Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Festive Food: Pumpkin Pie

I documented my inaugural pumpkin pie making adventures a while back, at the request of my friend Christine at N'East Style and thought I would let you in on the verdict too. Since this is most traditionally a Thanksgiving dish it is already a little out of season, but well worth the small effort for the unique and tasty result. For the original post, pop over here.

"Before I get to the main event, I just wanted to give my two cents on the topic of savoury as sweet. This seems to be a singularly American tradition that has always baffled me if I am honest. I mean really….parsnip cake, zucchini bread, candy corn (that last one might be stretching my point too far)? I won’t even begin to discuss the confusion caused by dipping a pretzel into chocolate, or …gasp….the pairing of peanut butter and jelly…..ok, ok, please don’t hold that against me. I will concede that tripe, brains, jellied eels, Marmite or pickled eggs are equally as baffling to most non-Brits. Haggis anyone? For the record, I can’t understand sweet with savoury either but I’ll leave that for another day.

I am American by birth (but not heritage) and upbringing until the age of 6, after which we moved to Scotland where I spent my school/college/working years until I moved back to Vermont last year. The duality of my background as an Anglo-American does give me a slightly more objective view of both cultures, and in particular the foods that reflect the identities and traditions of both sides. In addition, food is my career and personal passion so I give it allot of consideration and will try anything. Anyway, I digress…

Pumpkin Pie is in that category of savoury as sweet but is so quintessentially American that you just can’t question it (carrot cake too…I see now that my initial argument is crumbling). I had never baked it before this week and will confess that I was more than a little nervous about tackling this family recipe (my sister-in law’s family). I don’t take cooking disasters well, and I had 8 of these pies to cook for our local Community Dinner (that’s lunch to you and I, it is a Vermont thing). My audience of 60 true Vermonters was adding extra pressure too. A “flatlander” like me couldn’t produce a substandard Pumpkin Pie to finish off their pre-Thanksgiving dinner, it will be the talk of the town for decades!

The following recipe is incredible! The pumpkin filling is mousse-like in consistency and light as a feather. The addition of ginger (and emittance of cloves) gives it a little spiciness and elevates this pie to another level. I am tempted to say this recipe is fool proof. Simple, and completely delicious....I take it all back!

Let me tell you that I am no baker. I generally lack the patience and commitment to follow a recipe, instead preferring to trust my palate and instinct with food. I am also not averse to taking shortcuts. Buy the canned pumpkin pie filling, and a pre-made pie crust. Life is too short.


3 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar

½ Teaspoon Salt

½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Nutmeg

1 Teaspon Ground Ginger

1 Cup Scalded Milk

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1 ½ Cups Pumpkin

3 Egg Whites

½ Cup Crumbled Graham Crackers

9 Inch Pie Crust

  • Beat egg yolks with the sugar, salt and spices.

  • Add in pumpkin. Mix together thoroughly.

  • Combine melted butter and milk in pan on stove. Simmer together briefly. Be careful not to burn the milk! Slowly and gradually, pour hot milk into pumpkin mixture stirring CONSTANTLY. (The idea is for the warm milk to ensure the ingredients blend completely, but not to cook the egg yolks).

  • Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into the pumpkin mixture.

  • Pour into pie crust. Top with crumbled graham crackers (better if not too finely crumbled, and the more the merrier).

  • Cook at 350 Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Pie is done when the clean fork/skewer test is passed.

Serve with generous dollop of whipped cream or a slug of pouring cream. As my friend Julia would say, Bon Appetit!"

And there you have it, the most uniquely American dish I could muster for a spot about festive cooking. If you are reading this from outside the US, I really hope that you have a chance to try it out. I promise you will not be disappointed with the result.

1 comment:

  1. Must admit Pumpkin pie has never been a hit with me
    but "Lord have mercy," the pumpkin cheesecake I scoffed
    on Thanksgiving was sooo goshdarn delicious, I very sheepishly accepted, when offered, a doggie bag.
    Totally worth opening the top button on your
    cordoroys to waddle home. When Dunkin Donuts starts making mini pumpkin cheesecake Munchins....Let me know

    Salty & sweet is perhaps an acquired taste . I love salted cashews rolled in dark choc with a little orange zest & Cointreau Mmm


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