Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pumpkin Stromboli

As Chef de Cuisine at the catering company

As Chef de Cuisine at the catering company I get to fill in when the EC is
missing and run the show.  Which is the part I do because I have to, but
the part I love is being asked to develop plates for the seasons.  Last
week I was asked to create a new vegetable dish for the holiday events. The
development of such a recipe demands a lot in the commercial environment. 
I have to analyze the selling prices of the holiday functions, then fit the
prepared dish into the Cost of Goods Sold bracket that is allotted for the
plating.  So I really have to design for costs.  Which creates the
need to use the freshest, but least expensive ingredients available.  The
better I do the item design, the more money left over after everything and
everyone is paid.  This brings me to the latest vegetable I am taking main
stream with a big twist..............


Butternut squash will also be incorporated to create the correct mouth feel
for the dish.  I am taking pumpkin to a strange strange place on this
little journey!

Come we me as we explore PUMPKIN STROMBOLI !!! Follow me as we convert a
traditional dish of the Aeolian Islands of Italy.  And bring to the table a
unique method for service of an inexpensive vegetable that is fresh, plentiful
and cheap this time of the year.

As you look at the finished product of the second test cooking, you can see
the fresh roasted vegetables oozing fantastic depth as they present in a most
unique fashion.

First I cleaned and peeled the section of the pumpkin I wanted, then I diced
it.  I did the same thing to half as much butternut squash.  Little
salt and pepper applied to get the seasoning started.  This was all placed
into one of the large Ziploc steamer bags.  First thing I really need to do
is soften the vegetable and also get rid of a lot of water.  All these
squash type vegetables are mostly water, failure to get rid of it will result in
my pizza crust turning to yeck!!

After the steaming I remove the pumpkin to a colander and let the squash
drain for 30 minutes.  I need all the water out I can get rid of without
hurting the nature of the pumpkin itself.

For spicing I have decide on a fennel hoisin combination.  I adjust salt
and pepper to taste after draining is complete.  The toss the pumpkin into
the sauté pan.  Add in 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, 2 tsp fennel seed, 1
tsp cardamom and  a little olive oil.  I have prepared a 1/2 cup of
pearl onions which will go into the sauté as well.  I toss them around to
coat everything and spread the spice and seasonings around.  Then into a
350 F oven for a 1 hour roasting.  Uncovered to lose more water.


When it comes out of the oven it should be darker and smell just like earth!

While this is cooling just a little, to help it lose still more moisture. 
And so the pizza dough I made does not turn into a big noodle by being steamed
to death!!  We will prepare the pizza dough crust.  I made the dough
the previous day so the flavor could develop in the reefer overnight.

After I get the pizza dough flattened out I stretch it to shape.  I toss
the pizza (owned a shop for a long time) and then pull it out into a long oval. 
This creates the shape for the Stromboli.  I will paint that with a little
dark sesame oil and then place some crystallized ginger I made a while back. 
I think the ginger under the pumpkin with the dark sesame oil will add a nice
twist to the dish when people are tasting it.

Then I pile on the roasted pumpkin and onions, sorry I forgot to take a
picture of the damn thing prior to closing it up.  But I put 1/4 cub of
dried craisins on the thing.  And finished it with a little pickled sweet
pepper.  Rolled it up and.....

Then I toss it into a 500 F oven on my pizza stone.

In my home oven I have to turn it once so it cooks completely even.  In
the commercial ovens at the kitchen you can just fire them with no turn. 
When done it will be a nice brown color on the outside.

When you cool something like this, condensation is your enemy.  So use a
cake rack or anything that allows air to circulate around the entire product,
including the bottom.  Soggy is not a good mouth feel for a stomboli.

When complete the Stromboli is brushed with a honey, brown sugar glaze and
cut into wide strips and can be eaten like a sandwich.  For my use in the
catering events for the holidays, I am going to make this a little less wide,
and then plate it.  It tastes fantastic and should be a nice profitable
side dish for the holiday season.

And when extracted it will present with a nice color and texture to
complement the main protein and play nicely with the starch.

I hoped you like coming along for the ride.  Developing the side dish,
main dish or any dish with the constraints of costs to manufacture is a lot of
fun.  Creating the best for the least cost, creating the intriguing for the
minimum impact to food costs is what separates the winners in our business from
the also ran.

Til we talk again do something with the fall vegetables, they can be just as
much fun as the summer vegetables, they just need a little more coaxing to get
them there.

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado, USA

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