Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Roasted Pumpkin Cream Pie

It's Fall and all is well, now comes the question, Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Pie?  The polls seem to always lean towards the sweet potato, leaving poor pumpkins to sit idly by, watching the party from the sidelines.... Not anymore!
This recipe quickly became popular with my family.  As picky as some children are, even my nephew Braelyn and daughter Genesis loved it! I am particularly proud of my 'baby' too. For a while, I considered saving this recipe for my private archives and for special family affairs, but I finally figured a recipe like this should be enjoyed by all.  The pumpkin for this recipe was hand picked by me and roasted off in a 400* convection oven.  The recipe from there on, is relatively easy and  makes two deep dish, 9 inch pies.

 I created this recipe with more than just a dollop of cream on top, as I felt like the best part of a pumpkin pie was a bit the whipped cream mixed with the bite of pie. At least until now!
The cream of this pie is a combination of flavors, warm, tangy, not too sweet and harmonious with the spices of the pie.   I actually came up with the topping for another recipe of mine, and loved it so much, I wanted to find other places that it would work well.  I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does.   I feel good about the prospect of someone outside of my normal circle of friends and family appreciating something that I created and quite literally, tasting my passion for cooking, on a plate!   Get ready to change your whole opinion about Pumpkin Pie!!  Fresh Pumpkin is cut into equal parts, drizzled with a little light tasting oil, and sprinkled with a scant amount of kosher salt.  Roast uncovered in a 400* oven until soft, about 40 minutes (and up to 1 hour in a regular oven, depending on size of sliced pumpkin portions.)
 Allow pumpkin to cool slightly.   Cut or peel rind away from pumpkin meat and the roasted pumpkin is ready to use.
2 c. roasted pumpkin
1- 12oz. can evaporated milk
2/3 c. lightly packed, light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. ground spice blend*
3 large eggs
1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
2 - 9 inch deep dish pie crusts

To Make your own Spice Blend:
1 1/2 tsp. Roasted Cinnamon Spice
 1/2 tsp. Freshly crushed Cardamom, pods removed and seeds ground in mortar and pestle
 1/2 tsp. Freshly grated Nutmeg
 1/4 tsp. ground Ginger
  1/4 tsp. freshly ground Allspice
Mix spices together in a small bowl or in the mortar, pour contents into pumpkin blend.

Preheat oven to 350*F.
Place all of ingredients into bowl and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
*You may use an emersion blender to cream the roast pumpkin before adding into recipe.
Pour equal amounts into pie crusts.
Bake on baking sheet for about 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted, comes out clean.
If the edges of the pies brown too quickly, cover with foil for the remaining baking time.
Remove from oven to cool for 1 hour before placing in the refrigerator to cool an additional 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Cream Topping:
8 oz. whipped topping
8 oz. sour cream
1c. confectioner's sugar
pinch of kosher salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
Freshly grated Nutmeg
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, confectioner's sugar and salt.
Once blended, add whipped cream.
Zest the lemon atop whipped cream.
Grate a scant amount of nutmeg atop also.
In a FOLDING fashion, combine the sour cream mixture with the whipped cream mixture.
Taste For Balance.
Place in refrigerator while pies cook and cool.
After pies have cooled for at least 1 hour and a half, divide the Cream topping and spread evenly atop pies.
Add toothpicks if desired to keep plastic wrap from sticking to top.
Chill for at least another 1 1/2 to 2 hours for best slicing results.
Makes 2- 9 inch pies.
*If you are unable to freshly grind above spices, store bought Pumpkin Pie Spice will substitute.
 Also, plain canned pumpkin can be substituted for fresh roasted.
***Lighten the recipe by using one or more of the following; fat free evaporated milk, light sour cream and egg substitute!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thai Style Chicken and Penne with Broccoli

This recipe is an original and family favorite.  I came up with the initial recipe several years ago, but I have made some minor adjustments, though still retaining it's allure and harmony with the palate.  I enjoy the simplicity of the dish, along with the complex flavor profile that is presented, when combining items from one or more cuisines to make one mellifluous meal.
 I used a Thai ingredient call to complement an Italian pasta, any will do, Penne and Penne Rigate are two of my favorites for this.  Fettuccine also works well.  After the initial prep and marination time, this will come together quickly.  It even tastes amazing at room temperature.  I prefer to grill the chicken over hot coals, but it is not necessary.
A grill pan serves well for depth in flavor and for aesthetics.  This is soon to be one of your family's favorite dishes too!  The ingredient call sounds scary if unfamiliar with Thai cooking, but please trust, the proof is in the final product. This photo is my recipe served family or buffet style, but feel free to mix the chicken in with the pasta and broccoli for no-fuss serving, or arrange the chicken sliced atop or whole pieces along side the pasta/broccoli for even more exciting plating adventures!


1 1/2 lbs. chicken cutlets or breasts cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 lb. fresh broccoli florets
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 c. green onions, thinly sliced, divided
4 tbsp. fish sauce, divided
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced, divided
3 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves, rough chopped, divided plus more for garnish
2 limes
2 tbsp. Sambal Oelek
1 tbsp. lemongrass paste* if you cannot find, get a whole piece or use fresh  juice of half lemon and zest
1 Thai chile, if desired for extra spiciness(optional)
olive oil for drizzling
For Chicken:
Place in a resealable bag, 2 tbsp. fish sauce, juice of 1 lime,1 tbsp. cilantro leaves, half of garlic and a heavy drizzle of olive oil.
Shake bag around to blend.
Add chicken.
Press out excess air and marinate for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions in salted water, stopping a little short of al dente, adding the broccoli during the last two minutes of about 7 minutes.
Drain and rinse the pasta and broccoli briefly in cool water to slow the cooking process.  Set aside.
Grill or sear the chicken until no longer pink, set aside to rest several minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter along with a small drizzle of olive oil.
Add remaining garlic, 1/2 green onions, and sambal oelek.
Cook for several minutes until fragrant, stirring often.
Add coconut milk, lemongrass paste, juice of second lime and fish sauce.
Optional:  (Here is where you add the Thai chile, split in half and diced, seeds removed for less spicy.)
Turn to medium high and bring up to a boil.
Check seasonings, adjust according to taste.
Reduce to heat to medium and add pasta broccoli blend.
Add remaining cilantro and green onions.  Fold pasta/broccoli blend into coconut milk until heated through and the liquid is absorbed.
Ways to Serve:
1.  Fold in the chicken to serve as an all-in-one meal or family style.
2.Leave the chicken cutlets whole and serve along side pasta.
3. Slice the chicken and serve atop the pasta/broccoli blend.
Garnish with cilantro leaves, sliced green onion tops and lime wedges, if desired.
Serves 6 to 8.