Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanks for the Veggies

I've been doing some experimenting lately with different flavors and trying to replicate that feeling one gets from those Thanksgiving Day foods. With luck, I stumbled onto some recipes that I was able to tweak to what I think works well.

I found an incredible recipe from River Cottage Veg cookbook. In fact, the entire book is well worth owning as I've made many wonderful things from its contents. But the Chestnut and Sage Soup recipe results in what I've come to call Thanksgiving in a Bowl. It's worth owning the cookbook if only for that recipe.

That leaves a few more things to make a meal, doesn't it? My typical vegetarian Thanksgiving consists of veggie pot pies, two kinds of potatoes, and of course a vegetable side. Then there's dessert.

I love a good pumpkin pie. However, good has been a little tough to come by since one canned pumpkin manufacturer has made it too easy to open a can and dump it into a prepared crust. So this year, I went on a quest to create a better pie.

One entire morning and three pies later (let's just say thanks to the unreadable dials on my current oven, a new stove is due in in three weeks), I was done burning things and had come up with a darn good pie. I'll confess I was too tired and frustrated to really appreciate the full flavor of the pie (maybe because my hair still smelled of burned crusts), but the slice I had the next day was pretty great. Here's what I've come up with:

Lori's Bombshell Pumpkin Pie

2 cups pumpkin (canned is fine)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup milk
4 large eggs

Process the first seven ingredients for about a minute. Move it to a saucepan and heat to a low simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 or 4 minutes. Whisk in milks and bring back to a low simmer. Add eggs to the processor, then with it running, add the pumpkin mixture. Process until all ingredients are blended.

Pour into hot pie crust and back about 20-25 minutes at 350 (keep an eye on it). I started it at 425 for five minutes, then notched it down. May take some experimenting with your oven, but test with a knife -- if it comes out clean, it's finished.

I put a great whipped cream on top. I used about a cup of heavy cream, a tablespoon of brandy, and a tablespoon (or more, depending on your sugar tolerance) of confectioners' sugar.

I found the best Crust Recipe here.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I love the opportunity to get back into cooking. It was pushed aside last year when my work nearly doubled and I couldn't find time to eat, let alone cook.

This year is much calmer after a surgery and recovery. And now children who had moved out are visiting, giving me ample excuse to turn out some more recipes. Today's recipe was inspired by a bottle of chianti. Let me explain.

I've been dabbling in becoming a wine aficionado -- not seriously, but just for fun and enjoyment. I was reading my World Atlas of Wine and I was reading about different chiantis and which were considered the best. Naturally it wasn't the one I had. I like buying them with the little basket attached, but apparently, that's good but not great wine. So I hopped over to the store and got a chianti classico. Then the dilemma -- what to serve with it?

Paella, of course.

Since the kids were home, I decided that dessert was in order, too. However, after making guacamole and paella, the last thing I wanted to do was make some complicated dessert. I opted for ice cream. With peach sauce. The peaches right now are exquisite, too.

Here's the successful result:

Peach Sauce with Brandy
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
6 whole cloves
2 fresh peaches, chopped
2 Tbl. brandy (I used French brandy)
1 Tbl. corn starch

Heat sugar, cloves, and water in a small saucepan until sugar is melted. Take out the cloves. Add the cornstarch (mix it with a little water first) and then add the brandy and the peaches. Heat just slightly, then take off the heat, put it in a bowl, and chill it. Spoon it over ice cream. If you want, you can heat it again before serving (I nuked until it was warm).