Monday, November 21, 2005

Because you asked

My recipe for pumpkin pie:

To prepare.
Go to the grocery. This step is unavoidable.
Find pumpkin in the can. Not that premixed stuff, just plain can of pumpkin.
Using the list of ingredients invariably printed on the label of the can of pumpkin, continue to wander the aisles until you find everything. Note: be clear on the difference between condensed and evaporated milk. Not the same thing, apparently.
Try to remember if there are spices left over from last year - they keep, right? Adjust shopping list accordingly. Do not use something called "pumpkin pie spice." You may as well just buy a ready made pie. (Which isn't a terrible thing. Most of the ready made pies are not bad at all.) You are already making something dead simple, leave a little room for variation.
An ingredient not always on the can of pumpkin: pie shells. These are in the frozen foods section. On the bottom toward the back. Wherever the less sexy frozen foods are. I believe that it is theoretically possible to make a pumpkin pie without the crust.
To bake.
Once home, follow the instructions on the can of pumpkin slavishly except use more spice than indicated. Nutmeg ("Need more nutmeg, Peggy Hill") and ginger in particular. Beware of ground cloves, very strong stuff.
Use big eggs. There is always pie filling left over so cook it in a custard cup or two. Don't eat it from the bowl, there's raw egg in there!
Wrap the crimped part of the crust in tinfoil if you think people will eat the crust. They won't, they never do.
Like tofu, there is a continuum of pumpkin pie firmness. Avoid the soft tofu effect. But don't bake too long or there will be a leathery skin on top. It's done when a knife slipped into the center of the pie comes out clean.
To serve.
Whipped cream is often used as a topping to balance out the fat and sugar with more sugar and fat. This strikes me as excessive but it is traditional. Eschew pumpkin pie cheesecake. There is a reason that first cousins shouldn't marry. Do not serve pumpkin pie with egg nog as nature herself will violently rebel. This is the holiday desert version of Egon Spengler's exhortation, "Don't Cross the Streams."

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