14 September 2013

Pumpkin Pie!

Such an innocuous, sugar coated little confection
In this week's delivery from vegibox.com there was a gorgeous summer squash.  Now, for all that I've cooked with Butternut squash for a fair old while, because our boring old supermarkets don't stock any other squash varieties, I've not ventured out into other types.

Yes, I've bought pumpkins from them - but only for carving, never for cooking!

It's a summer squash ... that looks like a pumpkin.
Being something of a novice to the world of summer squash, I thought the best thing to do would be to make something fairly middle of the road to begin with.  Really just to gain an idea of how this squash behaves when it is cooked - and more to the point, how it tastes.  For my first go, then, I made the very lovely creamy parsnip & squash bake - which I will blog very soon.

From this, I discovered that this squash has a mild flavour, is sweet and hangs together nicely when cooked.  Perfect ammunition for a pumpkin pie, then!

Now I have tried to make a pumpkin pie in the past - with parlous results.  However, this time, I'll be using fresh pumpkin (or squash) as opposed to the nasty tinned stuff - and I was hoping it would make a difference.

Just look how gorgeous the squash/pumpkin was inside ... amazing.

Having nearly severed the end of my finger on the mandolin when I was slicing veggies a few days ago, I thought it was better not to be making pastry right now ~wince~ and so we invested in a ready made sweet pastry shell.  However, the quantity of filling was sufficient for a standard pie dish (you know, the pyrex type ones) and my pie case was half the depth.  No worries though, I simply filled up the pie case and poured the rest into a small pyrex casserole dish - and baked it like that.  Extra middles!  However, don't feel you have to use a pastry case too - by all means make your own sweet shortcrust pastry and take the pastry case to a blind baked state - then carry on from there.

So - you know what I'm like when I'm making something for the first time.  I don't stick to just one recipe, I read a dozen or so and decide to make something that uses bits from each.  In this instance, however, I think either the squash was an awful lot wetter in structure than ordinary pumpkin, or I got the quantities of the milk wrong.  Basically, once I'd added the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, butter and eggs to the pumpkin, it was looking pretty darned wet - so I only added 25ml of the milk, as opposed to the 75ml that I'd picked up from another recipe!  Well, it seems to have worked fine - but just be aware that if your mixture appears to be too thick or too dry, just add more milk and it will be fine.

The bake was easy peasy - it made the flat smell utterly gorgeous - and the filling set up beautifully into a mousse-like texture that was light and fluffy.

Well, it looks like the real thing!  Perhaps the filling could have been deeper, but there's certainly enough in there and I have a very strong feeling that it's going to be pretty rich!

Oh my goodness though - the flavour.  Oh wow!  Now I know why the Americans go so potty over pumpkin pie.  It's only a shame that it has taken so long to find out.  The nutmeg, the cinnamon, the soft, yielding unctuousness that just coats your tongue and says "everything is okay now" in motherly tones.  I know it is a Greg Wallace-ism, but it really does give you a great big, warm, fluffy, cinnamon scented hug.  Which is odd, considering I served it cold.

To a man - and one woman - we all took our first bite and chewed for approximately three seconds before rolling our eyes heavenwards and saying "mmmnnnhhhh" in that "oh, this is gooooood!" kind of way.  In fact, it isn't good - it transcends good.  It is amazing.

Go get yourself a pumpkin or golden summer squash and make it.  You have to.  You simply just have to.

PUMPKIN PIE    (serves 6)

Ingredients :

750g pumpkin (or yellow squash), peeled and cut into chunks
140g granulated sugar
half a tsp salt
half a tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, beaten well
25g salted butter, melted
25ml milk
Icing sugar to decorate.

Method :

1.  Place the pumpkin chunks into a saucepan and cover them with boiling water.  Place onto a moderate heat and simmer until tender.  Drain and place the chunks into a large bowl.

2.  Either mash, or use a blender, to render the chunks of pumpkin down to a puree.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Pre-heat your oven to 220degC(200degC fan)/425degF/Gas 7.

4.  In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

5.  Mix in the eggs, butter and milk.

6.  Add the sugar mixture to the cooled pumpkin and stir to combine.

7.  Pour into a part baked shell of sweet shortcrust pastry and bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180degC(160degC fan)/350degF/Gas 4 and bake for another 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is set.

Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and serve chilled, with cream or ice cream.

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