Friday, November 30, 2012

Roasting Pumpkin

 (Please excuse my instragram filters. I'm a victim of my own attempt to be hip. I'll try to stop.)

Turns out roasting your own pumpkin is super easy and makes super delicious pies. I used the method described by the BAKED boys, but really you can find directions anywhere, google it. The homemade puree has a more fresh taste, but without being overpoweringly pumpkin-y. Just a lovely, subtle base for yummy spices and other stuff. HOWEVER, it is not an attractive color, when all is said and done. Picture above is roasted and pureed. Beautiful. This one below is pretty fresh out of the oven (the pumpkin is in the 9:00 position). Also nice to look at.

 (Psst, that pie in the 6:00 position is what I'm calling Pecan Cranberry Pie from now on. It's this recipe, but with half the bourbon and double the vanilla. Don't tell the Pie King! It was really delicious even with only half the booze.)

This next one is the proof in the pudding (ha!) after sitting on the Thanksgiving dessert table for a couple of hours and then getting popped back in the fridge overnight.

Uh, is it gray or is it my imagination? UNappetizing. But this pie tasted so good! I used this recipe topped with the streusel from this recipe. The homemade pumpkin puree is a little looser than the canned stuff, so I probably should have cooked the pie another 5-10 minutes before putting the streusel on. It kind of sank a little. But as you can see above, it still stayed in the top layer. The sweet and crunch of it added so much to this already delicious, warming, spicy pie. But for me, food has to look good enough to eat. It doesn't have to be perfect. Rustic is good. But gray? Not so good. I might have to stick to using the homemade puree for soups and breads (and maybe muffins) and using the canned for pies. I know, I'm a big disappointment.

TGIP Rating--Homemade Pumpkin Puree--definitely has its place in my kitchen. But probably not in my pies. Good news is streusel on top of pumpkin pie makes a good thing that much better.

Next up: Cookies. Christmas cookies, to be precise. Some new, some old/reliable. I don't even know what yet. But there may be snickerdoodles.

P.S. My kitchen video debut is over there --->

Friday, November 16, 2012

Twinkie Cake

SO. This was yucky. Which is doubly bad because I made it for my Mom's birthday party. Bad form to bring a yucky cake to your own mother's birthday celebration. Ah well. I'll make it up to her next year. With something chocolate.

I found the recipe here and, you know, I really trust those BAKED boys. I do. Implicitly. Just so happens Matt's wrong on this one. Yes, I should have made alterations because of my altitude, it was far too dense. But that wouldn't have changed the taste, which was chemical. Why? I can't explain it. The cake, the filling, all of it had a chemical aftertaste. I don't know that it's even worth trying to research and fix potential problems. I'm perfectly happy buying the real (regular-sized) thing at the grocery store (which Jeff Horwich assures me will still happen, even though Hostess is going under--the brand will likely be bought by some other company and production will resume then *phew*).

TGIP Rating--Twinkie Cake--FAIL. Both on my part and the part of the recipe. Completely not worth trying again.

Next up: Starting Christmas baking and, at the same time, baking for Thanksgiving. This weekend I bake Fruitcake. Then on Wednesday, with the assistance of my baby brother (ha! he's been bigger than me since the day he was born, see:)

(Okay, so that wasn't the day he was born, but pretty close to it) I'll be making 4 pies for Thanksgiving: Spiced Pumpkin with Streusel Topping, Pecan, Cherry Chocolate, and Buttermilk. I lobbied for an all-pie Thanksgiving feast but nobody else was on board. Maybe next year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Harvest Pie

Remember how pumpkin doesn't HAVE to come from a can?! Yeah, I needed to be reminded of that too. This was an excellent reminder. So much like a pumpkin pie, but more fresh-tasting and I love the crumble on top. Now I have to try that same trick with regular pumpkin pie. This recipe is from my amazing friend Mike Bottoms who I met when I was 18 and we worked together at a restaurant (that shall remain nameless). He taught me many things about food when I was in college and was part of one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had. And he's a smarty pants who I still adore.

Here's the recipe. Go make it.

Harvest Pie *click here for printable version*
recipe courtesy Michael Bottoms

1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded (about 2 1/4 lbs)
1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute (or about 2 extra-large eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tbs chopped pecans
pie dough

Position oven rack to lowest setting. Preheat oven to 400.

Roast squash, cut side down until tender, ~30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, then scoop out squash and mash pulp to measure 2 1/2 cups. Combine squash with evaporated milk in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (through cloves), process until smooth.

(I wish I could describe the completely delicious smell of this)
Increase oven temp to 425.

Pour squash mixture into a 9-inch pie pan lined with pie crust. Place on bottom rack and bake for 15 minutes. During this time, combine flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and cut in butter. Add pecans and toss to combine.


Remove pie from oven, reduce heat to 350, sprinkle flour/sugar/pecan mixture over pie and return to bottom rack. Bake another 40 minutes or until center is set.


Notes: For very liquidy custard pies (like this and pumpkin), I prebake my pie crust for 10 minutes then brush egg white over the parts of the crust where the custard will be. I find this makes for a less soggy bottom in leftover pie that has been refrigerated.

Also, add more spices and vanilla according to your preferences.

TGIP Rating--Harvest Pie--KEEPER. Just lovely. You wouldn't think that a pie made from squash could be described as "fresh", but this one is.

Next up: A TOP SECRET surprise for The Pie Queen's birthday celebration. :)