September 25, 2010

September....Autumn's Best of Cheer

Dining by the Harvest Moon...

Welcome to The Maine House backporch!

 At The Maine House, we enjoy an evening of a long, leisurely dinner on our porch. We love to entertain our guests outside during the crisp, clear, moonlit autumnal evenings. Before the Harvest Moon lights up the evening sky, we serve a Cabernet and Pinot Grigio wine, a variety of cheeses and crisp apples on the side which have been gently gathered in a wooden bowl on our side bench. We place black wrought-iron lanterns around the deck which are ensconced with honeysuckle vines and fall berries while deep-colored autumnal candles glow from within. There is a definite feeling of intimacy, romance and intrigue.

The grand finale is presented at the end of the evening utilizing our little baby pumpkins and this most delectable bread pudding!

Stuffed Pumpkin with Cranberry-Raisin Bread Pudding

1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and divided
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 (16 ounce) loaf raisin bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Cut off top of pumpkin, reserving lid with stem. Scoop out pumpkin seeds and pulp, and reserve for another use. Brush inside of pumpkin shell with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Top with lid. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes.
Brush inside of baked pumpkin shell with 1 tablespoon butter; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Stir together eggs and next 6 ingredients; spoon pudding mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch square pan.
Bake pumpkin and bread pudding at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let pumpkin cool; spoon bread pudding evenly into pumpkin shell. Serve with Lemon-Vanilla Sauce.
For individual servings, substitute 12 (1/2-pound) pumpkins. Scoop out seeds and pulp; sprinkle each pumpkin shell with 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon sugar, and bake with the bread pudding. (Do not pre-bake as with the larger pumpkin.) Spoon bread pudding evenly into baked pumpkin shells.

Lemon-Vanilla Sauce
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Cook vanilla bean, water, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth and thickened. Stir in butter and remaining ingredients, and cook until thoroughly heated.

"By all these lovely tokens,
 September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."
Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

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