Cooking Challenge #3: I Accidentally Fed Dade George Baby Food?

Pumpkin and Parmesan Gratin


Welcome back to everyone’s favorite cooking blog the Cooking Challenge, and on this edition we have Pumpkin and Pecorino Gratin, recipe courtesy of the one and only Martha Stewart.

Gratin (pronounced grah-tahn): a culinary technique of French origin in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, typically with bread crumbs, grated cheese, egg, or butter. Our dish uses bread crumbs and cheese to form an elegant crust. 

Martha Stewart’s recipe called for pecorino romano cheese, but I could not find that, so I used parmesan. Pecorino is essentially parmesan but from goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk, so it shouldn’t be too far off. Technically this is Pumpkin and Parmesan Gratin, but if anyone can tell the difference I’ll personally give them a gold star. 

Our modified recipe is 3 cups of pumpkin puree, 2 slices of whole wheat bread, ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and sugar seasoned to taste, and 4 tablespoons of melted butter.

The process was ridiculously simple. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, and mixed the puree and sugar in a bowl. Since the original recipe called for sugar-pumpkin puree that I didn’t have, I just threw in some sugar and that amount appeared right. 

I put the bread, cheese, salt, and pepper in a blender and made the breadcrumb mixture. At first it didn’t blend but my dad had the genius idea of shaking the blender and that worked very well.

The greatest challenged proved to be working the butter. Melting it in the microwave worked just fine, but spreading it on the crust was more difficult than I anticipated. I resorted to scooping it with a teaspoon and shaking that over the dish to equally distribute all the butter.

Now, the results. Oh, the results. 

Ultimately, this just was not good. I never thought it would be great, but to be frank it was very disappointing. It tasted like there was something missing, like I forgot some major ingredient. Senior Dade George described the dish as, “Incomplete and room for improvement”.

Some bites were much better than others. A spoon that had a perfect balance of pumpkin puree and crust tasted really good, and many compliments were delivered in that respect. But most of time the only flavor was pumpkin puree, which senior Paige Duke accurately compared to baby food. 

However, I do not believe that this dish is a lost cause. Something was missing, but if it tasted more complete, it has the potential to be an easy-to-make fall dish worth trying. Maybe a bit of cinnamon, or a few pecans would do the trick, but unless the goal is to scare away your guests this fall season, this is not a treat.

But whether you decide to make this or something else this fall season, always remember to get it while it’s hot.