Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's about family...and the food, too

Today was Thanksgiving preparation day...and I'm not even hosting everyone at my house. Tomorrow we're headed down to San Rafael to have Thanksgiving with my family at my brother's house. Gregg and Kitt are newlyweds, and this is their first family holiday dinner. I bet they're breaking out the wedding presents for fancing serving stuff!

In my family, Thanksgiving is a time to get together, of course....but really, it's all about the food. My contribution this year is dessert, so I've spent the day baking. I'm being daring and trying a new (but not too far from traditional) "Cream Cheese Pumpkin-Pecan pie. This is just in case we're not all totally stuffed with turkey and stuffing and other goodies! But it sounded so good that I had to try it. (And it uses reduced fat cream cheese, so it's HEALTHY.) Look, see?

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Crust
3/4 cup flour
6 Tblsp. light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tblsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 Tblsp. cold water
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Filling
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
6 Tblsp. reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

For crust, place flour, brown sgar and salt in food processor with metal blade. Pulse several times to blend. Add butter and process until dough resembles coarse meal. With motor running, add water through feed tube, a little at a time, until dough is moist, not wet. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add pecans. Knead until a ball of dough forms and pecans are thoroughly incorporated. Flatten into disk, press into tart pan, and chill for at least 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes and then cool slightly.

To prepare filling: Place cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl and mix with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until well-blended. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Remove 1/3 cup filling and set aside.

Add pumpkin puree and spices to cream cheese mixture, mixing until blended. Pour mixture into prebaked pie shell. Gently drop teaspoonfuls of reserved cream cheese mixture onto pumpkin filling, then swirl lightly with a knife to produce marbled effect. (Do not over-swirl or cream-cheese mixture will blend in.)

Bake until firm, about 35 minutes. Cool on rack for at least an hour. Serve cold or at room temperature.

*****

Doesn't sound that yummy and holiday-ish?

I also baked another traditional pumpkin pie (Martha Stewart's recipe actually, because I LOVE Martha and it's my own little act of solidarity) because Roger's aunt and cousin are coming over on Friday and I'll need something to serve. I'm actually going to roast a turkey breast that day, since it's not Thanksgiving unless you have all that left over turkey for turkey sandwiches. Or tamales, if you must.

And, because it is all about the food, for the non-pumpkin pie eaters, I'm making mini cream puffs. They're super easy to make and always wildly impress people.

Here's what you do:

Pate au choux ("pat-ay oh shoe" to sound very gourmet-ish.)

Put 1 cup water in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter. Bring to a rolling boil, melting butter completely. Reduce the heat to low, then add 1 cup flour all of a sudden (just dump it in there!) and stir vigorously. The dough will clump together and get glossy as it sort of "dries" and goes from a batter consistency to a dough-ball consistency.

Take it off of the heat, let it cool for about 5 minutes. Then, one at a time, add 4 eggs, stirring vigorously after each addition so dough is glossy and smooth. (You can do this part in a food processor if you want.)

Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. (You can make them long in shape, for eclairs, or roundish, for cream puffs...or large or tiny, as you prefer.) Then bake at 400 for 30 minutes. When the time is up, turn the oven off but leave them in the oven with the door cracked open for about an hour. Zee franche alvayss de zees step but I do not know vhy.

When they're cool, you slice them open, and voila, there's a lovely empty center (you may have to pull out a few strands of dough with your fingers) for you to fill. You can use whipped cream. My secret filling? Instant vanilla pudding (the kind you make in 5 minute with cold milk, not that horrid stuff you buy pre-made). Then drizzle melted chocolate over the top and people will swoon.

Ooh la la.

Happy baking, everyone!

1 comment:

Lynne said...

I make cream puffs with that filling! Do you mix the pudding mix with cream instead of milk? It comes out like the filling in french pattiserie vanilla slices. I'm making a batch for a christmas do in a few weeks. I'll take half a dozen to the high tea, and the rest will get gobbled at home.