Pie time

November in Australia is not really synonymous with pies. Unless you're talking about fruit mince pies well in advance of Christmas, that is. But since I have a couple of friends from the US, and the biggest dining table of all of us, last November I was responsible for Thanksgiving dinner. And if there's one thing you have to have at Thanksgiving dinner, other than turkey, of course, it's pie.


Being a pumpkin pie novice, I made a practice pie in the week leading up to the big event. All in all, I was pretty happy with it, but still wanted to experiment a bit. I'm glad I did, because the pie I ended up with was delish, getting nods of approval from the people in the know, that is, the non-Australians.

We don't have pie pumpkins in the supermarkets or green grocers around here, so I used butternut. If you're really worried about getting the pumpkin perfect, it's possible to order American canned pie pumpkin online from US foods. For what it's worth, I'd rather save the food miles given there were no complaints about taste or texture.

Pumpkin pie

Pastry

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 tbspn water

Pie filling

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 cups cream
2 cups pumpkin puree*
1 tspn ground nutmeg
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground allspice
4 eggs

Method

Rub together flour and butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix together the egg yolk and water, then add to flour mixture. Shape in to a disc, wrap in cling wrap, and chill for at least half an hour.

Preheat oven to 190 celsius. Lightly grease a 25 cm deep pie dish. Roll the pastry out and line the pie dish. Blind bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan. Bring to a boil, without stirring. Cook until golden - do not over cook as it will turn bitter - reduce heat and add half the cream. Stir until the caramel dissolves then add the remaining cream and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the pumpkin and spices. Whisk in the hot cream mixture, then the eggs.

Place the pie filling in the blind baked pastry case. Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees and bake for 55 - 60 minutes until golden and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream.

*Roast a one kilo butternut pumpkin in its skin until the centre is soft. De-seed and remove flesh, then mash with a stick mixer or potato ricer. Alternatively, peel and roughly chop the pumpkin and steam until soft. This method will be quicker, however the pumpkin will contain more moisture and be less sweet than the roasted version.

Lemon butter ice cream

It's been a long time since it was last warm enough for ice cream and I had enough eggs in the house to make it. I had originally planned to make choc mint or pistachio; but tonight I felt like something a little different. And that's how I ended up with lemon curd.

I've seen a coconut variation. If that's more your cup of tea, replace the evaporated milk with coconut milk. Hmm... tea ice cream could be my next experiment...

Lemon butter ice cream

For the lemon curd

100g butter, chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten
125ml lemon juice
250g caster sugar

For the custard

300ml cream
375ml evaporated milk
4 eggs
125g caster sugar

Method

Combine the butter, eggs, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until the mixture has thickened. This should take around 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mix the cream and milk together and heat until scalding point - just before a simmer. Meanwhile beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add half the hot milk to the egg mixture, beat well, then return to the remaining milk. Place over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat immediately. If the custard has begun curdling, beat it until smooth again. Gradually add the custard mix to the lemon curd and stir until well incorporated.

Chill for at least two hours, then process according to your ice cream maker directions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture until semi solid, then blend or beat until smooth. Repeat the freezing and beating process until the mixture is the desired consistency.

Easy frozen yoghurt

With summer making a brief appearance over the past week or two, the ice cream attachment has been getting a bit of a work out. I generally make ice cream from a custard base, which is pretty straight forward and gives delicious flavour with brilliant texture. Only thing is, it's very energy dense. Frozen yoghurt, on the other hand, has a lot less fat, which if you're counting energy and not macro nutrients, is a great solution. Plus I like the tanginess.


This recipe is a great base. I'll be experimenting with flavours over the next couple of days.

Vanilla frozen yoghurt

Makes around 1 litre
3 cups Greek yoghurt
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla bean paste

Method

Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Chill for an hour, then process with ice cream maker. Freeze until mix reaches the desired consistency.

Yes, it really is that easy!

Stuffing

Most of the recipes I post here are for complete dishes. But if your family is anything like mine, you're going to end up looking for side dishes every now and then. This one is delicious, and in my opinion, would be just as good on the side of a vegie roast as it is served up next to a chicken or turkey.

One caveat though; it's nothing like the stuff you get inside a rotisserie chicken from the local "Charcoal Chook". If that's what you're after, stick to packaged stuffing mix and you won't go wrong. If you're interested in something a little tastier, this is just the thing.

Rye bread stuffing

1/2 kg rye bread, cubed
1 tspn cumin seeds
125g butter
3 cups chopped celery
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves
1 tspn dried sage
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken-style stock

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Toast bread in oven until lightly browned. Cook seeds in 90g of butter until fragrant. Add the celery, apples, onion, garlic and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegies start to brown. Add the stock and scrape up any brown bits. Add bread and toss to coat. Transfer to a baking dish and dot with remaining butter. Bake uncovered for around 45 minutes.
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