Monday, November 25, 2013

ARoW: Grandmama's Pumpkin Pie

Even though I recently said that I’d rather delay my pumpkin pie gratification until Thanksgiving Day itself, I really had hoped to make Grandmama’s Pumpkin Pie last week, just so I could post some better photos of it here. Sure it’s pumpkin pie and so it looks like pumpkin pie, but this is such a delicious and fabulously traditional recipe that it deserves some better photographic representation.

Alas, I didn’t get a chance to make it, and now I’m fretting a bit, wondering when I’m going to get a chance to make it at all. I have to work Thanksgiving Day, and live too far from the family celebrations, so I won’t be cooking, or even eating, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (although I have some plans in the works for a Charlie Brown-style meal on Thursday and hope to cook turkey, etc. for my husband and I on Saturday). Whatever happens, though, I’m determined to celebrate somehow with Grandmama’s Pumpkin Pie, even if it’s almost Christmas.

Here are a few other recipes from The Messy Apron Archives that might go well on a Thanksgiving table:
Vegetarian Main Dishes:
Beans and Rice Stuffed Squash
Quinoa Stuffed Squash
Winter Squash Risotto
Butternut Squash Pie with Feta and Mint
Winter Squash and Leek Empanadas with Sage
Winter Vegetable Galettes with Cheddar, Mustard and Caramelized Onions

Side Dishes and Salads:
Carrots with Ketchup-Ginger Dressing
Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sauce with Persimmons and Spice
Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Olives
Roasted Vegetables
Wilted Savoy Cabbage with Warm Walnut-Butter Vinaigrette
Barley and Wild Rice Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Brown Rice Salad with Walnuts, Pears and Blue Cheese
Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Maple Walnut Vinaigrette
Arugula Salad with Squash and Lentils
Spinach Salad with Apples and Maple Walnut Vinaigrette
Radish and Carrot Slaw with Zesty Citrus Dressing
Shaved Vegetable Salad with Cider-Sage Vinaigrette

Desserts (if you dare to deviate from the traditional pumpkin pie):
Applesauce and Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Beet and Orange Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
Apple and Cranberry Crisp
Ginger Spice Ice Cream
Apple Turnovers with Dried Fruit
Cranberry Bars
Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

And if you have leftover turkey:
Turkey Salad with Sherry Vinegar and Smoked Paprika
Chicken and Vegetable Tetrazzini (replace the chicken with leftover turkey and skip the cooking step)

Grandmama's Pumpkin Pie
It is likely that you will have more filling than you can easily fit into the pie shell. If so, pour the excess in a ramekin and bake it alongside the pie. It will take less time than the pie to fully bake.

If you don’t have Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand, replace it in this recipe with ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups milk

3 tablespoons (about 1 ½ ounces) butter
3 eggs
¾ cup (about 5 ½ ounces) sugar
15 ounces pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)

2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 unbaked pie crust, arranged in a pie pan
whipped cream for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Heat milk in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat until it reaches 180 F. This is just before the milk boils. (Do not bring all the way to a boil.)

2. Remove the milk from the heat and add the butter. Stir to melt the butter and set aside to cool somewhat.

3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and the sugar together in a large bowl until they are fluffy and pale. Add the pumpkin and the spices and whisk together. Slowly add the milk mixture and whisk until very well combined.

4. Place the crust in the pan on a large baking sheet. (This will make the pie much easier to maneuver.) Pour the filling into the prepared, unbaked pie crust. Reserve any filling that does not fit and bake it separately in a ramekin for a treat for the cook.

5. Cover the exposed edges of the pie crust with strips of aluminum foil. Carefully transfer the baking sheet with the pie into the 450 F oven and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Reduce the oven heat to 350 F. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the foil from the crust. Bake an additional 15 to 25 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the center of the pie should wobble just a little when the pie is very gently shaken. Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing. Serve with whipped cream.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. Eat leftovers within a couple days. Recipe is easily doubled to make two pies.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ARoW: Cranberry Sauce

Stop right where you are! Take your hand off the can opener. Set it on the counter and back away slowly.

You don’t need a can of cranberry sauce. Ever. EVER! You can make cranberry sauce yourself. Yes you can! You can turn on a stove, right? Okay, then.

If I could get more people to read these pages I would go on a personal crusade to eliminate canned cranberry sauce from the Thanksgiving vernacular. It’s so easy to make really good fresh cranberry sauce. The only problem is that it’s so different from the canned goo that you might have to explain what it is.

One year I offered to bring something for Thanksgiving dinner, and was not asked to bring the cranberry sauce (or the pumpkin pie; that sad, sad story is told here.) I never have let that happen again. If I’m coming to Thanksgiving dinner, I will say, “…and I’ll bring the cranberry sauce.” There is no further discussion.

I’ve always made this simple accompaniment with apple cider or orange juice, but I recently tried it with dry red wine and it was just as delicious. Apple cider tones down the bitter and sour cranberries. Orange juice accentuates the bright acidity. Dry red wine works with the cranberries’ bitterness. Even water makes good cranberry sauce. There will be no excuses. And as you get more comfortable with the recipe, you can even add other fruits and spices to the mix.

I love this stuff. It’s simple, delicious and takes no time or skill to make. You can make it ahead, even a few days, and store it in the refrigerator until a few hours before you need it (it’s best at room temperature). Trust me. The canned stuff is obsolete.

Cranberry Sauce
See? Just three ingredients. Easy, easy, easy!

1 12-ounce (340 g) package fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) flavorful liquid, such as apple cider, orange juice, red wine – or- water

1. Combine the cranberries, sugar and liquid in a medium-size saucepan. Stir together and cook over medium-high heat.

2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes more or until the cranberries have all burst and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and cool. Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 2 ¼ cups.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Butternut Squash Pie with Feta and Mint

I used to make this savory supper pie at least once every autumn, finding it rather elegant and a bit fancy but still not too difficult to pull off, especially for how delicious it is. I’ve let this recipe slide out of my fall repertoire for a few years, however, forcing me to reconsider labeling it a relatively easy recipe. Now that I have a lot less time to cook than I once did, I’m less inclined to think of this as a trouble-less weeknight meal. It may not require much special skill, but there is phyllo dough involved. And if you don’t have a food processor with a shredding blade, there may be hand shredding of winter squash involved as well. Enter at your own risk.

Really, it’s not that difficult to make this pie. For one thing, you don’t have to make a pastry crust for it. Layers of buttered phyllo encase the filling instead, and this application of those thin, finicky layers is pretty forgiving. Since even the best of my phyllo creations look like poor attempts at papier-maché projects anyway, I don’t worry about it too much. (At least here I can blame the crummy lighting in my kitchen and the bad photography…)

The delicious filling of this pie is what you want to focus upon. Sweet shredded squash mixed with bulgur to keep it from getting too moist, rich feta and Parmesan cheeses, and a kick of fresh mint make a perhaps non-intuitive but nonetheless lovely combination. I think this basic idea could be flavored other ways as well, say with green onions or sherry and smoked paprika. Or how about Gruyere, sage and thyme instead of feta and mint? I’ve always stuck with original taste profile, but who knows? I may be missing out on something even greater.

Next time I have time to fiddle with phyllo dough, I may have to find out.


Butternut Squash Pie with Feta Cheese and Mint
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

It’s easiest to use the shredding blade on a food processor to shred the squash, but it can be accomplished with a box grater if you don’t mind the extra work.

I find it works best to thaw the phyllo dough over night in the refrigerator and work with it quickly once the package is opened.

4 cups shredded butternut squash (from about 1 pound peeled squash flesh)
¼ cup dry bulgur
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup (about 3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
½ cup (about 2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen

1. In a large bowl, combine the squash, bulgur and salt. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes. (Refrigerate if leaving longer than 30 minutes.)

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook 5-8 minutes or until tender and just beginning to brown.

3. Add the cooked onion, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, mint and pepper to the squash mixture and stir to combine.

4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt the butter.

5. Generously brush the bottom of a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan with butter. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan allowing the ends to extend over the edges. Brush the phyllo with butter. Repeat with another sheet in a crisscross design. Butter that sheet as well. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo and more butter. (The remaining 4 sheets will be used to top the pie.)

6. Spoon the squash mixture over the layered phyllo in the pie pan. Place a layer of phyllo over the filling. Brush it with butter. Repeat in a crisscross pattern with the remaining 3 sheets of phyllo and the remaining butter (you may have more butter than you need). Fold the edges of the phyllo dough to fit the pie pan and form a rim around the edge.

7. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the phyllo crust is golden brown.

Makes about 8 servings.


Got leftover phyllo dough? Make these delicious croutons from Giada De Laurentiis at the Food Network!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Archive Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

This is a fairly quick and simple recipe to tide you over. Because you know you want pumpkin pie. Now. Not in 17 days when it’s Thanksgiving. But can you justify pumpkin pie, even though it’s actually relatively simple as desserts go, right now? Will the Thanksgiving pie be as special if you sneaked in another one earlier in the month?

Well, all that is up to you, of course. I, personally, like to save the expected pie for Thanksgiving and use the rest of November (and also October and perhaps part of September) to try other pumpkin recipes. I also like the idea of throwing these cupcakes, which are almost like crustless mini pumpkin pies, together to stave off cravings when necessary. (Even though I can’t remember if I’ve made them again since I originally posted the recipe.)

These cupcakes, which don’t rise up much when baked and sink down in the middle when cooled, really are more like pumpkin pie filling than like a cake in texture. They also really are better served chilled with a nice garnish of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes might not exactly fill the niche of your favorite pumpkin pie, but they don’t need to. They just need to tide you over. And they’re so quick to make that you can mix up the batter, bake them, cool them, and hide them in the freezer to keep them all for yourself before anyone else is the wiser.


Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes
Adapted from the blog Baking Bites

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (or use homemade pumpkin puree)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Whisk together to mix well and ensure there are no lumps. Set aside.

2. In another medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the half and half and beat well. Add the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk together until well-combined and very smooth.

3. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk together until smooth.

4. Line a 12-cup muffin/cupcake pan with paper liners. Spoon about 1/3 cup batter into each lined cup. Bake at 350 F 20-25 minutes or until the top and edges appear well set. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan. They will sink in the middle as they cool. When the cupcakes are cool, cover and chill. Serve cold with sweetened whipped cream.

Makes 12 servings. Can be frozen by wrapping and sealing in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.

Other recipes like this one: Grandmama's Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Waffles, Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins, Pumpkin Oatmeal Quick Bread with Dates and Pecans, Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

Nothing says, “I have the day off,” like going out for breakfast. But coming in second place might just be making waffles for breakfast at home. Last Saturday gave me just such an opportunity, and, for once, I embraced an opportunity wholeheartedly. Of course there was pumpkin (from a can, which is okay by me), Pumpkin Pie Spice, and maple syrup in the house to sweeten the deal.

I had a pumpkin waffle recipe in the binder in which I kept recipes that I liked before I started The Messy Apron. I couldn’t remember when I made them or how good (or not) these waffles were, but I wanted pumpkin waffles in the worst way, so I tried the recipe again. For supper. Hey, it’s the only mealtime I had available.

After that test, I decided they were delicious, but a bit heavy. Separating the eggs, beating the whites and folding them into the batter might help that, so I decided to try it. While it’s possible to beat one egg white (the original recipe called for one egg) without much trouble, as I learned from this recipe, I thought I’d make it a little more worth the time and energy and double the batch, therefore using two eggs.  This would have the added benefit of creating leftover waffles that I could keep in the freezer for weekday breakfasts.

Folding in the beaten egg whites did indeed solve the problem of the heavy-ish waffle. The end result was lighter and fluffier, but just as flavorful. And leftover waffles available for reheating during the week are, if not quite as good as the freshly-made ones, still a thing of beauty. Alas, they are only a joy for a limited time. I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity to make pumpkin waffles for breakfast again, but, as I admitted above, they’re not just for breakfast. I think I see some more supper waffles in my not-too-distant future.


Pumpkin Waffles
Based on a recipe in Cooking Light magazine, October 2001

I used a smallish (7-inch) waffle iron to make these waffles. If yours is larger or smaller, you may end up with a different number of waffles.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, separated
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup milk

1. Preheat a waffle iron. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Place a wire cooling rack on the oven rack in the middle position.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, Pumpkin Pie Spice, and salt. Whisk together or sift until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

3. In another medium-size bowl, whisk together the oil and the egg yolks. Whisk in the pumpkin and brown sugar. Whisk in the milk, continuing to whisk until smooth. Set aside.

4. In a medium-size bowl beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks. (That is, when you lift the beaters away from the egg whites, they stand up in peaks.) Set aside.

5. Pour the egg and pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Stir just until there are no longer any lumps of dry ingredients. Fold (that is, gently stir) in the beaten egg whites a little at a time, being careful not to deflate the mixture, until just a few small puffs of egg white can be seen in the mixture.

6. Spray the preheated waffle iron with cooking spray (or brush it with oil or melted butter.) Pour or spoon an appropriate portion of batter onto the waffle iron and bake each waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions.

7. When each waffle is done, place in the preheated oven on the wire rack to keep warm until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Makes about 8 7-inch waffles.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Archive Recipe of the Week: Cabbage, Cauliflower and Apple Salad

I don't really have an excuse for not having an Archive Recipe of the Week for last week. It's not like there aren't a lot of previously posted fall recipes that I love. It's not even like I didn't make anything from the archives. On the contrary: I made Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies and a version of these peanut butter cookies, plus Pasta with Squash Puree and Blue Cheese Sauce and Soup Beans.

I guess I was holding out for a chance to talk about getting back to this Crunchy Cabbage, Cauliflower and Apple Salad, which has gone sadly neglected for years. It had been…I don’t know how long. Embarrassing.

But when I went crawling back to it, the experience was like rebirth, like seeing, tasting, smelling again for the first time. Okay maybe that’s a bit overboard, but this is a great salad and quite a wonderfully refreshing use of otherwise stodgy seasonal vegetables (and fruit). The caraway is a dynamite addition and the cider vinegar really jazzes up the flavors.

This salad also keeps well, so you can enjoy it for a few days. The vinegar keeps the apples from turning brown, and everything stays crisp and bright. Yes, I’ve been seeing other salads and even other recipes from the archives, but my love for this one stands the test of time and neglect. Reconciliation never tasted so good.

Crunchy Cabbage, Cauliflower and Apple Salad
Modified from a recipe in Eating Well magazine.
1/3 cup (75 ml) mayonnaise
1/3 cup (75 ml) sour cream
2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) caraway seeds, coarsely crushed
½ teaspoon (2 ml) salt
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
¼ cup (about 1 ounce or 30g) finely chopped red onion
8 ounces (250g or about 2 cups) chopped green cabbage
8 ounces (250g or about 2 cups) chopped cauliflower
1 chopped tart, crisp apple, cored (no need to peel)

1. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion, cider vinegar, caraway seeds, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to blend well.

2. Add onion, cabbage, cauliflower and apple to the dressing. Toss well to coat with the dressing.

Makes about 6 servings.
Can be made ahead of time, since the vinegar in the dressing keeps the apples from getting brown. Keep chilled. Leftovers last a few days in the refrigerator.