Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie

Image courtesy of Bon Appetit

If you read our blog with any regularity, or ever talk to me during the fall season, you know that I absolutely love pumpkin. I generally use it in dessert applications, but I hope to do a little experimenting with savory meals as well. I think we're finally slowing down and settling in for the winter season, so we should be cooking a lot more, which means experimenting a lot more. 

I made this Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie in the form of cups, just like last year's Pumpkin Pie Cups and my Toasted Pecan Pie Cups. I realize this blog is just after Thanksgiving, but fall and winter is the season of the pie (at least in my world), so you can make it any time! 

As with the Toasted Pecan cups, I prepared these for our fall home-brew tasting party. Also like the Toasted Pecan cups, I forgot to take an after picture. I was in a hurry, bear with me. The original recipe is also from Bon Appetit, and turned out pretty great. The only thing I changed was replacing the clove with nutmeg. I hate the taste of clove, so I don't really use it.If you don't mind clove, feel free to use that instead!

Here's what you need:
1 package pre-made pie crust (2 crusts)
3/4 cups light brown sugar, divided
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup Scotch (we actually used Bourbon, because I didn't want to use my good scotch)
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup canned pumpkin (no seasoning)
3 large eggs
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (or clove if you prefer)
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Here's what you do:
I'm not going to walk through making the mini cups again. It's the same as the Toasted Pecan Pie Cups, so refer to that recipe on how to roll them out. 

I attacked the recipe slightly different than the original suggested. I started by getting my spices together in a prep bowl.

I then moved on to prepare the pumpkin portion, combining 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar with 1 cup of pure pumpkin.

Whisk that together a bit, and add the eggs.

Next, sprinkle the spices in and whisk it all together to combine.

Put that mixture in the fridge while you work on the rest of the pie filling.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Now, let's make some butterscotch. Combine 1/2 cup of tightly packed brown sugar with the butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Be sure to rinse your whisk off before doing this. 

Let that boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. It will turn a deep brown color.

There, you just made caramel. Now, remove it from the heat and add the scotch (or bourbon). It will steam and bubble a lot when you do this.

Next, whisk in the heavy cream.

Return to the heat and whisk until smooth and most of the caramel bits are dissolved.

Strain the mixture into a medium sized bowl. This is just to remove any stray pieces of caramel that didn't get fully dissolved into the cream. There shouldn't be much left behind.

Let the butterscotch cool to room temperature. When it's cool, combine with the pumpkin mixture.

And, being the distracted person that I am, I also don't have any pictures of pouring this mixture into the pie cups, or the baking process. 

So, if you're making a traditional pie, pour it into the prepared pie crust. If you're making cups, use a small measuring cup to pour the mixture into the cups.

For a full pie, place your pie onto a cookie sheet, just in case it spills over. You can ask my mom how much fun it is to clean pumpkin pie off the bottom of your oven. The pie cups don't really go too crazy while they bake, but if you want to put them on a cookie sheet just in case, feel free.

A full pie will need to bake for about 50 minutes, or until the pie just sets. I generally start checking it at 40 minutes. For the cups, they should bake for about 20 minutes, but I start checking at 15. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Toasted Pecan Pie Cups

Image courtesy of Bon Appetit

Happy Thanksgiving Amateur Foodie Fans! We know, we've not been the best at blogging. We'll try to do better. Please stick with us!

Since we're talking baking, this post is just Michelle. Zack would like to mention that he enjoyed the result of this effort immensely.

Last year, I played around with Pumpkin Pie Cups. This year, I wanted to experiment a little more with mini pies. You can definitely just do this as one regular size pie and save yourself a TON of time. We attended the second annual Darktoberfest, and I didn't want people to have to mess with cutting slices of pie while juggling their stouts and porters.

In our haste to get to the party, I forgot to snap a picture of the finished pies, so I'm using the original image from the Bon Appetit recipe. We halved the recipe, since we're only making mini pies. 

Alright, so on to the good stuff.

Here's what you need:
2 mini muffin tins
biscuit cutter
1 box pre-made pie crust (2 crusts)
1 1/2 cups pecans, divided
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/8 cup (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your mini muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.

Spread 1 cup of the whole pecans on a cookie sheet. We put our silpat underneath, but you can spread a bit of parchment paper under them as well. Roast the pecans for 10 minutes in the oven.

While your pecans are toasting, spread out your pre-made crusts on a clean counter top and roll thinner with a rolling pin. Using a biscuit cutter, cut rounds and gently press down into the muffin tins. Here's what I learned from this process. Pecan pie is much stickier than pumpkin pie, so you really need to be sure that the crusts go all the way up to the top of the muffin cups. If the filling spills over, you're going to have a VERY hard time getting them out of the tins.

Once you get the first round cut, ball the dough back up and roll out again, until you can't possibly get any more rounds out of if. If your dough gets too warm and sticky, try sprinkling with flour, or put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool down. 

Your pecans should be finished, so remove from the from the oven and let them cool. You can't really tell from the picture, but they've darkened and are very aromatic and lovely.

Put your mini crusts in the oven to crisp up for about 10 minutes.

While those are baking, get started on the rest of your filling. If you have a food processor, pulse the 1 cup of toasted pecans up so that they are small pieces. If you don't have a food processor (i.e. me), just chop, chop, chop the nuts until they are very fine.

Chop the reserved 1/2 cup of pecans roughly so that they are still pretty big chunks.

Whisk the eggs in a mixer until they start to froth.

Add the sugar to the mix.

Melt your butter in the microwave for 15 seconds, then add that.

Next, add the vanilla.

Finally, add in the corn syrup.

Let that whip together for a couple minutes to make sure that the sugar dissolves.

Once all of the ingredients are combined, add the finely chopped toasted pecans into the mixer.

Your pie crusts should be ready, so pull them out of the oven. You'll notice not all of my cups reached the top. I fixed this after the first round. Be sure that your crusts go over the lip of the tin!

Add a few of the roughly chopped pecans to the bottom of each cup.

I used a mini measuring cup to fill the cups. Just pour a bit of the mixture into each cup. This is a messy process, but try to be as neat as you can. It will save clean-up later!

Bake until tops are puffed up and set. This took about 20 minutes for me. If you're making a full pie, I would let it bake for an hour and check it. 

Using a chopstick and tongs, I gently poked the edge of the crust to release the cups from the tin.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Green Tomato Salsa

With the exceptionally dry summer and rainy fall, our garden was a little confused this year. We managed to keep it alive through the drought, but not much grew. Once the rain started (and didn't stop), our garden took off. Coupled by some early frosts, we had to pull everything in early and ended up with a plethora of green tomatoes. Our grape tomatoes were actually full size, just not ripe. Our other tomato plant had not matured to full size yet, so we had tiny little green tomatoes. Not even worth trying to make fried green tomatoes with. So, we scoured the internet for recipes so that we could use at least most of our green tomatoes. We ended up making this tasty salsa from In true Amateur Foodies fashion, however, we changed the recipe a little bit.

Here's what you need:
2 lbs green tomatoes
2 shallots, quartered
3 jalapenos
1 Anaheim pepper (Poblano would work nice as well)
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp lemon zest (about half a lemon)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/3 cup cilantro

Here's what you do:
Start by slicing up your tomatoes. We used mostly grape tomatoes, so this took us some time to cut everything in half. If you have large heirlooms, just quarter them and leave it at that.

Next, peel and quarter your shallots. Add that to the pot with the tomatoes.

Slice up your jalapenos. Remove the seeds and ribs. If you want to kick up the heat in this salsa, try using fresh cayenne peppers instead of jalapenos.

Treat your Anaheim (or Poblano) the same as the jalapeno and add it to the pot.

Next comes garlic. Peel and do a rough chop on this as well.

Finally, add the salt, cumin, olive oil and water to the pot and place on the stove top over medium-high heat.

Let the water come to a simmer (you'll hear it more than see it), and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

You may have to let the mixture cook for a longer period of time, or they may be ready before the 30 minutes are up. It really just depends on how close to ripe your tomatoes are. When you get to this point, you're ready to move forward.

Add the zest, lemon juice, honey and cilantro and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.

Spoon in to a blender. We had to do this in two batches. Blend until mostly smooth. We liked having some small chunks in ours, but if you want to puree the heck out of it, be our guest.

Keep in mind that this mixture is going to be hot. To be safe, put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and hold the lid down to prevent it from exploding all over your kitchen.

Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.