Friday, October 15, 2010


How can it be Friday already? The Thanksgiving holiday last Monday put all my internal orientation out of wack - and friends have said the same thing. So suddenly we're butting up agains the end of another week and yikes!! the to-do list is still pretty full to overflowing.

But the holiday was truly wonderful, so no complaining allowed, I say to myslef. We had fabulously good weather, I got out for a long bike ride and explore in Scarborough, the leaves brilliant and the sky an intense blue, then Monday went into cooking mode. I made bread for the first time in two years, baking it off on Sunday, but Monday there was time to enrich some leftover dough with butter, flatten it, and press chopped pears with sugar on top for a Baker's Fruit Tart. The other end of dough earned its keep under sliced potatoes, slat, and minced shallots, as a version of pletzel. The small Berkshite pork roast melted its fat nicely to cook the roast potatoes to a kind of dreamy perfection... And most amazing of all, the pumpkin pie effort was a huge success.

I wanted to give proportions and method, while it's still in my head: Cut top and bottom ends off 2 or 3 small pie pumpkins, so they sit up, but are still fleshy at each end. Bake at 400 for about 90 minutes, or longer, on a baking sheet. Let cool, then scrape out seeds and set aside, and scrape out flesh. Mash flesh as wellas you can with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

(Wash seeds thoroughly, discarding all stringy bits and flesh, and finsih the job by putting them in a sieve and rinsing them off well, then bake on a sheet in that 400 oven until just touched with colour. These were the best pepitas I have ever had. They've been a great snack for passers-by all week.)

You will need a blender for the next step: Use the proportion of 2 cups pumpkin flesh to 1 cup 10% cream; 3/4 cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar that was light brown); 1/2 teaspoon salt or so; generous teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon cloves; scant teaspoon dried ginger; 1/3 nutmeg clove grated. Put them all in the blender and liquify. You may have to stop and stir a little in between, but eventually you will have a smooth thick liquid. Set aside in a bowl and repeat with another batch.

Whisk six eggs (three per each batch of 2 cups pumpkin) and stir into the mixture just before using. I then got a little anxious so I stirred in, this will maybe make you laugh, about 3 tablespoons pastry flour: why? I had an obscure idea about thickening it I guess. No harm done, as it turns out.

This will give enough to fill three pies, and maybe some small tartlets too. I made a double recipe of pate sucree (6 eggs, 1/2 pound butter; sugar, salt, and a blend of pastry flour and all-purpose), prebaked it for 10 minutes at 375degrees, pricked and also weighted down with dried limas on a sheet of foil. After it had cooled, I poured in pumpkin liquid leaving more than 1/4 inch clearance, and baked it at 350 until firm. For tart pans I used one small thick (Calphalon) baking sheet (11 by 15 inches or so) and one pie plate. I had some pumpkin liquid left over for steaming the next day, and a little bit of remnant pastry that became a small batch of sablees, dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

The rectangular tart and the pie were both spectacular, tasted of pumpkin, subtle and good, not just of the spices or other additives. I was delighted. I am ready to do it again, in fact. Maybe for Hallowe'en??

The leaves on the huge maple tree out back are a blend of red and green, lovely, and changing colour moment to moment it seems. We're racing toward winter as the sun heads south. And we're squirreling away food, at least I have been: I collected black walnuts, taking them from the squirrels, you might say, from under a tree on my daily run and from under another on my bike ride last Sunday. What to do with them? Any ideas? They stain hands of course, but what about an eating idea? or should I just crack them open and enjoy them one by one with friends?

1 comment:

Brenda Hsueh said...

Black walnuts baked into a cake give it a wonderfully fresh fragrance...I used a recipe from 'Simply in Season'. They are a pain to get out of the shell though. Definitely wear rubber gloves to take off the outer green coating, and when you finally crack the shell to get at the nut, be careful to keep shell fragments out of the nut meat or people's teeth may suffer when eating the cake ;P