I made this for our Thanksgiving dinner last Saturday night. What? Saturday?? But Thanksgiving is on the last Thursday of the month! I know, but the UK doesn’t grind to a halt the way the US does on Thanksgiving. I’d invited a couple of American friends and Sarah, who owns a shop, couldn’t come on Thursday anyway.
So our November feast was an American Thanksgiving. Steve’s first one ever and the first one I had at home in about 15 years. Steve was a bit mystified and asked if everyone eats turkey and will we have roast potatoes – ‘Yes, of course! and no, mashed, and we also have sweet potatoes with marshmallows’. Basically, Thanksgiving is a big family get together and the (football) game or Twilight Zone re-runs are on TV and everyone eats and eats and eats.
Here is the menu:
Green Beans with Toasted Hazelnuts
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows & Pecans
Frank’s Pea and Cheese Salad
I used a recipe for one of the pies from a great cookbook by Dana Crumb called Still Eatin’ It. Dana was married to the cartoonist Robert Crumb (Zap Comix) and he did the illustrations. This book is a compendium of innovative recipes, terrific stories, peculiar anecdotes and revealing social history. Set in the milieu of R. Crumb and those ever-amusing 1960’s, Still Eatin’ It falls into a fourth category of cookbooks: MFK Fisher on acid.
The book is filled with tips like Tastes to Caress and Fondle the Tongue & Pleasure the Palate and Herbs! Herbs! Fresh, fresh herbs! Chapter 1 is Desserts and begins with Fun Things To Do With Chocolate. And so it goes. Dana Crumb is a fabulous cook who is also wryly humorous, delightfully droll, and the survivor of a thoroughly fascinating life.
The pie crust is a melt in your mouth, flaky one. The recipe is for a double crust. I used half for the pumpkin pie and half for a pecan pie.
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup cold butter
- 3 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
- 4 tablespoons ice water
Cut half the butter and vegetable shortening into the flour and salt until it’s grainy like cornmeal. Now work in the rest of the butter and shortening until it’s sweet pea size lumps. Sprinkle all over with ice water and blend into a ball. The less you handle the pie dough the more tender it will be. Let the dough ball ‘rest’ in the fridge for an hour or so before you continue.
Dana’s Dog-gone Pumpkin Pie
Here’s a Dana story:
‘I had made, from scratch with fresh pumpkins, the other pies. I set them upon the front porch freezer under a towel to cool. Later, I went out to the porch to check on their progress and admire their beauty and instead saw an unknown German Shepherd puppy (about 6 months old) standing in several pies, tail awag, while gobbling the others. It wasn’t even our dog!’
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg & clove,
very light on the clove or you’ll numb your mouth)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 & 2/3 cups half & half or double cream
- 1 & ½ cups pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
- ½ pie crust recipe
Line pie plate with pastry and crimp the edges. Prick shell all over with a fork. Weight the bottom of the shell and bake for 10-15 minutes in a 350°F/180°C oven. Let cool at least 30 minutes.
Mix ingredients well and pour into the shell. Bake at 450°F/200°C for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325°F/170°C for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the the center of the pie comes out clean.
.I like to coat the raw crust with apricot jam or good marmalade and bake to ‘seal’ the crust on a custard pie. Try it sometime. If you have any bts of pastry left over, it’s fun to cut out a pumpkin shape and just sit it on top of the custard and bake. Or you can cut out pastry leaves and encircle the edge of the pie with them. (I did this with my pecan pie, but, alas, didn’t take a photo) Always remember, part of our eating is done with our eyes.
Serve with gently whipped and delicately sugared cream. Enjoy!