Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Deck the Halls

Besides the christmas tree, I think the wreath is my favorite holiday decoration. We always get one all made of succulents from my parents.

It's the best, because after it's done hanging on our door, we can plant it in the garden and enjoy it all over again.

Monday, December 23, 2013

All Dressed Up

There's nothing like getting all done up for a night at the ballet to get me into the holiday spirit. We went to see Mathew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at the LA Music Center during it's short run. It was a little strange, like all his work, and completely marvelous. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

My how the time flies (& and a note about maple pumpkin pie)

One day I was making Thanksgiving dinner and the very next my emails were shouting at me about last minute holiday shopping. I made two perfect pies for our feast. Ian fell so all in love with them that I promised him I'd make a pie a week, and promised myself I would share the recipes here. So far, I haven't made good on my promises. But I intend to. Starting with this here pumpkin pie. It's made with 1/2 maple syrup and 1/2 brown sugar for a silky texture and complex taste. Here's the recipe.

You will need...
• 1 basic pie crust (I use a 1/2 butter, 1/2 shortening recipe)
• 3 large eggs
• 1 c. light cream
• 1/2 c. pure maple syrup, preferably dark or grade B
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 and 1/2 tbl. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. ground ginger
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. ea. ground cloves & nutmeg
• 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1 15 oz. can or 1 and 3/4 c. fresh pumpkin puree (I'll admit to using canned here as it is so much easier that cooking and processing the pumpkin and there are some good organic options in the can, man)
• Fresh Whipped cream, for garnish (optional, but who doesn't want whipped cream?)

Here's what to do...
Make the crust, if you haven't already and partially pre bake it according to your best recipe. Set it aside to cool completely before you add any filling. Heat oven to 350˚.

Beat eggs in medium bowl. Whisk in milk, syrup and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl then add to wet mixture and stir until it's completely combined. Lastly, add the pumpkin mush and whisk it all together. The mixture will be very soupy at this point, but since it's a custard, it does all the magical thickening while it bakes.

Place pie in the oven on a center rack and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the pie 180˚ and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set. The edges of the filling will likely have puffed a little when the pie is done, and there will be a slight sheen, but not in the center. In fact, the center may wobble just a touch even though the custard is set. Careful not to overcook as it will cracked (see a Cracked Custard holiday pie here).

Cool for at least an hour before serving and that's it! Serve it warm (it should still have a little warmth even after an hour of cooling) or at room temperature or chill covered with tented aluminum. I think this pie gets better the day after it is made when all the flavors have had a chance to really meld together. And, while it's good all on it's own, a scoop of whipped cream is a perfect garnish. Hmmmhmmm. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


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