|A Classic Revisited: "Pumpkin" Pie|
|Right Food for the Season - Early Winter|
|Written by Lara Zelman|
I love the adventure and excitement of cooking with new foods and new ingredients. This year I challenged myself to buy a new ingredient every week from the Copley Square Farmers' Market. It could be anything from a new variety of apple, to rainbow carrots, to a delicious pumpkin cream cheese pastry! On my last trip to the market before the end of the season, I came across a colorful selection of winter squash at the Atlas Farm's booth. A beautiful, bright reddish-orange squash caught my eye. At first I thought it was a kabocha squash, which my husband and I discovered and fell in love with on our honeymoon, but instead it was a red kuri squash. The folks at Atlas Farms have great signs next their produce with descriptions and cooking tips. A cousin of the hubbard squash, the red kuri squash has a smooth, creamy flesh. I took it home and found a way to use it for our Thanksgiving feast.
This was my first year hosting Thanksgiving for my husband’s family. With the opportunity to add my twist on their family traditions, I decided to use my red kuri squash (and some other local ingredients) to personalize the meal. Instead of the usual canned pumpkin pie in a store-bought crust, I set out to create a homemade red kuri squash pie in a homemade crust.
I called my grandfather, my on-call pie baking expert, for his no-fail flaky pie crust recipe. Next, I consulted my many cookbooks and Thanksgiving magazines for some ideas on ingredients, quantities, and other tips on baking a pumpkin pie. Taking a few suggestions from each, I created a pie filling to suit my taste – sweet, but not too sweet. After a quick pre-baking of the crust it was time to pour in the filling. Thirty to forty-five minutes later, success! The flaky crust and creamy filling melted in my mouth – except for a few sneaky pieces of squash that escaped the food processor blade. This pie could easily be made with any winter squash found at the local market or grocery store and certainly isn't exclusive to the Thanksgiving table. Until the next farmers’ market season, I’ll be seeking out local ingredients at the grocery store and continuing to cook up new creations!
Grandpa’s Perfect Pie Crust (makes 2 10-inch crusts)
12 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water
Dice the butter and put it in the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling it out. Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the greased pie pan. Repeat with the top crust. Cover the crust with foil or parchment paper and weight it down with dried beans (or pie weights). Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees and then let it cool slightly before pouring in filling.
Red Kuri Squash Pie Filling
Approximately 2 cups of pureed squash (1 small red kuri squash)
1.5 cups light cream
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
Cut the squash into 1-inch pieces and place in a stock pot. Fill the pan with approximately two inches of water and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt on the top. The water will not cover the squash. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the squash is tender. Drain the water and place the squash pieces in a large bowl and puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Let the squash cool slightly before adding in the eggs and cream. Add cream, sugars, and spices and pulse until just mixed. Whisk in eggs until the filling is smooth. Pour into the pie crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cover the edges of the pie crust with foil to prevent burning. Return to the oven and continue baking the pie for an additional 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is not fully set (still moves when you shake the pan).
Lara is a graduate of Boston University and works full time as a marketing manager. Whether it’s family gatherings, vacations, dinners at home, holiday parties, or just a regular weekend, Lara's goal is to make the food a part of the experience. In her spare time she visits farmers markets for interesting ingredients, blogs (www.goodcookdoris) about her adventures in the kitchen, and finds time to fit in a few rounds of golf. She is currently pursuing an MBA degree and working on a plan to make her passion for all things food-related a full-time adventure.