Monday, December 9, 2013

Meatless Monday: Joining Hands for a Better World: 12.9.13

Last Tuesday I set out on a pre-Christmas challenge — to post a tip a day we can collectively follow with the goal of making the world a better place. 

Today’s suggestion: Start with a Pumpkin. 

If you picked up a pumpkin or some winter squash to decorate your Thanksgiving table, now is the perfect time to cook it (or them—all of them) before it gets too old. You can always freeze what you do not use; it will make a tasty treat at winter’s end.

If you have a small pumpkin like this one, it’s a “sugar” pumpkin and you are in luck! These are great for making pumpkin pie. If you have a much larger pumpkin, its flesh will likely be too stringy for use in recipes. 

I halved this pumpkin, removed its seeds, oiled it slightly, and roasted it in a 350° oven until tender (about 50 minutes) the Monday night before Thanksgiving. I scooped out the pulp and stored it in a covered dish in the fridge. Tuesday night we warmed it up in the microwave to get it to room temperature, and my husband pushed it through a wire sieve. It yielded just over two cups, the amount we needed for a wonderful pumpkin pie.

The recipe came from James Beard’s classic cookbook, American Cookery

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups cooked, strained pumpkin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or coffee cream (I used light cream)
  • Unbaked pie shell for a deep 9 or 10 inch pie or for two 8 inch shells.
  • Preheat the over to 450°
  • Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until the yolks and whites are combined.
  • Add the pumpkin, sugar, and spices. [I used the larger amount of the spices.]
  • Blend well.
  • Add the milk or cream and stir to combine thoroughly.
  • Have the pastry shell(s) ready.
  • This is rather a sloppy mixture to pour, and it is better to dip it from the bowl to the pastry.   
  • Put the pie(s) in the oven. Bake a larger pie for 15 minutes (smaller pies for 10) and then turn the oven down to 300° and bake about 30 minutes longer. [I covered my pie crust edges with foil and removed it for the final 15 minutes.] 
  • The pie is done when the filling appears set when the pie is shaken gently, except for about 2 inches in the center.
  • Cool the pie on a rack and refrigerate once it is at room temperature.
My artisanal pumpkin pie. Don't judge by its appearance.

The night I started my pie project, I watched Martha Stewart tell David Letterman on late night TV that canned pumpkin was OK to use. But take it from a person who has often used pumpkin from a can in the past — this pie was the best. I’m not going back.

Just make sure that your pumpkin is a sugar pumpkin, not one for carving. If you only have acorn squash, that works OK, too. 

That’s it for today. “See you tomorrow.”

“All together now,” as the Beatles once sang. Let’s see how much good we can do over the next few weeks.

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