Archive for November, 2010

Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Crust

Photos by Liz Banfield

I am not one to deny food pleasures. But I do realize that ALL pleasure without restraint can be painful. If I eat too many muffins I develop doughy-soft muffin tops that spill over the waistline of my jeans.

However, the holidays are fast approaching and I intend to eat my way through them. Starting with the Knock-Your-Socks-Off Pumpkin Pie. The recipe is from a family of organic dairy farmers in Wisconsin run by 6 sisters, ages 11 through 19. Yup. The Holm Girls Dairy is run by a bevy of diversely talented young beauties who happen to be farmers who get up at dawn and work ’til the cows come home. (The dairy is part of the Organic Valley co-op.)

And they have fun while doing it. I spent some time with the family when they celebrated a harvest feast. It was crowded around the farm table, but that’s what keeps the family close.

The whole Sibling Revelry story is in Organic Gardening magazine and includes other recipes you might want to make room for on your holiday table. But this pumpkin pie recipe with its fresh ginger crust and streusel-pecan topping is not to be missed. (The girls top the pie with freshly whipped cream with cinnamon.)

FYI: I do go into holiday-eating training mode starting…TODAY. I lighten up on most meals so I can indulge a bit when the occasion presents itself. Made veggie-laden beef barley soup last nite. (Stand by for that recipe.)

Knock-Your-Socks-Off Pumpkin Pie

Ginger Pastry (recipe below)

1 15-ounce can organic pumpkin

1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

3 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. On a floured surface, roll Ginger Pastry into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry to 1 inch beyond pie plate. Fold edges under crust. Crimp decoratively, forming high-standing crust (about 1/2 inch above rim of dish). Freeze for 15 minutes.

3. Line crust with foil and then fill with pie weights (dried beans work well). Bake crust 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans and bake another 10 minutes or until crust is set and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

4. In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, cream, sugar, eggs, honey, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour into pre-baked piecrust.

5. Bake pie for about 50 minutes or until it begins to set. Remove from oven and let pie stand for 10 minutes to set slightly. Meanwhile, make Streusel Topping. Sprinkle topping over pie. Return pie to hot oven. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes more or until pie is set and streusel is golden brown.

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Ginger Pastry

1 1/3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup cold unsalted butter

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons ice-cold water, plus more as needed

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, minced ginger root, allspice, and salt.

2. Using a pasty blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. In a small bowl combine egg yolk with 2 tablespoons water.

4. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture; toss with a fork until mixture forms moist clumps. (Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if dough is too dry.)

5. Form dough into a ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 24 hours. Allow dough to sit at room temperature about 10 minutes before rolling into a piecrust.

Makes 1 (9-inch) piecrust

Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and ground ginger.

2. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans and crystallized ginger. Sprinkle topping over pie before baking.

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Got the tight budget blues?

Spend just a teensy bit on a trinket for a hit of happy. Studies show that little treats are proven pick-me-ups. I just bought Falsies. Not THOSE. The mascara by Maybelline. Or, I occasionally succumb to a magazine or a wild pair of socks.

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Rum and Coke Chicken Wings

Photos for A Life of Spice by’s Sala Kannan

I have to admit this is the only good color photo we have of a recipe from our cookbook. Yup. The only photo. Don’t you hate being on a budget?

Anyway, the wings photo was posted on food writer Monica Bhide’s blog, A Life of Spice. She ever-so-kindly plugged Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen and mentioned the Rum and Cola wings after checking them out for herself. Wanna see what Monica wrote? Click here.

When Monica and I originally connected, it was over food, but not literally. She pitched a food story or two to me when I was a full-time editor. Then, when I was laid off, Monica shared tips to ease me into the freelance world. In hindsight, it’s kind of funny. I’ve been a magazine editor/writer for years. I hired freelancers regularly. I knew the drill, yet all of a sudden I was floundering because I WAS LAID OFF. I felt worthless. My career? Gone  in one swell foop. I was devastated.

But Monica, a writer I had never met in person, reached out to help, making suggestions and offering support when I was down and almost out. (She has the most mellifluous voice. Just talking to her on the phone is a soothing experience.) She helped me realize that I was still the editor and writer I always had been. Maybe even better, now that I was free of the corporate shackles.

Yup, to quote a cliche: “When one door closes, another opens.” Because I was downsized, our cookbook was born.

And I wanted to include essays of others who had bounced back from heartbreak. So when I heard how Monica Bhide met her husband, I had to include her story in Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen. “Love in the Time of Cardamom” begins: “I was a lonely graduate student in an unfamiliar land.”

In an effort to ease her homesickness, Monica decided to make her mother’s rice pudding. The comfort food spread an enticing aroma that went beyond her apartment and caught the attention of a young graduate student. Monica’s tale  tweaks at the heartstrings. Want to read the whole story? Let me know and I just might post it here. Or you can read it in the book.

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