Friday, October 21, 2011

0 Recipe #294: Pumpkin Pie

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This version of pumpkin pie is made with fresh pumpkin. I used a "pie" pumpkin, also known as a "sugar" or "sugar pie" pumpkin. This is one of the types that you can actually cook with and eat. :) The kind that are used for Jack-O'-Lanterns don't really taste that good for cooking purposes, although you can, of course, toast the seeds and enjoy a delicious snack. :)

The lite coconut milk serves as a clever replacement for much more traditional and far less healthy (!), additions like cream or cream cheese, etc. Not only are the flavors of pumpkin and coconut a great natural complement to each other, but the coconut milk will make the pie just as creamy as those other, and much more fattening, alternatives. :) With a little creativity, it's possible to craft a recipe that cuts the fat and eliminates processed foods, but still delivers on taste. Just think how you'll shock and amaze people when they find out that the pie you just made is actually lowfat and good for them. ;) Of course, you might want to keep them in the dark until after they try it. ;) You can keep a secret for at least an hour or two, right? :) After all, a little awe and some amused expressions of disbelief from your dinner guests can't help but raise your culinary profile. LOL.

Pumpkin Pie

Filling Ingredients:
4 c. fresh pumpkin, peeled, pulp scooped out, deseeded, and diced into 1" cubes (makes about 2 c. pureed pumpkin)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 c. lite coconut milk from a can, including both liquids and solids (about 1/2 of a 13.5 oz. can)
3/8 c. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pumpkin spice mix (see recipe)
1 tsp. ground cardamom

Crust Ingredients:
2 c. oats
1/2 c. walnuts, crushed
1/2 c. pecans, crushed
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. clove powder
1/4 tsp. salt (omit if Paleo)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten (at room temperature)
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. ice water
1/4 c. oat flour, for flouring work surface and rolling pin (grind oats into flour in food processor)(if Paleo, substitute almond flour)

Optional/Alternate Toppings:
pecan halves (for decoration, to cover the pie's surface)
(non-dairy) whipped topping
1 scoop lowfat vanilla ice cream per serving of pie

Directions: To prepare filling: Bring water to a rolling boil (on high heat) in a large sauce pot, about 8-10 minutes. Then add diced pumpkin and boil until tender (but not mushy), about 15-20 minutes. Drain into a colander, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Pulse until smooth, then transfer contents to an electric mixing bowl, along with the remainder of the filling ingredients. Mix on low speed until frothy and well-combined. Then cover bowl and place into the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes while you prepare the pie shell and other ingredients.

To make the pie shell: Add oats to a food processor and pulse until finely ground into a powdery consistency (or as close to it as possible!).  Add 1/2 c. walnuts and 1/2 c. pecans and pulse again until finely ground. Add remaining crust ingredients, minus the 1/4 c. oat flour (for flouring the work surface and rolling pin), and continue to pulse until thoroughly combined. Dough should be thick and stick together; do not over-mix or crust will be too hard when baked. Remove dough, scraping out remaining bits with a spatula. Form a dough ball and then place it upon a clean, even surface, uniformly floured with about 1/8 c. of the reserved oat flour. (You might want to first cover your countertop with wax paper to make clean-up easier and faster.) Flour a rolling pin with the remaining 1/8 c. oat flour, and roll out the dough ball until it's about 1/4" thick, always starting from the center outward, to form a large disc shape, about 12" in diameter.

Bake the pie shell: Carefully transfer dough to a 9" pie plate, using your thumbs to press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. If necessary, work the dough with your fingers to help it spread out so that it reaches the upper lip of the pie plate. You might need to use a knife to cut away the excess dough. Place pie shell into into an oven preheated to 350°F and bake crust for about 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. (Do not bake the crust for much longer, or it will become hard and burnt when the pie is baked. It still needs to be baked first, as the crust needs to solidify a bit in order to keep it from becoming porous and thus, too soggy after the filling is added.) When the crust has finished baking, remove them oven and let cool completely. Then cover pie shell in wax paper, weigh down with a pie beads (or dried beans), and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum, preferably overnight if possible.

Assemble and bake the pie: Remove filling and pie shell from refrigerator, place onto countertop or other clean, level work surface, and slowly and carefully pour filling into the bottom of the pie shell, using a spatula to help guide the liquid mixture into the pie shell a bit at a time. (If you dump it in all all once, the filling will most likely splatter all over the place. ;) ) Place pie into a preheated 350°F oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife or fork can easily pierce the filling and come out clean. Pie crust should be a deep golden brown, but not burnt. :) Let cool completely. If desired, decorate surface of the pie with pecan halves. Either serve immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for future consumption. Immediately before serving, top each slice of pie with whipped topping &/or lowfat vanilla ice cream, then serve and enjoy!

Yield: Makes 1 pumpkin pie, about 9" in diameter, or about 8-10 servings.

Chef's Notes: Please note: The pie shell can be made a day or two ahead of time and then refrigerated until you're ready to bake the pie. The dough for the pie shell doesn't need to be refrigerated before it's rolled out, as it's very solid and thick, and binds together exceedingly well.

Please be aware that this recipe's pie shell is crumbly and its texture more closely resembles a graham cracker crust than a traditional pie crust.

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