new "Chef" title just as Thanksgiving approaches is pretty nice. How convenient it is to have this wealth of knowledge on the most important food holiday of the year!

But now I face a problem: Do I want to stick with the traditional, or substitute with interesting alternatives? Turkey and gravy versus turkey and jus? Pumpkin pie versus pumpkin ice cream? Or maybe a pumpkin mousse? Decisions, decisions.

Video: Easy Thanksgiving dessert: Pumpkin mousse

But with only a few days left until the holiday, I'm going to have to go with a happy middle. Luckily, I win either way: all Turkey Day fare is delicious!

Watch the video above to learn how to make a super-simple pumpkin mousse, and keep reading for a great butternut squash soup recipe.

Pumpkin Mousse
Yield: 8 Servings

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2-3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons spiced rum, optional

1. Combine pumpkin, 1 cup cream, sugar, spice and rum in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once combined, let simmer 5 minutes. Cool completely

2. Whip remaining cream and vanilla to medium peaks and fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. (NOTE: You can add more or less whipped cream depending on how rich you want your pumpkin flavor. Start with whipping a cup of cream, and then add more if needed.) Serve chilled.

To keep things more traditional:

Butternut Squash SoupAdapted from The International Culinary Center
Yield: 8 Servings

  • 1 oz bacon (about 4 slices)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stocks, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium/large butternut squash, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8.5 cups (2 liters) chicken stock
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 4 cups heavy cream, as needed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 teaspoons white truffle oil, optional

1. In a large pot over medium heat, add bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is slightly caramelized.

2. Add the onion, leek, carrot and celery to the bacon, and sweat over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until tender.

3. Add the diced butternut squash to pot, and sweat for an additional 10 minutes. (NOTE: You could also roast the butternut squash before adding it to the soup: toss with oil, salt, pepper and a little brown sugar and cook at 350F until tender and slightly browned at the edges. Then add as directed.)

4. Add the chicken stock, thyme, sage and bay leaves. Cook at a simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

5. Blend the soup until smooth and add back into the pot. Add cream to soup a little at a time to taste. Cook an additional 15 minutes at a low heat.

6. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Garnish

  • Reserved butternut squash seeds
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white truffle oil, optional
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Pumpkin seed oil

1. Clean and dry seeds very well. Toss with garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and truffle oil (can use a few drops of olive oil as a substitute). Bake at 350F until crisp, around 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Pick sage leaves. Fry at 350F for 1 to 2 minutes until crispy. Drain on a paper towel and reserve.

Note: In the restaurant, we topped the soup with some quail confit. A great substitute for that is shredded chicken thighs. Season and saute chicken thighs on high heat. Finish cooking in a 350F oven. When done, cool, remove skin and shred meat. Before you serve your soup, add oil to a pan over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the shredded meat and toss to give it a nice crisp.

To serve

Pour in bowl, top with shredded chicken, toasted seeds and fried sage leaf. Finish with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and truffle oil.

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for following my journey to becoming a chef!

  • Alison Stravitz

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