Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Is Good!

In Canada’s restaurant industry and in some homes we have a strange but good occurrence that only happens once or should I say twice a year. Thanksgiving in Canada is great because we get a double feature. If you mess up Canadian thanks giving you can always make up for it at American Thanksgiving. As we scan the Canadian magazine rack about a month before Thanksgiving we see Halloween and thanksgiving special issues. There’s a bit of a build up, it comes and just when you think its over, you return to the news stand to find now that bon appetite, and the like are starting there Thanksgiving issues.

Seems like a epic harvest year every year in Canada, although by the 4th week of November most of us are curled up to our wood stoves or shovelling snow instead of frolicking in apple orchards and pumpkin patches. For 3 months of the year it seems to be all about ham, turkey goose or large joints of meat. We get a 2 week break and all of a sudden there pounding the Xmas stuff at us. Cookies, cakes, more ham, more turkey, more goose etc…. Tires me out just thinking about it.

One traditional item that could be at the Canadian or Americans Thanksgiving, Xmas or Easter table is pumpkin pie. Now I don’t claim to have the most die hard, rare, family heritage, forget me not, heirloom variety, 100 mile recipe….but I do have one that works and has been receiving minor tweaks multiple times a year.. Feel free to freak out the on the recipe yourself and go bananas. Or play it safe and follow the instructions..

Pumpkin Pie
(the heirloom, family, 50th generation, sustainable, die hard, no fail, Julia Child, jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, Thanks giving, Xmas or Easter version)….with a Yukon twist.. lmao!

The key to my pie is slow roasting sugar pumpkins and processing the pulp in house rather than buying tinned pumpkin puree. But if your in a pinch I would rather see you use tinned than buy those pies at the grocery store that seem to be able to sit a room temperature for years without spoiling. Something is seriously wrong with that picture. Again, as much as I would like you to make your own pastry, use frozen if you must. They don’t ask, you don’t tell!

For one 9-10 inch pie

  • 3 cups cooked pureed pumpkin (or tinned)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Yukon birch syrup (sub molasses if Berwyn has not hooked you up)
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger (or 2tsp dried ginger powder)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 beaten free range eggs
  • 1 ½ cups evaporated milk (use full fat versions)
  • 1 9inch tart or pie crust “blind baked” (for instructions on blind baking

Pasty dough

  • 1 ¼ all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp home made lard (or add 2 more tbsp butter)
  • 1 egg yolk (save white for the crust glaze)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water


For the crust:

1. Preheat your oven to 350f.

2. With your fingers rub the butter and lard into the flour till it resembles sandy pebbles.

3. Add sugar and salt.

4. Make well in center of flour and add egg yolk and a bit of water.

5. Mix to from a ball. If necessary add a bit more water to bring dough together. The key is to work it as little as possible.

6. Roll the dough out and fit into your pie or tart pan.

7. Bake to pastry off to a light golden color. Don’t go crazy and cook it till its right brown, the pie is returning to the oven later. Brush with left over egg white and return to oven to set the white.

8. When done turn your oven down to 250f.

For the filling:

1. Place pumpkin puree in your blender.

2. Add everything but the eggs and blend until ultra smooth.

3. Add eggs and pulse 3 or 4 times to incorporate.

4. Pour filling into prebaked pie shell.

5. Bake in a low 250-275f oven till filling has set in the middle when lightly shaken. About 1-1 ½ hours.

6. Cool to room temp or even better fridge temp before serving.

Serve with vanilla flavoured whipped cream and warm birch syrup drizzled over.

From top to bottom: Carving up Thanksgiving dinner, sous vide breasts and smoked legs/wings, one of the dogs at the shelter just saying "Hello!"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back In The Home Slice

Park Farm...An amazing setting

After a 3 week journey to England and a 2 week visit to River Cottage Park Farm I am back home. A great trip was had, meeting lots of great people, cooks and chefs. Most of my time was spent in Dorset and East Devon in England's southwest, an area that is known for amazing produce, pork, lamb and organic products. The country scenery was absolutely incredible. It was like living in "the shire" from Lord of the Rings. Not to mention some wicked strong cider and real ales out the pie hole! Most of my time was spent with some great people at River Cottage's Park Farm.

In the kitchen there was various whole animals coming in and out including, Gloucester old spot pigs, wild venison, rabbits, pheasants, and various fish including herring, mackerel and pollock. There was a good amount of charcuterie going on as well which included, various salumi, prosciutto, terrines, pate, bacon, hams and pancetta all of which were amazing. The whole operation is looked after by Chef Gill Meller, who does a great job and has a real touch for good taste and texture combinations and rustic English country style cookery. He is also a master of pork crackling. mmmmm crackling (drooling now) Whole beast cookery is part of the norm at Park Farm so I was not surprised to find myself swimming in pork spleens, livers, heads and trotters and of course copious amounts of caul fat to wrap almost everything in. The produce was world class with a good variety of items to work with and grown by people who really care about what they’re doing in the veg patch.

Although the Brits have a large amount of traditional fair and puddings to choose from, I found it quite funny that some of the boys in the River Cottage kitchen seemed very interested in Canadian and American style pumpkin pies (which recipes are random and so ample that you can argue for days over the "right way" to make one). So I'm putting together a recipe of the pie I made at
Thanksgiving this year that was REALLY good. The boys in the Queens land will appreciate the non complexity and shear simplicity of this "western" dessert/pudding... lmao You never know, they might even give a recipe for rarebit in exchange..??? Post for the pie will come soon!

In Whitehorse, its been snowing and fairly mild so Ive got the x country skies out and I’m waiting for my boots to arrive. Went down to the spruce bog craft sale tonight. Lots of great goods from many Yukon personalities. I got a couple of prints for my wall and left a happy camper. Now to deal with summers bounty of berries etc in full force. More to come on that……

From top to bottom: The good ole wood fired it!, The chicken run, Spleens please!, Some local produce at the washingpool farm in Bridport, The boys "taking care of business"