Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Long Island Cheese Pie

I've been considering whether it's fitting to post articles about my culinary exploits here, or whether they belong over on the miscellan-eous blog. I've decided that general cooking and baking stories go there, but if the kitchen adventures involve food I've grown in my garden, they go here.

That said, I had one (count 'em, 1) pumpkin out of my garden this year. Beautiful vines everywhere, but only one gourd. Variety, "Long Island Cheese." Heirloom, kind of pinky-yellowy-white, said to be good for pies.

So I offered my one-and-only up to the cause of the annual Thanksgiving feast at my friend Frieda's*.

Sunday, I cut the pumpkin in halves, put it on a greased cookie sheet, and baked it. It's really easier to scoop out the flesh that way. Peeling and boiling is just too much like work.

Then the flesh went into the blender to pureé. No, Kate, a full blender bowl will not process, especially on a machine that dates to the mid-1960s (the blender's an heirloom, too). OK, divide it in two batches and pureé each separately.

This yielded me nearly two quarts of pumpkin pureé. It tasted good and rather sweet, even with no sugar added. It was a little runny, though, with clear liquid around the edges . . . Probably not good. I could see me on the night before Thanksgiving with a pie still sloshing in the middle. So, doing the sensible thing, I-- no, I didn't read a cookbook or check the Internet!-- I called my 79-year-old mother.

"Fresh pumpkin always does that. You have to let it drain for a few hours to get the extra liquid out."

So I did. At least, I did it with the quart I hadn't put in the freezer. And by the time it was drained, I was left with 1-3/4 cups of pureé for a 2 cup recipe. (Next time, I'm draining it before it's pureéd.)

OK, get the other quart out of the freezer and thaw and drain it, too.

That gave me a cup and a half. Enough and some to spare.

Made the pie crust last night, formed it into a couple of discs, and put it in the fridge to rest. I'm pretty good with pie crust (one of the few advantages of having perpetually cold hands), but the part I dread is getting the rolled-out dough off the marble board and onto the pie plate. Epic fail my first attempt this evening, and I had to roll it out again. If anyone's listening, I would really like a pastry cloth for Christmas!

I was extravagant and used heavy cream instead of evaporated milk. I have a can of the latter in the cupboard, but I think it's something the dinosaurs left behind when they became extinct. Actually, I used the recipe out of Joy of Cooking precisely because it reassured me I could use heavy cream instead of evaporated milk.

Brown sugar as well as white, and lots of spices-- I like spices-- with nutmeg freshly grated in. Then the eggs, and all beaten with my new Cuisinart mixer. I meant to take a photo of the filling in the bowl before I poured it in the case, it looked so suave and silky, but I actually had my mind on the job and forgot. From the lickings I'd say this Long Island Cheese variety does give a different taste than the bog-standard pumpkin that goes into the Libby's can. I like it; will my friends be able to tell the difference?

The pie came out of the oven just fine-- until I knocked off a bit of the crust carrying it to the cooling rack. Excuse to eat some . . . hmm. Maybe it could have used a bit of sugar?

Never mind. I'm sure I got enough into the filling.

The pie lost a bit more crust a little later as I contrived to put it up to finish cooling out of the reach of my greedy, energetic, and enterprising dog. I'd moved it from the counter to a rack in the microwave over the stove (with the door open) and usually that's safe enough. But I saw him jumping for it just as I was leaving the kitchen and I'm taking no chances.

So the pie from my one precious Long Island Cheese pumpkin is now reposing on top of the pots in the cupboard above the microwave. I'm glad my goggeh likes the smell of my baking, but I'm not prepared to accept the compliment of his scarfing down the whole jolly thing when my back is turned.


Larry said...

I have always wanted to try growing these pumpkins - now I'm inspired!!!

Okay - this is weird - we have the EXACT same blender!!! Do you have the matching mixer with stand and bowl? Another creepy thing...the measuring bowl you are straining the liquid into - we have it as well!!!

Okay, I'd like to take a look at your other blog but can't find it. Care to share the link?

I have wanted to add my cooking exploits to the blog as well but felt the same way you did about it.

We really do have a lot in common!! I love to work with spices as well. I recently had to make the hard decision of weeding out the spice rack. It needed to move from it's original location and all the spiced wouldn't fit the other. I'll cover this more in another post!

BTW - would you e-mail me at correus at yahoo .com? I want to make sure I have your e-mail address. PC hiccuped and I lost several.

Kate H. said...

Curious! Do a lot of your appliances date from the 1960s, too?

Have a mixer with a stand, but I think it's a GE, not an Osterizer. Another Grandma heirloom. Motor finally gave out a few months ago, so I got a new Cuisinart mixer. WHICH I left over at my friend's this afternoon . . .

I reuse my grandmother's spice bottles. I buy new spices in bulk and fill 'em up.

Thanks for the comment!