Pumpkin Pie

There is nothing more Thanksgiving than Pupmkin Pie.

And this my friends is the King Kong of Pumpkin Pies.

To quote my mom, “This pumpkin pie is amazing, and I don’t even like Pumpkin Pie”.

Wow, your friends.  Amaze your boyfriend.  Savor it all by yourself.  Whatever you do…make this pie on Thursday.

Pumpkin Pie

from, yes again, Cook’s Illustrated

yield: one 9-inch pie

  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cold vodka (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  •  
  • For the filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (see note)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

PROCEDURES

  1. For the crust: Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
     
  3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
     
  4. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
     
  5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.
     
  6. For the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.
     
  7. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.
     
 
**Note
If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted. The best way to judge doneness is with an instant-read thermometer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly. The pie finishes cooking with residual heat; to ensure that the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. To ensure accurate cooking times and a crisp crust, the filling should be added to the prebaked crust when both the crust and filling are warm. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute. Any brand of vodka will work, but make sure it is 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).
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Pan-Fried Tofu and Watercress with Lemon Caper Sauce

Phew…long title.

Ok, let’s get ready folks.  It’s Monday, or maybe it’s Tuesday where you are.  Whatever the case may be Thanksgiving is right around the corner…ok, if you live in America…which not all of you do.  Ok, well anyway…I’m gearing up for Thanksgiving and you can come along, too.  

Let’s eat lots of buttery things, and stuffed things, and things smothered in gravy.  Then, for dessert, let’s have one of each.  Then, repeat.  The next day, eat a stuffing sandwich…mmmm.  

But, to do this, we must get ready.  We must prepare our minds, bodies, and souls.  This week, we eat Tofu.  Tofu and Oatmeal.  And, lots of spinach. 

But we’ll make it really tasty, so it will be ok.

Pan-Fried Tofu and Watercress with Lemon Caper Sauce

from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (Great Cookbook)

1 16 oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

Salt and pepper

2 Tb olive oil

1/4 C dry white wine

3 Tb fresh lemon juice

2 Tb capers, drained and chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 bunches watercress, tough stems removed

1. Pat the tofu dry and season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

2. Heat 1 Tb olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu and cook in batches until golden brown on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side.  Add the wine, lemon juice, and capers.  Simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

3. Heat the remaining 1 Tb oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the watercress and cook, stirring until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Transfer the watercress to a serving platter or 4 individual plates and arrange the tofu on top.  Drizzle the sauce over the tofu and serve hot.

Hearty Minestrone

This is my day.

So, this is my lunch.

Hearty Minestrone.  You should add cheese because everything is better with cheese…and bacon.

And this bread.

And these for dessert.

Mmmm….

Cook’s Illustrated Hearty Minestrone Soup

 

SERVES 6 -8

 

* table salt
* 1/2 lb dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over (about 1 cup)
* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
* 3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces  (I used bacon)
* 2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
* 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 small onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 small head green cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 8 cups water
* 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
* 1 piece parmesan cheese, rind (about 5-inchx2-inch)
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 1/2 cups v 8 juice
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaf
* fresh ground black pepper
* grated parmesan cheese, for serving

 

1. Dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp salt in 2 qts. cold water in large bowl. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
2. Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 3-5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, onions, and zucchini; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 5-9 minutes. Stir in garlic, cabbage, 1/2 tsp salt and red pepper flakes; continue to cook until cabbage starts to wilt, 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables to rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
3. Add soaked beans, water, broth, Parmesan rind, and bay leaf to now-empty Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and vigorously simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully tender and liquid begins to thicken, 45-60 minutes.
4. Add reserved vegetables and V8 juice to pot; cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and Parmesan rind, stir in chopped basil, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with olive oil and grated Parmesan.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Pacific Natural Foods.

 

Spinach Lasagna

If someone ever found me crouched in my closet with a fork, holding a 13×9 pan of something.  It would be this.  

Friends of ours just had the second most beautiful baby boy in the world, Owen.  (And he’s only second because I am biased and mine would be first) This is hardly fair because they already have the cutest little girl in the world, seriously.

 To give them a break, we made them this for dinner.  I am very jealous though because I want it all to myself.  Being the middle child, however, I’ve perfected the art of sharing, and will just have to make this again, some other time.  Like, tomorrow.

I wonder if the Duggar’s neighbor’s make them a meal every time they have a baby, or if they, like the rest of us, have gotten tired of their baby making.  Thoughts?

Spinach Lasagna from Cook’s Illustrated

Spinach
1 tablespoon table salt
20 ounces curly spinach (2 bags), stemmed and rinsed

Bechamel
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for baking dish
5 large shallots , minced (about 1 cup)
4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (generous 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
2 bay leaves
3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)

Cheeses and Pasta
8 ounces whole milk cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 no-boil lasagna noodles from 1 box
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
8 ounces Italian fontina cheese , shredded (about 2 cups)

1. For the spinach: Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat; add salt and spinach, stirring until spinach is just wilted, about 5 seconds. Using skimmer or fine-mesh strainer, transfer spinach to ice water and let stand until completely cool, about 1 minute, then drain spinach and transfer to clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel tightly around spinach to form ball and wring until dry. Chop spinach medium and set aside.

2. For the bechamel: Melt 5 tablespoons butter until foaming in medium saucepan over medium heat; add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Do not brown. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, whisk in bay leaves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in Parmesan and discard bay leaves. Transfer sauce to bowl, press plastic wrap directly against surface, and set aside.

3. For the cheeses, pasta, and assembly: Blend cottage cheese, egg, and salt in food processor or blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place noodles in 13- by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and coat with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Use rubber spatula to distribute 1/2 cup bechamel in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Stir spinach into remaining bechamel in bowl, mixing well to break up clumps of spinach (you should have about 4 cups spinach/bechamel mixture). Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with 1 cup fontina, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, followed by cottage cheese mixture. Finish with 3 noodles, remaining cup spinach mixture, and remaining cup fontina. Lightly spray large sheet foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes, then remove foil. Remove lasagna and adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Broil lasagna until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.

 

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Did I miss it?  Am I too late?  

It’s still November 4th somewhere in the US, right?

National Candy Day!  And one of my favorite candies! Almond Joy!

This was truly a labor of love.  I want to document this recipe not because it’s a good cupcake (actually, it really wasn’t), but because it was the most harrowing experience.  Have you ever made something and the baking/cooking gods just were totally against you the whole time?  I bring you my worst baking experience of all time–

First, the first recipe I tried was a TOTAL fail.  I should have taken a picture.

Then, I thought I’d try again with a tried and true favorite, Martha Stewart, but I was out of eggs.  A few months ago, I went through this vegan thing so I had egg replacement stuff.  I thought, what the heck I’ll give it a try.  So, I made three eggs worth of this Ener-G stuff.  

Next, when I was pouring the dried ingredients in, I spilled half of it on my counter.

If that wasn’t enough, my mixer paddle got stuck on my standing mixer and when I yanked it off, I totally punched myself in the stomach, and got chocolate all over my shirt.

Then, when I called my sister to complain about these stupid cupcakes, I realized I was doubling the recipe, and so, I should have put in 6 eggs, not three.

Another failed attempt.

Finally, after a trip to the Grocery store, and sleeping children, I made the cutest darn cupcake I ever saw.

So, finally, things seemed like they were going my way.  The cupcakes looked good, so surely, they must taste good too.  Unfortunately, they’re not the best.  Will I make them again?  No.

Next time, I’ll buy a bag of Almond Joys and call it a day.

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Adapted from sources including Martha Stewart and Ina Garten

Cupcake:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
  3. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely  
Ganache
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 C Heavy Cream
1 Tb corn syrup
Put chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl.  Heat heavy cream in a sauce pan until simmering.  Pour over chocolate and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.  Whisk until smooth, add corn syrup.  Place in fridge until thickened and pipeable.
Coconut Frosting
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

 

Just the healthiest muffin of all time…

Ok, so post-halloween binge has caught up with me. I think I’ve eaten an entire bag of Almond Joys by myself. And am wondering, why am I not sick of these? Why could I consume another bag?

Ben brought home some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that his students gave him, and I ate those too. I’m feeling bad about it, so don’t make me feel worse.

With all this junk eating the past few days, I decided its time for a cleanse. I’m on a total health food kick. I’m seeing how many vegetables and fruits I can put into my body in a 24 hour period. The problem with this theory is that I’m still a carb addict, and a muffin must enter my mouth every 24 hours, or else I think the world might end or something horrible like that. Now, I’m going to tell you, these are not delicious muffins. So, why make them? Because, they are just about the healthiest muffin on the block. And, I’m being a little harsh. They’re good, but like a 6 out of 10 good. I’m doing it for the cleanse. Because I must eat chocolate chip cookies at least once a month, and because its almost Thanksgiving, which means Christmas cookies are right around the corner. So, make healthy muffins, I must. Enjoy, I will. But claim them awesome, I won’t.

Oh, BTWs…this is my last pumpkin recipe for the year…maybe.

Pumpkin Morning Glory Muffins

Original recipe is here. Maybe they’re better? I don’t know. Try both and let me know. Mine’s healthier.

Makes 17 muffins

scant 1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 C rolled oats

2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (use all cinnamon if you wish)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
3/4 cup raisins
1 large apple, peeled and grated
8 ounces (1 cup) crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup canned (plain) pumpkin
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put your rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients (or 6 if you’re using only one flour), then add the coconut, raisins, apple, pineapple, carrots, and nuts. Stir this all together. It will be messy looking and dry, but stay with me.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, pumpkin, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Grease your muffin tins, or use paper liners if you prefer. Fill each cup 3/4 filled.

Bake for 30-35 minutes and do the toothpick test. (should come out clean.) Cool muffin in the pan for 10 minutes and then cool completely on your rack.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

Happy November!  What happened to October?  Or September, August, and July, for that matter?

Ben informed me that he wants nothing more to do with pumpkin.  Between the soups and the scones, he thinks he’s turning orange.

So, I decided I’ll just tell him it’s squash.  He’ll never know.

They’re are many things that go perfectly together.  I’m adding butterscotch and pumpkin to my list.  After you try these, you will too.

Don’t be fooled by their shape, these cookies are very cake-like.  I know they’re not beautiful, but I won’t tell them to their face.  

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

from Joy the Baker, with only 1 small change

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola or corn oil (My change: 1 stick of butter)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup butterscotch chips

Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended.  Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it.  Mix in the chips.

Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart.  You could also simply use a 1/4-cup measuring cup if you don’t have a  scoop.  I used a medium sized scoop.

Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time for 16 minutes.  Rotate halfway through baking and flatten with a spatula.  Continue cooking until a toothpick comes out clear.

Dust the cooled cookies lightly with powdered sugar.  The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

 Makes about 24 cookies