I recently received two gorgeous pumpkins in my CSA. I was so excited because I’ve always dreamed of making a pumpkin pie from the real thing instead of opening a can! I’d never done it before because I’d always been nervous about picking the proper kind or messing up the process.
So I turned to one of my most trusted resource when it comes to food: Alton Brown. You can watch the pumpkin pie episode of Good Eats on Amazon instant. Watching Alton go through the process of making pumpkin puree made me feel totally confident (I mean, it’s actually ridiculously simple so no need to worry) and ready to tackle a pie.
It was so delicious that I’ve made a couple and played around with the recipe. Here’s my take on Alton’s pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin Pie from Scratch
6 oz of gingersnaps
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoon ginger
2 oz unsalted butter, melted
16oz pumpkin puree
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Crust: In a food processor, combine gingersnap cookies, brown sugar, and ginger until cookies are finely chopped. Drizzle in melted butter and pulse to combine. Press into prepared pie pan. Bake on top of a cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool before filling.
Filling: Bring pumpkin puree to a simmer in a small saucepan for 3 minutes until thick. Add half-and-half, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Return to a simmer then cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, and brown sugar together until creamy and smooth. Add cooled pumpkin mixture. Carefully pour filling into pie crust and bake for 45-50 minutes, the middle will jiggle a little.
I loooved the pure pumpkin taste that came from the real deal. The canned stuff needs so much cinnamon and clove, etc, just to give the illusion that it’s pumpkin. This pie tastes like pumpkin first and spices next which I really life. Besides, the crunchy crust gives a is a zesty companion to the mild filling.
Best of all, the pumpkin puree freezes really well. I’ve already got a few bags ready for Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas (if I can resist that long!). I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the can again!
What do you think? Have you ever cooked with real pumpkin? What’s your favorite pumpkin pie recipe?
ps. Some pumpkin yarns!
It’s summer so it’s more than officially CSA season, guys! I’m obsessed with my CSA and I love hearing about new people joining up with ones in their neighborhoods so I just want to preach about it today. I like to relate everything back to knitting but I think that people who make things care about where things come from and in this case, we’re talking about food. Everybody cares about where food comes from. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a Food Network.
CSA means community supported agriculture. It’s a form of a food co-op (that’s how I present it to people without getting into the long explanation) but it’s not like a grocery store. Members of the CSA buy a share in a local farm before the season, an investment that allows the farmer to have some capital before there is produce to sell. Once the food is harvested it’s divided amongst the members evenly (or however the division is agreed upon) and you get a great return on your investment. There are CSAs for everything you might want to eat: vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, maple syrup, honey. (There’s even a yarn CSA!)
Long story short, it’s a great and impressively cheap way to get huge amounts local, fresh, organic produce to your home. I’ll be completely transparent: Jon and I pay about $40/week from May to Thanksgiving for pick ups every two weeks of veggies, fruit, and a whole chicken. And it’s a LOT of food. (Imagine spending $40/week in a New York City Whole Foods. You’d starve.)
I’m always bragging about my membership to anyone that will listen. Eating local and organic are trendy and I think a lot of people think I’m snobby or elitist or whatever (I live in Brooklyn so, surprise! those stereotypes are true and I’m ok with it) because I want to put things into my body that aren’t poison. I hate thinking of it in terms of what’s en vogue and what’s not. We should all want those things and we should all want them for as little money as possible. Foodies come in all shapes and sizes, you’d be surprised!
It’s important to me that I’m doing something good for my body and the environment and my community (my required volunteer work is baking a dessert from leftover fruits for a soup kitchen). I love the trust that I have in a farmer that is willing to put food directly into my hands instead of putting a big corporate label on it. I love that I can have fresh produce although I live in a huge city. I also love that I don’t have to make trips to the farmers’ market (we pick up all of the goods at a bar two blocks from our apartment) and that I am saving money because there is no middle man. Why should I not want to brag about that? And how could I stop myself from recruiting friends?
While I happen to think that it’s all too good to be true, lots of people I talk to have hang ups about joining CSAs. (Being honest again: I took a year off after the first season I did. My lifestyle wasn’t ready yet. I had roommates and a kitchen I didn’t like spending time in.) You get a lot of food so you either have to do a lot of cooking and canning or split your share with someone (this year we’re doing a half share, hence our every-other-week pick ups and it’s taken a lot of the burden off). It’s intimidating, yes. The first CSA we participated in left us drowning in plums and kale. The refrigerator we shared with a roommate was packed to the gils with leafy greens and purple beans. But I’ve learned that sometimes you have to pick around the moldy cherries and keep the good ones. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not saying that I’m a freegan eating out of dented cans (sorry, freegans! I know that’s a harsh stereotype that isn’t true at all). I just know how to produce less garbage.
Some people don’t like that you have to take home beets and radishes even if you don’t eat beets and radishes. But I’ve learned to eat weird vegetables that I’ve never heard of before. That’s valuable, too! I pride myself in the variety of foods that I now crave when I grew up eating hot dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, and Twizzlers. And, when all else fails, I’m more than happy to share with my family and friends. Besides, it gets them talking about the whole thing!
And, lastly, some people just don’t want to cook. This is something that I care about deeply because just a few years ago the only thing I knew how to cook were Totinos pizza rolls. I ate gummy bears for dinner with cups of coffee made light with artificially flavored creamers (and I didn’t even know how to make coffee until I was 20). I was broke and I was lucky enough to have roommates that knew how to take care of me and gigs that at least provided a disappointing pizza lunch. I hardly slept during college so I was lucky enough to not gain weight but I’m surprised I’m still alive. I wanted to eat food that was good for me but I didn’t know how to make any of it taste good nor did I take the time to do so. Fast forward a few years and I won’t say I’m Julia Child but I know how to put together a meal. I’ve taken a couple of classes to learn very basic things (knife skills, how to butcher a chicken, and how to mix cocktails because that’s important, too) and knowing those things has given me confidence. (It also doesn’t hurt to have a food documentarian boyfriend who is obsessed with molecular gastronomy but I think that I have more staple dinner recipes than he does.) That’s something that delights me. Just like making a sweater, I can make something that is good to eat.
And I feel about cooking much the way that I do about knitting: it can secretly be super simple. You don’t have to know cables or colorwork to put together a sweater that is warm and fashionable. People are still impressed that you made something that is, at it’s heart, just knit and purl stitches. It’s the same with cooking. It might look impressive because it’s wrapped in a parchment bag or roasted with herbs but the simplest techniques make delicious meals. I don’t need a fancy Michelin-starred plate. It isn’t always beautiful or complex (any vegetable roasted with olive oil is so delicious it feels like cheating) but it’s a home cooked meal.
So I say more of us should give this a try. It takes some getting used to but the amount of awesome you’ll feel when you’re sitting down to a meal you made yourself with produce that’s sustainable and organic, that didn’t break the bank, will make the craziness of offloading three pounds of peaches into a pie totally worth it.
To find a CSA near you, check out Just Food!
Have you participated in a CSA? Did you love it?
I have an announcement to make! Last week, I baked the first pie I’ve ever made completely from scratch! Baking a pie from scratch has always been on my bucket list. And I did it! I feel like, going into it, this was a huge milestone for me but now I don’t see what was so terrifying about it at all.
We’ve gotten 6 pounds of apples from our CSA for the past two weeks! (The summer CSA ended yesterday. As much as I’ve loved bundles of beautiful veggies and experimenting with new foods, I have to admit that I’m relieved it’s over. We just couldn’t keep up with the volume of food we were getting. Lesson learned!) I knew it was time to take the big leap and make apple pie. Our favorite apples are the courtland. I can’t remember what other varieties ended up in the pie…probably a little of everything.
I used Martha Stewart’s old fashioned apple pie recipe. The crust is her pate brisee. Wow! It really was a brisee to make. (Sorry, had to!) I feel like a champ! I didn’t think the pie crust was going to turn out because apparently I have the tiniest food processor in the world. I gave up and just started mushing with my fingers. This is the point I recognize in everything I make when I decide that I will not get too emotional over the outcome because it doesn’t look too good so far. But after chilling in the fridge, it turned out great. I did a little dance in the kitchen.
Yummy! I can’t wait to make another one! (Next time I will actually take pictures of the pie cut open. I’m so bad! I was too busy devouring it! Delicious!)
Have you made a pie before? Were you scared? Am I being silly? What’s your greatest baking achievement!?
Oh my! I meant to share this recipe at the beginning of the summer. I suppose garlic scapes aren’t in season but it certainly doesn’t feel quite like fall yet! So what the heck. I’m all about pesto, mostly from my favorite spot Lamarca, and garlic scapes just make the most delicious pesto!
Garlic Scape Pesto
adapted from this Umami Girl recipe
3/4 c coarsely chopped garlic scapes
1/4 c pine nuts
juice and zest of 1 lime
3/4 t salt
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 t dried basil (fresh if you’ve got it but we got about a pound of the dried variety from our CSA!)
Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan. In a food processor, pulse together scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper. Pour in the olive oil gradually while pulsing further to emulsify. Add in cheese.
Serve as a spread or over some gnocci!
Good morning everyone! Hope you all had wonderful weekends. I did a lot in the kitchen and I can’t wait to share it all with you!
This morning is a recipe I tried out with some of the new vegetables we’re working with thanks to our CSA. This dish involves kohlrabi. What’s a kohlrabi? I’ve read it’s like a turnip. It has the crunchy earthiness of daikon or maybe cabbage. Mainly, I think, it just looks like a freaky alien that I was afraid to eat for fear of it bursting out of my stomach.
photo by Victoria Ruan
OK, it’s not that terrifying. But I was darned if I knew how to prepare the thing. I hear the greens are tastey. They got a little crunchy and inedible as I procrastinated cooking them, though. I finally ran across a recipe and I’ve decided kohlrabi isn’t half bad. You should try it!
1 head of kohlrabi (from our CSA!)
1/2 fuji apple (but I’m dying to try it again with asian pear!)
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon hot sesame oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (from our CSA!)
pinch of cumin and dried basil (from our CSA!)
salt and pepper
Remove greens and peel kohlrabi. Slice kohlrabi and apple into thin pieces. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve cold.
Delicious! It’s a great side. Very refreshing and crisp but unexpectedly spicy. Try it out!
Do you fear any veggies?