MAKE YOUR OWN PUMPKIN PUREE!
i know it’s easier to just go buy a can of festal and use that for all your pumpkin baking needs, but let me tell you: making your own pumpkin puree to use in bars, breads, PIES, is probably the best thing you can do for your baked goods. want to actually taste PUMPKIN instead of all the spices? make fresh pumpkin puree.
firs off, plant some pie pumpkins in the spring. have a bumper crop due to all the rain. if that doesn’t work, your local food vendor should sell pie pumpkins.
cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, put them in a pan (glass or a jelly roll pan works – something with edgess), and bake them at 350 for an hour-hour and a half or so. until you poke a fork in them and it slides in easily.
look at that carmelization! anyway, let these cool for a bit, then scoop out the insides into a food processor and whip it up. scoop that mess into a colandar/sieve/strainer lined with a dishtowel.
let this sit overnight at least and drain all the liquid out. i am saving my pumpkin juice to make a festive drink!
put these in whatever container and stick them in the fridge for soon use and the freezer for use down the road (like in a month for thanksgiving).
following a bunch of chefs on twitter only results in one thing: me wanting to make a bunch of food.
andrew zimmern (renowned travel channel chef AND minnesotan) posted his blueberry pie.
OKAY. I’LL MAKE YOUR PIE, AZ.
i used my own pie crust recipe, which is below. it’s the same one my mom used for pumpkin pies while i was growning up, except instead of crisco (transfats central), i use butter and sometimes lard if i have it. i also add a quarter cup of sugar for pies.
a couple notes on crust making: keep that butter cold. i’ve tried making it in a food processor, and nothing beats just getting in there with your hands.
cover up that bad boy and throw it in the fridge while you do the rest of your pie making. crust is easier to handle if it’s chilled.
the recipe calls for 5 cups of blueberries, but i used SIX. such a rebel.
it also calls for cardamom, which i actually had. i did have to grind it up though, which is easily done in a coffee grinder. not just for coffee! use it for grinding spices AND your poppyseed. it also called for orange zest. this should be tasty! i did add some nutmeg too, which AZ did NOT call for. i hope it turns out ok.
time for the crust! let me tell you, the best thing i did was get a dough scraper. that thing is the bomb for helping roll out pie crusts. once it’s rolled up on your pin, you just roll it back out over your pie plate. SO EASY. i feel like i should go back in time and tell my mom before she used store-bought crusts.
throw in those blueberries. 6 cups certainly fit.
lattices look like a huge pain, but they’re just a little tedious. pro-tip: after rolling out your dough, use a pizza cutter to cut the strips. this is also helpful for cutting all different kinds of dough. no sticking, no jagged edges.
and in the oven to cook! AZ’s pie had this fancy edging, but i cheated and just used a fork to tamp everything down.
today i made bohemakuchen filling for this saturday, which is kuchen baking day. i’ve made poppyseed for the past couple years, and so i made some apricot (amazing!) and almond for when i make my own batch (and i can bake them how i want.)
anyway, i was reminded of the worst kuchen experience i’ve ever had.
the year i lived with my grandma, i got access to her stores of many baked goods in her basement freezer. pies, cookies, brownies, and even some kuchen leftover from easter! so i said, grandma! why haven’t you eaten this kuchen yet? oh, she forgot it was there. i could have it.
so i did – i took a couple to work with me one day, had one for dessert another day, until all that was left was an apricot and a poppyseed. you can tell which has what filling by looking at the sides – if they’re darker, then poppyseed. if you’re grandma, you slyly stick your thumb in the side to check it out and inconspicuously put it back if it’s not what you want.
poppyseed is my favorite – it’s delish.
so here i had the last two of the season and i was super excited. i warmed them up in the microwave at work, relishing the apricot, saving the best for last.
i bit into the poppyseed – IT WAS PRUNE.
the little-known song in charlie brown christmas, of course, is “cookietime is here”.
this weekend was cookie baking time! i actually started last weekend with my macarons (they’re better aged) and baked a couple batches of cookies throughout the week. charlie came this weekend and hung out, and helped out with a couple of the cookies (like the double-batch of molasses ginger that he requested). i tried something new this year (well a couple things). instead of using my boring, dry peanut butter batter for my blossoms that i always do, i looked up with america’s test kitchen had to say on peanut butter cookies. it looked a little more fancy than my other recipe, so i decided to give it a go.
i made the ATK peanut butter cookie recipe and stuck a chocolate star in the cookies and called it good. i don’t mind it, and it’s decent! i’m not a huge fan of just peanut butter cookies, so this is good news. sorta point, ATK??
also during the week i made my eggnog snickerdoodle cookies, which, along with the molasses ginger, are my favorite cookie of the season.
and of course i had to make these dumb, tedious things because not only are they my dad’s favorite cookie, but they’re nate’s as well. good grief.
they’re pretty to look at, but man they take a lot of time.
new this year! i decided to try making spritzes. i needed a cookie press for this, so i managed to get to tjmaxx friday on my way home from work and pick on up. on the plus side, i can also use it for piping frosting, and the container is a lot bigger than my other frosting piping apparatus. after a couple failed attempts at the press, i had to sit down and watch a youtube tutorial on how to use it. huzzah! who knew i needed to click it twice to get it to stick.
and i tried to make rosettes again this year. i don’t know if it’s my irons, the batter recipe, or what, but i do not like the way they turn out. they’re still good; you can’t go wrong with deep-friend batter covered in powdered sugar. they just look weird, and i wonder what i’m doing wrong.
i also made some chocolate candies in silicon molds and some covered nuts and my peanut butter krispy balls. every year i try to make fewer cookies, and it seems like every year i add more cookies on. might be time to do a culling. at least i give a lot of them away. there’s something to be said for at least not eating all of them by myself like i used to!
after blogging every day in november, december has been a real crapshoot. i think i’ll resolved to blog on a regular basis again next year. it forces me to write something, and my page isn’t pathetic.
i’ve started christmas cookies, and there will be more to make this weekend. i’ll be posting pics soon!
thanksgiving! i made a tart! and also jane and i spatchcocked a turkey!
i made a pumpkin pecan tart from martha stewart that i was highly skeptical of because it used sweetened condensed milk. i should’ve know martha wouldn’t have let me down. it was delish! 5 stars; would make again. i bought a tart pan specifically for this, and it worked swimmingly. perhaps i’ll be making more tarts in the future!
now on to the turkey. i wanted to make a spatchcock turkey last year, but i just didn’t get to it. so this year, i made a point of doing it. i brined my turkey like usual, then jane i hacked away at the spine to get it out. and you know what? a flattened 20-lb bird is darn big. so we cut down the breast bone as well so we had two halves of the bird.
then, i seasoned it using my herbs de provence recipe like always, then shoved the two halves into the oven on two different baking sheets. still took up a lot of room, but at least the oven racks were in reasonable positions.
the nice thing about a spatchcock turkey? it was done in about an hour and a half (and probably could’ve come out earlier).
mmmmm! turkey was a success!
no, not christmas. there are at LEAST 4 months until THAT rolls around!
state fair time!!!
nate and i are going on friday when it’s supposed to be cold and rainy. i’m hoping it will deter the crowds and let us have run of the grounds. old standbys as far as food is concerned. i’m definitely stopping at the blue barn again – that was a great addition! i’d like to get a cannoli this year in addition to the normal stuff (especially that deep-fried milky way, mm mmm).
so, prepare yourself for pics come friday evening or saturday!
OMG WOW this weekend was a whirlwind of cooking. it’s harvest time, so i was canning up a storm, and at the same time i made a cheesecake for a birthday tomorrow at work, ice cream, and fancy ribs and potato salad for supper tonight. BUT CANNING.
a couple weeks ago i put up a batch of pickles and a batch of tomato sauce. this weekend, i canned another batch of each as well as some pickled green beans and salsa. oh, and blanched some green beans for freezing. i was a canning fool all weekend. i’m glad it’s over. i enjoy doing it, but it’s a lot of work.