Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scooter Pie

So I made my first pumpkin pie. I was quite worried about it for several reasons. The first is that I've not only never made pumpkin pie, I've never seen it made, and I haven't even tasted it in years. The second is that, to be honest, I don't even LIKE pumpkin pie. So no matter what I thought I was in for a disaster.

As I started making it, from the Joy of Cooking recipe, I ran into a new problem. It's a single crust pie, yes? Yes. And in a lot of single crust pies one must bake the crust while empty, yes? Yes. And, in order to keep the empty crust from bubbling and buckling, one must weight it with beans or something, yes? Yes. Fair enough. But then the recipe, by which I was already getting a little put out (I don't have beans), tells me to glaze the crust with egg yoke before putting it in the oven. So wait. First of all, I never glazed with YOKE. That's weird. Also, how are you supposed to weight the crust if it's glazed with ANYTHING? But ask as I might, the recipe never answered. So, armed with common sense, I weighted the pie crust, unglazed, with lentils. This may make for some sort of unpleasant surprise next time I go to cook my lentils for real, but the crust was okay.

I took the crust out after about ten minutes or so, removed the weights, and glazed it with the yoke. It looked weird. And I was completely on my own timewise, the recipe having given conflicting specifications.

So I put the crust back for five minutes or so, just until the "glaze" cooked. It was bright yellow and, since our oven is crap, burnt around the edges. It looked weird.

Only slightly daunted, I continued the pie without further incident, only being unsure as to what texture the pie should be once it was done.

The next weird thing about the pie was that, even though I remember pumpkin pie ranging from a rich brown to bright orange, this was yellow. Not yellow orange. Yellow. Like curry yellow.

I was reluctant to try it, but cooks must be brave. And: IT IS AMAZING. Best pumpkin pie I've ever had.

Only don't microwave it. Just eat it cold. Microwaves are a bad, bad invention unless you make a habit of sacrificing flavour for convenience.

In retrospect I figure the yellow colour was from adding an extra egg, which makes the pie much more custardy. Also, I will give my one and only complaint about the Joy of Cooking, and that is that I think it's been revised a few too many times, especially in the pie section. Too many times it gives conflicting instructions for one thing, and absolutely none for another. I was told many things related to cooking time, such as when to turn the crust, when to remove the weights, when to add the glaze, and yet... no cooking time at all... I had to infer from both "three quarters into the baking time" and "three or four minutes before cooking time ends" that it should be about fifteen minutes.

Maybe that book needs a real editor: not just a recipe tester.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Plumpkin

Well we got a bit ambitious and to be fair, our cameras crapped out on us thus we were left with an imageless blog. My own laptop also crashed and has been replaced by brand spankin new one with an amazing webcam inside! Two months later indeed we decide to dust off the cooking books, and rev up the laptops for a new blogging season! And what not a better time than during the holidays? Today marks the first day that it snowed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We decided to celebrate and bring in the holiday season with a warm, busy kitchen!

Two weeks ago we made a little trip to Lunenberg, a quaint town of Nova Scotia, home of the Blue Nose ship. On our visit we came across free small pumpkins along the sidewalk, labeled: Free Pumpkins for Pie Making! This friendly gesture inspired us to share our cooking adventures with the rest of you once again.

Here's a shot of Lovely Lunenberg

Sophia began pureeing the pumpkin the other day. It took her all day and it was a fruitful effort that yielded a whole lotta pumpkin. That was from her little pumpkin alone... we still have mine to puree as well! Needless to say, our following entries will undoubtedly be featuring pumpkin as the main ingredient.

This evening Sophia has outdone herself by making a home made pumpkin pie from scratch. The pie was a huge success and in fact, it was so damn delicious that we almost ate it all before getting a photo of it.

My contribution to the pie included making this little alligator from the pie crust scraps.

I plan on putting a spin on the traditional pumpkin recipe by making a Thai coconut soup. My soup didn't turn out as planned as I found out in the middle of making it that I did not have red curry paste... thus I improvised by adding a bit of lime and lemon juice, as suggested by Sophia and a bit of sour cream. I also took a risk and added a few shakes of fish sauce for good measure, based on a couple of other thai recipes that I'd previously looked up. To be quite honest, I downright dislike my soup, no matter how much lime or cayenne or pepper I had, I can't shake the sweet sweet taste of pumpkin in a soup. All in all, I've made the executive decision to avoid using pumpkin in anything remotely savory. Maybe it's an acquired taste. All I know is that as long as I've known pumpkin, he's been with his lovely fragrant wife, Mrs. Pumpkin Spice, all made up with her nutmeg, ginger, a hefty dose of sweet sweet cinnamon, and she likes to change it up with allspice or cloves. Although I hate to back away from culinary adventure, that's the way the pumpkin, for me, is going to stay.

As I watch Anthony Bourdain eat rabbit three way in Prague... I comfort myself with this minty beet carrot salad with tarragon. Who am I kidding though?

The vinegar really does temper the sweet taste of roasted beets and the tarragon balances out the bitterness. It's quite palatable, in fact.