Thursday, July 25, 2013

A little lighter: Ina Garten's Ultimate Pumpkin Pie and Perfect Pie Crust

There was a heat wave in New York City last week, so it's fitting that I decided I HAD TO bake a pumpkin pie to console myself (go figure). I used two recipes from Ina Garten's newest book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, which I highly recommend. This pie is very easy to make and has that perfectly spiced, rich pumpkin flavor and flaky, buttery crust that you want when you are craving pumpkin pie. 

I lightened up the recipe just a bit by adding whole wheat flour to the crust and substituting milk for cream in the filling. 

Ina Garten's Ultimate Pumpkin Pie and Perfect Pie Crust 
From Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water

*Dried beans or pie weights for blind baking 

Measure out the iced water and shortening separately. Dice the butter into small blueberry-sized chunks and place into a bowl. Put the water and all the fats in your freezer while you prep the flour. Add flour, sugar and salt to your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. 

Add the butter and shortening, distributing over the entire surface of the flour as evenly as possible 

Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is pea-sized. I went a little further and the crust was still fantastic.

While the machine is still running, pour in the ice water and pulse just until the dough begins to form a ball. My food processor died before I could finish, so I brought the dough the rest of the way together by hand.

Dump the dough out onto a floured surface, bring it together, and roll it into a ball. Wrap it tightly in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you don't have a food processor or prefer to work by-hand, just combine the flour salt and sugar in a bowl and then cut in the fats and water with a fork or pastry blender. 

Preheat your oven to 425. 

To shape your crust, take about half the dough and roll it into a circle on a well-floured surface. Carefully lift the dough into your pie pan and press it in gently. Crimp the edges or use the tines of a fork to score them. 

Line your crust with parchment and fill to about three-quarters with dried beans (be sure to save them to use again as pie weights). 

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans/parchment and prick the crust with a fork. Bake for 5 more minutes. 

NOTE: The edges got a bit dark once the pie was finally baked, so in the future I would either cover the edges for the final 5 minutes or just do 10 minutes with the beans and then 5 without.

Reduce the oven temp to 350. 

Pie Filling: 
15-ounces (1 can) pumpkin puree (not pie filling) 
½ cup light brown sugar, packed 
¼ cup granulated sugar 
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon ground ginger 
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
Zest of two small oranges
1 1/2 cups milk 
2 tablespoons whiskey or dark rum

Whisk the pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, orange zest, eggs, milk, and whiskey together and pour into your pre-baked crust. 

Bake for 55 minutes, until the filling is set and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

This pie tastes best served at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream or ice cream! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spicy Maple Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes: A variation on a theme!

These Spicy Maple Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes are very similar to the Spiced Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes I previously posted. The basic recipe is my go to for fluffy, hearty pancakes that are loaded with nutrition. The batter is quite thick and fluffy, so I usually try to push it into a circular shape to get a prettier pancake, but an asymmetrical pancake still tastes great and looks invitingly homemade and rustic, so don't get too caught up in making them perfect.

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each of cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg 

1 cup milk (any fat content you have on hand is fine)
1 cup maple yogurt (We're addicted to Brown Cow Maple Cream Top. It's insanely good.)
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons melted and cooled butter (melt it in the skillet you plan to cook the pancakes in to save dishes!)
2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar

*Add in's like nuts, fruits etc. work great in this recipe too. I added a cup of frozen blueberries right before cooking and folded them in gently.

Preheat your oven to 200°F.

Whisk the dry ingredients together to incorporate and set aside. Combine the wet ingredients separately, then add them to the dry ingredients. If the batter is too thick, add more milk in small additions until you get a fluffy, soft-plop consistency. 

Add the melted slightly cooled butter (remember to melt it in your pancake skillet to save dishes). Don't worry if there are a few lumps. 

Allow the batter to sit and rest for about 20 minutes. Fold in additional ingredients like nuts, fruit etc. just before cooking.

Heat the griddle over medium/high heat until water sputters when dashed on the surface. Add a pat of butter, let it bubble up. Spread it over the griddle's surface. Ladle the pancake batter for the size pancake you desire. 

Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the uncooked side (there will only be a few because this batter is thick). Flip and cook for another three to four minutes or so until golden. Turn down the heat and move the pan off the hot metal burner if it starts smoking. 

Place each finished pancake on a plate in the warm oven and proceed with the rest of the batter so your pancakes stay nice and toasty!