Akkk, my lap-top is broken and I am limping along on my hubby's veryyyyy old one. I cannot access my camera, so I am taking a blog break. I will spend my time working on yummy recipes for you and hopefully be back next week. Eat something good for you mind and your body (and think of me) xox
So you have your pumpkins cooked and ready to use, your crust is waiting to be baked and your spices are fresh, the last thing is the filling!
Again pie filling is really about preference. I do not think there is a bad recipe but more simply someones preference. I know I prefer my simply, rich pumpkin pie. There are two tips I want to share with you about the filling.
- Pumpkin pie filling freezes beautifully. I make double batches and freeze them individually for future use. I know on Thanksgiving morning it is lovely to pull out the filling, let it defrost, fill a pie crust (probably out of the freezer too) and bake it off. One less step on a very busy day.
- Most fillings can be baked without a crust if it has egg in it. This is also a great way to make this dish gluten free. I suggest though you bake the filling more like a custard. Cook it in a lower temp oven 300F in a bain marie. It will create a much silkier custard. You can make these in the morning and set them in the fridge. Just pull out the custards a good 1/2 hour before you enjoy them.
I have enjoyed writing this series. If you have a any tips or recipes to share, please do!
An important part of pumpkin pie is spices, whether it is a lightly or heavily spiced, all cinnamon, spices add character to your pie. Just like the kind of pumpkin you use, the quality of your spices are important too!
1. First the most import thing about spices is freshness. Those volatile oils in spices get lost quickly when ground.
2. Buy in small amounts. If you are lucky to have a store with a bulk section, make the most of it. Look for a store with a good customer base that means the turnover is fast. You do not want to buy ground spices that have been sitting around for a while. Also avoid those little bottled in the baking section. You have no idea how long it has been since they were ground. I have read it can be a good year. And heavens to Betsy do not buy those giant bottles at places like Costco, unless you can split it with a few friends or use it up in 6 months. I say ground spices last 6 months. After 6 months, I toss it. Another reason to buy a small amount. If you do not use it, you are not throwing away much money.
3. Ideally one should buy their spices whole and ground as needed. As I said freshly ground spices have a depth of flavor that is lost very quickly. For example nutmeg, I NEVER buy ground nutmeg. Fresh ground nutmeg has a peppery quality that is amazing in savory dishes but that quality is lost pretty fast. Nutmeg grinds easily with a microplane. Pepper is something else I only buy whole. A mini spice grinder (or coffee grinder) is a good investment and not that expensive.
Even though keeping your spices fresh may seem fussy, think of all the work you have put inot thta pie. One more small step will give you such a satifying result!
I hope you found cooking and pureeing your pumpkin, as I mentioned in tip #2 easy? It is a bit time consuming. Still down the line when you are cooking and need some pumpkin, you will be glad that all you need to do is pull it out of the freezer. Now before you can bake your pie you need a crust!
I find people have strong opinions on the subject of pie crust. It is usually based on what they had as a child. I had butter crusts, like pate brisee. I was not raised on lard crust and find their flavor and texture a bit odd. BUT that is me and we do not have to agree on this. Everyone should suit their own palate. As much as I love butter crusts, I have been into oil crusts. I love them for several reasons.
- They are super easy to make.
- I dump everything in the pie pan, mix it, and spread it out, all in the same pan I bake with. No extra dirty bowls.
- Great for anyone who is vegan.
- If you use a good, buttery tasting olive oil it will add a wonderful depth of flavor to you pie. My favorite buttery oil is Zoe.
- You can make whole wheat, gluten free, grain free or plain old white flour versions.
Even though I am making a lot of oil crusts, I try to keep some rolled out pate brisee in the freezer too. If you are in a real pinch, Trader Joes makes a really good pie crust. You will find a box of two in the freezer section!!
Image from pie 101, you can print up your own if you want, there is a link!!
So now that you have purchased your beautiful cooking pumpkin, how do you cook it? Well first admire it a day or two, then …
How to cook a pumpkin for pumpkin pie? Well there are a lot of ways to cook it and most of them will work. I know I have tried most of them but this method is the simplest and quickest way to cook a pumpkin. Especially if you are going to cook several at one time. You might as well get them all done at once!
Pre-heat oven 350◦F. Cut your pumpkin in half. Take a large pan with sides (a jelly roll pan works great) and pour water about ½ inch deep. Set pumpkins in water, cut side down. Bake anywhere from 1 hour to 1 ½ hours. When you can pierce the flesh with a knife and feel it is soft, it is done. Pull out pan and let the pumpkins cool until you can handle them.
A food processor works best, but you can use a blender or immersion stick. Take one half of you pumpkin, holding the skin side very gently
scoop out the seeds/gunk and throw away (or you can save the seeds). Then gently scoop out the flesh into
the processor, making sure not to get the skin. Then puree for a minute or two,
Pureed pumpkin freezes beautifully. I fill little sandwich baggies with 1 cup scoop. When those have frozen, then I put them all into large freezer bags. You can thaw this pumpkin for your pie. You can also throw frozen pumpkin in things like stew or chili. Very easy and most importantly, you have avoided peeling that pumpkin, a very tedious step!
Oh my gosh the first homemade pumpkin pie of the season! I am enjoying it for breakfast and it is so good. Let me tell you if all you have ever used when making pumpkin pie is the canned stuff, you are missing out. I think I will write a series of pumpkin pie tips. So tip ...
#1. Cook and puree your own pumpkin! Also use a cooking pumpkin. Those pumpkins you carve are just that, pumpkins made to make pumpkin moonshine, not pies. They are stringy, watery and do not have much flavor. So splurge on a baking pumpkin or even a winter squash, there are so many different varieties. Trust me, you will thank me. Now my favorite baking pumpkin is long pie, which looks like a giant zucchini. What is your favorite pumpkin to bake with?
I bake some form of bread just about every day of my life! But it is easy and that is because I make no-knead dough. I keep a big buck of pre-made dough in my fridge so that I can make bread any time I want. I highly recommend this method and one of my favorite things to make is focaccia. You can put any topping on it from plain salt to pizza topping or in this case rosemary and grapes. I especially like making this on busy weekends. 2 hours or more before we eat I quickly pull together this focaccia. If I do not have dough on-hand it only takes a minute or so to mix together and 2 hours sitting. It is very easy and there is NO kneading.
Now onto my grape trick! It is very simple really, I just keep grapes in the freezer. I pop them on the dough frozen. Grapes keep beautifully in the freezer. I just add some fresh chopped rosemary that I have year around and this is a side dish that I always have on-hand!
No-Knead Rosemary Focaccia w/ Grape Trick
Makes one pan
A batch of no-knead dough, see below
Sprinkle some good sea salt on dough
I like to sprinkle a bit for dried, granulated garlic
1-2 TBL finely chopped, fresh rosemary
12 or so frozen grapes, just push them down in the dough
Pour about ½ cup of olive oil in a 6"x10" pan (but any size will work, just do not use a really small or big pan). You can use more or less oil if you want, I actually do not measure. You want to generously cover the dough with enough oil pooling a bit in the holes you press down. Take your dough and set it in oil, turning it over a few times. You want to make sure the doudh is completly coated in oil. Then press out the dough and push down in spots, making small holes in the dough. If it looks like there is not enough oil, drizzle a bit more. Then add your toppings, leave dough uncovered until ready to bake.
If using fresh made dough, pre-heat oven now and let focaccia sit 1 hour and then bake.
If using dough from fridge, cold dough, you can let the focaccia sit anywhere from 1-4 hours. If you have the time, let the dough sit and warm up. If not, you can bake it after one hour of resting. Pre-heat oven at lest 45 minutes,
Pre-heat oven 400◦F for an hour. Set an empty pan off to the side in the oven when you first turn on the oven. When ready to bake set focaccia in oven and quickly pour 1 cup of cold water in the empty, hot pan and close the oven door. This creates steam and helps the dough rise. Bake 20-30 minutes, until bread is golden brown. Enjoy!
2 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp sea salt (if using kosher salt, use 1 tsp.)
⅟₈ cup olive oil
Water, should feel warm to your wrist but not hot, start w/ 1 cup and drizzle in more as needed
In a large bowl stir well together flour, yeast, sugar and salt. To center of flour pour 1 cup water and the ⅟₈ cup olive oil. Stir with a dough whisk or large spoon. Dough should come together in a loose ball. If there is still lots of flour left, mix in more water. Do not worry if there is a small amount of flour on the sides. Cover the bowl with a lid or plate. You want it covered but not air tight. Set aside in a warm place for 2 hours. Then make focaccia or set bowl covered in fridge until ready to use. The dough will last a week in fridge.
The picture above is a pan of focaccia I had just assembled. It is before it rises, before I baked it, so you can see what I am describing in the directions.
I actually make 4 times the amount of no-knead dough and keep that is the fridge. It last me anywhere from a week to a week and half.
You can make anything from this dough: baguette, French bread, cinnamon rolls and so much more.
Also in the picture there is probably more oil then I have in the recipe. As I said, I do NOT measure, more is fine, less is too. It just depends on how crispy and greasy you want it ;-)
I was so inspired by these globe pumpkins, I wanted to make my own. I have these beautiful antique pendent light fixtures for my kitchen but David has not had the time to install them. I decided to take one and make a temporary pumpkin.
I used a bit of tacky wax to attach the spool to the top of the globe. (it is easy enough to remove the spool and clean the glass). I filled the urn with crumpled paper and some old crochet lace. Added the glass globe and whaa-laa a glass pumpkin. Quite easy to do and charming, which is what I love when crafting!
It is that time of year, Apple Day! This is a tradition my family started when my daughter's were little. We still do an apple night every year. I encourge you to do one too. Big or small, any day, does not matter. I always get e-mails asking what is apple day? I guess it is a bit confusing, since it is a holiday my family made up. We tend to do that a lot ; -) So here is a few answers.
1. What is apple day?
It is a day to enjoy apples. Actually I think it really is about more than apples, well in a deeper sense. It is a day to celabrate the fall harvest and to be thankful. It is a day to enjoy the last moments outside before the cold, and in our case, constant rain kicks in. It is a day to make family memories. Mostly it is a fun day to bound family and eat well (I am being honest here!!)
2. Why apples?
Apple day started when a now defunct farm opened up in the island selling dozens of amazing, heirloom apples. There were so many to try, we set aside an apple night to enjoy them all and it grew from there.
3. What day is apple day?
Well it is not a set day because it is important to me we do it on a day where we are not crazy and grumpy. Usually we celebrate at the end of October or the beginning of November, but mostly on a happy day.
4. What are you suppose to do on apple day (and does it have to be a whole day)?
Well do what sounds like fun and no it does not have to be all day. For us, every year is different (except for a few rules, look below). Sometimes we spend the day getting apples and cheese, making sauce and canning or making apple fritters, then dinner. Some years it is just dinner. When the girls were little, we would do crafts but they are too grown for that now. Someday I will have grandbabies to craft with!
5. What are the rules?
Well these are our family rules, I think you should have your
own ; -)
- NO lights, only candles as soon as it gets dark.
- Read the same harvest picture book’s we have since the girls
were babies. Everyone picks thier favorite from the stack.
- We have the same meal every year, which is different apples (all labeled, so we can talk about how each one is different from the others), good cheese (especially some sage cheddar), bread, apple sausages, cider and some apple apple dessert. Usally apple fritters.
Actually it is a simple holiday but one my girls would never miss, even though they are now little anymore. You can see what we have done in past years here. I hope it inspires you to have an Apple Day. Ohhh and come back and tell me about yours,I love to hear what others are doing xox