pumpkin chai pie

Happy November, my friends! This is a rather important month. I was married in this month. Some kind of national election is in this month. Carolina plays Clemson in this month. And, not to place any discredit by placing it last, Thanksgiving is in this month. When I was in high school, I sent Gowie a rather lengthy e-mail giving her a very detailed list of all of the things I treasured about this holiday. I can’t remember the whole thing, nor do I know if she even still has the list, but I remember a couple of them being simple, yet beautiful things like, “I love Thanksgiving because the whole family sits around the table and we pass the food to the right” or “The cousins leave with grass stains from our annual front yard football game” or “I get to wear a sweater.” That last statement, however, can be translated into a forced sweater wearing on my part, mainly because Thanksgiving in South Carolina is usually still in the 70s. Oh, well.


But Thanksgiving is one of my favorites because of its simplicity. I can picture people screaming, “Simple? What? WHAT?!” I get it. There’s houses to clean. There’s casseroles to prep. There’s turkey to photograph and tea to brew. But in the midst of all that craziness is a reminder to ourselves that we are doing these crazy chores and checklists because we are anticipating the arrival of family. We’re doing these things for others. And it’s beautiful. Holy cow, when did my blog become a motivational blog? Well, now you know how I feel about Thanksgiving. Thank you, Jesus, for a time of year filled with such intense beauty.


Perhaps we can talk about food now, no? I suppose we’ll finish off this year’s pumpkin series (and I’m not promising that I won’t use pumpkin in any more recipes before next year. It’s a good possibility that I will) with the cornerstone of most Thanksgiving tables: pumpkin pie! Pie and pumpkin, pumpkin and pie, the combination is perfect and irresistible. I decided to amp the traditional pie up a little bit and add a bit of chai, another one of my favorite flavors.

pumpkin chai pie
prep time: 90 minutes cook time: 90 minutes yield: 8 servings

pie crust (this is the recipe for my favorite pie crust, from Smitten Kitchen)
ingredients
1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces

filling
ingredients
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 cup natural brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 cups roasted pumpkin purée (I used a white pumpkin, but any baking pumpkin will work)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chai latté concentrate

create
For the crust, fill a small bowl with water and drop a few ice cubes in. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the very cold pieces of butter into the flour mixture and quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles little peas. Add ice water (no ice cubes!) one tablespoon at a time until the mixture just comes together (I think I used almost 1/2 cup of cold water). Gather it up and turn it onto a floured surface. Knead gently and very quickly until it all comes together (Don’t let that butter melt. Those pieces of butter are gonna make a beautiful, flaky crust). Shape into a dish and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350º. For the filling, stir together the sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the eggs and then the pumpkin, milk, and chai. It will be a little thin.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand until malleable. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a 12 inch circle. Transfer the flat dough to a pie plate (I usually roll it around the rolling-pin and then unroll it over the pie plate. This way, it doesn’t tear and stretch). Gently ease the dough into the plate corners. Tip the pumpkin filling into the pie crust and bake for 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely and allow it to set before serving.


I told y’all last year that I was going to buy a prettier pie plate than the glass gas station one I have now. Oy. Still haven’t done it. I’m sorry I had to subject you to that once again. But pie plates fall to the bottom of the list when you’re trying to buy a house. Whoops. Secret’s out. Another time, another post, you guys.

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whole wheat fettuccine with pumpkin cream sauce

Our little Honda is currently rolling down I-85 as we head back to Columbia from one of the most beautiful places on Earth (the Apps in the Western Carolinas, y’all). Hats off to Andy’s cousin and family for hosting a really great wedding filled with lots of abundant food. That being said, I find it really difficult to write while riding in a car (and it’s really difficult when I’m actually driving…totally kidding). I get distracted rather easily, so it’s kind of like, “Focus…focus…Oh, this is a really good song…Focus…focus…Oh, this is a really bad song…Focus…focus….Dude, that car totally just tried to hit us…less focused…What kind of food do we have in here?…not at all focused …” And that’s about how it happens every time.


So, let me just say that this second recipe in the pumpkin series was an experiment I wanted to try because, as you all know, I really just love pasta. I think I’ve hit you guys with way too many pasta/cream-based sauce recipes, but here’s one more. Picture me timidly sliding it across the table at you as I shrug my shoulders and give you a fabricated little side grin. Oh, well. Bon appétit, anyway.

whole wheat fettuccine with pumpkin cream sauce
prep time: 5 minutes cook time: 15 minutes yield: 4 servings
ingredients
1/2 pound whole wheat fettuccine noodles
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin purée
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded

create
Cook pasta according to package directions in salted, boiling water. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute or until aromatic. Stir in the cream and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer until reduced and thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin purée and heat through. Add the parmesan and stir until melted and everything is heated and incorporated. Turn the pasta into the sauce and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

And we all remember the benefits of whole wheat, yes? It helps you feel fuller longer, yes? Your body can more easily digest it, yes? It gives you more consistent energy levels, yes? Good. Dismissed.

PS – Kenny: I would give you some advice for your trip/move, but you’re a lot cooler than I am, so I know you already know how to throw it down out West. Have fun.

pumpkin latte milkshakes

If you can sift through all of my ramblings over the past year, you may remember that I once, in a previous post, referred to myself as the real life Linus. I still do. It’s not that I ever believed in (or heard of) the Great Pumpkin as a child, but Linus and I share a strange, almost enchanting, enthrallment with this glorified gourd.

What makes it different from other seasonal, autumnal squashes? The flavor is different, but eh, not that different from, say, a butternut squash. It grows in patches on the ground just like other squashes. What makes it stand high on a pedestal and makes it the ever-loved symbol of Autumn?

I’m really not quite sure of the answer to that, but I will take you back a little bit. The Irish and English traditionally carved scary faces and whatnot into turnips, like, a long time ago. Fast forward a little bit to when people started moving to North America and that’s when native pumpkins started being used for scary carvings. Pumpkins, however, were used for a ton of things long before that and long before people started moving across the Atlantic. Native Americans used them for flour, mats, medicine, you name it. They knew what was up. And they stored during really cold months super well and, in turn, helped early settlers and Native Americans get through winters. They were so important to early North America. So, they were eaten and eaten and eaten and served, most iconically, at the first Thanksgiving dinners. I think after years of them being so incredibly versatile and then being around for early Halloween celebrations as lanterns and then sitting on Thanksgiving tables, pumpkins kind of snowballed themselves into becoming a general Autumn tradition. Plus, who doesn’t love a pumpkin dish with a blend of good spices? And they’re just so darn pretty.

History gets me going. Pumpkins get me going. Mix ’em together and BOOM you’ve got an excitement explosion. I’m sorry I talk too much. But this recipe is inspired by, yes, you guessed it, Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte. I almost feel like that one drink release each year is the ribbon-cutting ceremony to the season (although I never order it. I love chai too much to get mixed up in all that coffee business). Plus, my husband loves it and I knew it would make him happy.

I based the recipes in my pumpkin series last year on roasted pumpkin purée, a simple mash-up of cooked pumpkin flesh. To get a refresher or to get the recipe, visit my archives from September 2011 or click on the link provided.

pumpkin latte milkshakes
total time: 5 minutes (assuming your pumpkin purée is prepared) yield: 2 servings 
ingredients
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin purée
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of allspice
1/4 cup brewed espresso
1 pint good vanilla ice cream

create
Add pumpkin, spices, and espresso to a blender and blend until smooth and completely combined. Add ice cream and mix until creamy and ice cream is fully incorporated. You may add more or less espresso depending on how thick or thin you like your milkshake. Serve immediately.

“…Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!”

-excerpted from John Greenleaf Whittier’s “The Pumpkin”, 1850.

harry potter’s pumpkin juice

Oh no! It’s happening! Hurry up and stop me before I post another recipe that’s saturated with glimpses of what appears to be the beginning of a Harry Potter pumpkin series!

Too late.


harry potter’s pumpkin juice
ingredients
1 pumpkin’s worth of roasted pumpkin purée
2 cups apple juice
1 cup white grape juice
1 cup pineapple juice

create
Place the cooked pumpkin in a large fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and push the pumpkin through using a rubber spatula (I don’t have a sieve, so I just used a plain ol’ sifter). Scrape and mash as you push; it will take several minutes. Discard the pulpy mass left in the sieve. Stir the sieved pumpkin in the bowl to evenly distribute the juices, and then measure out 1 cup.


Place the cup of sieved pumpkin in a pitcher along with the apple juice, grape juice, and pineapple juice. Stir vigorously until the pumpkin is completely dispersed. Chill the juice until it’s very cold.
Before serving, stir the juice well, as the pumpkin will settle to the bottom. Fill glasses with ice cubes and pour the juice over the ice.

This recipe is, again, taken from Dinah Bucholz’s The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. Pumpkin juice in the Potter series is like the wizarding world’s water. The characters drink it all the time. I remember reading the books and becoming so incredibly thirsty every time Rowling mentioned it and craving this juice, something I had never even had before. The juice is very fruity, almost punch-like, with a not-at-all overpowering pumpkin oomph.

Right now, you’re like Harry. You must down that glass of pumpkin juice, for you’re about to do something very important. Be careful, though. Someone may have slipped some Veritaserum into that goblet.

harry potter’s pumpkin pasties

“A pasty, sometimes known as a pastie or British pasty in the United States, is a filled pastry case, associated in particular with Cornwall in Great Britain.” –Wikipedia

Just to clear things up.

“Oh, shoo. She’s on that pumpkin kick again.” Tempted, but no. One of my Christmas gifts this year was, check it, The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, written by Dinah Bucholz. I guess my Harry Potter journey began (imagine the celesta starting to play Hedwig’s theme) one summer while in college when all of my friends either went home or got jobs in other areas. So, I was left to work and do other random nonsense in Columbia, like read. It was then that I realized that J.K. Rowling was a flippin’ genius and, despite my roommates’ pleas for me to leave my bedroom and their desperate attempts to keep me alive by shoving cookies and PB&Js under my door, I ended up reading the first six books in a little over a month. My hair was thin and my nails torn unbearably short while I anticipated the release of the final installment and, because I was out-of-town, sent my very non-dorkish sister to the bookstore in the midst of the robe-wearing, wand-waving, spell-screaming Potter wannabes at the store’s book release party. She survived. And I got my book.

Harry and his friends ate lots of really cool, very traditionally British, sometimes very interesting foods. These pumpkin pasties showed up several times throughout the series (Bucholz specifically cites the Sorcerer’s Stone, chapter 6) and guess what? Muggles can eat them now, too. Sheesh. Nerd. Right here.

I will mention that I changed the pasty crust recipe slightly, as I don’t like to use shortening. Instead, I just used all butter. Also, I mixed the crust mixture by hand rather than using a food processor.

harry potter’s pumpkin pasties
pasty crust
ingredients
1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tbsp natural cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
4-6 tbsp ice water

filling
ingredients
1 cup roasted pumpkin purée
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

create
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl to combine. Scatter the very cold butter in the flour mixture and quickly crumble it into the flour until it resembles little peas or coarse meal. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of cold water over the mixture. Toss the mixture together until it starts clumping together. If it’s too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time (better too wet than too dry). Gather the dough into a ball (you may need to turn it onto a floured surface and knead a few times to keep it together) and pat it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.



For the filling, combine the pumpkin, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Preheat the oven to 400º. Roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. Use a saucer to cut out 6-inch circles.
Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of each circle of dough. Moisten the edges with water, fold the dough over the filling, and crimp with a fork to seal the edges. Cut slits to make vents (you are also welcome to brush the tops of the pasties with an egg wash for a more golden-brown color). Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 30 minutes or until browned.


I hope you enjoy this little hunk of Harry’s world. Pretend you’re on the Hogwarts Express while eating these. Oh. And my very non-dorkish sister? Yeah. She is now obsessed with HP. It happens to the best of us.