Hail to the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin has had a complex since the 1960's. It has been pushed aside by the likes of it's curvaceous and—oh so sexy relative—the butternut squash, and glossed over by it's default pie-favorite neighbor, the sugar pumpkin; the name alone is cute. These winter squash go-to favorites seem to have been marked early on as, "most likely to succeed", "best bottom", and "biggest flirt", that easily moved them up the Cucurbita charts as squash Queen and King to join the biggest Jester of them all, the modernization of seed and food production. Pumpkin varieties like the Dickinson and Kentucky field pumpkins were preferred by farmers for their round shapes and smooth skins (easy roll off on conveyors and for easy peeling and processing for the canned pumpkin), unlike the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin that is squat in shape like a cheese rind (hence the name) with beige skin that has deep ridging. Sadly, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin was not widely being grown and was not available through seed retailers.

But I'm here to say, "Hail to the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin", because it is making a come back.

In the late 1970's, Ken Ettlinger, a local seed saver, noticed the pumpkin had disappeared commercially from seed catalogs and farms. It was then that he began scouring farmstands and saving the seeds from select varieties. "Growing up on Long Island during the 1950's, I would pick up a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin from farmstands in Cutchoque, just before Thanksgiving for my mother to make a pie," says Ettlinger. "Anyone who grew up during that time was using the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin for pie."

If you want to learn more about the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium will be hosting their 2nd annual Seed Swap on February 13th at the Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead. There will be a panel discussion dedicated to the pumpkin, recipe demonstrations and much more.

My go-to squash for pie, pasta and risotto has always been butternut squash. I am now taking the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin pledge and can attest that this pumpkin reigns supreme. I have made gnocchi, stews, raw salads, pie and most recently, soup. The bright orange flesh is meaty (with less strings) and has a sweet nutty flavor. I made the soup with unsweetened coconut milk —in place of dairy—that gives it a silky taste and baked for depth of flavor. What to do with the seeds? Roast them as a garnish with cHarissa, brown sugar, salt and olive oil. They are addicting and may not even make it to the bowl.

This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks to the folks who are saving seeds, the farmers who are growing varieties that are on the verge of disappearing and to those who see beyond the surface, for what is inside is what really counts.

RECIPE: Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and set-aside. Lightly apply olive oil to flesh of pumpkin and bake until tender. Careful to not allow the pumpkin to burn (may need to cover with tinfoil)
  2. Once pumpkin is done let cool so it is easy to handle with your hands. Scoop out the flesh and set aside.
  3. Place a soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onion, carrot and turnip.
  4. Once onion is translucent add the spices, salt and pumpkin pureé. Then add the stock and deglaze.
  5. With a hand immersion blender, blend until smooth. Then add the brown sugar and coconut oil and blitz again.
  6. This is where you may need to adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  7. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of pumpkin olive oil.

    Note: If you do not have a hand-held immersion blender you can use a food processor or blender. Make sure the mixture is cool before you pureé.


  • 1 Large Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, roasted
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium Milan turnip, chopped (any turnip would do)
  • 1 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Pumpkin olive oil for garnish (okay if you do not have on hand)

RECIPE: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds                          


  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from the bits and pieces of pumpkin flesh.
  3. Soak seeds in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to remove the remainder of the flesh. (do the best you can). Then strain the seeds from the water into a bowl.
  4. In that same bowl mix-in the olive oil, salt, cHarissa, and brown sugar. Then pour on a baking sheet.
  5. Cook until golden brown and fragrant.


  • 1 teaspoon of cHarissa
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar

My FoodyDirect Interview about Eating on Long Island's East End

I recently was interviewed by the acclaimed gourmet food website FoodyDirect as part of their Expert Interview series that features folks like me who have a voice and palate for all things food. FoodyDirect is a team of passionate food and drink experts who seek delicious sips and eats prepared by top-tier restaurants, specialty food vendors and artisans. I was honored to represent the East End of Long Island and flattered to answer a few questions about myself and what feeds my insatiable appetite seasonally from the land and sea. Check out the full interview here and what fall recipe is my favorite this time of year.

Lunga Di Napoli Coffee Cake

The best coffee cake I've ever tasted is made by the talented pastry chef Rachel Flatley (Cronemeyer) of Nick & Toni's restaurant in East Hampton. I met with chef Flatley and chef de cuisine Bryan Futerman at the restaurant to discuss how they make their compound butters. Chef Flatley made a compound butter with honey harvested from Nick & Toni's beehives and verbena from the restaurants garden. She then paired it with her breakfast coffee cake that was made with blackberries and raspberries from Oysterponds Farm and flour from Amber Waves Farm. The result was a crunchy, cinnamon-y, moist and buttery sweet cake with bursts of berry flavor. If you want to Compound Butters Without Fear, you can read my article in Edible East End's, Fall 2015 issue


The filling for the coffee cake can be made with What's in Season. For autumn, my harvest of choice was
apples and an heirloom Lunga di Napoli (Long Pumpkin of Naples), an Italian winter squash that is grown by Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms, who is a voracious seed saver of heirloom and rare varieties of vegetables. She grew the squash after speaking with two European farmers who raved about this orange-red fleshy 20-50lb squash that is musky and sweet, (similar in taste to the familiar butternut squash) and is shaped like a giant bowling pin that at times can have a slight arc and skin color that is grey/green with dabs of yellow. It was also noted that the Lunga di Napoli is at risk of being endangered, just like our Long Island Cheese Pumpkin that is in the Ark of Taste, an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods which is maintained by the global Slow Food movement. The Ark is designed to preserve at-risk foods that are sustainably produced, unique in taste, and part of a distinct ecoregion.

Just like the common zucchini that is sliced and diced in cakes and breads, yellow/orange fleshed squash can be used too. I flash bake the apples and squash for 10 minutes in the oven to wilt before baking in the cake. This helps to break down the sugars. I also substituted the sour cream for whole milk yogurt, the pecans for walnuts and added a pinch of nutmeg and ginger for the filling.

I made a compound butter of cinnamon basil and maple syrup to accompany the coffee cake. This paired well with the squash and apple filling.

Don't be afraid to experiment. If you see a not-so-common vegetable or fruit at a farmstand, or your farmer is growing a new variety, support them in their efforts to help expand our palates. In doing so, we will support biodiversity. 

RECIPE: LunGa Di Napoli Coffee Cake (adapted from Pastry Chef Rachel flatley (Cronemeyer) of Nick & Toni's)


For the batter

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 ounces whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Dry ingredients

  • 11.25 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 8.75 ounces sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


  • 6 ounces butter, softened
  • 4 ounces whole milk yogurt

For the filling and streusel

  • 3.75 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 5.25 ounces sugar
  • 1.75 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg


  • 1.75 ounces dark brown sugar


  • 1 ounce butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 5 cups of yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of canola oil


  1. Whisk together eggs, 8 ounces whole milk yogurt and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients.
  2. Add the butter and 4 ounces whole milk yogurt to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until it comes together.
  3. Add the egg mixture in 3 parts, scraping down the bowl often. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 1 minute).
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Chop squash and apples and dress with 1 teaspoon of canola oil. Bake for 10 minutes so the squash and fruit is slightly wilted.
  5. Place the flour, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  6. Take 1 cup of the mixture and put it in a bowl with the other remaining 1.75 ounces brown sugar—set this aside for the filling.
  7. With the rest of the mixture still in the food processor, add the butter and walnuts and pulse to combine—set aside for the streusel topping.

    To Assemble
  8. Spray a cookie tray and place parchment on the bottom and then spread ½ of the batter in the pan. Spread the filling, the squash and apple on top of the batter.
  9. Spread the remaining batter over the filling. Top with streusel topping.
  10. Bake at 350° until springy to the touch, golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.



  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cinnamon basil (if this herb is not in season substitute with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup


  1. In a stand mixer place the heavy cream and a pinch of salt. With a whisk attachment blend until the butterfat separates from the milk, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Take the butter and squeeze out the buttermilk through a fine sieve or cheese clothe. Then take the butter and wash it in a cup of ice cold water. Repeat until water is clear.
  3. Place butter in a bowl or back in a clean stand mixer with a paddle and blend the basil and maple syrup. Once incorporated, Using plastic wrap, roll the butter into a log. Freeze for when you are ready to use them. You will be able to slice into round disks to use on anything.