pumpkin pecan pie


Pre-heat oven to 425°

This is sort of a complicated pie, so if you want to buy premade rolled piecrust sheets, have at it! I have never really written this down, but I think my proportions will work fine.

Line TWO 8 or 9 inch REGULAR not deep dish pie plates with plain pie crusts , crimp your crust edges and toss in the refrigerator to chill.

Next is the pumpkin filling….

You basically follow the pumpkin pie filling recipe on the back of the pumpkin cans (except I add an extra egg):

One 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin (unsweetened packed pumpkin)
3/4 of a cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 12 ounce can of Carnation evaporated milk (use the whole evaporated milk)

Mix sugar, salt, spices in a bowl. Add eggs and pumpkin and beat with a handmixer. Gradually add in the milk and beat together until sort of frothy. Cover bowl and put in refrigerator to chill until you’re ready.

Next is the pecan pie part of the pie filling….it will go on top of pumpkin mixture.

2 1/2 cups of pecans. I prefer chopped pecans for this particular recipe.
1 cup of shredded coconut – sweetened
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoons of butter melted
1/2 cup of black strap molasses

First mix the butter, molasses, sugar, salt, flour, spices. Add the coconut and pecans. The mixture will be sort of crumbly mushy and just come together. Set bowl aside.

Remove your pie crusts in their plates from the refrigerator. Take the pie filling out of the refrigerator as well. Give the pumpkin filling a little whip with a hand whisk and divide evenly between the pies. Cover your crust edges with either those pie rings you can buy in a cooking supply store or lightly with tinfoil so it doesn’t burn. The pie plates should be side-by-side and your other not on different shelves. If you can’t bake the pies side-by-side, bake them one at a time.

Bake pies with JUST the pumpkin filling in the crusts for 15 minutes at 425°. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake another 30 minutes longer.

Take the pies out of the oven and evenly distribute the pecan topping on both pies. Do not smush down too tightly. Just sort of layer it on evenly covering the entire pumpkin surface. Bake pies another 18 to 20 minutes at 350°. They should be cooked perfectly at this point.

Remove from oven, cool, and serve. Unused portions should be covered and kept in the refrigerator.



Do you ever “T2” during Thanksgiving weekend? I do.

T2 is basically a second Thanksgiving dinner. I do this when friends and family have been scattered to the four winds for the actual Thanksgiving holiday. If I have a free turkey to use, and I’m not cooking the actual holiday dinner, I like to do another dinner at some point in the weekend basically so I can have Thanksgiving leftovers.

I am pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to a Thanksgiving -type meal. I make my own cranberry sauce, it takes so little time. I also make my own herbed stuffing cubes. I know it sounds anal, but I don’t like all the sodium and additives in the seasoned stuffing mix that you can buy in the grocery store.

Basically you preheat the oven to 400°. You take a loaf of inexpensive potato bread, whole wheat bread, or plain old white bread and chop it up into about 1 inch cubes. It’s not an exact science you know what you like when you do it. I like potato bread for stuffing the best unless I make a baker’s sheet pan of cornbread for stuffing.

I put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of a baker’s sheet pan. This pan is one of those ones that looks like basically a cookie sheet with a lip, and it is aluminum and heavy. I put the cubes on top of the parchment paper and give them a quick spritz with canola oil cooking spray. I do not soak them. Then I sprinkle whatever herbs and garlic powder I am going to use for my stuffing. Generally speaking I use savory herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme and so on. I might even throw a couple dashes of sweet paprika in.

Next turn off the oven. Yes, you heard me correctly, turn it off. Throw the cubed bread and with the herbs on top in the heated oven and literally ignore it for a few hours. Once everything has dried out and gone cold in a closed oven, I throw it into a Ziploc bag. I do this a day ahead of time.

T2 also gets a pie. This year it’s my pumpkin pie, with a praline surprise in the bottom. All it is is a piecrust unbaked in a deep dish pie dish. I like the vintage Pyrex ones that I can get at church sales, tag sales, thrift shops.

The pie filling is basically the recipe on the small can of Libby unsweetened pumpkin, but I add one more egg. They call for two I use three.

The “praline” aspect is simple: the day before I make my pie I take a couple tablespoons of butter and throw it in an 8 inch sauté pan. To that I throw a small handful of pecans and walnuts. They can be halves or they can be chopped. Your choice but I like the halves. To that I had a small handful of raisins. I used green raisins I got from the Indian grocery store this time. They’re great in curries and even better in pies. I add cinnamon, fresh ginger, cardamom, and a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar. I cook everything up until the point the sugar and butter caramelized together. Then I turn off the heat. Once everything has cooled off a bit, I spoon the stuff into a storage container and allow it to cool completely before putting the container lid on. Incidentally this is another thing I do the day before. The pie filling however, I do the morning I bake.

This morning, I whipped up the pie filling, did my piecrust and lined my pie plate with the crust. Before I poured the pie pumpkin mixture into the pie shell.

The bottom of the pie shell I then lined with my nutty praline mixture I made yesterday. I baked my pie at 425° the first 15 minutes, then reduced it to 350° for almost an hour today. When you add things like nuts or extra things to the pumpkin mixture, it takes more time. But you keep an ion it because you don’t want to burn your pie or overcook it.

The picture that opens this post, is my actual pie that I will be serving for dinner this evening.

The stuffing for the turkey will have baby Portabella mushrooms, onions, celery and other good things. Even a few crumpled strips of cooked bacon.

I will serve a hardy green salad that has a mixture of Romain, arugula, spinach, baby kale, and other greens. I will also do whipped sweet potatoes made with carrots and maple syrup. To the sweet potatoes I will add a dash of pepper flakes to give it a little heat. I will also serve on the side a small dish of the pickled beets I put up earlier this fall.

Early on the morning I am cooking the turkey, after my pie in the oven, I chop up the onion and celery and whatever needs to going to my stuffing cover the bowl with saran wrap and toss it in the refrigerator. It saves if you do a little prep time ahead of time.

When my guests arrive late this afternoon , I will serve them and assorted cheese platter of cheeses from Yellow Springs Farm. Because Catherine Renzi’s cheeses are goat milk-based, a lot of people will put out something like a fig preserve to have with the cheese. It’s that whole sweet and savory thing. I however, have decided to be different, and I will be serving my cheese with a tiny ramekin of apple butter on the side to use instead of sick preserves. It’s the apple butter I made a few weeks ago.

I set my table with real linens. All the linens I have, I have scored from church sales, flea markets, thrift shops, and eBay. You can get that Rich holiday feel without breaking the bank. And it is so worth it to use a good tablecloth. And quite frankly the vintage ones have more depth and substance to the fabric that a lot of the modern ones.

Except for the china plates my Great Aunt Josie left for me, everything that is on my table has been sourced from places like thrift shops, the Smithfield Barn, church sales, estate sales, and flea markets.

The actual turkey platter, is one of those metal ones created by several companies including Lenox that I scored for $30 last year at Frazer antiques.

All you have to do is look in magazines and online and on HGTV to get ideas on how to set a holiday table. Truly, it is not rocket science, and even with kids you can do this. And even with kids, you can set the table with nice glasses and plates. My mother did it with my sister and I, and I think she was spot on with giving kids a special feel for holiday meals and not sticking them with plastic utensils and plates and cups.

Okay, I have a bunch of things to do in the kitchen for T2 so you all enjoy your Sundays. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Remember, the Smithfield barn is open this afternoon for a few more hours if you were looking for some holiday bargains.

new twist on seasonal classic


Enough politics! Life is more fun when you bake, so let’s talk pie. Pumpkin pie to be precise. ‘Tis the official season after all. This is my twist on the classic pumpkin pie and I have baked it- yesterday morning as a matter of fact.

I had a memorial service for one of my best an oldest friends mothers and as some of our high school friends were coming in from out of town, my sweet man and I opened our home to a casual cooperative dinner.

The table was all fall with a cheese plate of robust cheeses; a salad of arugula, spinach, radicchio and romaine; a cornbread that was like a soufflé; salsas and chips from East Goshen Farmers’ Market. And pumpkin pie and pumpkin bars with chocolate chips. Repair this with a beautiful rose wine from Wolffer Estate – a vineyard on Long Island in Sagaponack, NY. There was also a lively California Red, but and allergic to red wine so I can’t recall what it was. My friend Laura made the chili and it was awesome. It was a turkey chili and you would never have known.

This cooperative supper in a way was the perfect meal following memorial service tribute to a woman who began life on the Plains of Clovis, New Mexico. She was a remarkable woman who was all about friends and family, so I think she would’ve approved of last night’s casual supper.

It was a rare treat to be with some of my friends from high school, as we don’t see each other often enough anymore given distance and kid and other schedules.

They all enjoyed the pie for dessert, I hope you do too.

Incidentally I sent my fall table as a buffet last night with various dishes I have collected over the years, using mostly depression glass last night that was clear.

The napkins were a deep purple linen my mother had given me, the tablecloth a cranberry red vintage Irish linen picked up at a tag sale, and I used actual silverware.

A lot of people seem to take shortcuts with plastic utensils , paper plates and plastic cups, and I think were all grownups and we can set the table once in a while. I don’t think everything has to necessarily match hundred percent, and I love it when I’m able to put a table together with things I have picked up here and there. I would rather wash dishes and enjoy how I set my table.

Now the recipe:

Get out a small sauté pan- I have an 8 inch copper pan I scored on eBay – add 1/4 cup organic unsweetened coconut flakes, 1/4 cup pecan pieces, 1/4 cup walnut pieces, 2 tablespoons butter, 6 tablespoons sugar. Over moderate heat, cook everything up until nuts are all mixed up and toasty- butter and sugar coating it all. Set aside to cool.

Time to make a pie crust.

1 1/4 c flour
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup sugar (white)
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Mix flour, sugar, salt, ginger, buttermilk powder. Cut in butter in bits with pastry cutter. Add water one tablespoon at a time and bring your dough together. I have the range of tablespoons because sometime the dough comes together with less, sometimes more. Roll your dough in a ball and wrap tight in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 25 minutes.

Next pre heat oven to 425 degrees

Get out a big mixing bowl.

Mix :

3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground mace

To that add:

2 eggs and beat

To that add:

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin- not purée in a can, but plain pumpkin

1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk

Beat it up until frothy

Set aside

Get out your dough and roll out until you can fit in a pie pan – I like 9 inch deep dish glass pie plates – I use vintage ones – some of which are pie plates. The dough goes into an UNgreased pie plate by the way.

Take a tablespoon or so if soft butter and coat the crust in the plan – I learned this trick watching Chef Robert Irvine one time – keeps crust from getting mushy .

Pour pumpkin into pie shell. Take nut mixture and sprinkle in a ring at edges of pumpkin. Cover your outer crust edge with either foil or one of those pie rungs to keep edges from burning . Put pie into 425 oven for 18 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake 50 to 59 minutes or until knife comes out of center of pie clean.

It is a pie you need to babysit in the oven but try to NOT open oven door a lot

Cool pie for a couple of hours. Serve with real whipped cream LIGHTLY sweetened and dusted with cinnamon. Refrigerate leftovers.