Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumn at The Beach

Such a pretty place to be for the grand arrival of rain and blustery weather. We are on pumpkin pie numero quattro. MMMMmmmmm.
Of course, the fall leaves and fresh country air beckoned for a walk with boys and camera.
I got a new app for my camera phone called hipstamatic! Look how fun the pictures are.
I love the way that these pictures look like all of the photos from way back when at the beach. Sometimes the beach house seems like a perfect little time capsule from 1975. The wood paneled walls, the lazy boy recliner that has rocked so many babies, and of course the wild wallpaper in every bedroom and bath.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best Damn Pie Ever!

I swear it's true, but more about that later.
You know, when I first started writing the blog I really did imagine writing words about my favorite cakes and sweet recipes. How appropriate that these little cooking notes would be tucked in between baby posts just like a sugar fix should be.
I've never given up on the motherhood pipe dream of being able to pull off the occasional afternoon spent simultaneously baking and tending to three boys, and looking good and talking nice while doing it. I do love to cook. But sometimes it is really hard to cook when three small people need you at once, right then, while you're trying to cook! I make myself do it and then I love it. I am inspired by a homemade approach to life and I want my kids to recognize that not everything can or needs to be purchased. I dont want them to expect instant gratification. The funny thing is that it is my kids who inspire me to take the slower route, but quite often I observe them thwarting my attempts to accomplish even the simplest of my daily business let alone an attempt to give up most canned foods and make all of our own Halloween costumes. Sometimes I find myself standing at the stove stirring a big pot of something, so pleased with myself, dreaming up my next project, while a baby making a noise like wild monkey tries to climb my leg so that I will pick them up so that they can squirm out of my arms to the floor where they lay face down in a rage. But sometimes one boy is at school while another is asleep which only leaves me with one pretty agreeable four year old to entertain. Being a natural opportunist, I recognize these moments as my chance to make a bit of sugar into something bigger. In short, I can totally bake and color at the same time, but with that being the mellowest moment of the day, I never get to actually blog about it.
With that having been said, when I do stay up past nine to tell you about a recipe, it must be something special.
We've had two sugar pumpkins sitting on our counter since Saturday when Ben's dad picked them from his garden and made a special delivery. I am MAD about pumpkin and today I finally got around to tossing one into the oven and having a go at fresh pumpkin puree for pie, scones, cookies, and soup. Ridiculously easy and delicious and SOOOOO much better than canned. Ben announced last weekend after baking our first pumpkin pie of the season, that he would be making at least a dozen more. I hope it's true, and I hope at least 10 of them are this recipe from my new favorite food blog 101 Cookbooks.
I made mine with 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour traditional crust and I didnt even get around to the hazelnut layer or the fancy fresh spices, didn't even have any cloves! But I am telling you sincerely, this is the best damn pie ever! And if you dont like pumpkin pies, we can still be friends but please dont tell me about it so that I dont think differently of you. xo
*in Heidi's words below
* cut and paste is so wonderful

Spice-kissed Pumpkin Pie Recipe

As I mention above, freshly ground spices, make all the difference in a recipe like this. For the filling, you can also substitute roasted sweet potatoes or other roasted winter squash as the base ingredient. If you are pinched for time you can also use canned pumpkin puree (but I really prefer the flavor that comes from roasting my own). If you used canned puree, be sure it is pure, non-spiced pumpkin puree. You can certainly use a store-bought crust if you like, for a pie like this I use a standard pie dough recipe (pate brisee). I use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose flour - pictured above. Alternate crust option:you can make a simple pat-in-pan graham cracker pie crust by giving 2 cups well-crushed graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup melted butter, and 2 tablespoons of honey a whirl in a food processor. Then press (intensively) into a 9-inch pie pan, and proceed with filling.

You can use the filling in tarts, or for individual pies/tarts as well. I love to use deep, dark Muscovado sugar in place of standard brown sugar for its flavor, but some people are turned off by the darker color it lends to the filling.

1 pie crust (of your choice), see head notes for pat-in-pan option
2 cups hazelnuts (divided) , toasted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin puree*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the middle.

Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the 'crumble' stage. Set aside. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside seperately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked.

To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt, and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazlenuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes - the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie - the edges should be set.

Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve straight or with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetenend whipped cream or creme fraiche, and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Makes one 9 or 10-inch pie.

Kathy's Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

1 tablespoon freshly ground cassia cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
scant 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (pre ground)

Use a coffee grinder to separately grind each of the following: cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Smash the cinnamon a bit before grinding it. The spices should be powder-fine, and sifted into a bowl together. Stir in the ground ginger, and use in any recipe calling for a pumpkin pie spice blend.

Roasted Pumpkin Puree

1 3 lb. sugar pie pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully cut the pumpkin into four big wedges - get rid of the stem. Scoop out the seeds and pulp (you can toast the seeds if you like), drizzle then rub the pumpkin wedges with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt, and then bake on a baking sheet (middle rack) until tender throughout - about an hour. Scoop flesh out of the skins and puree with a hand blender or mash well by hand.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Bunch of Birthdays

And a lot of cake!
Party, party, party. Will, Finn, and Abe. The October birthday boys.

For Finn's birthday celebration there was the pumpkin farm with lots of 4 year old friends and cousins, apple fritters, two bee stings, and one goat bite. Later there was one much adored stuffed animal wiener dog, a dinner of "meat with chicken skin", lots of underwear clad super-hero boys, and pumpkin cake. I should note that I can no longer get away with whipped cream frosting rather than gross sweet frosting from here on out.

And so the kookooroonie has turned 4.
AKA Mr. Handsome or Muffinn.
He loves his brothers.
He loves wiener dog puppies.
He loves all dogs actually.
He loves to play.
He loves to chillax.
He loves his gray cashmere sweater.
He loves the cat and feeds her whenever she wants, I now have a solid excuse for why she looks like a footstool.
He loves my cooking, and the things I make, showering me with compliments like deeeeelicious and gorgeous and delightful.
And I feel the same way about him and the things he does and the things he makes and the things he says.

And then a couple of days later Baby Abe turned 1!
What can I say about the babe? He's dreamy from head to toe, inside and out. Just look at him! I could just gobble him up whole and I bet he would taste like a big marshmallow.