Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pumpkin or Pecan? or BOTH!

Hands down, Pumpkin Pie is my favorite at Thanksgiving time, (or maybe always, although Grandma's Rhubarb is pretty amazing in the summer time too....)  But, I live in the deep south now, and that means Pecan Pie country.

So, for my first Thanksgiving as a southern resident, I decided it was only fair to make both!  And let me say it was no small feat to make these pies (as well as the rest of the Thanksgiving Dinner) at A's house.....  It's most definitely a kitchen for two bachelors, which is fine because it suites them. But it means that when I come, I have to bring most all supplies with me.

I can never abide store bought crust.  I'm too fond of my Pate Sucree recipe. Yes, I know it's suppose to be for tarts, but it's so delicious for pies too!  I made my crust this past weekend and froze it.  Then I used it to keep my cooler cold on the drive up here.  I splurged last year on cute leaf cutters from Williams-Sonoma.  And I'm still happy I bought them!  They're just so cute :) Williams-Sonoma did change the varieties of leaves this year, but they're still lovely.

My Great Grandma Irene's pumpkin pie is famous in my family.  It has such lovely flavor and good spice (no store-bought pumpkin pie spice for her).  I always make her recipe verbatim.  Except this year, there were a few changes.....

I used organic pumpkin for the first time!  I recently saw the film Food Inc (I'll probably post more about that next week.) and have subsequently decided to buy as much local and organic as possible.....  The organic pumpkin has a slightly different consistancy than the Libby pumpkin puree I've used in the past.  I think I'd drain it through cheesecloth next time, or else add another egg to the recipe.  One super sad thing was that I forgot my nutmeg back at my apartment :(  So, I just added additional cinnamon and a little vanilla..... It was still okay, but I love the flavor of nutmeg and sorely missed it.  A did comment that the pie tasted more "pumpkin-y" than previously, but he liked it!

I've also dubbed this year as the end of Cool Whip.  I'm only slightly ashamed to say that I really really like Cool Whip.  I'm one of those people who can eat it straight from the tub. However, since taking my nutrition class AND watching Food Inc, I've decided it's probably better for my health to no longer consume it :(  Goodbye Cool Whip!  My mouth might miss you, but my body wont!

And then comes the pecan pie!  I did quite a bit of searching for the perfect pecan pie recipe, but finally settled on one in this month's issue of Gourmet Magazine.   It was delicious and gooey and yummy just like pecan pie should be.....  The only feedback so far was that the surprise addition of orange zest was out of place, even though it was just a small amount.  I think I've got to agree.  Sorry Gourmet!  Other than that, it was a lovely pie!  Oh, and I used a spoon to make the scalloped pattern in the crust.  I think it's a rather nifty unique pattern.

We at so much for dinner last night that we almost skipped dessert.  (Gasp, I know!) But we did end up eating small slices pumpkin pie.  Then A came up with the most wonderful idea for the pecan pie..... Why not eat it for breakfast!  I think we've started a new tradition.  A piece of pecan pie with a hot cup of coffee is an amazing way to start your day.

I think this above image is my favorite of the pies.  I'm contemplating making pie themed greeting cards for next year.  Any feedback on that idea?

And now for recipes:

Great Grandma's Pumpkin Pie

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk or cream

1.  Mix all ingredients together.
2. Pour into a raw 9" pie shell.
3. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes.  Then at 350 F for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife blade put in the center comes out clean.

Note: Because I forgot the nutmeg, I doubled the cinnamon and put in a splash of vanilla.....

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
Gourmet Magazine November 2009

3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup {spray measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring syrup}
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated orange zest {I'd omit this next time}
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 cups pecan halves

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2 inch overhang.  Crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm in the freezer.
  3. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, zest, and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.
  4. Put pecans in pie shell and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Bake on baking sheet until filing is set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. {it took a little longer than an hour for me}.
  5. Cool completely.

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